ESPN is running a series of documentaries over the next several weeks, extending the tone and style (if not the actual franchise) of its classy "30 for 30" series.
The latest, "The Dotted Line," is a Morgan Spurlock-directed look at sports agents, which could hardly be more timely given the recent spate of college football scandals.
Premiering Oct. 11, Spurlock's 50-minute film looks at different agents, but shows a side of the business one rarely sees — especially on ESPN — including a kid sitting through the entire NFL draft waiting for his name to be called. It's a far cry from those triumphant images of first-round picks standing up and proudly displaying their "No. 1" jerseys.
In addition to talking to top-tier agents like Leigh Steinberg and David Falk (who notes that Michael Jordan "didn’t even want to get on the plane to see Nike"), Spurlock follows agent Eugene Lee as he goes through courting lesser prospects and endures their long waits on draft day.
He also talks to former agent Josh Luchs, who admitted to breaking the rules by paying off players to sign with him in a Sports Illustrated expose. Bloodied but unbowed, Luchs says, "If I was going to succeed in this industry … I needed to play the game the way it was being played." He then drives right up to the UCLA practice field, showing how easily he gained access to potential recruits. (UCLA football recruits? No wonder the dude's out of the business.)
ESPN's Jeremy Schaap calls agent "a necessary counterweight to the owners," but everyone seems to agree that the current system is broken, rife with corruption and, as Steinberg says, "needs to be fixed."
"The Dotted Line" won't fix anything, including ESPN's role — most of the time — in helping to perpetuate and profit from that flawed system. But it will provide those who tune in a better understanding of it.