By John Davis
HOOVER, Ala. – “Moving” is the best word to describe the first 15 minutes of “It’s Time.” A portion of ESPN’s new documentary on Ole Miss cornerback Chucky Mullins, and his tragic collision with Vanderbilt’s Brad Gaines that left him paralyzed, was previewed for the media Wednesday.
This is the 25th anniversary of Mullins’ on-field collision with Gaines, and ESPN Films saw an opportunity to re-visit the fateful October day, and how Mullins’ injury has affected Gaines since.
The film will air on the SEC Network on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. It is one of four new films that will broadcast on the network set to Aug. 14.
Former Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer and Ole Miss players were interviewed about the hit suffered by Mullins. They talked about the mood of the crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and what they were feeling as their friend laid on the field.
Author Larry Woody, who wrote the book “Dixie Farewell: The Life and Death of Chucky Mullins,” was interviewed in the first segment, his focus on how quiet both locker rooms were following the game.
Leroy Mullins, the head trainer at Ole Miss at the time, provided some stoic and defining quotes about how his life, Chucky Mullins’ life and the life of his son, Tim, a student trainer in 1989, was about to change forever.
Gaines, and his two-year relationship that become a deep friendship with Chucky Mullins, is a significant focus of the film.
Gaines’ family – his mother, his father and two of his brothers – were interviewed in the segment. They revealed how strong and talented Gaines was growing up, and how much he loved football, a love that disappeared after that day.
Gaines cried twice during his interview sessions that were in the preview. He routinely comes to Oxford, he said, climbing over the fence if he has to, in order to run, and then sit on the 3-yard line where the hit took place.
“There’s nobody in the stands. It’s … therapeutic,” Gaines said.
Ole Miss players and coach Hugh Freeze are part of today’s final session, starting at 9 a.m.