While attending a friend's wedding reception this summer in Chevy Chase, Md., senior editor Greg Kelly found himself at the same table with Riki Ellison, the former San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Raiders linebacker and the football coach at T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, Va., which served as the inspiration for the movie Remember the Titans. After learning that the program had fallen on hard times, Kelly saw the potential for a story and passed along the details to senior writer Tim Layden, who ended up writing a feature on the struggles of the modern-day Titans (SI, Oct. 15).
"On the whole the players from the 1971 team felt that the movie got it right," Layden says. "It really was a racially balanced team that helped bring the community together. Plus, the old players are excited that they've been made into celebrities in their middle age, something none of them expected. As for what's going on today, nearly everybody was speaking from one political angle or another, so you really had to look around corners and piece things together to find out the truth."
If you're an SI subscriber who's interested in this kind of story-behind-the-SI-story, have we got a deal for you! For eight months SI has been producing a twice-weekly e-mail newsletter called SI Extra, which serves as a free e-supplement for subscribers to the magazine. So what's the extra in SI Extra? For one, there's a feature called INSIDE SI, in which SI writers like Layden deliver behind-the-scenes info about a story in that week's issue of the magazine. "When we interview our fellow SI writers, what we're looking for is the juicy stuff that we would tell our friends if we had written that story ourselves," says reporter Pete McEntegart, one of 57 Extra's writers. "Often it's that great anecdote that doesn't fit in the story but the writer is just dying to tell someone."
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