SI: Red Dawson was an assistant on the 1970 team, but he wasn't with the team when its plane crashed, killing all 75 people on board, because he was on a recruiting trip. You invited him to meet you in Hawaii before filming. Did he have reservations about flying?
Fox: I invited him because I was shooting Lost and there was no way I could go to Huntington, W.Va. [where the movie was filmed]. I anticipated him not wanting to come, and I obviously understood. He has not done very much flying for 35 years. I was asking a lot of him, and I was blown away when he decided to come.
SI: Was it tough getting him to open up?
Fox: Obviously, I wanted to pick his mind, but at the same time I knew that was difficult for him. He has not spoken much about it. But Red was amazing. Once we started getting into that territory, he said, 'This is going to be hard for me. If I hit a moment where I can't go on, if you just wait it out, I'll get my s--- back together and we'll move forward.' Ultimately, the only person I cared about liking this movie and feeling his part was done justice is Red Dawson.
SI: You were a wide receiver in college. What current NFL receiver would remind us of Columbia's Matt Fox?
Fox: Joe Jurevicius [laughs]. He's the guy who can do the 17-yard dig route, get clobbered by the middle linebacker and always get up. I prided myself on getting up no matter how hard I took it. I didn't have great speed, so I had to make up for it with heart and good hands.
SI: You played in the 16--13 victory over Princeton in 1988 that broke Columbia's record 44-game losing streak. How sweet was that win?
Fox: I had a 40-yard touchdown that was called back. It was a rainy day and the sidelines were muddy, and I got chucked coming off the line and apparently went out-of-bounds. I thought I scored, but it was called back. But more than anything, I remember the immense relief and euphoria that win brought. We had gotten the crap knocked out of us for a long time. Every week we lost, we were news. Then the goal posts came down, and the campus partied for two days. It was a great day.
For more from Matthew Fox, go to SI.com/scorecard.