Niner Noise sat down with former Bay Area News Group columnist Mark Purdy to talk about “San Francisco Legends Take On ALS” — a 49ers documentary with never-before-seen interviews, the proceeds of which benefit ALS research.
The San Francisco 49ers are no strangers to the devastating disease, ALS, which recently claimed the life of Niners legendary wide receiver Dwight Clark last June.
And while there have been plenty of advancements in other medical areas, ALS remains an incurable disease, ravaging those affected as well as their families and loved ones.
Yet with as big a tragedy Clark’s passing was, there are some inspiring efforts deriving from it.
One of those is a new feature documentary, San Francisco Legends Take On ALS, a project produced by Julia Hutton and longtime Bay Area News Group columnist and 49ers beat writer Mark Purdy.
Purdy, who narrates the nearly hour-long feature, sat down with Niner Noise to talk about the documentary and describe what fans will see in this project, which includes plenty of never-before-seen footage of Niners legends.
“The idea of the project stemmed from a time when the NFL wasn’t open to admitting there was a correlation between football and ALS,” Purdy explained. “As a result, many of these interviews were shelved until recently.”
And there are some pretty impressive names too. 49ers legends Y.A. Tittle, R.C. “Alley-Oop” Owens, Abe Woodson, Bob St. Clair, Leo Nomillini, Joe Perry, Eric Wright, Randy Cross and George Seifert are just some of the names of players and staff interviewed.
Purdy described two specific stories from the uplifting and, at times, funny documentary.
“George Seifert, long before he was a coaching assistant for the 49ers, was actually a vendor at the old Kezar Stadium (in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park),” Purdy continued. “He describes his time selling popcorn and whatnot, and the footage of Kezar is pretty interesting to see.”
Much of the footage from the film was submitted by another 49ers quarterbacking legend, John Brodie, and his family.
The other story Purdy described involved two Hall of Famers, Tittle and St. Clair. In 1953, St. Clair’s rookie season, the 49ers elected to room the first-year offensive tackle with Tittle.
“St. Clair was wondering, ‘why would they room me with a guy like Tittle?'” Purdy described. “Turns out, Tittle had a terrible snoring problem. So it ended up being something of a rookie initiation for St. Clair, who showed up to practice the next day having gotten no sleep.
“The next night, though, St. Clair went over to Tittle in their room and kissed him on the forehead, saying ‘goodnight.’ So that night, Y.A. didn’t get any sleep and St. Clair did.”
Stories like these shed light on 49ers players, whose accolades and personalities were seen solely on the field and in print. Long before the days of social media and 24-7 access, in-depth interviews and behind-the-scenes footage would have been rare, at best.
You can check out the teaser below:
Now, you have the chance to see the real stories from these Niners legends themselves.
Better yet, 100 percent of the proceeds go to benefit ALS research — specifically, the ALS Golden West chapter. And for a modest $20 purchase, plus $5 for shipping and handling, it’s more than worth the investment and contribution.
To purchase the video, please head over to 1000plusvideo.video and search for San Francisco Legends Take On ALS.
And be sure to follow Mark Purdy on Twitter — @MercPurdy — who we’d like to sincerely thank for both his involvement in the project and taking the time to describe it to Niner Noise.