Russell Report: Gators fans can take a trip down memory lane with Netflix’s upcoming feature

The series will have interviews with people like Coach Urban Meyer, Quarterback Tim Tebow, Linebacker Brandon Spikes and others.
Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 4:15 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Today, just for a little while, let’s take a trip down memory lane. To a time when Gator football was at the top of the college football world. Gator fans packed The Swamp, the team was loaded with NFL talent and the coach earned two national titles in three years when the school had won just won one in all of its previous history. As part of its Untold Stories series, Netflix has put together a four part series called Swamp Kings that will air later this month that will, in all likelihood, explore the good, and the bad, of that era in Gator football. A preview is already out, and the series will have interviews with people like Coach Urban Meyer, Quarterback Tim Tebow, Linebacker Brandon Spikes and others.

Let’s start with Urban Meyer. He’s as polarizing a figure as you can get when it comes to Gator football. Sure, he won those national titles but many still hate him for the way he left the program and the decline was steep and fast. He lost the locker room and the sense of entitlement by players here was off the charts. Yet, he recruited great, great talent, coached up that talent and won those national titles and if that 2009 team had beaten Alabama they would have been playing for three titles in four years.

As you will see in the series, the players talk about their experiences during the Meyer era; they were treated like rock stars but they paid a price. It started with Strength and Conditioning Coach Mickey Marotti who got those players in great shape through grueling workouts. Meyer and the staff relished Bloody Tuesday when players went at it in practice as if the Saturday game was played that day. And if you were hurt or injured, many times you went to the pit. In reality, it was a place you didn’t want to be because of what coaches made you do there, and it was amazing how many injuries got better so quickly after being in the pit.

And how about those players? Certainly, plenty of personalities to go around. For every beloved guy like Tebow or Spikes or the Pounceys, you have an Aaron Hernandez and others who were arrested for various off the field incidents. A great player like Percy Harvin who was electric on the field but sometimes sulking and moody off of it. But those arrests and off the field incidents didn’t stop the Gators from winning because the sheer talent that was recruited here was unreal. Do this yourself, go back and look at the Gator rosters from 2006 through 2009 and see how many of those players went to the NFL.

Truth of the matter is, the Gator football program hasn’t been the same since Meyer burned out and left town. Florida is certainly not irrelevant but it has been 15 years since Florida has won an SEC title let alone be a national contender and many blame Meyer for that downslide. But for a while anyway, watching this Netflix series should revive some memories of those years, from the players and the coaches who lived it. I’m Steve Russell, that’s the Russell Report!

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