DALLAS — The 1988 Dallas Carter High School football team created indelible images on the field… and off. And now those images are headed to the big screen.
“Its a true story, so in my eyes, I want every aspect to be like it was,” said “Carter High” writer/director Arthur Muhammad.
He would know exactly what it was like, because he was part of that team.
Muhammad’s script, finished some 13 years ago, chronicles the sensation — and scandal — surrounding a team that won 1988 state football title, only to be later stripped of the championship.
Former Dallas Cowboys player Greg Ellis is the film’s executive producer. He said the assumption is that his production company backed a “football movie.” But he said he got involved because the story includes so much more.
“It just shows the paper-thinness of how far you are from making that choice that can forever alter your life,” said Ellis, adding he had opportunities to make the wrong choices growing up, just as some of those Carter players did.
Many North Texans watched the Carter armed robbery saga unfold on WFAA. For those directly involved — like Patrick Williams and Keith Campbell — watching their real life mistakes unfold on film was emotional.
“We shamed the community,” said Williams, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison after claiming responsibility for coming up with the initial idea for the crimes.
Six players players from that state title team were sentenced to prison terms. Campbell received the longest term: 25 years.
“My dad used to always tell me, ‘You can have an impeccable reputation all your life… mess up one time, and it takes forever to get it back,’” Campbell recalled. “That hits home for me.”
It hit home for an entire community in the southern part of Dallas. The school fought after Carter player Gary Williams was ruled academically ineligible, and won the case that paved the way for the team to win the title.
The players are convinced their awful choices played a part in the title eventually being taken away.
“[I feel] for our parents, because we weren’t thugs,” Williams said. “We were young men that made bad decisions.”
In football terms, that 1988 Carter team will go down as one of the best in Texas history. But the makers of this movie want their story — and, more importantly, the consequences of those players’ actions — to have a much greater impact.
You have to think before you act,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, Muhammad said there is a clear message he’d like this cinematic project to convey: “That destiny is not a matter of chance; its a matter of choice. That’s the message.”
The movie premieres in Dallas on Tuesday, and will be released in markets throughout the state Friday, with a national release to follow.
Twenty-five years since Carter High stripped of state title