Gridiron Underground

There were no guarantees of greatness, only the freedom to achieve it


O’Leary: Bernie Custis' Legacy Honoured in Many Ways

"McMaster University, where Custis coached from 1981 to 1988, along with many of Custis’ friends and family, are creating the Bernie Custis Football Athletic Award. The award is “A testament to his legacy as an athlete, coach, educator and mentor, and to celebrate his many achievements both on and off of the field,” the school says."

-, June 7, 2017

John Williams Jr. and Bernie Custis

John Williams Jr. and Bernie Custis

John Williams Jr. on the legacy of Bernie Custis on As It Happens

A family friend and former football player says Bernie Custis changed the game..

- Listen on CBC Radio, February 2017

Gridiron Underground on CBC News

"The story about race and sports isn’t talked about, and it’s something we wanted to get after with this film"

- Watch the video on, September 2016

Gridiron Underground on TSN Radio

William Armstrong and James Wallen talk with TSN Radio about Gridiron Underground.

- Listen on YouTube, August 2016

Bernie Custis receives the first Commissioner's Award

"Without Bernie Custis, there might have been no Ealey, Moon, Allen or Burris," Orridge said. "As the phrase goes, 'If I can see further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.' Bernie Custis is one of those giants."

- TSN, November 2015

Canadian Football League is way ahead of NFL on diversity issues

"African-Americans have come to dominate the National Football League since a “gentleman’s agreement” by white owners ended in 1946. In recent years, black quarterbacks such as Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Carolina’s Cam Newton have become stars in a league that would have shunned them as much for mobility and athleticism as much as their skin color a generation ago."

- The Undefeated, July 2016

Gridiron Underground: A love letter from the black athlete to CFL, fans

"A historically significant documentary, Gridiron Underground, chronicles the early struggles of some of the first African-Americans to play in the CFL."

- Toronto Star, February 2015

Gridiron Underground: Documentary chronicles how black American football players found acceptance in Canada

"Just as Canada was a sanctuary for black slaves in the mid-19th century, so it became for black professional football players in the mid-20th century — especially quarterbacks, who faced severe prejudice and censure in the American game."

- Hamilton Spectator, November 2014

Bernie Custis, pro football's first starting black QB, is finally given his due

"On Thursday night, rookie CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge gave out his first Commissioner's Award (presented by Microsoft), and he chose a remarkably fitting subject: Bernie Custis."

- Yahoo! Sports, November 2015