The “Boys In Blue” docuseries is halfway through its four-week run on Showtime. Besides following the season-long journey of the Minneapolis North football team, individual players, and their parents, it also explores the players’ relationships with their four coaches, who at the time were also Minneapolis police officers.
It’s no secret, particularly around these parts, that MPD and Black people have historically had a tense relationship. That relationship grew even more strained in the midst of a deadly pandemic and the killing of George Floyd in South Minneapolis in 2020. That tragic death led to protests locally, nationally and worldwide.
It also led to calls for doing away with the police, which became a ballot measure a year later. That effort, which ultimately failed in the 2021 municipal elections, was also highlighted in the documentary. Minneapolis City Councilman Jeremiah Ellison was among those featured in the back-and-forth between proponents and opponents of the ballot initiative.
Charles Adams, Sr., his son Charles, Jr., and two other officers—all four are also North High Polars coaches—became instant stars on “Boys In Blue,” along with the players and others. Adams, Sr. told the MSR, “They [the filmmakers] wanted to highlight the relationships between police and our kids. You get a team with a bunch of coaches who are White cops and Black cops.”
Acclaimed director Peter Berg for the most part did just that. He told us that he was very impressed with the police officers/coaches. “In addition to being really good cops,” he stressed, “[they] represent the very best of community policing. They’re close to, and part of the community that they’re policing. I feel that’s very inspirational.”
Berg added that among his goals was that “Boys In Blue” viewers see that as well now that we are in a post-George Floyd world here in Minneapolis, where police-community relations are still strained.
“We provide a slightly more complex [look at what it] means to be a police officer in our community today,” continued director-executive producer Berg. “It’s my hope that the viewer comes away with a bit more empathy and appreciation. So many good cops were out there trying as hard as they can.”
From a sports perspective, the elder Adams said he hopes that the film shows that city kids can play football as well as, and sometimes better than, their suburban counterparts.
“They were showing Minnesota football, especially football in our city,” he pointed out. “So we were putting it out there that the competition, the level, the professionals, the coaches—it was about all of us in the City of Minneapolis.”
There are moments of celebration as well as unexpected heartbreak throughout the series, especially the tragic death of then-sophomore DeShaun Hill, Jr., the team’s quarterback. Officer Rick Plunkett, who worked closely with Hill throughout the season’s filming, said of the slain high schooler with so much promise, “[He] was becoming a young man.”
With the rave reviews for “Boys In Blue,” will there be a “Boys In Blue 2”? Adams, Sr. says he hopes so. “I’m quite sure people want to know what happened next season.”
“The entire coaching staff are just incredible characters, incredible people,” said Berg. “I think they represent the best of humanity. My crew worked really hard and fell in love with that community, and we have nothing but respect for the men and women of the Minneapolis North community.
“It’s possible that we’ll go back and spend more time with these remarkable people,” he concluded.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.