Mario van Peebles
Lane Davis
Susan Ruttan
No.42 leaving the field
The Tampa crowd scene
A tragic friendship

Triumph of the Heart - The Ricky Bell story
There has been one film made that featured the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one of their players - a 1981 made-for-TV special that dealt with the crippling heart disease that Ricky Bell eventually died from.

In 1981, Bell became friends with local disabled Tampa youngster Ryan Blenkinship and worked with him on his speech and rehabilitation issues. This was arranged through the Buccaneers as part of their community program.

But as Ryan got better, Bell got sicker and after moving back to the West Coast, eventually died in 1984 at a tragically early age. Blenkinship went on to compete in the Special Olympics in Atlanta in 1996.

This is the story of their friendship with Mario van Peebles playing the part of Ricky Bell and being pretty believable in the part too. Lane Davis plays Ryan and many people will recognise Susan Ruttan from L.A.Law as his mother.

The Tampa game scenes were filmed in 1991 which makes for some great continuity errors with Bell/van Peebles sitting on the bench alongside Rob Taylor and Ian Beckles but you get the general idea. The scene were Bell goes into the crowd to deal with a heckler is based on a true event too.

The Old Sombrero was used behind the scenes too and if you look at the credits, you will see Bucs UK Hall of Famer Rick Odioso listed as a technical consultant to the movie.

This film is never going to win any Oscars for great acting and it is one of those typical "sad but true" films that stations run during daytime afternoons which is when it appeared on British TV a few years back.

But it is about one of the Bucs' best players and deals with a sad moment in the franchise's history so is worth watching for any Buccaneer fan.