Blair Kiel launches DVD production firm: Company’s first release goes inside the Irish huddle

Keywords Sports Business
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Former University of Notre Dame and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Blair Kiel is leading a local group that thinks it can put up big numbers with a series of sports DVDs.

Kiel-along with former Indianapolis Colts marketing chief Ray Compton, Grand Slam Cos.’ Milton Thompson and Pathway Productions’ Michael Husain-formed Legendary Sports LLC this year, and the company is preparing to launch a string of video productions.

Legendary Sports’ debut DVD, “Inside the Irish Huddle,” the tale of the University of Notre Dame’s greatest quarterbacks, will hit shelves in South Bend Aug. 26.

Kiel also announced the launch of the company’s first Web site,, which promotes and offers direct sale of the 80-minute video along with a line of licensed merchandise. Kiel hopes to expand the Web site to include timely game analysis from some of the great Notre Dame quarterbacks.

“We want this Web site to be the place to go for Notre Dame football,” Kiel said.

Kiel set out early this year to produce a quarterback skills and drills DVD. After interviewing former Notre Dame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Joe Theismann in March, he changed the project’s scope.

“What we had were so many great stories that no one had ever heard before,” said Kiel, 43. “We think there are a lot of stories here that will really touch people’s emotions.”

Kiel set out to contact all former Notre Dame quarterbacks who had either been four-year starters, were in the top 10 for all-time passing yardage in Notre Dame history, won the Heisman trophy or a national championship, or were in the college or pro football Hall of Fame. Kiel came up with a list of 20 quarterbacks. Sixteen were living and all agreed to participate in the video. Kiel, in turn, offered to contribute part of the royalties for the project to charities of the participants’ choosing.

Kiel is the company’s CEO, and as such will be responsible for making contact and landing agreements with some of the nation’s biggest universities.

Husain, who has worked extensively with ESPN and other documentary makers, is handling video production and Web site operations.

Thompson, who has worked on licensed product deals with numerous professional and collegiate sports entities, is handling merchandise development and licensing.

Compton, who formed Compton Strategies after departing the Colts last season, is handling marketing and public relations.

“Blair Kiel has done a wonderful job of bringing good, qualified people together, and I think this venture really has potential,” said Mark Geddis, president and CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based Collegiate Images LLC, which licenses products for more than 120 universities, collegiate conferences and events nationwide. “You don’t often see these types of people come together on one project.”

Geddis said while more than half the ideas that come across his desk get licensed and even make it to market, less than 20 percent are financially successful.

Pathway’s Husain thinks “Inside the Irish Huddle” will have broad appeal.

“I’m usually my own worst critic, and I was really pleased with the way it turned out,” Husain said. “We really focused on the storytelling. If we can get people to see it, we’re in good shape.”

Husain thinks this project and others like it the company is considering are perfect for TV.

“We definitely have plans to talk with the networks,” Husain said. “We think it has real potential for TV, because it goes through the history in a pretty compelling way.”

Kiel said he’s already got Notre Dame on his side and is working with retailers locally and nationally for a wider launch.

“What separates this project is, it’s not just about the DVD,” Kiel said. “We have components for licensing and merchandising and an interactive Web site. We think it’s a model we can broaden on a national level.”

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