(CBS Local)– Former Raiders owner Al Davis and former NFL commissioner and University of San Francisco alum Pete Rozelle are two of the most important figures in the history of the NFL. Their fraught relationship is the focus of a new ESPN 30 for 30 documentary from director Ken Rodgers that premieres Thursday, February 4 called “Al Davis vs. The NFL.”


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In the documentary, Rodgers features never before seen footage of Davis & Rozelle and also uses deep fake technology to recreate the former Raiders owner and former NFL commissioner. While Rodgers has made many other films about the NFL, this one stands on its own due to the technology involved and the subject matter.

“Al Davis and Pete Rozelle are no longer with us and that was one of the first challenges we faced as filmmakers,” said Rodgers, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “We wanted to tell this story about this relationship and they’re not with us. The people around them aren’t with us anymore. We don’t want to tell the story through people who were on the outskirts of this relationship, that doesn’t seem fair to the story. What we came up is this mix of many things. We had stand-ins at Allegiant Stadium who were of the correct build and weight and height of Al and Pete. They had prosthetics put on for the correct hair and neckline of each man. We had our digital deep fake artist put the faces of Al and Pete onto the footage. Then we wrote the dialogue ourselves based on archives and based on the actual transcripts we’ve collected on these men. Then we had to voice those transcripts with world-class impressionists and voice actors. Five parts were taken and put together to create these characters you see on screen.”

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While Rodgers has done documentaries on people like Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and Bill Parcells, the filmmaker was fascinated by Davis’ personal journey to the NFL and the impact he had on the league when it came to stadiums and the hiring of minorities.

“A lot of people think the image of the Raiders is one that was uncaring,” said Rodgers. “They were the rebels and Al was certainly sort of an outlaw. They were known as the team that would beat you up in the 70s. That’s the image of the Raiders I grew up with. All of us understood that. Al Davis wasn’t an uncaring man. He cared about his team and the brand of the Raiders so much and he was so loyal to his players. He garnered that awe that no owners did at the time. He had been a head coach, a scout, a GM and the commissioner of the AFL. He forced the merger between the AFL and the NFL to create the modern game. He had so much respect in the game and he wasn’t the bad guy, even though he liked to play the bad guy. He was very well respected. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink and he wasn’t the rebel many people would cast him as. He didn’t like authority.”

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Watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.