Where you are when you talk about it, defines which sport you are discussing. On Netflix, there exists two eight-part docu series about both of the sports. Captains follows six players who are attempting to lead their countries to the World Cup final in Qatar through qualification, while Quarterback follows three NFL QBs as they attempt to lead their teams to a Super Bowl victory.
Both are in-depth looks into their respective sports, both humanize players that are often mythologized in the media and by fans, but these are not the same. Their difference may be the very reason you should watch both.
Captains follows six vastly different qualifying paths to the World Cup. Some will qualify for the final in Qatar, some will not. If you watched the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, you may know how some of this shakes down, but it doesn’t make the journey any less interesting to watch, especially because of the diversity. The six captains and countries followed in the eight episodes are Thiago Silva and Brazil, Luka Modric and Croatia, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Gabon, Andre Blake and Jamaica, Hassan Maatouk and Lebanon, and Brian Kaltack and Vanuatu.
And what’s amazing is how this documentary series illustrates how much pressure there is not only on Brazil, who’s won their fair share of World Cup finals, but also 2018’s runner up Croatia and how much pressure Gabon or Vanuatu have on their shoulders just to qualify for the first time.
And even more to the point, the Captains as players are of varying ages. Because the World Cup cycle is every four years, however, there is some existentialism in the quest to qualify, because in four years, you may be too old, or too out of shape. That, now-or-never edge to this series is something that you can’t understate. That even goes for Brazil’s Thaigo who has the expectation of qualifying, compared to say Kaltack who’s captain Vanuatu just enjoys the hope of it.
Quarterbacks, by comparison, is only about three NFL Quarterbacks; the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, and the Atlanta Falcons’ Marcus Mariota. All three are followed for the 2022-23 football season, but all three teams and players are in different places in their career.
Mahomes is the established starter for the Chiefs and a Super Bowl champion, Cousins has found a home in Minnesota but has yet to play in the Super Bowl, and Mariota has just regained a starting job in Atlanta after being benched in Tennessee and bouncing around the league.
As I said earlier, the humanization of these players is impressive and it’s why Quarterbacks and Captains should both be watched. For the Quarterbacks series in particular, you get to see just how mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing one single NFL season can be. The physicality is extremely well documented in the third episode “Kings of Pain.”
I honestly believe both documentaries gloss over plenty of issues, but they are still enough of a peek behind the curtains of their respective competitions to be worth watching.
Sure, physically, I think Quarterbacks establishes that position and sport as the rougher and tougher of the two in a direct comparison, but in the same breath I believe Captains shows World Cup qualifying to be the more emotionally and mentally tougher of the two.
Still, you watch these documentary series for the same reason you watch the sports: because the dialog and narratives that happen off the field or pitch are just as poignant as those that take place on them.
Both series are rumoured to be getting a Season Two, so if you enjoy one or either, keep an eye out for more.