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The Making of Unleash the Fury

Scott Brooks started his collegiate life as a cross-country runner for Berry College in Georgia. Berry's athletic teams were all called the Vikings, but for some reason each team also had a personalized nickname. For example, Brooks's cross-country team was called the Rage. And the Berry soccer team was called the Fury.

The reason this matters to you? After Brooks left Berry and went to Georgia State, he became an intern, then a contractor and finally a full-time employee for the expansion Atlanta Thrashers, working in the game operations department. A big movie fan, Brooks began paying attention every time he saw a film for possible "rally" clips, bits that could be chopped up and used to incite sports fans.

So when he went to see "Road Trip," and got to the part where Tom Green was trying to motivate his python to eat a mouse by screaming "Unleash the Fury," Brooks thought of sports. First he thought.of the soccer Fury at Berry College. And then he thought of the Thrashers.

Within a year or two, he had put together an "Unleash the Fury" video for the Thrashers, a montage of movie clips meant to get fans on their feet. The segment included highlights from Remember the Titans (part of which was filmed at Berry), Varsity Blues, American Pie and so on. It featured Green screaming "Unleash the Fury!!!!," but it ended with "Go do that voodoo that you do so well," a line from Blazing Saddles. Fans in Atlanta loved it, but the video didn't necessarily make everyone in the arena stand up., and it didn't spawn t-shirts or posters.

Fast forward to 2007, when Brooks was hired to be the director of game entertainment for the Caps, arriving in town the same day as Bruce Boudreau. He had a meeting with his predecessor, who showed him the team's big-screen clips. "Oh, you're going to find this next clip a little familiar," the guy said, and then showed Brooks a virtually identical "Unleash the Fury" montage.

Brooks kept the concept, but tinkered the heck out of it, trying to make it right for D.C. Certain clips were eliminated. Others were shortened. Bits were added from Hoosiers, Invincible, Network, Slap Shot, and Animal House. Most significantly, Blazing Saddles was cut, and Tom Green's "Unleash the Fury!!!" became the ending. (Watch it here.)

"It's kind of like the 3.0 version," Brooks explained. "When you create something, you're always going to have that second and third wave of redoing it before finally finding that one solution."

Sponsorship reads occupy many of the in-game timeouts, so Unleash the Fury settled into a regular spot during the third timeout of the third period. Slowly, it began to catch on.

"I thought it was good," Caps senior vice president and chief marketing officer Tim McDermott said. "I didn't think it was going to take off the way it did. That's why he's the game operations guy and I'm not."

Indeed, as the Caps zoomed toward the '08 playoffs and into the NHL's elite, the video went from background noise to featured entertainment. Soon, there were Unleash the Fury posters during road games, and season ticket holders with matching Unleash the Fury jerseys. There were kids waving hand-made Unleash the Fury signs on the big screen, and 18,000 people on their feet to scream the final line.

"The moment that video clip starts, the first second, you see everybody start to stand up," McDermott said. "It's Pavlov's dog now."

There have been more than 100 outside requests to use the montage, from the presidents of rival NHL franchises, from the Wizards and Georgetown basketball, from minor-league franchises, and from government agencies and corporations planning staff retreats.

One rival executive told Caps officials he believed the video and fan response changed the momentum of a game the Caps went on to win. A Finnish hockey executive talked to Brooks about creating such rally clips last week. Just this Monday, a sports franchise from Iowa called about Unleash the Fury. And when Brooks's staffers don't play Unleash the Fury--and they didn't at the final two regular season games--fans complain.

"It's a little shocking to see," he said.

While we sat in his office today, Boudreau came in to talk to Brooks. His group has also put together rally clips for private team meetings this season, and is putting the finishing touches on a new open montage for the playoffs. But he's also thinking ahead to next year; he has a file on his iPhone to record good lines and scenes from every movie he sees, and is already working on tentative rally scrips for the future. He figures Unleash the Fury will probably stick around, but you never know when a change to version 3.1 could take things to another level.

"We might switch out clips and refresh it," he said. "Or we may do something brand new, whatever that next line is."

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 14, 2009; 4:21 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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i think the team needs to bring in tom green (he cant be busy right now) to do a live version of unleash the great would that be if they play the video and then when it comes time for the last unlesh the fury, there's tom in his caps jersey yelling from the 200 level.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | April 14, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

he's Canadian. Gotta be a hockey fan too, right?

Posted by: TheFunBunch | April 14, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

As Tom sells foot longs and microbrews near my section, I'll ask him.

Posted by: Section117 | April 14, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

..just when I thought things couldn't get any cheesier.

Posted by: RangersIn5 | April 14, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Dan, this post is simply factually incorrect. Having been to many Thrashers games I can tell you that the "Unleash the Fury" video did in fact cause mass celebration and did spawn t-shirts and towels that people waved. In fact during their playoff matchup vs the Rangers several years ago the entire stadium was given unleash the fury pennant thingies.

Posted by: JDP_ | April 14, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Unleash the fury is great. I actually do get a little annoyed if it doesn't play during a game

Posted by: SombreroGuy | April 14, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Ok JDP, since I know where you went to school, I'll believe you. I was sort of going on general impressions, but that's my bad.

Either way, he created it, and now he's here, creating a better version of it. True?

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | April 14, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Unleash the Fury is very good, but is there a reason this Brooks guy cut out the Hockey Song?

Posted by: poguesmahone | April 14, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, because the Hockey Song is all kinds of lame...

Posted by: CapsNut | April 14, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Against the Islanders the Caps announcer announced the clip with something like "And now it's time to unleash the fury." Ugh.
To Caps Announcer (who appears to be vying for an ever expanding role, e.g. cheerleading during games, joining the post game show), please dial it back and don't ruin this. The clip is perfect. No need to add to (or subtract from) it.

Posted by: puff1 | April 14, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

I agree with puff1. I think that Wes is the best PA announcer in the business, but the clip stands alone. He doesn't need to introduce it. It's better coming unannounced.

Also, Steins, if you talk to Scott again, tell him for version 3.1 to change the first clip, from Invincible. Every time they show it during a Flyers game it pumps up the Flyers fans in attendance. We don't want them standing and cheering during our big montage!

Posted by: sirbobalew | April 14, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I saw the montage played (minus a couple of the clips for length purposes) at an Oklahoma City Blazers game a few weeks ago, so it's made it all the way down to the lowly Central Hockey League, if nothing else.

Posted by: HowdyDCU | April 15, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

The video is great, but I've said it before and I'll say it again. They need to get the "Invincible" clips outta there . . . no one wants to see that Philthy garbage.

Posted by: jacktrickard | April 15, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Someone had a semi-Russian version in a sign they made earlier this year, which read:

"Unleash the бешентсво!"

which kind of means "madness" or "rabies" in Russian, but was hilarious nonetheless.

Posted by: katzistan | April 15, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The Caps rendition is an improvement on the Thrashers version, but it could use a little beer chugging.

The Thrashers tradition started with 2 long haired leather dudes chugging a beer live in the first live shot after the video ended, then the role was taken over by annoying fan dude.

It really got folks fired up down here in Atlanta.

When I first saw this story I was wondering why a Caps writer was writing about a Thrasher tradition. Now it makes sense.

Posted by: TomRoyce | April 15, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I actually saw Tom Green on a VH1 reality show this weekend. My wife was watching For the Love of Ray J, and Green is apparently a friend of the singer/actor/self-centered jackass.

And, for the record, I would support "Unleash the Rabies" making it into version 3.1.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

They play a montage with Unleash the Fury at WVU basketball games... they play it right at the beginning of the 2nd half. When I first saw it I was kinda ticked because they stole it from the Caps. Plus no one in the arena yells Unleash the Fury, because everyone is too busy clapping because they put the Hoosiers clip where they clap in the locker room right before it. Poor attempt by WVU, great video by the Caps

Posted by: Smashionals | April 15, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

puff1 & sirbobalew: Wes Johnson, the Caps PA announcer, is a friend of mine. Scott Brooks has instructed him to announce the "Unleash The Fury" montage and the ultra-ridiculous "Capitals: Full Strength".

Neither one needs introduction, but that's what happens when the guy running the in-game presentation is working for an organization who would rather cater to the "casual fan".

Posted by: TheHornGuy | April 16, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

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