ESPN’s ’30 for 30’ Short ‘Strike Team’ Recalls How US Marshals Lured Fugitives With NFL Tickets

In December 1985, the U.S. Marshals Service pulled off a sting operation that is befitting of a Ben Affleck or Jon Hamm crime caper, but would almost be deemed too unbelievable if created by Hollywood scriptwriters rather than law enforcement.

By sending out 3,000 letters to the addresses of wanted criminals telling them they had won free Washington Redskins tickets from a new all-sports television channel, officers successfully arrested hundreds of fugitives in one fell swoop and without a single shot being fired.

The ruse became legendary among law enforcement circles but is a mystery to most sports fans, which will all change Tuesday night when ESPN’s “30 for 30” series airs short film “Strike Team” by director Willie Ebersol and executive producers Charlie Ebersol and Fairouz El-Baz.