Gus (film) The inept California Atoms, floundering in the cellar of the National Football League, welcome the team’s newest member—a mule capable of placekicking a football 100 yards with deadly accuracy. The endearing animal turns the League upside down, eludes kidnappers, masterminds the romance of the shy young man who owns him, and single-handedly (single-hoofedly?) turns the hapless Atoms into a championship team. Released on July 7, 1976. Directed by Vincent McEveety. 97 min. Stars Ed Asner (Hank Cooper), Don Knotts (Coach), Gary Grimes (Andy), Tim Conway (Crankcase), Liberty Williams (Debbie), Dick Van Patten (Cal), Ronnie Schell (Joe Barnsdale), Bob Crane (Pepper), Tom Bosley (Spinner), Dick Butkus (Rob Cargil), and special guest stars Johnny Unitas, Dick Enberg, George Putnam, Stu Nahan. The film was based on the book by Ted Key. Football scenes were filmed at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Sports Arena, and on a portable field of sod covering a parking lot at the Disney Studio in Burbank. Backgrounds were filmed at many professional games. The fabled Animation Building on the lot was even used—as a hospital. Executive producer Ron Miller had personal background experience for this film—he used to play professionally and spent a year as a tight end with the Los Angeles Rams. A special acknowledgment is made in the credits to the National Football League for their assistance in the football sequences. Released on video in 1981 and 1985.