ESPN’s award-winning Content Development unit (30 for 30) will create four one-hour documentaries highlighting the traditions, rivalries and unique stories of the Southeastern Conference it was announced today at the conference’s Media Days event in Birmingham, Ala. The “Storied” series will debut on ESPNU Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET with Herschel, about former University of Georgia and pro football standout, Herschel Walker.
ESPNU will televise four “Storied” documentaries per year. The series’ second film highlighting the first SEC football championship game will air in December. All of the films will re-air on ESPN or ESPN2.
John Dahl, executive producer, ESPN Content Development, said, “We pride ourselves on our dedication to storytelling. The SEC’s rich, layered history certainly lends itself to a series of this kind. We look forward to sharing these captivating stories with SEC fans.”
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said, ““The “Storied” series will be an opportunity to take fans behind the scenes of some of the compelling stories that have been part of the history of the Southeastern Conference. These films will add to ESPN’s list of outstanding production in the tradition of its “30 for 30″ series.”
About the film
Produced in conjunction with NASCAR Media Group, Herschel explores how Herschel Walker’s career in the SEC was legendary, but his journey off the field was filled with struggle, pain, and ultimately, redemption. Growing up in rural Georgia, Walker was relentlessly bullied for being overweight and having a severe stutter. He turned those taunts into motivation, transforming himself into a superior athlete. Unable to afford weight training equipment, Walker self-trained by doing 5,000 pushups and sit-ups every day after school, racing oncoming locomotive trains and running barefoot in 100-degree heat while pulling a 50-pound tire.
He would become a star running back in high school and shatter state records. At Georgia, Walker led the school to its only undisputed national championship, was a three-time All-American and winner of the 1982 Heisman Trophy. He is considered one of the SEC’s and college football’s greatest players ever. But despite those accomplishments, Walker endured mental anguish for years over the unresolved childhood traumas. Eventually he was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and underwent intensive psychotherapy to heal.
The film includes interviews with Walker’s family, former Georgia coaches Vince Dooley and Mike Cavan, and teammates Frank Ros and Joe Happe, as well as his high school coach, his psychotherapist, former Dallas Morning News writer Skip Bayless and former USFL New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump.
Walker on being bullied: “I used to pay kids money to talk to me or to be nice to me….There are so many kids out there that are suffering and hurting, that if I can speak out about it and touch someone’s soul, that makes me feel better than winning the Heisman trophy.”
Dooley: “I think Herschel is the greatest that’s ever been.”
Happe: “The impact Herschel has had on the SEC is unprecedented. His legacy will never die.”
Trump: “Herschel is a high quality human being. Football is the least of it. He is just somebody special.”
SEC on ESPN
ESPN, Inc., and the Southeastern Conference entered into a landmark 15-year agreement for extensive football, men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and conference championship content across multiple ESPN entities beginning with the 2009-10 academic year. As a result, ESPN Regional Television became the over the-air syndication home for Southeastern Conference programming and the largest college sports syndication television package in the country. In 2010, SEC Network basketball games were distributed in 71 local television markets, representing 39.0 million homes; SEC Network football games were distributed in 97 local television markets, representing 81.2 million homes, which is 70% of the U.S.
The 24-hour college sports television network airs more than 650 live events annually and offers over 600 original studio shows. ESPNU has seen a steady increase since its inception on March 4, 2005 and is now in over 73 million households. The brand is also available in high definition on ESPNUHD, now in over 20 million homes. The network has long-term carriage agreements with all 10 of the top multichannel TV providers – Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV (Channel 208), DISH Network (Channel 141), Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS TV and AT&T U-verse.