ESPN 9/11 Special Explores Role of Sports in National Healing After Attacks

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ESPN 9/11 Special Explores Role of Sports in National Healing After Attacks


Comeback Season Includes Perspective from Athletes, Coaches, Fans, Families Affected by 9/11  

Click HERE for images from the 9/11 Museum Event

On the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ESPN will explore how sports helped the nation heal following one of the darkest days in U.S. history.

Produced in conjunction with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, the E:60 presentation of Comeback Season – Sports After 9/11 will air Tuesday night, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, anchored by Mike Greenberg, host of the ESPN weekday morning show Get Up!

The 90-minute program will include interviews, features and memories from athletes, coaches, families and others whose stories marked key emotional milestones in sports following the 9/11 attacks.

“When I presented this idea to the Museum and my bosses at ESPN, I never dreamt it would turn into anything remotely resembling this,” said Greenberg. “Working on this project has been one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences I’ve had in my 22 years at ESPN.”

The program features interviews from an event produced by ESPN in conjunction with the Museum to help launch the special exhibition “Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11,” which is now open to the public.

“Sports played such an integral part in the healing of America after 9/11 and our exhibition, ‘Comeback Season,’ shares and celebrates the strength of the human spirit as exemplified through sports during that time,” said Alice M. Greenwald, 9/11 Memorial & Museum President & CEO. “We were thrilled to work with ESPN to bring this landmark and deeply moving exhibition to television.”

A look inside the exhibit will also be part of the program.

“The exhibit does an incredible job telling the stories surrounding events such as Mike Piazza’s home run for the Mets, just 10 days after 9/11, and George W. Bush’s first pitch of the World Series that season. Moments like these had a unique ability to unify the nation and instill a sense of hope in the wake of the attacks,” said Connor Schell, ESPN Executive Vice President, Content.

“The TV special further explores the narratives featured in the exhibit, unpacking the emotions behind these moments, as told by athletes, coaches, and civilians, in ESPN’s signature storytelling style.”

Among sports figures appearing in the program:

  • Former New York Rangers captain Mark Messier.
  • Former New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde and former coach Herm Edwards.
  • Former New York Giants players Howard Cross and Amani Toomer.
  • Former New York Yankees manager Joe Torrre.
  • Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine.
  • Former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Former U.S. Women’s National Team members Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf and Julie Foudy.
  • Former New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Andruzzi, whose three brothers were NYC firefighters on 9/11.

The program also will include a portion of the ESPN 30 for 30 short film “First Pitch,” detailing the night President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch for Game 3 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium in October of 2001.

Among other elements:

  • A look back at the Army-Navy game of Dec. 1, 2001, including new interviews with two players who were part of an iconic moment after the game.
  • How the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2001, contributed to the city’s healing.
  • The specially-produced Budweiser commercial that aired in the 2002 Super Bowl with the Budweiser Clydesdales kneeling in respect toward New York City. The commercial has only aired once.
  • An essay on the broad impact of sports after 9/11 by ESPN the Magazine writer Tom Junod, with a longer version of the piece to appear in the magazine.
  • “Still New York,” a musical tribute by New York artist MAX, will close the program.

Prior to the program, the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter will include some additional elements related to 9/11, including an airing of reporter Tom Rinaldi’s Emmy-winning 2011 SC Featured piece “The Man in the Red Bandana.” The feature remembers Welles Crowther, a former Boston College lacrosse player who led people to safety after terrorists struck the World Trade Center on 9/11. His trademark was a red bandana.

Comeback Season will re-air on ESPN2 at 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 and both airings also will stream on the ESPN App. In addition, the program will air on WABC-TV in New York on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 11:30 a.m.


Media contact: [email protected]

Andy Hall

My main responsibility is PR/Communications for ESPN’s news platforms including the Enterprise/Investigative Unit, the E60 program and SportsCenter. In addition, I’m the PR contact for ESPN’s Formula 1 coverage, golf majors (the Masters and PGA Championship) and TGL golf. I’m based in Daytona Beach, Fla., and have been with ESPN since 2006.
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