Behind The Scenes

ABC News’ Woodruff reports on UCLA star’s concussions for E:60

Internationally recognized ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, reports his first ESPN feature on a UCLA concussion victim for Tuesday’s edition of E:60 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Woodruff shares the story of former UCLA linebacker — and the Bruins’ 2011 Defensive Player of the Year — Patrick Larimore, who retired prior to this season due to multiple concussions.

In a special collaboration between E:60 and ABC News, correspondent Woodruff — who suffered a traumatic brain injury covering the war in Iraq in 2006 — takes viewers inside Larimore’s story with his own personal understanding of head injuries.

Front Row sat down with Woodruff, a Detroit sports fan, while filming his first E:60 roundtable, where producers and reporters discuss upcoming pieces for the show.

How did the relationship with E:60 come about?
Longtime friend [and E:60 coordinating producer] Michael Baltierra and others who I had worked with at ABC News asked if there was a possibility for ESPN and ABC to do some work together. I said “Hallelujah baby, I’ll be there in a second!” I’ve been a huge sports fan my entire life, I’ve been watching ESPN since I was a kid — as long as ESPN has existed. I think there’s got to be more news that is shared and reported through both ABC and ESPN — because there is always this relationship between hard news and investigative reporting and sports. They’re all together, they’re all related, and they need to be broadcast in both directions. So I really thought this was something that was important for us to do — but really I just love ESPN and sports!

In your extensive reporting on brain injuries, have you done other stories including sports angles?
A bulk of the reporting I’ve done on brain injuries has been within the world of the military and the civilian world. [Covering] sports is something that emerged as the knowledge of this came out at the time of [the war]. I think the NFL followed a little bit behind of what the military was addressing but now they’re completely together, studying the same thing.

Discuss the access and time you spent with Patrick Larimore?
The [E:60] producers [Baltierra and associate producer Matt Rissmiller] arranged the access. Once we decided to do the story, we did the research, approached his coaches, his parents, to see if he would tell his story.

What are your impressions of E:60, before doing your first piece for the show and after?
This seemed to be the kind of news I’ve always reported. This is an example of what we can do and make sports into much more hard news, magazine-reporting news — these are the stories I’ve always loved. I think I was surprised in many ways when I first saw the program when it started [E:60 is now in its sixth season]. These are remarkable stories and real news that is new to people. A bulk of the stories aren’t even necessarily about sports, there’s a thread, but I think even those who don’t necessarily love sports will love this program.

Editor’s note: For more on Woodruff’s E:60 segment, click here.

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