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The accidental videographer: The birth – and life – of the Tom Brady injury video

Chad Kopcak, enjoying yesterday's Patriots camp, where he became a mini-celebrity after capturing video of Tom Brady's fall.
Chad Kopcak and his daughter, Rebekah, enjoying yesterday’s Patriots camp, where he became a “temporary celebrity” after capturing video of Tom Brady’s fall.

As a regular ESPN viewer – skewing toward the network’s NFL offerings and particularly enjoying analyst Ron Jaworski’s video breakdowns – Sandwich, Mass.’s Chad Kopcak (@ChadKopcak) is used to seeing famous sports names flash across his TV screen.

But having his own name appear as a “bug” in the upper left corner as Wednesday’s Tom Brady practice injury video aired repeatedly on ESPN?

“I think seeing my name on the screen and knowing that I was the one that captured the video was the best part,” said Kopcak, who “cleared” the video for use after ESPN’s assignment desk contacted Kopcak via Twitter. Several other media outlets also contacted him for approval on usage.

“We were alerted to the video by a few different people,” said Senior Assignment Editor, Gary Bender. “I then reached out to Chad via the Assignment Desk Twitter account and he responded giving his permission. This is how we clear a lot of material these days.”

In fact, the ESPN Assignment Desk clears nearly 2,500 photos and videos from social media annually, a number that grows as use of social platforms proliferates.

Kopcak, 42, has been attending New England Patriots training camps for years, dating back to their days at Bryant College in Rhode Island. Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass., he was accompanied by his mom and dad, Linda and Fred Kopcak; his wife, Kelly; and their two youngest children, Rebekah, 15 and Chase, 13.

In a practice against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — the Patriots’ foes for a Friday night preseason game — Brady injured his left knee after throwing a pass.

“I really did not think about the video being unique at first,” said Kopcak, an information systems director for Hyannis, Mass.-based, FolioMed. “I was really more concerned with the Patriots season being on the brink of disaster. As soon as I recovered, and had some Pepto-Bismol, I thought about posting the video.”

After sending the iPhone 4-created video to a few friends, he decided to share it with a couple of Patriots beat writers he regularly reads, one of whom was ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss. He then posted it on Telly.com with a link to the video from Twitter – it was the first video post he’d ever done and one of about 10 short videos he shot during the day.

“After 10 minutes my Twitter push notifications were blowing my phone up,” Kopcak said. “That is when I started to think I may have something unique. Everyone with me was loving it.

“I have to admit, I found it quite exciting myself, having to respond to multiple news organizations to give permission to use the video,” he said. “The coolest thing was being able to share all of the excitement, and temporary celebrity with my family, it will be a memory that we will be able to talk about for some time to come.

“Luck just shines on us all from time to time, and it landed square on me [Wednesday],” he said.

And that, in turn, landed Chad Kopcak’s name on ESPN.

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