ESPN’s award-winning prime time newsmagazine E:60 (tonight, 8 ET, ESPN) will chronicle the story of a Ferguson, Mo., high school football team amid the recent events in that city.
McCluer South-Berkeley High School is only three miles from where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed on Aug. 9. The E:60 story focuses on how the Bulldogs football team navigated through the aftermath of the shooting that brought tension, unrest and worldwide media attention to Ferguson.
Reporter Jeffri Chadiha lives in Missouri and was able to get to Ferguson quickly to begin work on the story. He learned players bonded and helped each other with the help of head coach Howard Brown.
“For a high school team, they carry themselves with a lot of discipline and focus, and [Brown] really prides himself on instilling those qualities in his kids,” Chadiha said. “They are very much ‘yes, sir, no, sir’ kids.
“He’s already been trying to get these kids prepared for dealing with life, because a lot of them grew up in areas where there’s a lot of drug dealing going on. Unfortunately they know a lot about that, they knew people who’d been killed before, and they’ve been hardened in a certain way.”
One of the players drove the E:60 crew around the city.
“He pointed out certain stores that had been looted and where some of the things had really been out of control,” Chadiha said. “For the most part it was pretty calm. But you could tell that something had gone on there.”
Producer Mike Farrell and Chadiha had unsuccessfully tried to connect with the school and its coaches via telephone when the idea to do the story was hatched. But then Farrell came across the school’s Twitter account, sent a Tweet regarding E:60’s interest and Coach Brown responded.
“When the shooting happened, it was really kind of a test of what he’d been teaching them,” Chadiha said.
“I think that in a lot of ways, the story is about the intersection of a coach trying to teach young guys how to be men and a pretty serious social issue that would distract anybody.”