This Sunday, Outside the Lines will debut an SC Featured, “Thirteen: The Cochran Concussion Story,” at 9 a.m., ET on ESPN2.
Features reporter Jen Lada and producer Kristen Lappas tell the story of a Connecticut father and son whose relationship revolved around football.
Former University of Connecticut quarterback Casey Cochran “had reached out to Jen about his story (the fact that he had 13 concussions and eventually quit football),” Lappas said. “He wanted to share more details with her about his troubling career and how he is raising awareness for head trauma and concussions.”
Like all strong storytellers, Lappas and Lada sought to tell Cochran’s story in the most effective way. So first they needed to find a unique angle.
— Casey Cochran (@CaseyCochran) July 5, 2016
“At ESPN, we obviously have told countless stories about athletes who have faced the repercussions of multiple concussions, and so heading in, we were looking for a unique angle to this specific story, and whether it would be worth telling or not,” Lappas said.
Lada decided to meet with Cochran to gather some background.
“I met with Casey at the beginning of the year to discuss his high school and college football career and my interest in his story,” Lada said. “During that initial conversation, we realized that we both had been coached by our dads in high school. We compared notes and laughed about the uniqueness of that experience.”
As the conversation continued Lada became drawn to the father-son dynamic between Casey and Jack; Casey’s father won eight state championships as a Connecticut high school football coach.
– Kristen Lappas
“As Casey revealed more about Jack’s coaching history, success and philosophy as well as his attitude towards Casey’s current situation, it became obvious that they had a very compelling story together,” she said.
From the first meeting and throughout the process, Cochran was extremely transparent with them.
“Casey was an incredible subject to work with. He wants to get his story out there for kids to see the uncensored, real effects that multiple concussions can have on a person,” Lappas said. “He allowed us access to his psychiatrist and doctor’s appointments throughout the summer. This element provided a level of authenticity, which I don’t think has been achieved before, regarding the topic of concussions.”
Lappas hopes the piece will have an impact on fathers and sons, coaches and players, and open their eyes to the realities of playing the game.
“Our hopes for the viewers watching is that they are able to take a real look at the pressures that children face when it comes to taking hits and remaining in the game,” Lappas said. “It is a story that is relatable on an entirely different level, and that is, the complicated and ever-changing relationship between a father and son.”