For Mike Greenberg, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were very personal and remain that way 17 years later.
The Get Up! host, who grew up in lower Manhattan, went to his high school prom in the World Trade Center and lost a childhood friend in the attacks.
Greenberg is the host of Comeback Season – Sports After 9/11, an examination of how sports helped the nation heal following one of the darkest days in U.S. history. The program will air tonight at 7 ET on ESPN.
In March 2017, at the request of former ESPN president George Bodenheimer, Greenberg and former ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards spoke at the annual gala for the Voices of September 11 organization. There, Greenberg met Alice Greenwald, 9/11 Memorial & Museum President & CEO.
A year later, Greenberg returned to the annual gala as master of ceremonies, and he learned that the museum had created an exhibit based on the stories he and Edwards told at the gala. Greenwald asked him to come to the museum to brainstorm with the staff on ideas for a launch event.
“We started going through an idea for getting some of the athletes and coaches who were directly involved, and try to bring some of the families who were connected to them,” he said. “And in the middle of the conversation I said this would make a terrific TV show.”
Greenberg emailed ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro to run the idea by him. “On a Saturday morning, he emailed me back within 15 minutes and said let’s do this,” he said.
“For someone like me, to have had this opportunity to be part of this event, which I think has been handled so extraordinarily well by everyone, both at the museum and at ESPN, has been really genuinely in its own way the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in my 22 years at the company,” he said. “It’s just been a remarkable journey watching it come to fruition.
“And I give all the credit to Alice Greenwald and Jimmy Pitaro,” he said. “Alice had the vision to do the exhibit and Jimmy had the firm commitment to make it a TV show and to really put a lot of resources and energy into it, and I’m really delighted to have been the conduit for it and now to be the host of it.”