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“I’d be lying if I said it isn’t cool to have an NFL player and future Hall of Famer track a piece you’ve written”

Reporter Jen Lada previews "The Brotherhood," her Postseason NFL Countdown feature narrated by Drew Brees that centers upon a prep QB's traumatic injury

On Super Bowl Sunday, ESPN’s Postseason NFL Countdown (10 a.m. ET) will air a special feature entitled “The Brotherhood,” written by reporter Jen Lada and produced by Sharon Matthews.

Lada and Matthews also got some help from Super Bowl winning-quarterback Drew Brees, who played a few roles in the story, including being a narrator.

Sharon Matthews, storyteller
Features producer Sharon Matthews has two projects premiering Super Bowl Sunday. Read about her work regarding The Undefeated’s Black History Month music video starring singer Aloe Blacc here.

“I’d be lying if I said it isn’t cool to have an NFL player and future Hall of Famer track a piece you’ve written,” Lada said. “Our crews met with Drew twice in New Orleans during the season. He was incredibly cooperative, accommodating and – no surprise – coachable as I walked him through our vision.”

Centered around a young quarterback named Alex Ruiz, who suffered an unimaginable loss and was unable to play the sport he loves, the story focuses on the support and the camaraderie Ruiz received from friends, teammates and coaches who propelled him through his recovery.

Beyond the support of high school teammates, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller played a large role in helping Ruiz get back to the field.

“The most challenging part of telling this story was that Sharon and I were tasked with blending the incredible bonds that Alex had with his teammates and coaches alongside the new, but powerful, connections he made with Brees and Miller,” said Lada.

“We needed to devote enough time in the piece to reflect those relationships authentically. It wasn’t just one linear story but three intersecting journeys and that posed challenges in the writing and execution.”

Lada hopes this story reminds viewers that NFL players are just like them – people who love the game and have a great appreciation for those who play it.

Lada added: “Drew and Zach saw their younger selves in Alex. They just wanted to help him through his lowest points any way they could.”

Emily Archacki and Jen Lada produced the Drew Brees in-studio video.

From the writer, Sam Borden: “This is such a tragic, but important story, it makes me proud that ESPN still invests resources in doing these kinds of stories and this kind of storytelling. Even during a week when attention is focused on Atlanta and the Super Bowl, we’re still aware enough to look beyond our borders for compelling storytelling.”

– Molly Mita

1. Super Bowl coverage continues tonight with SportsCenter live from Atlanta at 6p.m. ET on ESPN. Sage Steele hosts alongside analysts Randy Moss, Steve Young and NFL insider Adam Schefter with special guest J.J. Watt.

2. The defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors go head-to-head with the visiting Los Angeles Lakers for this week’s ESPN NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC matchup at 8:30 p.m. Mike Breen, analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson and reporter Lisa Salters will provide commentary for the night live from Oracle Arena.

3. UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ returns featuring a bantamweight rematch between Marlon Moraes and Raphael Assuncao. The entire event will be live from Fortaleza, Brazil, and available exclusively on ESPN+ in the U.S. with prelims beginning live at 5 p.m. ET in both English and Spanish.

4. Postseason NFL Countdown previews Super Bowl LIII on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN. There will be a great lineup of features, the latest news from NFL reporters Josina Anderson (Rams) and Sal Paolantonio (Patriots), and the Countdown crew will share their Super Bowl predictions.

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