The story of Brook Berringer, a beloved Husker quarterback who is best remembered for his resilience and selflessness in the face of adversity and his tragic death two days before the NFL draft, is legendary in the Cornhusker State.
On Oct. 18, BTN Originals debuts “Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer.” The hour-long documentary, presented by Physicians Mutual, will be shown immediately following the Huskers-Northwestern game on BTN/BTN2Go.
Bill Friedman, BTN’s coordinating producer for original programming, said “Unbeaten” is just not a sports story, but a story about human character.
“Brook was way ahead of his time,” Friedman said. “He built a reputation for giving back and he is beloved because so many think he represents what a Nebraskan should be.
“His life is a great college football story that happens to take place in Nebraska.”
Berringer began the 1994 season as the Huskers’ backup quarterback but was thrust into the starting role when Heisman Trophy candidate Tommie Frazier was diagnosed with blood clots. Berringer helped lead the team to seven straight wins and a berth in the Orange Bowl against Miami. While Frazier returned to start the game, Berringer entered in the second quarter and helped spark a comeback. The win capped off the undefeated season, and gave Coach Tom Osborne his first national championship.
As the 1995 season dawned, Berringer and Frazier engaged in a spirited battle for the starting job, which Frazier won by a narrow margin. Berringer selflessly accepted his backup role that season as Frazier and the Huskers rolled to a second straight national championship.
The following spring, two days before the 1996 NFL draft, Berringer lost control of the two-seater plane he was piloting and died when the plane crashed. He was 22.
“Unbeaten” features rare footage of Berringer on camera, highlights of some key Husker games leading up to the national championship and interviews with Frazier, Osborne, and Brook’s mother, Jan Berringer, who shares some of the thousands of letters she received in the wake of his death.
The BTN Originals crew also was in Lincoln in September when the 1994 championship team was honored before the Huskers’ 41-31 victory over Miami. The crew captured exclusive footage and an interview with Berringer’s teenage nephew, who walked onto the field wearing a No. 18 jersey in honor of the uncle he never met.
“Unbeaten” is directed by Matthew Engel and Kevin Shaw, who together also directed “Tiebreaker,” the story of the 1973 Ohio State-Michigan football game that ended in a 10-10 tie and its controversial aftermath. The “Unbeaten” premiere will have limited commercial interruptions.