ESPN’s docuseries “The Last Dance” on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls was a massive success for the network, averaging 5.65 million viewers across 10 episodes.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the network has green-lit another multipart series on another legendary champion and, like Jordan, arguably the greatest to play his sport, Tom Brady.
On Thursday afternoon, ESPN revealed the trailer to the nine-part series, titled “Man In The Arena,’’ on the former Patriots and current Buccaneers quarterback, slated to air in 2021.
I have quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech since I saw it painted on our weight room wall at UM in 1995. It’s a constant reminder to ignore the noise, buckle my chinstrap, and battle through whatever comes my way.— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) May 21, 2020
Coming 2021 on @espn! pic.twitter.com/nm9SdFYB7D
Produced by Gotham Chopra’s “Religion of Sports” and Brady’s recently formed 199 Productions, the series will share Brady’s accounts of the biggest moments in his career. The nine parts equals the number of Super Bowls Brady played in during his 20 seasons in New England.
“Nine Super Bowl appearances over the course of 20 years is an achievement on an unmatched level,” ESPN executive vice president of content Connor Schell told Deadline.com.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Tom Brady as he reflects on each of those nine season-long journeys and the pivotal moments that defined them,’’ added Schell, who was an executive producer of “The Last Dance.” “Gotham Chopra is a highly skilled filmmaker who I am confident will bring to life this story of an icon in a new and revealing way.”
Brady and Chopra have a history of collaboration. Brady is a producer of Chopra’s “Religion of Sports” series. They also worked together on the Facebook Watch series “Tom vs Time” in 2018. Brady is also a subject of an episode in Chopra’s upcoming short-form series “The Greatness Code,’’ which will run on Apple TV+.
The trailer does not spark the anticipation that the revelation of the Jordan doc did, but that’s understandable. The Jordan doc aired 22 years after his final game with the Bulls, and much of the footage had never been seen, giving it extra weight. Jordan was also strikingly candid.
In the trailer, Brady talks about his evolution to football greatness in basic terms.
“Realizing my potential has been what my career has been all about. Things that I have dreamed about that have actually come true. Things have happened in my life as I kind of hoped they would happen,’’ says Brady in the trailer, as photos from his playing days, personal life, and stock footage of nature fill the screen.
“It’s been, I mean, just a complete evolution, you know, how I just kept fighting and clawing to continue to power forward. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you just try to keep making progress. So when I look at over 20 years, I look at how far I’ve come. But there’s not one step that I took where I realized, ‘Look how far I’ve come.' But those series of steps that I’ve put together, I go, ‘Wow, man, that’s quite … that’s quite a journey.' ”
Brady was selectively insightful during the “Tom vs Time” series, and this series is sure to draw strong ratings. But the ultimate measure of “Man In The Arena” will depend on how much he reveals that we don’t already know about that journey.