Why Not Us: FAMU Football presented by Cricket Wireless, the second season of the acclaimed Why Not Us series from The Undefeated on ESPN+ and executive produced by NBA All-Star Chris Paul, will premiere Thursday, October 14, exclusively on ESPN+. The new, eight-episode season will take fans behind-the-scenes of Florida A&M Football, one of the most storied athletic teams at an Historically Black College and University, as the Rattlers experience one of the most eagerly anticipated football seasons in school history.
Like last year’s first season of Why Not Us, which followed the North Carolina Central men’s basketball team, Why Not Us: FAMU Football will examine the distinct culture, experiences and challenges of an HBCU athletic program, exploring what makes FAMU special on and off the field.
The FAMU football program is led by head coach Willie Simmons, who grew up in a mostly segregated town 20 minutes from the FAMU campus. Simmons took over the Rattlers in 2017 following academic violations, sub-par recruiting and budget shortfalls that threatened to shut down the program. In just a few years, Simmons has reshaped FAMU Football in his image, with the values befitting FAMU’s reputation of rich culture and tradition that include its incomparable Marching Band 100, legendary homecoming celebrations and a star-studded list of alumni.
Video Trailer: Why Not Us: FAMU Football
Presented by The Undefeated, Why Not Us: FAMU Football is produced by Roadside Entertainment, Paul’s Ohh Dip!!! Productions, and ESPN+. The Why Not Us series highlights the ethos of being a student and student-athlete at an HBCU. The series spotlights the importance of these remarkable schools and their people, who have done more with less. HBCUs are American institutions that have produced many of the very best and brightest among us, such as Spike Lee (Morehouse College), Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State University), Thurgood Marshall (Lincoln University/Howard University Law School), Stacey Abrams (Spelman College), and the first African-American, Asian-American and female Vice-President, Kamala Harris (Howard University), to name a few.
“The second season of Why Not Us will continue to highlight the importance of HBCUs including their challenges and triumphs,” said Paul. “The achievements of athletes at HBCUs do not receive the level of recognition that they deserve. Why Not Us will chronicle the Florida A&M football team and shine a spotlight on these extraordinary athletes while inspiring audiences with their incredible journey of resilience in the face of adversity.”
“Following the success of the first season of Why Not Us, we wanted to take it a step further, examining the same themes with the same authenticity and rich history, but with a different university and a different sport that shows people a new path,” said Brian Lockhart, senior vice president, ESPN Original Content and ESPN Films. “Coach Simmons, his players and the FAMU community are exactly what we were looking for.”
Paul, who left Wake Forest University early before being selected No. 4 overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, is working toward a degree at Winston-Salem State University. He has actively supported HBCUs for years, including assisting with HBCU voting initiatives and partnering with Sour Patch Kids and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to create The Mischief for Change Scholarship, a college scholarship fund with a $1 million commitment over the next five years for students attending HBCUs. In November, Paul will host The Chris Paul HBCU Tip-Off, a newly developed collegiate event with four Historically Black Colleges and Universities and in partnership with The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Also, in partnership with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Boost Mobile, Paul will host the upcoming inaugural Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge in November that will be played at the Footprint Center and air on ESPN Networks.
Paul partnered with Harvard Business School to bring its Entertainment, Media and Sports program to North Carolina A&T, creating the Special Topics in Management course to develop a pipeline for students pursuing careers in those industries. The course will expand to more HBCUs this year, helping to address emerging issues in business management related to sports, media and entertainment.
The Undefeated on ESPN+
The Undefeated on ESPN+ enhances ESPN and Disney’s ongoing commitment to telling Black Stories through a year-round collaboration between the two brands that creates and curates content that is Powered by The Undefeated, including a mixture of premium storytelling, relevant collections from The Undefeated and ESPN+ libraries and additional special projects. It serves as a home throughout the year for telling Black stories, elevates Black voices in sports, highlights specific communities within sports (e.g., less-known Black sports trailblazers, Black female athletes, etc.), and explores the off-field/off-court work of athletes within their communities.
In addition to its cutting-edge content, The Undefeated seeks to be a thought-leader on race, sports and culture in the country – convening insightful forums to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.
About Ohh Dip!!! Productions
Founded by NBA All-Star Chris Paul, Ohh Dip!!! is focused on developing a wide range of projects across the spectrum of sports and entertainment for all platforms, including unscripted, scripted, digital, premium, documentaries, short-form content and more. Ohh Dip!!! is passionate about storytelling and bringing audiences together through entertaining, inspiring and unique programming.
Ohh Dip!!! Productions collaborated with ESPN Films on Paul’s three-part docuseries Chris Paul’s Chapter 3, which chronicles his offseason move to the Houston Rockets in 2017, and the 2018 film Crossroads, which was produced by Roadside Entertainment and follows a group of Black American boys in North Carolina who discover a love for lacrosse and their team’s journey in overcoming adversity. Recently, Ohh Dip!!! produced Why Not Us: North Carolina Central University Men’s Basketball (ESPN+), an in-depth look at the NCCU men’s basketball team, the challenges they face on the court, and what it means to play for an HBCU.
Additional projects include The Game Changers, an award-winning 2018 documentary about plant-based eating, Quibi’s Blackballed (2020), the inside story of Donald Sterling and the L.A. Clippers, and The Day Sports Stood Still, a documentary from director Antoine Fuqua and Imagine Documentaries about the shutdown of sports due to Covid-19 for HBO and streaming on HBO Max.
Upcoming projects include American Sole, a feature film following two characters played by Pete Davidson and O’Shea Jackson Jr. in the sneaker reselling industry, and The Chris Paul Project, a biographical film based on Paul’s upcoming memoir that is in development for Disney+. Ohh Dip!!! co-produces Bloomberg Quicktake’s How I Got Here, an in-depth weekly one-on-one interview series debuting this fall hosted by Paul and featuring guests from the various worlds he touches -- sports, business, entertainment and politics.
About Roadside Entertainment
Founded in 2004 by Emmy Award-winning producer/directors John Hirsch and Ron Yassen, Roadside Entertainment has a simple goal: Find great stories and bring them to life, seeking out characters who through force of will or the dynamics of circumstance rise up and inspire us in extraordinary ways. As filmmakers, Hirsch and Yassen take nothing for granted and strive to bring creative storytelling, honesty and integrity to everything they do. Hirsch co-produces the ESPY Awards on ABC and is an Executive Producer and Showrunner on Marvel’s Hero Project, on Disney+. Yassen’s credits include more than 30 documentary films, including Roger Maris: Reluctant Hero, Glory in Black and White, Kareem: Minority of One, and 50 Cent: Origin of Me. In addition to the ESPYs, Roadside previously collaborated with ESPN on the Emmy-nominated documentary Crossroads, which premiered at the Tribeca film festival in 2018
Chris Paul, Ohh Dip!!! Productions and Roadside Entertainment are represented by CAA.
About Florida A&M University
Founded in 1887, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is a public, historically Black university located in Tallahassee, Florida. FAMU has a legacy of providing access to a high-quality, affordable education with programs and services that guide students toward successfully achieving their dreams. FAMU is part of the State University System of Florida and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. In addition to the main Tallahassee campus, FAMU has several satellite campuses across Florida, including the College of Law in Orlando and the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health, which has sites in Crestview, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami. Visit www.famu.edu.
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