Rattlers in spotlight in ESPN docuseries

ESPN’s docuseries Why Not Us: FAMU Football available now on ESPN+. Photo courtesy: dmedmedia.disney.com

From packing Bragg Memorial Stadium on Saturdays to traveling hundreds of miles to cheer for their team, there is no question that Rattlers show their school pride through supporting FAMU’s football team.

FAMU, ranked the No. 1 public HBCU in the country by U.S. News & World Report, has helped the university  attract considerable attention from outsiders.

ESPN is the latest “outsider” to set its sights on Florida A&M with the production of a new documentary series, “Why Not Us,” focusing on the football team. The eight-episode docuseries gives viewers an inside, exclusive look at the football team’s 2021 season, while also highlighting some of the players’ personal stories.

Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul, producer of the series, shared on ESPN’s morning show, “First Take,” the significance of shining a spotlight on HBCUs.

“It’s part of my upbringing, so to tell these stories is huge because you get to see what a lot of these kids are going through, their struggle and what it looks like for them to try and level the plane field,” Paul said.

Some might think being followed around by ESPN’s camera crew can cause a lot of unwanted attention or added distractions for the football team’s coaches and players, but this might not be the case according to defensive lineman Gentle Hunt.

“In the beginning, you have someone always shoving stuff in your face but after three or four months of it, we’ve gotten used to it. We also mess with them, they cool people so yeah, we love it,” Hunt said.

FAMU football coach Willie Simmons addressed the expectations for what the docuseries will have to offer for viewers on episode 12 of “The O&G StrikeZone” podcast.

“One of the things I was very adamant about was that I did not want a reality TV show, we wanted genuine stories,” Simmons said. “The main thing we wanted to do was be able to show what we’re about here at Florida A&M, as a university, as a football program and as band members. So I think they [ESPN] recognize the quality as a brand that is Florida A&M and I think that’s why they were so excited to get on board.”

The first episode for ESPN’s “Why Not Us” made its debut Thursday on ESPN+.