Brook Berringer, who spent his senior year as a back-up quarterback, was such an uncommon young man, Nebraska erected a statue of him in front of its stadium.
BTN tells his story in a moving documentary, “Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer.” The film airs Saturday after the Nebraska-Northwestern game at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET. It also re-airs Monday at 9 p.m. ET
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 Nebraska Head Coach Tom Osborne his first National Championship.
As the 1995 season dawned, Berringer and Frazier engaged in a spirited battle for the starting job – a job that Frazier eventually 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.
Berringer had his eyes set on a pro football career. However, just two days before the 1996 NFL draft, he lost control of the two-seater plane he was piloting and died when it crashed. He was 22 years old.
His death rocked Nebraska. Berringer had been widely admired for his attitude on the field and how he represented the Cornhuskers off the field.
“Brook was way ahead of his time,” said Bill Friedman, BTN’ coordinating producer for original programming. “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.”
“Unbeaten” features rare, archival footage of Berringer on camera, highlights of some key Nebraska 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 passing.
The final scene is especially powerful. The BTN Originals crew was in Lincoln in September, when the 1994 championship team was honored prior to the Huskers’ game against 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.