published Thursday, February 17th, 2011

UT football family salutes Holloway

KNOXVILLE—The rest of the country will have to wait until 8 o'clock Sunday night to watch the ESPN documentary "The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story."

But Wednesday night's private premiere of the story of the former Tennessee quarterback great met with rousing approval from those who've known him best.

"It's well-deserved and long overdue," said former Vols coach Phillip Fulmer. "Condredge Holloway did a lot for our program then, and he's doing a lot for us now. He's a huge reason for the success we've had here through the years."

Many of the guests inside the historic Tennessee Theatre would fall in that same category. In addition to Fulmer, former coach Bill Battle -- who signed Holloway in 1971 -- was there, as were past UT stars such as Peyton Manning, Tee Martin and Jason Whitten, former NFL coach and one-time UT grad assistant Jon Gruden and a host of others to view the film produced by country music star and Knoxville native Kenny Chesney.

"He's what made me want to play sports," said Chesney, who was 6 years old the first time his father took him to a game at Neyland Stadium to see Holloway in action in the early 1970s.

"Condredge was the first athlete who made me say, 'I want to do that.' Because of him, to this day, I look up to athletes and coaches as my ultimate heroes."

Chesney never reached Holloway's level of excellence. His career ended as a wide receiver at Gibbs High School. But last summer, after working on the documentary "The Boys of Fall," he was asked by officials at ESPN why he had worn a No. 7 UT jersey in an elementary school class photo instead of a coat and tie like all the other little boys.

When Chesney told the network about Holloway, the player behind that jersey number, the seeds for "The Color Orange" were sown.

"I'm a little younger than Condredge," said ESPN's Brad Nessler, who's 54 to Holloway's 57. "But I remember being a junior in college and watching his games and thinking, 'This guy's really special.'"

Centered on Holloway's path from a childhood in Huntsville, Ala., to becoming the first black starting quarterback in the Southeastern Conference, the documentary runs one hour.

Said an emotional Holloway as the theatre filled with so much of his family and so many of his good friends and former UT teammates, "It's a little overwhelming, to be honest. If my [late] Dad and [deceased UT sports information legend] Haywood Harris could have been here, it would have been perfect."

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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