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AP photo by Darron Cummings / New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after leading his team past the Atlanta Falcons in overtime to win Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston.

Tom Brady's journey to each of his nine Super Bowls with the New England Patriots will be the subject of an ESPN series released next year.

The nine-episode series entitled "The Man in the Arena: Tom Brady" will include a look from Brady's perspective at the six NFL titles and three Super Bowl defeats he has experienced. It should be a rare opportunity for up-close revelations from the usually private quarterback who left New England this year after 20 seasons and now is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The series will be produced by ESPN, 199 Productions (Brady's production company) and Gotham Chopra of Religion of Sports.

"Through the series, we're defining the key moments and challenges that were seemingly insurmountable, but through hard work and perseverance, became career-defining triumphs, in both victory and defeat," Brady said.

Brady has won more Super Bowls than anyone and remains a bona fide NFL star at age 42. Unlike Peyton Manning, his contemporary for much of his career and the quarterback he is most often compared to, Brady normally has been reticent to provide behind-the-scenes information.

Connor Schell, ESPN's executive vice president for content and one of the creators of the network's "30 for 30" series, believes Brady has a fountain of memories worth the telling.

"To have personal firsthand accounts and an athlete at Tom's level who doesn't often give firsthand accounts can add up to a remarkable series," Schell said.

Schell points to Chopra's storytelling skill as a key factor in making Brady's experiences compelling to fans — even the legions that have made the Patriots generally a despised franchise outside of the New England base.

"It is really a tribute to Gotham that he was able to earn that level of trust so Tom is willing to share his stories," Schell said, noting Chopra brought the project to ESPN. "We love these projects where these elements come together, and we're able to give fans not just a good story but something they haven't seen before."

The episodes are expected to be grounded in Brady's reflections but will include voices and outlooks other than his.

Schell added ESPN is "thinking about how to evolve the genre and new ways to tell these stories and new hooks. And the access to Tom Brady is unique."

 

Football still king

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" became prime time's most viewed series for the ninth consecutive year when the 2019-20 television season wrapped up Wednesday night.

According to Nielsen, "Sunday Night Football" averaged 20.5 million viewers in 2019, which was a 5% increase over 2018. It also marked NBC's best season since 2015.

The most viewed game was on Sept. 29, when 24.37 million tuned in to see the New Orleans Saints beat the Dallas Cowboys. "Sunday Night Football" had eight of the 20 most watched programs in the calendar year 2019; 10 games had 20 million or more viewers.

The current reign for "Sunday Night Football" is the longest No. 1 streak, according to Nielsen. "American Idol" had the previous record at six, while "All in the Family" and "The Cosby Show" each had a five-year run on top.

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