In professional sports, there’s perhaps no position more difficult than being an NFL quarterback. You’re responsible for leading your team both on and off the field. A tremendous amount of pressure and publicity comes with the job. You get immense glory when you win but also harsh scrutiny when you lose.
It’s easy to forget that quarterbacks are human beings with lives off the field. They have homes, families, and hobbies away from the game. While they take their craft seriously, they aren’t just football players.
What would it be like to get a glimpse behind the scenes and follow a professional quarterback through the ups and downs of an entire NFL season? Thanks to the work of Omaha Productions, we’re getting a chance to find out.
For the past NFL Season, Omaha Productions teamed up with NFL Films and 2PM Productions to create an engaging and entertaining docuseries called Quarterback. The first season followed Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, and Atlanta’s Marcus Mariota through the 2022 season.
The show details on-field interactions and events in a closer and more personal manner than what we often see live during a game. During the show’s opening minutes, Cousins interacts with teammate and star receiver Justin Jefferson on the sideline. We also watch Cousins struggle to get up after a crushing hit, reminding us of the NFL’s violent and physically demanding nature. We hear Mahomes campaigning to remain in the game despite suffering an apparent ankle injury that most fans will remember from the end of the 2022 season.
In addition, we get to look into the players’ personal lives. We watch Cousins read a book to his son before bed and hear from his wife, Julie, about her process of choosing her husband’s pregame and postgame outfits. We watch Mahomes celebrate his 27th birthday with a few friends and listen in as his wife, Brittany, describes how they began dating in high school. We witness Mariota interacting with his chef and expressing his affinity for McDonald’s breakfast food. While Mariota still indulges in a drive-thru run on Monday mornings, he generally tries to eat healthier food during the season.
Quarterback represents the latest offering from Omaha Productions, a thriving and fast-growing media production company led by Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Initially, Omaha Productions wasn’t Manning’s idea. The two-time Super Bowl champion retired in 2016 without a clear idea of what he wanted to do next. He knew he didn’t want to coach and turned down multiple requests to work as a broadcaster. His main desire was to spend more time with his family at their home in Denver.
Within the next few years, an opportunity that Manning couldn’t turn down would present itself. In 2020, WME agent Josh Pyatt and longtime media executive Jamie Horowitz flew to Denver to pitch Manning an idea they thought could be perfect for Manning. Both men were already highly accomplished: Pyatt helped nurture the post-retirement career of the late Kobe Bryant, and Horowitz had create shows for sports commentators like Colin Cowherd, Stephen A Smith and Shannon Sharpe. Previously, Horowitz was an executive at ESPN and the president of national networks at Fox Sports. He then was named executive vice president of development and digital for WWE.
Pyatt and Horowitz pitched Manning on the idea that Omaha Productions could be a vehicle to uplift and unify people. Today, the company is worth over $400 million and is one of the fastest-growing privately-owned media companies in the world. The production company is responsible for projects such as Peyton’s Places on ESPN and the alternate Manning-led broadcast of Monday Night Football.
However, it’s their new hit Netflix documentary that’s all the rage right now. Within three days of its release, Quarterback became the most popular program on Netflix in the United States. The show also made Top Ten lists in Canada, Switzerland, and Ireland (in total top 10 in 12 countries). As Manning is quick to point out, fans have never had this level of in-season access to quarterbacks in the past. While they may occasionally allow themselves to be mic’d up during a game, they aren’t showing what they do on Monday or Tuesday to prepare for a game.
This is all changing with the production of Quarterback. Each quarterback (Mahomes, Cousins, and Mariota) wore a microphone for one practice per week throughout the season and consented to regular interviews. While some may wonder if the added distraction would diminish the quality of the quarterbacks’ on-field performance, this didn’t seem to be an issue last year. Mahomes went on to win the league’s MVP award and his second Super Bowl, while Kirk Cousins threw for 4,500 yards and 29 touchdowns while leading the Vikings to the playoffs.
As Omaha Productions continues to grow, we can’t help but wonder what Manning and Jamie Horowitz will do next. Manning has said publicly that Quarterbacks will return for a second season, but what else could the team have up their sleeve? We can’t wait to see their next great idea, especially if it’s anything like what we’ve watched so far.