In a Knoxville, Tennessee theater packed with Tennessee football greats like Peyton Manning, Tee Martin, and Larry Seivers as well as former coaches Bill Battle and Phil Fulmer and current coach Derek Dooley, Kenny Chesney premiered his new documentary, The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story.
While Kenny’s first foray into filmmaking with documentary The Boys of Fall was a great success, the power and emotion behind The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story is unmatched. You don’t have to be a Tennessee fan or even a football fan to be moved by the story of a man who was denied the chance to play quarterback at school after school because of his skin color. One by one, those who wore orange after Condredge stood to address him, Kenny, director Shaun Silva and ESPN’s John Dahl after the film. Peyton Manning confessed to having tears in his eyes as he watched the film.
“I was crying and I know you had to have been crying so I want to know your reaction,” Peyton said to Condredge. “And Kenny and Shaun, I just want to tell y’all thank y’all for letting everybody know what a great player Condredge Holloway was and what a true legend he was.”The premiere was the first time Condredge had seen the movie and his emotions were still raw when he answered Peyton’s question. “Yeah… It got me,” Condredge said. Now the assistant athletic director at the University of Tennessee, Condredge told a story about Peyton being the first phone call he received offering condolences after his father had passed, calling it ‘special.’ Tee Martin, who led Tennessee to a National Title in 1998, also had a strong reaction to the movie to share with Condredge.
“First of all, I want to say thank you so much not only to yourself but to Lester [McClain, first African-American player at Tennessee], for opening doors for someone like myself. I grew up in south Alabama with Alabama, Auburn, and my decision to come to Tennessee had a lot to do with you being strong enough, you being brave enough, you making that decision years ago to say ‘I’m going some place’ to have the opportunity to play quarterback at the University of Tennessee and I just want to say thank you. You’re awesome to me. You meant so much to me in those championship years. Seeing you on the sidelines, I think it did wonders for me.”
Mixed with highlights from Condredge’s career and his conversations with Kenny, there are moments that overwhelm the viewer, such as when Condredge sheds a tear as he talks about his father and when his teenage daughter tells how her father has influenced her — and her hopes to make him as proud of her as she is of him. It shapes Kenny’s childhood hero into more than a legendary football player. It was this side of Condredge Holloway that Kenny wanted to people to see.
“The thing that all of us who made this film realized and got to know is the man behind the orange number seven,” said Kenny. “The thing that I love the most is that we’re getting to know Condredge in this film, and his family and the things that were important to him and the struggles he went through. We all have heroes. And we all have people we look up to as kids and even as adults and when you get the chance to meet that person, sometimes you walk away wishing you had never met that person. And I’m really glad that didn’t happen with Condredge Holloway. He’s a great guy.”
The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story airs Sunday night on ESPN at 8/7 CT. Tune in to see the story of Condredge Holloway, the man who broke racial barriers and continues to influence students today where the only color that mattered was the color orange.
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