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Mile High Morning: Broncos rookie Essang Bassey's inspirational story featured in new podcast series narrated by Keegan-Michael Key


The Lead

There's much more to the story of Essang Bassey than you may have previously known.

In "DRAFTED," a new documentary-style podcast series narrated by actor Keegan-Michael Key, Bassey is one of several rookies who is followed closely through the draft process.

Through the first four episodes of the 12-part series (two new episodes are released each week), Bassey describes his dreams of reaching the NFL and he very real and very painful concerns as draft day approaches.

"My hope on draft day is that my name gets called," Bassey says. "Flat out. Doesn't matter when or where, just for my name to get called. I'm going to be grateful, I'm going to be ready to work. Other than that, I get to see all my friends, who are also in this process as well, see their names potentially get called. I'd love to see that happen for them and support them in doing that.

"But other than that, for my name to get called, that's my biggest concern. And for my family to see that happen for me and know that all the support they put into me was worth it, that feeling for them as well."

The show isn't just about the athletic training and the scuttlebutt from agents or interested teams, though. Bassey's family life takes center stage in his story.

The son of Nigerian immigrants, Bassey is surrounded by a loving and caring family. He describes his mother as his biggest fan and his brother, who has autism, as his biggest inspiration.

"He's actually a big reason why I play football and one of the things that keeps me going," Bassey says. "Everybody in my family … my brother's in medical school because of my brother. My dad's a doctor; obviously he takes care of people every day. My mom's a teacher; she does special-ed. That's kind of her thing. My sister's a nurse. So everybody kind of has those [ways to] keep him in mind with their careers. With me being the athlete of the family, he can't play sports, organized sports, so that's kind of how I express my [way of] thinking of him, the impact he has on me. I play because he can't. I eventually want to be able to take care of him, give him the best care that he needs. It's really cool to see my whole family kind of rallies around him, and he impacts all of us so much. I know football and this path I'm on and everything I'm doing, that's kind of been one of the main factors for it."

The show provides an in-depth look at this part of Bassey's life, especially his bond with his mother. And, of course, it also shares exclusive access into the draft process, including behind-the-scenes recordings of Bassey's conversations with his agents as they discuss the draft process.

Much more is likely to come in this series involving Bassey's path to the NFL, but Broncos fans are already well aware of the result. Despite the podcast's name, Bassey is not among the featured rookies who had their names called during the draft.

As the show proceeds, though, perhaps it will show the raw side of the draft process that Bassey experienced as a draft hopeful — and how he attacked his opportunity as an undrafted player to eventually overcome the odds and make the Broncos' roster.

Below the Fold

As Brett Rypien prepares for his first NFL start, our own Aric DiLalla spoke with his famous uncle, Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien about Brett’s opportunity. "You have to make plays," Mark Rypien said. "That's the position. That's what guys expect you to do. When you've got shots, you take them, and if not, you don't need to force a ball."

In the newest installment grading each of the 2020 first-round picks, Pro Football Focus analyzed Jerry Jeudy’s performance through three games. "So far, we have seen clear evidence that Jeudy's savvy route-running and quickness play at this level, now he just needs improved quarterback play to be able to display it on a regular basis," Sam Monson wrote. "And now he is going to have to carry the load as the team's top receiver with Courtland Sutton on the shelf for the remainder of the year."

The Unclassifieds

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the best is yet to come.

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