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Andrea Kremer takes deep dive into stories for NFL Network

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Prior to the season, Andrea Kremer approached Michael Mandt, the NFL Network's executive producer for original content, with a proposal.

"There's a lot of stuff out there about gun violence," Kremer said. "I feel like we should be doing something. He said, 'Let's not do it just to do it. Find the right story and the right voices.'"

Baton Rouge was rocked this summer by the killing of Alton Sterling, an African American, by the hands of the police and then the murders of three Baton Rouge officers.

Kremer reached out to former Tampa Bay running back Warrick Dunn. She knew his mother was a Baton Rouge police officer who was murdered when Dunn only was 18.

After being contacted by Kremer, Dunn, echoing the sentiments of Mandt, said he wanted to do more than an interview. "He wanted to do something that might help the situation," he said.

Kremer and producer Anthony Smith went to work and the end result was one of the most powerful stories ever to run on NFL Network. The piece, which recently aired on NFL GameDay Morning and TNF GameDay, received national acclaim, going way beyond football. It continues to be viewed on NFL 360.

With Dunn serving as an intermediary, Sterling's 15-year-old son and the widow of one of the slain police officers were united during a New Orleans Saints game weekend. There were compelling images of these families, still deeply grieving, coming together in an attempt to find a deeper understanding of what happened to their lives. Saints coach Sean Payton addressed them at the Saturday walkthrough and they sat in a box for the Saints-Carolina game.

"Ultimately when they met for the first time, it was so emotional to see them hugging each other," Kremer said. "We had no idea if that would happen. It was a very powerful experience."

The Baton Rouge story is emblematic of Kremer's work as chief correspondent at NFL Network. She usually does around six stories per year. The emphasis, she says, is on "quantity not quality."

Indeed, after covering the NFL in various roles for ESPN and NBC, Kremer doesn't seek interviews and profiles on players who just happen to be having good seasons. She says the landscape has changed with 24/7 coverage of the NFL on multiple cable outlets. That increases the challenge to produce stories that allow her to take "a deeper dive."

Kremer says she currently is working on a piece on a star player with an "interesting back story." Knowing Kremer, it won't be a conventional profile.

"What can I do that is different?" Kremer said. "We try to look for more unique ways to tell the story."

For instance, Kremer did a special report during the Super Bowl pregame show in 2014 on the culture in the locker room following the Richie Incognito bullying incident in Miami. The story produced headlines when New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma said he didn't think an openly gay teammate would be welcome in the locker room.

"The story got a lot of traction," Kremer said. "That's a story you might not have expected to see on NFL Network. I was proud that we were able to do that story."

Kremer feels the same way about the Baton Rouge story. Again, she knows some people expecting to see game previews will be surprised to see that kind of piece on NFL GameDay Morning.

"They shouldn't be," Kremer said. "The NFL Network wants us to do these kinds of stories. They give us great latitude."

Kremer believes that with the Baton Rouge story, and similar pieces that spark deep emotions on both sides of an issue, it is best "to not make any judgments. Just let the audience decide."

Kremer credits the story's producer, Smith, for setting the wheels in motion and for producing the excellent visuals that enhanced the overall impact. She lauds the two families for their willingness to be open during a terrible time in their lives.

Even though it has been several weeks since she completed the story, Kremer still feels the emotional pull of her experience in Louisiana. She continues to be heartened by the reaction from viewers.

"It resonated because this isn't just a black-and-white story," Kremer said. "This is a story about two families who suffered supreme losses. They are both grieving, and trying to get on with their lives. We didn't stage anything. Nothing was done for the cameras. People could see this was real."

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