Brook Berringer
Brook Berringer in his football uniform in 1993.png
Brook Berringer in his football uniform (1993).
Brook Warren Berringer

(1973-07-09)July 9, 1973
DiedApril 18, 1996(1996-04-18) (aged 22)
Resting placeGoodland Cemetery
Goodland, Kansas, U.S.

Brook Warren Berringer (July 9, 1973 – April 18, 1996) was an American quarterback for the University of Nebraska football team in the mid-1990s. Berringer came to Nebraska from Goodland, Kansas, and played a backup role to Tommie Frazier. He was best known for replacing the injured Frazier during the 1994 season and leading the Cornhuskers to seven consecutive wins and to the Orange Bowl national championship game against the University of Miami Hurricanes.

Berringer died in a plane crash just two days before the 1996 NFL Draft.

Early life

Berringer was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. When Berringer was seven years old, his father died from cancer. He lived with his mother and two sisters in Goodland, Kansas. Throughout his childhood, he played several different sports.[1]

College career

Freshman and sophomore seasons

Because of his successful high school career, Berringer was recruited by many Big 8 schools. He picked the University of Nebraska to attend. In 1992, as a freshman, Berringer was a backup. In 1993, as a sophomore, he was again a backup.

Junior season

In 1994, as a junior, he started seven games because starter Tommie Frazier had a blood clot in his leg. Berringer completed 94 of 151 passes (62%) for 1,295 yards, 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.[1] Prior to this year, Berringer had completed only 17 passes. The team made it to the Orange Bowl, and Frazier recovered in time to start for it. In the game's first quarter, Frazier threw an interception on Nebraska's second series. Berringer took over, and threw a 19-yard TD pass to Mark Gilman that drew the Huskers within 3 points. Nebraska eventually won the game 24-17 with Berringer playing through the middle quarters before coach Tom Osborne re-inserted Frazier in the fourth quarter.

Senior season

As a senior, Berringer again was a backup. He played sparingly, completing 26 of 51 passes for 252 yards in 9 games played. For the third consecutive year, the Nebraska Cornhuskers played in the national championship game. Berringer played mop-up duty and at the end of the game, the Fiesta Bowl, scored a 1-yard TD for his team's final points. They won a 62-24 victory over Florida.

Plane crash

Despite having spent most of his college career as a backup, Berringer had shown enough promise in the times he did play that he was expected to be selected in the 1996 NFL draft. However, he died in a plane crash just two days before the draft. A private pilot, Berringer was in control of a 1946 Piper Cub over Raymond, Nebraska, when the aircraft went down in an alfalfa field. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the probable cause of the crash was a partially closed fuel valve, resulting in fuel starvation, engine failure, and a subsequent loss of control of the airplane.[2] Friend Tobey Lake, the brother of Berringer's girlfriend Tiffini, was also killed in the crash.[1][3][4]

A memorial service for Berringer was held on April 20 at Memorial Stadium, before the start of the annual Red-White spring football game. A somber crowd of 48,659 attended. He is interred at Goodland cemetery in Goodland, Kansas.[5]


Statue of Brook Berringer (left) with Tom Osborne located at the entrance to the Osborne Athletic Complex at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE.
Statue of Brook Berringer (left) with Tom Osborne located at the entrance to the Osborne Athletic Complex at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE.

The country group Sawyer Brown recorded "The Nebraska Song" in tribute to Berringer. (The song was actually written before his death.) The song appears as Track 18 (the same number as Berringer's jersey) on the group's 1997 album Six Days on the Road,[6] and its first live performance was in the Devaney Center on the University of Nebraska campus during the 1997 Nebraska State Fair[7][8] Sawyer Brown lead vocalist Mark Miller was a pallbearer at Berringer's funeral.

Following Berringer's death, the Nebraska Cornhusker football program established the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team in his honor. Awarded annually before the Spring Game, the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team recognizes Cornhusker football players who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide excellent leadership, involvement, and service. A trophy case dedicated to Berringer's memory can be found in the lobby of Goodland High School's Max Jones Fieldhouse. In 2006, the University of Nebraska erected a life-size bronze statue of Berringer depicted as being coached by Tom Osborne.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Moran, Malcolm (1996-04-20). "Brook Berringer, 22, Substitute Who Helped Nebraska to a Title" (English). The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  2. ^ "CHI96FA135: Full Narrative".
  3. ^ Brian Christopherson (September 27, 2007). "High school coach remembers Berringer for more than football" (English).
  4. ^ Lee Warren (December 29, 2006). "A heart for discipleship". Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. Retrieved January 8, 2007.
  5. ^ "Brook Berringer". Retrieved 2010-12-09.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Sawyer Brown discography". Archived from the original (English) on 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  7. ^ "Sawyer Brown's 'Nebraska Song' helps add to success of State Fair". Archived from the original (English) on June 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  8. ^ "YouTube video: Sawyer Brown performs "The Nebraska Song" live at the Nebraska State Fair, 1997" (English). YouTube. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  9. ^ "The Monuments of Memorial Stadium". University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015.