Watchdog

Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

'Friday Night Lights' director Peter Berg talks Spider Lockhart, Fran Tarkenton, HBO

Peter Berg discusses parents? obsession with their children?s

Peter Berg discusses parents’ obsession with their children’s athletic participation in a clip from "Trophy Kids," the premiere episode of HBO's new series "State of Play." It debuts Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. ET.

Peter Berg’s football bona fides were established when he directed “Friday Night Lights,’’ then developed the TV series of the same name.

But long before that he was an avid fan of the “absolutely horrible’’ Giants of the early 1970s, frequenting Yankee Stadium to “watch Spider Lockhart try and carry a team, and Fran Tarkenton at the end when he couldn’t run so well.’’

Berg, 51, lives in California now but remains a fan of the Giants and the sport. But he also is concerned about its future as it tries to become safer. To that end, he helped create USA Football’s “Heads Up Football’’ program.

Next on his agenda: “Culture Shock,” the second entry in “State of Play,’’ an HBO documentary series on which he is executive producer. It follows “Trophy Kids,’’ which debuted Wednesday and focused on over-aggressive sports parenting.

Berg said “Culture Shock,’’ which does not yet have a premiere date, will chronicle the NFL’s effort to become less dangerous for its players.

“The idea is: Can you bring the speed limit back from 70 to 55, which is what the NFL is really trying to do?’’ Berg said Tuesday at a luncheon to promote the series.

“They’re trying to slow it down. The sport has gotten too big, too fast, too strong. It can’t sustain itself.’’

Episode 3, “Broken,” will profile athletes who suffered injuries that left them paralyzed. Berg’s initial inspiration was an injury suffered in 2003 by a Texas high school player, David Edwards, while Berg was doing filming for “Friday Night Lights.’’

Edwards was left a quadriplegic and died 3½ years later.

“That kind of freaked me out,” Berg said. “I found myself conflicted and confused.’’

The incident led to the Heads Up Football program. “I’m not a propaganda tool, but I am a lover of the game,’’ he said. “I do want to see the game survive.’’

Tags: HBO , Giants

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