The Wire was a drama that aired for 5 seasons on HBO from 2002 to 2008 about drugs, police, dockworkers, politics, the school system and the media in the city of Baltimore and is considered by many critics as one of the best TV series of all time.
Around 8 minutes into the 4th episode of the 4th season entitled “Refugees”, former police officer turned middle school teacher Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski is planning a talk to give his students. Playing on the TV in the background is a University of Maryland football game, which certainly makes sense for a show set in Baltimore.
There are several things you can tell from that screenshot. One, the diamond logo means the game was pre-2000 when Chuck Amato brought back the Block S logo for State football. Two, the quarterback looks an awful lot like #4 Jamie Barnette. Three, State is wearing red helmets which were worn during the 1999 season. And four, the score is tied 10-10 in the 2nd quarter. That means the footage of that game is from State’s 30-17 win over the Terps on November 6th, 1999 that was indeed tied 10-10 in the 2nd quarter.
That episode of The Wire aired on October 1st, 2006 and the series was set in the present so it does seem a little odd that a 7 year old football game would be on TV. But with licensing agreements and rights and things like that I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation.
But then the mystery continues. For most of the scene you can hear the announcers in the background but you can’t really make out what they are saying, especially with dialogue between Prez and his wife. However there are a few things you can make out that are curious. One, unfortunately just before the Youtube clip begins, there is a mention of bringing in Ralph Friedgen as head coach which didn’t occur until the 2001 season while the game video footage is from 1999. And two, if you turn the volume up at the end of the scene you can hear the announcer say “Stone pitches back, Andre Brown finds the end zone, touchdown…the score now 13-3.” So obviously, with both the players and the score, the audio and the video aren’t from the same game.
From the screencap clues it was easy to figure out what game the video was from, but what about the audio? Andre Brown played at State from 2005 to 2008 and since the episode aired in October of 2006, the audio would have to be from the 2005 season. That fits with Marcus Stone taking over as starting QB midway through the 2005 season.
However the final score in the State/Maryland game in 2005 was a 20-14 win for the Wolfpack. The score was never 13-3 and Andre Brown didn’t score a TD. In fact, unless there was an Andre Brown TD run called back for a penalty, State never led a game 13-3 (or 14-3 after the extra point) in any game in the 2005 season.
So it would appear that new audio was recorded using the names of current (at the time) Wolfpack players to play over the old video. Which seems like a very odd choice for a show both set and filmed in Baltimore. Why would the video (that someone made the choice to show a very clear shot of the diamond logo) and audio focus on the Wolfpack instead of the Terps? Was there a State grad working on the crew of The Wire?
Or maybe there is a local connection. While Andre Brown played his high school football in Greenville, NC he was born in Baltimore. In fact, according to this gopack.com story from Brown’s senior year he was raised by a single mother who was a Baltimore-area police officer. She sent him to live with a cousin in Greenville during middle school after one of his middle-school football games was canceled because of gunshots fired near the field. For those that have watched the series, that has parallels with Prez’s students that are focused on in season 4, Andre Brown would have been around the same age facing some of the same problems. So the football star son of a Baltimore police officer gets mentioned in the background of a Baltimore police show, that may or may not be a coincidence.
Who knows what the real story is (and if anybody does I’d love to hear it), but it is certainly an interesting connection between Wolfpack football and one the most critically acclaimed television series of all time.