On the last play of the BYU-Utah Rivalry game in 2006, BYU’s Jonny Harline made history when he caught the touchdown pass to win. Brothers Neal and Lance Brown did what any BYU fan would do when the game was over: re-tell the moment. In their case, however, they are telling the story with more than just spoken words.
Almost five years after the legendary game, Neal Brown of Tooele and Lance Brown of Lehi brought the game to life in their children’s book, “The Answered Prayer.”
Lifelong BYU football fans, the brothers distinctly remember the 2006 rivalry game.
“I was down in Kanab watching the game, there were probably 20 BYU fans and one Utah fan,” Neal Brown said. “It was just me and a bunch of 60-year-olds jumping around and yelling at each other in the middle of the room.”
Although the game instantly became a fond memory for the brothers, the inspiration to write a children’s book about the game would not come until Neal Brown began telling bedtime stories to his son, Kyle.
“I would always read stories to my son at night, so I started reliving sports stories that I remembered as a kid,” Neal Brown recalled. “I had been pitching business ideas to Lance for a long time, and we met at a Carl’s Jr. and I told him about my story idea and he said, ‘Most of your ideas suck, but this one’s not bad.'”
Last fall, after several drafts, “The Answered Prayer” was published. Filled with large caricature illustrations by Kenneth Jackson, clever rhymes and a sound bite from the final seconds of the game, the book brings to life the emotion and excitement of the BYU football team.
“It was fun to see the evolution of the process,” Lance Brown said. “I think of the script he handed me at Carl’s Jr. versus about 25 rewrites later. It took a while for inspiration to come.”
Once the book was published, Lance Brown began to think an e-book app would be a way for the story to be even more interactive and fun for children. The app is narrated by KSL sports broadcaster Greg Wrubell and includes the Cougar Fight Song and the Haka dance.
“We’ve been football fans since we were three,” Lance Brown said. “We had season tickets, and we’d go to the games every Saturday. We loved the stadium sounds, the drumlines, the fans, the grunts, the smells, all of it. My goal was to bring that home. We’re really happy with the app, I think it ended up even better than we envisioned.”
Currently the brothers are promoting “The Answered Prayer,” including book signings by Jonny Harline at the Costco in Lehi on Sept. 15 and the Costco in Orem on Sept. 17.
“Jonny was awesome to work with, he was so helpful and supportive of our ideas,” Neal Brown said. “We’re trying to help him live out his legacy even longer.”
Along with “The Answered Prayer,” the Brown brothers are working on other BYU sports children’s books through their publishing company, Last Second Miracles.
Up next? Maybe a Jimmer Fredette book.
Christian Stevens, 23, a senior from Denver, Colo. majoring in microbiology, was one of few current BYU students to attend the 2006 rivalry game at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, where he sat amongst a sea of University of Utah alumni.
“It’s great to see the game recreated for children to read about,” Stevens said. “It was a game I will never forget.”