Former Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel didn’t expect the success his “Chase Chats” series has had.
For the past few weeks, Daniel has hosted videos through his social media accounts featuring guests such as Missouri head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky as well as a sports power couple: Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and Team USA women’s soccer star Julie Ertz of the Chicago Red Stars.
On Friday night, Daniel’s biggest production yet in the series will come to fruition with a 12-person reunion of Missouri’s 2007 football team that went 12-2 and reached the No. 1 ranking in the country heading into the Big 12 Championship game.
MU alumni such as Chase Coffman, Martin Rucker and Pig Brown will join the new Detroit Lions quarterback as part of the 11-man panel to discuss their memories from one of Missouri’s most distinguished seasons. Longtime Tigers play-by-play broadcaster Mike Kelly will serve as the emcee.
The broadcast was pre-recorded Monday but will air for the first time on Daniel’s Twitter and Facebook pages at 7 p.m. Friday. The event will last nearly two hours, including the best bits from a near six-hour conversation, Daniel said Thursday.
Daniel also started a fundraising campaign to coincide with the reunion.
After starting with a goal of raising $50,000 for the Food Bank of Central & Northeast Missouri, $73,142.92 had already been raised by Daniel's initiative as of first thing Thursday morning.
“It’s insane that we've raised $75,000 based on a Mizzou reunion that you can watch on your TV,” Daniel said. “Something about that to me just puts things into perspective like, ‘Man, people in Missouri really, really love the ‘07 team.’ ... It goes way beyond football and you hear all these people, at least I did during the time, I didn't think much about it, but they’re naming their kid Chase Daniel. And I'm like, ‘Why would you name your kid Chase Daniel?’
“And seeing these guys are like 10, 12 years old, and I get Twitter messages all the time ... or seeing enrollment increase tenfold at Mizzou, just all that stuff that you probably don't think about as a college athlete. But now I'm 33 and I think I'm maybe a little wiser, just seeing the impact ... like the culmination of the Brad Smith era, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08 and then going into the SEC and winning back-to-back division championships there, that stuff, it's cool to look back on.”
More than $100,000 in donations are expected by the time the broadcasts ends. Daniel himself pledged to match up to $25,000 of the total donations.
The original projected amount from the public was approximately tripled by Thursday.
“This is just phenomenal, and Chase, your enthusiasm, your passion for helping others, the fact that you are doing this for us, we just are so incredibly grateful,” Lindsey Lopez, president and CEO of the food bank, said to Daniel on a Zoom call Thursday morning. “We are really proud to be the first and only official charitable partner of Mizzou athletics.”
Lopez said during the conversation that 1 in 6 kids and 1 in 7 adults don’t have access to nutritious food, a problem that hits close to home for Daniel with two young children.
Daniel is helping the food bank in hopes of closing that gap.
“I was like, ‘There's no way we're going to hit six figures. The show hasn't even aired yet,” Daniel said. “... The relationships I have at Mizzou, they last a lifetime, and I’ve always stayed connected to Mizzou. It helps that my wife (Hillary) went to Mizzou and we met at Mizzou. So all that plays into it. Her family is from Lenexa, Kansas, so right outside of Overland Park.
“And so, it's something that in my heart, I want to continue to give back as much as I can.”
Daniel originally had a tribute event scheduled for April 10, the night before Missouri’s canceled spring football game, where he and former Tigers coach Gary Pinkel would speak about the 2007 season.
Amid COVID-19, Daniel has found another route to have that lookback conversation.
“I want (people) to get some popcorn and spend some family time just reminiscing on a season that changed my life and changed a lot of other guys' lives but also had such a big impact on Missouri fans,” Daniel said.