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Omaha Magazine

Look Like Somebody

Jun 23, 2023 01:06PM ● By Leo Adam Biga
Omaha visual content production company WMK Media Enterprises made a splash with a 2022 SOS Heating and Cooling commercial featuring then-Husker wide receiver Decoldest Crawford. The 30-second spot puns Crawford’s name to promote the HVAC company. Hailed as an ideal NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) ad, it went viral online, netting millions of views and generating stories nationwide. 

Now, WMK hopes to make waves with a documentary detailing the redemptive journey of another former Husker wide receiver, Ricky C. Simmons—chronicling his transformation from addict to motivational author and speaker. Look Like Somebody: The Ricky C. Simmons Story is an hour-long dive into his prison stretches and faltering rehab attempts, before finally overcoming addiction with encouragement from his old coach, Tom Osborne.

Simmons played on the 1981, 1982, and 1983 teams headlined by ‘The Triplets’—Turner Gill, Mike Rozier, and Irving Fryar—that contended for back-to-back national titles. The hotly recruited Greenville, Texas, native arrived in Lincoln already mired in addiction. His clique even had their own party house near campus. 

The film, which screened at the Omaha Film Festival and won a Spotlight Documentary Film Awards prize, is the first documentary produced by WMK.

“We’d never attacked a project even remotely the size of this one. It was a trying but beautiful process. We all learned and grew so much working on this,” said Co-Director Walt Sanders.

Native Omahan actor, writer, producer, and director Randy Goodwin of Girlfriends and Vampire Diaries acclaim offered counsel to the rookie documentarians. 

“[Goodwin’s] been an advocate [for the project] ever since,” added Co-Director Michael Murphy.

Prior to WMK Media’s formation, Murphy and Executive Producer Matt Keyes worked at the Stephen Center—which assists individuals dealing with homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness—while Murphy served as the nonprofit’s marketing director, and Keyes a crisis intervention therapist. Both were struck by a talk Simmons gave detailing his recovery journey, prompting Murphy to invite the former Husker to a podcast he hosted at the time. 

“I really thought this was a story that should be amplified,” Murphy recalled.

When Murphy left to launch his own media company, Keyes joined him. 

“We were coming across stories of rebuilding every day. People coming from literally the lowest points in their lives to turn their life around and to excel and thrive,” Keyes said. “We agreed we had to tell these stories. The world needs to know what people go through to become healthy and successful.”

Meanwhile, Sanders’ corporate branding firm shared office space with Murphy and Keyes. Not only did all three men discover they were lifelong Big Red fans; they all felt called to Simmons’ tale. When Simmons signed on, the producers merged companies to form WMK, and work began in earnest to document his message of hope and healing. 

“We’re very proud to partner with Ricky in telling his story,” Murphy said. “It fits with what we’ve set out to do in telling inspiring stories that have a positive impact. We think this is one we can definitely hang our hat on.”

Even though the producers emphasize the story isn't unique to Nebraska, it does intersect with NU’s glory days. Thus, Rozier, Fryar, Osborne, and a Husker who received help from Ricky, Terrell Farley, spoke candidly on camera. 

“Ricky has the courage to throw himself under the bus to tell his story in a way that’s so transparent and authentic it caused these other guys to open up,” Sanders noted.

Murphy believes the players and coaches cooperated with WMK’s vision, “because of the way Ricky treats people and manages relationships—people just like being around the guy.” 

Indeed, Murphy marvels at his “energy and positivity,” as heard every Sunday night on the airwaves during Simmons’ Lincoln broadcast, 93.7 FM The Ticket.

“As long as this can help him get in front of more people at prisons, schools, rehab clinics, he’s happy,” Murphy said of Simmons. “He wants it out there so that people can reach out to him for help.”

The film proved so impactful, it was later screened in front of the entire 2022 Husker football team and coaching staff.

“After the screening every single player stood in a single-file line, went up to him, shook his hand,” Murphy said. “He was probably there for two hours. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was a great experience.”

“Two players stayed back because they were struggling with issues and needed Ricky’s advice,” Keyes reflected. “That experience was worth every nickel, every minute that went into this project. We want to reach people who are struggling with difficult situations, with mental health crises, [and] with substance abuse. That, personally for me, is the point.”

Additionally, a graphic novel adaptation of Simmons’ story, sponsored by the Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS), was provided to each player. 

Where Look Like Somebody: The Ricky C. Simmons Story will screen next, however, is still up for debate.

“We’re in talks with different platforms to find a way to get this out there so that people can consume it,” Murphy said.

“I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to work on this project,” Sanders added. “It’s forged relationships that will withstand the test of time.”

“I wanted to make a film my whole life,” Murphy continued. “I didn’t know who it would be with. The circumstances that brought me to Stephen Center make me feel I was being led down a path by my higher power. It allowed all of our paths to cross at the right place, at the right time.”
As Tom Osborne has always preached, Murphy believes it’s the journey that matters.

As for what’s next, he said, “We have some pet projects we have been documenting the last year or two. We’re also looking to assist individuals [to] build their YouTube brands and social impacts. We want to help people step up and follow their dreams.” 

Visit for more information.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, 
click here to subscribe.  

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

(L to R) Walt Sanders, Michael Murphy, and Matt Keyes of WMK Media.


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