Friday, November 17, 2006

NFL Network has a Super new show

NFL Network has a Super new show
Jim Williams, The Examiner
Nov 17, 2006 3:00 AM (3 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 2 of 10,006 articles

BALTIMORE - Get out you calendar and make time Friday night for “America’s Game: A Countdown to History,” which debuts at 8:30 p.m. on the NFL Network. It’s one of the best sports documentary series ever done.

The series will run over the next 20 weeks, counting down to the best Super Bowl team of all time.

The show, which is hosted by Rich Eisen and Steve Sabol, unveils the top 20 Super Bowl champions of all time, as voted on by a blue-ribbon panel of NFL experts. Panelists include general managers Ernie Accorsi (Giants) and Bill Polian (Colts); Hall of Fame players Dan Marino and Dan Fouts; current head coaches Bill Cowher (Steelers) and Marty Schottenheimer (Chargers); sportswriters Peter King (Sports Illustrated), Rick Telander (Chicago Sun-Times) and Dave Anderson (New York Times); and former players and current TV analysts Cris Collinsworth (HBO, NBC, NFL Network) and Boomer Esiason (CBS Sports).

Having seen some of the shows, this much is clear: NFL Films has outdone itself on this project. “America’s Game” is the best work they have ever done. It’s worthy of making the jump from TV to theaters.

Sabol told me about the massive project: “We have a saying here at NFL Films: ‘Never throw anything away.’ It is a good thing that we didn’t because we were able to use never-before-seen footage in this series. I am proud that we found the right people who were part of the team to tell the story. For instance, on the 1970 Colts we used Bill Curry, Mike Curtis, Ernie Accorsi and Bubba Smith. You could not pick four more different personalities. That was our goal in each film — to get people who could tell us stories that we have never heard before. We also have a wonderful cast of narrators, including Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Gene Hackman and Martin Sheen to name a few.”

Sabol on the production: “We filmed this show like would a feature film. The people who told the stories — like Curry, Curtis, Accorsi and Smith — all were given massive binders full of background material in the hopes that it would fill in any blanks they might have had recalling the season. It paid off because we have more stories than we ever expected, and I can tell that I am proud of this project. But most of all, my 90-year-old father liked it, and he has always been our toughest critic.”

The 20 teams that did not make the cut will be shown this spring after the Super Bowl.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. E-mail him at


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