Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on June 20th, 2003
In 1962 Ed Sabol purchased the rights to film the NFL and history was made. NFL films came to pioneer so many styles of filming that are still in use today like slow motion and the tight spiral football shot. The footage contained in these discs have never been seen before, it is old archived footage that was never used and it is amazing. The three discs are as follows…
Disc 1 – The Creation (1962-1965): This film looks at the beginning of what would become NFL Films. Watch as Ed Sabol and his …on Steve pioneer the use of slow motion, multiple cameras and wireless microphones all while seeing amazing players like Jim Brown in never before seen footage.
Disc 2 – The Renegades (1960-1969): In the 60’s there where two football leagues in The United States, the NFL and the AFL. This disc shows the rivalry and the differences between the leagues and the eventual purchase of the AFL by the NFL.
Disc 3 – The Merger (1970): The beginning of the 1970 season was full of growing pains as rivals from different leagues found themselves on the field together battling it out. This was also the year that the NFL really started to gain momentum in the US and the introduction of the marketing engine of the NFL with souvenirs. It is also the year that the audio for the films really started to improve with better quality equipment and lets not forget the fashion of the 70’s.
As most of this footage is over 30 years old don’t expect much from the audio. A simple Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix is presented and it gets the important things right, dialogue is clean and easy to understand but past that there is not much else to hear. The odd time that bass is called for it is decent sounding but nothing special. No other audio or subtitle options are presented.
A lot of the film used on these discs is over 30 years old and they have done an amazing job restoring it. There are pieces of film in here that looks brand new like it was shot yesterday. Being that it is this old we have a 1.33:1 aspect ratio presentation, there is no film grit (unless it is intentional) or debris and the footage looks amazing. Some of it is old soft looking black and white footage but the transfer is flawless.
Each disc contains its own set of special features, and these usually consist of stand out players or closer looks at the events during the eras presented on these discs.
We start things off with a short segment on the sounds of the 60’s and the beginning of the use of wireless microphones in the production of the films. Next we have a player history of Jim Brown with some amazing never before seen footage. We have a profile and history of the legendary Bears coach George Halas and lastly a story about Frank Ryan one of the great quarterbacks of the 60’s who also happened to have a PHD in mathematics.
With the coming purchase of the AFL by the NFL we have a feature on AFL film footage followed by a short section on the infamous “Heidi Bowl” incident (this had to do with a championship game being preempted in the last 3 minutes for a kids movie) and the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry. We also have a story about racism and players refusing to play in the 1964 All-Star game and lastly a profile of Lou Saban the most dominant football coach of the 60’s.
This disc starts with a feature of George Blanda one of the first players ever in the NFL to still be playing and winning in his 40’s. We have two quick segments on the AFL-NFL draft with some great footage of Howard Cosel and the San Francisco 49’s original stadium, Kezar stadium. Rounding things out we have the story of Dave Meggyesy who’s tell all book set football on its ear in the 60’s ( He is now the President of the NFL’s Player association) and some background on Superbowl III.
The extra footage is all very well done and is a great addition to this collection. The menus are scored but not motion and are easy to navigate.
Having had the opportunity to stand on the sidelines and watch professional football I can tell you it is an amazing game and an incredible experience. These discs are the closest thing to being able to stand and watch the beginnings of the NFL from the sidelines. The footage is incredible (I just wish the audio was better) and the stories are engaging. These discs show what smash mouth football is all about and any fan should have these in their collection.
Special Features List
- The sounds of the 60’s
- Player/Coach Profiles
- “Heidi Bowl” incident
- AFL-NFL draft
- Kezar stadium