And now comes the NFL Network, a new playground on which NFL Films
can flex its muscles. Plans are still unfolding, but a launch date
is set for November 4, and NFL Films plans to produce original
programming (à la Hard Knocks, which aired on HBO the past two
seasons), as well as tap into the world's largest sports film
library. More than 100 million feet of 16mm film is stored in more
than 50,000 cans. Included in one of those cans is the 1894
Princeton vs. Rutgers game filmed by a guy named Thomas Edison.
Artists like Andrich and Johnson may not yet have the name
recognition of Edison, but their weekly creations continue to
reinvent how the nation views its favorite sport.
FOUR FUN NFL FILMS FACTS
Of the 32 NFL cathedrals, which one ranks as Films' favorite
pulpit? Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers since
1957. "From the moment you step on the field, you can just sense
the history," says VP of cinematography Steve Andrich. "You think
about Lombardi and Starr. Those guys walked on the same field
you're walking on, and that fact really puts everything in
perspective. Then the Packers crowd files in and the stage is
John Facenda was dubbed the "Voice of God" by many at NFL Films.
He narrated the majority of the organization's work throughout the
'60s, '70s, and early '80s, and is the most recognized voice this
side of James Earl Jones.
Regardless of who's playing and where, there's always the
potential for a landmark game - à la the 1988 playoff game in
Chicago when no one could see the field, the ball, or the players
for most of the day. The Bears and Eagles were in there somewhere
slugging it out, but few knew what was going on thanks to a fog
bank that rolled in from Lake Michigan. "Bad weather isn't
necessarily a bad thing for us," says cinematographer Craig
Johnson. "Snow is the best, because it makes for a great look. Rain
is good, too, but you've got to be careful with the equipment.
Freezing rain, however, isn't good for anyone. That one I can do