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USA Home Video presents
"You don't cup. A guy can get the wrong idea if you cup. You never squeeze, you never never ever squeeze. Because there will probably be a fight right there on the field if you ever squeeze. Just stiffen the hand and slap one or two times depending on the play. Just never squeeze or cup and you will be OK with the butt slap."
DVD ReviewFootball is really nothing more than chess with overgrown bullies as opposed to pawns and rooks. Think about it, defensive players (read: pieces) are positioned to block the opponent's offense from advancing further across the field (read: board) in attempt to gain victory. That is football, plain and simple. Nothing is better than a Saturday in autumn or a Sunday in the winter to relax and watch teams do battle on the field. But there lies the rub. As opposed to the fast paced schedule of basketball or baseball, the National Football League and NCAA play games largely on a once a week basis, leaving those thirsty for the sport wanting for a full week before their team next takes the field. That's what makes this NFL Films' programming so terrific—you no longer have to wait until the next Sunday to fill the football need.
Since their creation in 1962 NFL Films has consistently provided high quality product acting as a video diary of the events from the first Superbowl to the most recent and beyond. Using actual film as opposed to video, NFL Films captures the high points of each week in the National Football League with unparalleled precision and quality.
The latest NFL Films presentation is NFL Insider, a magazine style DVD that features over seventeen feature stories from the year in football 2000.
Super Bowl XXXV
In January of 2001 the Baltimore Ravens battled the New York Giants in Superbowl 35, a game that saw several lead changes en route to an eventual Ravens victory. In this feature we see the game from the perspectives of Baltimore head coach Brian Billick and Giants coach Jim Fassell, each of whom were wired for sound. Also included in this feature are :36 seconds of mayhem a look at a sequence that featured three touchdowns in just over half a minute. This frenetic piece of the game can be viewed in five different ways with multiple angles, the Ravens' announcer, The Giants' announcer, head coaches, as well as an interactive playbook. Also included are text screens listing interceptions returned for touchdowns in Superbowl history.
On their way to their eventual Superbowl victory the Baltimore Ravens ran the ball an astonishing 62% of the time in the playoffs. This was nothing new in the 2000 season though, as numerous running backs joined the prestigious 1000 yards rushing club. In this seven-minute piece we see interviews with St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz, Dolphins coach Dave Wanstedt, and Superbowl coach Brian Billick each talking about the dominance of the run in football. Easy for Martz to comment on as his star running back Marshall Faulk dominated above all others in the 2000 season. A piece entitled 1000 yard rushers in action is available and features a montage of each of the running backs to meet this milestone.
Over The Middle
Anyone who has ever played football knows the dangers of throwing or catching the ball in the middle of the field. As someone who can speak from experience let me say that it isn't fun at all. Some five years since playing my last organized football game I can still remember vividly the times I caught a ball in the middle and was promptly delivered to the ground thanks to a well timed secondary. One of the best features on NFL Insider, Over The Middle is a short but very well done account of what not to do when throwing a football. Several quarterback and receivers remember moments where they made the mistake and why they rarely throw over the middle. Oops Sorry is a short piece in which quarterbacks speak about how bad they feel when a receiver is met with a quick hit as a result of their throwing over the middle. For fans or hard tackles this montage will undoubtedly suit your needs.
The West Coast Offense
Developed by former San Francisco coach Bill Walsh, the West Coast offense is designed for the maximum number of first downs possible in a game. By throwing short passes and capitalizing on the yards after the catch, teams who use the West Coast strategy often wear down their opponents. This also allows the defense to rest for a longer period of time, as the offense is on the field for more plays. With interviews of Mike Holmgren and Bill Walsh this is a good piece. Also included are a text screen listing the thirteen teams who used the West Coast offense in 2000 as well as shorts entitled Bill Walsh on Jeff Garcia and Mike Holmgren on Montana, Favre, and Young.
A Play In the Life of Peyton Manning
Possibly the least interesting piece on NFL Insider this short follows a play called by the Colts quarterback from vocal to realization. As someone who has had to memorize his far share of weird play names I found this to be a bit flat.
Farewell 3 Rivers
This is a short piece that focuses on the history of the famed Pittsburgh stadium from its moments of greatness to its demolition to make room for Heinz Field. The entire era of Steelers football is covered, as well as submenus that feature stories about the Hall Of Fame players that came from the Steelers' defense and offense. A text screen showcasing the Steelers record at Three Rivers can also be found.
The Big Sled
Everyone has seen it. The big sled with its numerous padded extensions that linebackers push while coaches sit on the sled and yell instructions. It isn't fun, it isn't glamorous, but it helps teams win, a fact that is backed up by John Madden, Dick Vermeil, and George Seifert on this 7-minute piece about the most famous training machine. A short on the history of John Madden can also be found in this submenu.
On a December night in 2000 the best running back in the league met one of the best linebackers in the league as the St. Louis Rams met with the Tampa Bay Bucs on a Monday Night Football Game. Rams star Marshall Faulk and Bucs linebacker Derick Brooks battled through one of the most exciting games of the season. The Bucs would be victorious by a score of 38-35, though Faulk and Brooks fought their own battle. Two montages of both Brooks and Faulk are also available as well as a text screen showcasing Faulk's career stats.
Look Ma No Wires
Ever wonder how quarterbacks know exactly what play to run? Or how opposing teams are totally in the dark as to the strategies of the other team? Well it is all thanks to a technology that allows the head coach to send an encrypted signal that is translated, then sent to the quarterback through a headset built into his helmet. This is a wonderful piece, and one of the best on this disc. Two shorts titled Jon Gruden on Rich Gannon as well as Rich Gannon on Jon Gruden are also offered. As are career stats for Rich Gannon.
Six Days 'Til Sunday
Possibly my favorite piece on NFL Insider, Six Days... spends a week with the Philadelphia Eagles as they prepare for their second game of the season against the New York Giants. Both coach Andy Reid and then rookie quarterback Donovan McNabb are each shown as they prepare for the upcoming game in their own short, while the feature takes a look at the team entirely. I enjoyed this piece in the way it shows how players spend their downtime, and how coaches often spend late nights deconstructing the opposing team.
Mariucci In The Mirror
49ers' coach Steve Mariucci is showcased in this piece that focuses on both his jovial nature and his serious side as he watches moments in which he has been outfitted with a microphone play in front of him in his office. Mariucci is a good spirited person and his comments about his coaching staff mugging for the cameras are genuinely funny. Two shorts are offered in which Mariucci talks about being wired for sound for a game as well as the fact that when he is wired how it affects others. His career stats are also included.
The Men Behind The Men
This piece deals with the head coaches in the NFL and their practices while storming the sidelines. Some moments have unexpected humor, including Titans coach Jeff Fisher harping on Jevon Kearse on his choice of footwear, while other feature coaches getting animated and upset. A story on coach of the year Jim Haslett of the New Orleans Saints is also included as well as his career stats.
Former quarterback Ron Jaworski and former running back Merrill Hoge battle with each other as to what exactly wins championships. Is it the running game? Is it the passing game? Who knows, but it is fun to see these two bicker back and forth.
The Butt Slap
Ah yes, the timeless tradition of slapping another man on the behind in order to pass approval on their performance. The most humorous piece on NFL Insider, this look at the strangest tradition is funny and at the same time frightening. Players talk about the butt slap and just what it means, and some even have a system as to how many slaps equates to just how good the effort was.
A Day In The Life
Bucs star Warren Sapp leads us through a day at training camp, from sunrise to sunset. Along the way he also talk about quarterbacks, passion for the game, his teammates and other important topics.
The Ultimate Prize
Jim Fassell, Jeff Fisher, Dan Reeves, Mike Holmgren, Bill Cowher, and Dick Vermeil each talk about going to the big game and what it is like. Some talk about winning it all while others (Fisher) talk about the disappointment of making it to the top only to lose. A complete list of Superbowl results is also available.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: For the most part NFL Insider boasts exceptional picture quality, though some is of lesser quality. Scenes from the Superbowl show some pixelation and grain, though the majority of the other clips offer terrific sharpness and detail. Colors are generally perfect as the bright uniforms and green blades of grass come off looking quite nice. A mixed bag, but overall a pleasing package.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as a Dolby Surround mix, the soundtrack for NFL Insider comes as a bit of a letdown. I wanted a booming mix where each tackle could be felt through the .1 LFE channel, yet instead we get ambient sounds of the crowd and other players. Dialogue sounds fine, and the music from the left and right speakers is also very crisp. Good, but I wanted more.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
The best extra feature comes in the form of on screen records and facts, a text feature that appears at the bottom of the screen when activated. Similar to the Infinifilm series from New Line, this feature answers any questions you might have about each player and coach featured.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsFor any NFL fan this disc is a must for your collection. Even for the casual fan it is wonderful as it covers nearly every aspect of football and beyond. Recommended.
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