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Over the years the National Football League has been criticized by some for being more like the No Fun League.
From an inability until recently to reach consensus on instant reply to its restrictions on end zone celebrations to even its rules on the length of players socks, the NFL sometimes borders on the ridiculous. But say this about the NFL – it knows its audience better than anyone.
The NFL’s emphasis on the fans is at the heart of the “Game Day Experience,” an action-packed, adventure ride of a video shot on film and clearly the highlight of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Titled the “Championship Chase,” the riveting, in-your-face video is narrated by legendary NFL Films voice John Facenda, whose uncanny talent for words, rhythm, rime, inflection and pausing admist his magnificent pipes make the video even more riveting that you want to go back and see it again and again.
Shown in a revolving studio, the film chronicles the NFL season from training camp to the Super Bowl. Cameras are constantly in players and coaches faces – from inside the locker room to the down on the sidelines and the water cooler to inside the huddle to the non-stop action itself. Microphones capture every hit and sound like you’re strapped in shoulder pads yourself. Add Facenda’s rugged yet poignant pipes, and a great soundtrack of music behind him, and you literally see and feel the blood, sweat and tears of the NFL player.
“Each summer, the game relives its heritage in tiny college towns across the country. It’s the first bloom of the NFL season,” Facenda speaks as training camp opens. “The season whispers of high hopes and victory is insight…The season awaits with glory in her eye.”
Coaches scream along the sidelines while whistles blow in rapid succession and players grunt in the summer heat. This natural sound quickly brings you in. Short sound bites and personal discussions between a coach and his player add to the drama.
“You’ve got a chance to be a heck of a player but you’ve got to concentrate every play!” Denver coach Mike Shanahan firmly and intensely shouts into the helmet of a Bronco he’s pulled aside. “You’ve got to compete on every play!”
Facenda speaks of the grueling summer heat: “The palms of your hand will thicken, the skin of your cheek will tan. You’ll go rabid, weary, and wet, but you must do the best you can…All sights are set on one glittering goal – the chance to play and win in the Super Bowl.”
Taking fans inside the intense competition and execution of spring practice is exactly what the Hall of Fame wanted when it was looking for a “gotcha” for the museum. Footage for the video was shot over the past few seasons but follows last season’s championship chase ending with the Super Bowl.
“One joins with many on summers’ green field, trying to strive, to dare, all not to yield,” Facenda’s great pipes beckon. “There’s glory in the legends of this hard muscled life and there’s poetry in each season made of sweat and strife.”
As training camp comes to a close, the theatre literally shifts with the players into the regular season.
“We started off fine, but you have to be able to finish things,” Bill Cowher tells his Pittsburgh Steelers prior to breaking camp. “You have to be able to sustain in this business because it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
“Super Bowl dreams that glow in the summer sunshine, glitter and fade in the autumn shadows,” Facenda says, as players faces show the weariness of failure and defeat during the regular season. “Hopes that were high in the heat of September, poof and die in the chill of November.”
The playoffs take the film into its grand finale, with Cris Carter trash talking opponents and yelling at Randy Moss to be careful not be penalized by officials.
“Something somber in the skies, something somber in the eyes of the men. Something autumn in the air, but something winter in their faces,” Facenda poignantly illustrates. “The wind. The slash of the rain. Go face them and fight them, be savage again.”
“On these winds of victory ride emotions of a year, with sweat, guts, glory and fear,” he continues. “Nature strips down to do battle with the elements and the championship chase charges to a close in a rush of rib-cracking cold.”
The film concludes with a different vantage point of the Super Bowl than television networks have captured. On the kick-off, for example, a spectacular light show is seen from the sidelines of camera’s flashing unlike which can be illustrated above ground.
Take note that in summer, the NFL's teams train just outside and near many Major League Baseball cities, and many do not charge fans to watch practice. "A Fans Guide To The Ultimate Ballpark Tour: Fully Loaded" has links all NFL teams within every Major League Baseball ballpark city.
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Jun 22 2002, 03:30:41
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