View Full Version : An Endangered species?

04-04-2008, 01:11 AM

This would suck.

April 3, 2008, 3:45 pm
NFL Films, an American Institution, May Be Endangered

NFL Films is an American institution, beloved by football fans, known for its super slow-motion and poetic narration, and perfectly described by Brian Wise in a 2005 Times piece as ?the ultimate connoisseur of the bone-crunching tackle, the impossible fingertip catch, the 50-yard sideline scamper.?

But it also may be an endangered species. Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated is the latest writer to lament what appears to be the league turning its back on NFL Films in favor of its newer media arms, NFL.com and NFL Network; Zimmerman reports that from his conversations with owners at the league meetings in Florida this week, the owners ?seemed to have slid their allegiance over to the Network.?

It?s sad but true: League owners may be phasing out NFL Films. Even sadder is that they might be making the right decision.

Publicly, the owners say they?re as supportive of NFL Films as ever, and that they see NFL Network not as competition to NFL Films but as a platform that will ensure that the programming produced by NFL Films always has an audience. Patriots owner Robert Kraft told The Philadelphia Daily News that NFL Films is part of the league?s past and its future:

?If NFL Films is a dinosaur, I?d like to be surrounded by dinosaurs,? he said. ?The film library, the asset base that?s there, the programming . . . it?s sort of like Beatles music or Beethoven?s symphonies or Brahms. When you and I aren?t here anymore, people will still love to watch it because of the quality of it and the uniqueness and the appeal. I think it?s pretty special.?

But NFL Films, which is based in Mount Laurel, N.J., laid off 21 employees last month, and its signature weekly show, ?Inside the NFL,? lost its television home when HBO declined to renew it. NFL Films still produces high-quality content, but its audience seems to be shrinking. Is it possible that NFL Films is a 20th Century relic that has no place in the 21st?

I hope not, but I fear so. Fans today can get instant access to highlights, and fewer viewers have the patience to savor a closeup of a spiraling football and enjoy the accompanying orchestral score. NFL Films is a great part of the game of football, but so were two-way players in leather helmets.