STUDIO: Warner Home Video
- Eagles: $36.99,
- Giants
: $34.99,
- 49ers: $36.99,
- Vikings: $39.95,
- Chargers: $20.49,
- Run For The Championship: $17.99
RATED: Not rated (All)

- Eagles: 1,000 minutes,
- Giants: 1,000 minutes,
- 49ers: 500 minutes,
- Vikings: 500 minutes,
- Chargers: 240 minutes,
- Run For The Championship: 87 minutes
- Eagles: None
- Giants:
49ers: None
- Vikings: None

- Chargers:
   – Don Corvell: Offensive Innovator
   – Lance Alworth: The Man Called “Bambi”
   – Dickie Post: The Age of Aquarius
   – In Their Own Words: Junior Seau
   – Luis CastilloL Chargers Warrior
   – The Comeback of Roman Oben
   – Charlie Joiner: The Hands of Time
   – Dan Fouts: Field Genera;
- Run For The Championship:
   – Shots of the Year
   – Coaches Wired
   – Players Wired
   – Gravitas

The Pitch

It’s football season, baby!

The Humans

The NFL, past and present.

The Nutshell

With the new football season now upon us, the NFL and NFL Films come out with a shload of product, reminding us just how good they are at chronicling the past and present of the League.  With five retrospective pieces on the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, and a 2008 yearbook of the entire league’s race to the Super Bowl, NFL Films still shows that they’re the best sports historians in the business.

Super Bowl XXXIII may not have gone well, and he may have only played three seasons, but at least Ickey Woods had that door-to-door steak salesman thing to fall back on…

The Lowdown

This ain’t my first dance at the NFL rodeo DVD-wise.  In all my previous excursions with NFL Films, I’ve usually enjoyed their presentations and have said on more than one occasion that there’s simply no one better at capturing and displaying action taking place in sports.  They’re masters of the slow motion camera; and who the hell else ever uses classical music and other sweeping scores to present their material?  NFL Films manages, on more than one occasion, to make the most brutal of American sports seem like ballet.  At times you’d swear you’re watching the Nutcracker Suite rather than Lawrence Taylor, Junior Seau, Brian Urlacher or Jason Thomas take somebody’s head off.  Of these six selections, four are trips down memory lane, one is a retrospective of a team going back all the way to the AFL, and the last is a snapshot of the entire 2008 season. 

“Mr Fouts, may I have your autograph?”
“Next time I fumble, ‘tuck rule’ it and we’ll talk…”

If you throw into your DVD player the Greatest Games of the Eagles, Giants, 49ers or Vikings, you’re taken back in time to last season, 5 years, 10 years or even 20 or 30 years.  The games are presented as they originally aired on broadcast TV.  If you were alive and old enough to be watching some of those games, it’s a real back-in-the-day headtrip.  And if not, well it’s interesting to see how technology makes for better enjoyment of the game as the years have gone by.  Watching a game even 20 years ago is far removed from all the innovations in camera angles and graphics that we have today.  Still, there is a more basic simplicity to catching a 1989 playoff game or a 1978 divisional rival clash than with all the bells and whistles of today.  It’s also a stark reminder that Terry Bradshaw pretty much never had hair.

For the Eagles and Giants sets, there are ten games, but only five for the 49ers and Vikings sets.  For the Vikings, that may be understandable, because the salad days of that franchise were in the late ’60s and ’70s when they went to four Super Bowls, and lost every one of them.  However, for the 49ers, one would think that, just in the 1980s alone, one could scrounge up ten games, and not even including any of their five Super Bowl victories.  So not really sure why the Niners and Vikes got the short shrift here, but here’s how the sets break down:

Jerry Jones was really getting desperate in the post ’90s dynasty when he went with the old “flaming helmets” shtick…

10 Greatest Games: Eagles

  • Disc 1: Eagles vs. Giants November 19, 1978
  • Disc 2: Eagles vs. Cowboys
    January 11, 1981
  • Disc 3: Eagles vs. Redskins September 17, 1989
  • Disc 4:
    Eagles vs. Redskins November 12, 1990
  • Disc 5: Eagles vs. Lions December
    30, 1995
  • Disc 6: Eagles vs. Steelers November 12, 2000
  • Disc 7: Eagles
    vs. Packers January 11, 2004
  • Disc 8: Eagles vs. Cowboys December 28,2008
  • Disc 9: Eagles vs. Falcons January 23, 2005
  • Disc 10: Eagles vs.
    Cowboys October 8, 2006

Disc 1 is the “Miracle at the Meadowlands” game that featured Herman Edwards’ run back of a Giant fumble to steal the game. I remember the two games against the Redskins on Discs 3 and 4, including that incredible comeback in the 1989 game.  I especially like that game because it includes my favorite player probably of all time, Randall Cunningham, at his peak.  Cunningham is the guy who got me interested in football.  He was the Michael Vick (on the field only) of the league 20 years before there was Michael Vick.  But Cunningham had a much better arm and sense for managing the game.  Really exciting guy to watch back in his heyday.

“Hi Octo-Mom…”

10 Greatest Games: Giants

  • Disc 1: Giants vs. 49ers 1/4/1987
  • Disc 2: Giants vs. Redskins 1/11/1987
  • Disc 3: Giants vs. Broncos 1/25/1987
  • Disc 4: Giants vs. Bears 1/13/1991
  • Disc 5: Giants vs. 49ers 1/20/1991
  • Disc 6: Giants vs. Bills 1/27/1991
  • Disc 7: Giants vs. Eagles 1/7/2001
  • Disc 8: Giants vs. Vikings 1/14/2000
  • Disc 9: Giants vs. Eagles 9/17/2006
  • Disc 10: Giants vs. Patriots

The thing I don’t quite get about the games chosen for these sets is that they all seem to be games which the teams won.  Otherwise, how do you leave out the Colts / Giants 1958 “Greatest Game Ever Played” NFL Championship?  The way things look here, it seems like the Giants didn’t have a good game before their 1986-87 Super Bowl run.  Still, Disc 3 is that Super Bowl, and Disc 5 is that great NFC championship game against the 49ers where Leonard Marshall clobbered Joe Montana to knock him out of the game.  Disc 6 is that great Super Bowl against the Bills and Disc 10 the equally great Super Bowl against the previously undefeated Patriots.

“Hey look, I’m really sorry about plowing you over like this, are you okay, you injured?”
“Think nothing of it, really.”

5 Greatest Games: 49ers

  • Super Bowl XVI 49ers vs. Bengals
  • Super Bowl XIX 49ers vs. Dolphins
  • Super Bowl XXIII 49ers vs. Bengals
  • Super Bowl XXIV 49ers vs. Broncos
  • Super Bowl XXIX 49ers vs. Chargers

This is all of the 49ers’ Super Bowl victories, the third of which, Super Bowl XXIII, broke my heart as someone who followed the Bengal’s 1988 miracle Ickey Woods / “Who Dey” season.  But where was that 1988 game where Steve Young had that mad dash against the Vikings?  You know, the one where he evaded every person in the stadium and virtually crawled across the finish line to essentially win the game?  Also, considering that this is half the offering of the previous two entries, one might think that half the price would be warranted.  But look at the price included above and, well, not so much.

5 Greatest Games: Vikings

  • Disc 1: Vikings vs. 49ers January 9, 1988
  • Disc 2: Vikings vs. Cardinals
    January 1, 1999
  • Disc 3: Vikings vs. Cowboys January 9, 2000
  • Disc 4:
    Vikings vs. Chargers November 4, 2007
  • Disc 5: Vikings vs. Giants
    December 28, 2008

I remember that playoff win against the Niners in 1988 and also the game against the Chargers, where Adrian Peterson outran the planet to set the NFL single game rushing record – as a rookie.  Still, win or lose, where was that 1999 NFC Championship game against the Falcons?  I lament that game because that was Randall Cunningham’s last great year and last chance to go to the Super Bowl.  The Vikes lit up the scoreboard that year, but lost on a last second field goal.  If they had gone to the dance instead of the Falcons, maybe the Super Bowl against the Broncos wouldn’t have been such a snoozefest. 

History of the San Diego

This is arguably the best of the offerings here, depending on if you’re looking for a straight up historical perspective of a club rather than just their greatest games.  This is a two-disc set where Disc 1 features the entire history of the Chargers.  It goes back to their powder blue AFL days, through Dan Fouts and the early ’80s offensive juggernauts, to Stan Humphries and Junior Seau and the only team to get to a Super Bowl, the 1994 squad, up to today with Phillip Rivers, LT and Shawne Merriman. 

Disc 2 is a season-long breakdown of probably San Diego’s most revered incarnation: the 1981 Chargers.  This is the team that defeated Miami in the storied clash in South Florida in a divisional game in overtime, only to lose to Cincinnati in the AFC title game in the Freezer Bowl, a game played in nearly -40-degree temperatures.  The discs have seven featurettes on Chargers personnel, including Fouts, Seau, coach Don Coryell, receiver Lance Alworth, Dickie Post (gotta love that name), Luis Castillo, Roman Oben and Charlie Joiner.  This is a good set.

…was the man.

The least of the sets here, yet nonetheless fairly entertaining, is the Run For The Championship, which chronicles the 2008 NFL season, which was ultimately won by the Steelers, for their second championship in four years.  This is pretty standard NFL Films fare, with highlights of the entire season and special build up and coverage of all the playoff games.  The look of this set, as with all the others, is good, although this is the only one of the bunch to take place entirely in the recent past, so the games here are going to look better than say, the 1981 Chargers / Dolphins playoff game.

Run For The Championship features four minor featurettes, Shots of the Year, Coaches Wired, Players Wired and GravitasShots is highlights of the year set to that aforementioned classical-type music, the two Wired featurettes spotlight the colorful language of the players and coaches during play, and Gravitas is a curious quickie feature on gravity and the NFL.  Or to paraphrase Jim Rome, fools are getting jacked left and right.

There’s plenty of good stuff here for the NFL fan, and I’d recommend the Eagles, Giants and Chargers sets above the others, as they seem to be the best value for the money when comparative shopping. 

Eagles: 7.9 out of 10
: 8.1 out of 10
: 6.8 out of 10
: 6.6 out of 10
: 7.6 out of 10
Run For The Championship
: 7.3 out of 10