Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Forward Pass: A Football Life (2013) ***

TV-PG, 45 min.
Featuring: Chuck Klosterman, Boomer Esiason, Bill Walsh, Joe Namath, Steve Young
Narrator: Josh Charles

I’ve now reviewed three of NFL Network’s episodes of “A Football Life”. The first two I did out of my fanaticism for everything involving the New York Football Giants. This one I do out of love for the game, and this one seemed to be the most informative of any of the documentaries I’ve seen from the NFL. I actually learned a thing or two about football watching this doc.

One thing that I learned is that Chuck Klosterman—the man who wrote the rock filled memoirs “Fargo Rock City” and “Killing Yourself To Live”, which mirrored my own experiences with rock music growing up in the same generation—is a huge football fan. He’s one of the most prominent talking heads in this doc and displays a passion for the passing game that goes beyond logic. His prediction that one day there will be a team that doesn’t run the ball at all defies any logic, but then he admits that the coach of that first team to only throw the ball will be thought of as crazy until everyone is doing it. This theory ignores that fact that a passing game cannot exist successfully without a running game. I suppose time will tell on our differing opinions there.

Anyway, there’s a great deal of football history to be gleaned from “The Forward Pass”. From the details behind how Teddy Roosevelt saved football as a national past time to how passing removed the “foot” from the game of football to the arguable point that Bill Walsh single-handedly created the West Coast Offense, a passing-based game plan that dominates professional football today, the film is a great place to glean an overview of the passing game and a general history of the National Football League itself. Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason appears to test a number of official league footballs throughout its years in terms of how well they can be thrown. I wonder why they didn’t get a younger quarterback for this.

Anyway, “A Football Life” is proving to be a more valuable resource for the casual and even more passionate fans of the sport as the network continues to get more creative coming up with subjects for the hour-long program each week. I can’t wait to see programs on the evolution of the defensive side of the ball, the modern stadium and on refereeing the game. Plus, they continue to add valuable biographies of the great players. 

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