The latest installment of “America’s Game” returns to NFL Network tonight with a one-hour documentary on the 2007 New York Giants. These documentaries — one for each Super Bowl champion — are among the best in sports television history. That’s likely to continue tonight.
I think I join most football fans who remain in shock that the Giants actually won the Super Bowl last year. With Michael Strahan as a key interview, I’m sure it’s filled with less coachspeak than any of last year’s Patriots’ players. The Giants certainly have an interesting story to tell.
The only issue I have with the recent “America’s Game” installments is the lack of context they sometimes provide to the viewer. If the Giants win one or more Super Bowls over the next 5 years, the 2007 season will be viewed differently than its current interpretation. That was true about the 2006 Colts episode and 2005 Steelers. But make no mistake: this series is worth watching, either on the NFL Network now or eventually on DVD.
Later this month, the NFL Network will start the series “Missing Rings,” which profiles five great teams that failed to win the Super Bowl. On Sept. 18, the series debuts with the 1981 San Diego Chargers, which lost the “Freezer Bowl” to Cincinnati in the AFC championship. On Sept. 25, the network airs the 1969 Vikings’ story. On Oct. 2, the network features the 1990 Buffalo Bills. Two other installments — the 1998 Vikings and the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals — will air later in October. I can imagine the depth of emotion and perspective of each losing team could make these episodes even more revealing than the “America’s Game” series. I hope NFL Films continues to make these documentaries into the future.
The NFL Network has streamlined its nightly lineup, with the “Missing Rings” series played on Thursdays, a Classic Game airing on Friday and its Top 10 series on Saturday nights. The network has plans to air the 1975 Hail Mary Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 12. That game was bumped four times in August to accommodate breaking Brett Favre news. A few of the Top 10 episodes planned include Super Bowl performances and home-field advantages.