A road trip with the crew on Friday landed us at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, N.J. to preview the 2010 Eagles highlight video. It was also an opportunity to tour the new NFL Films, which is nothing short of spectacular.
Given everything going on in the league right now, Friday was a ray of sunshine. Senior NFL Films Producer Peter Frank showed us the nearly-completed version of last season's highlight video that, honestly, brought goose bumps all over again.
"I want to make an entertaining film for the fans because I am one of them," said Frank, who began his love for the Eagles in the mid 1970s. "I've done highlight films of other teams and I found that I was a bit more clinical about it. This is different because I lived the season with the fans. When I go back to re-cut the season, I think I have a better perspective of it than a non-Eagles fan would. I watch every game. I live every play."
Frank entered 2010 feeling the same way that every fan felt: How would the Eagles fare after making so many changes, including a biggie at the quarterback position.
The Donovan McNabb theme is part of the video as well, tastefully intertwined into the fabric of a young team that found its stride with Michael Vick leading the way at quarterback.
"It was the first time after 11 years that the Eagles didn't know what they had at quarterback," said Frank. "Donovan had been traded and here was Kevin Kolb preparing for his first job as a starter in the league. Vick was on the bench waiting for his chance. Nobody knew what he was going to become."
The video is an entertaining piece of work, complete with well-placed chapters of the season. The closing game is followed by the opening loss and the infirmary ward of a Sunday that enveloped 60 minutes of injuries that cost the Eagles a Pro Bowl fullback, Leonard Weaver, and their starting center, Jamaal Jackson, for the season, as well as Kolb and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley for the game and beyond.
The video pays tribute to the fans for the way they paid tribute to McNabb upon his return to Lincoln Financial Field, and it spotlights a large gulp of the smorgasbord of scintillating plays Vick produced.
"When I talk to Derek (Boyko, director of media relations) about doing this film every year, he tells me to make it for the fans and to tell the story of the season. So there are things that the Eagles are good about, in that we feature the big plays of the season, no matter who made them. That isn't the case with every team. If a player isn't going to return to the team, there are some teams out there that don't want those players featured in the video. The Eagles say, 'If it happened last year, put it in the video.' It doesn't matter who made the play, so keep him in."
Frank has still not finalized a title for the video, but he has a very strong idea, one that sums up the 2010 season for the Eagles.
"The theme, which I am proposing as the title, is, 'Only The Bold ...' meaning that there were a lot of bold decisions that were made last year, starting with the trade of McNabb, then the decision to ride Vick the rest of the way even after Kolb was healthy enough to play," said Frank. "The theme is that you have to make bold moves in the NFL to survive, and Andy Reid has certainly done that."
It's a feel-good piece of art, and art it is. Frank has to add the voice, more radio highlights and more of the effects that only NFL Films can produce. You'll feel that the Eagles accomplished something special in 2010 with the changed roster, with adversity staring them in the face, with the way they came together as a team on the field and in the locker room.
The section covering the comeback victory over the Giants at The New Meadowlands is stirring, remarkable, and every bit as thrilling as it was in December even though we've all seen the big plays over and over and over again.
A day at NFL Films was the right tonic for the football-deprived souls in our group, and it was also a cruel reminder that the work stoppage continues without much relief in sight.
But the game will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later. And when it returns we will all be treated to the chills and spills of a season and no matter how many times they are shown on television. It's the game we love and the game that keeps us coming back for more and more, and it is people like those at NFL Films who are able to so perfectly tell the story the fans want to see and hear.