Warner Bros. // 2008 // 600 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // November 10th, 2008
The best of the Steelers.
I recently did a roadtrip with some other fans where we drove to Columbus and back for a soccer game. 16 hours or so, for a two-hour game. That makes me either officially hardcore, or crazy, or both, but one thing's for sure, I've got nothing on fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Through the years, I've heard of octogenarian fans of the team getting tattoos of the team on themselves, and in one case, a man's request upon his death was to be put in his favorite chair with a Steelers game on the television, a request that was unsurprisingly honored. The team's following with the blue-collar city noted for its steel production in past years is well-known and long-standing, and the team's historical impact on football in the era of the Super Bowl is above reproach, and struck a personal chord with me for a while.
I was a Steelers fan growing up. I played electric football and the Steelers were my team. I put the numbers on the plastic pieces better than any of the other teams. Me and a friend played a rudimentary game on paper with erasable pens, replaying the Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowl games from previous years. My handheld football game I played as, you guessed it. I got away from the team through the years as my interest in football faded, but there's no denying that the Steelers teams of the 70s were arguably the greatest in pro football history. By a very rough count, nine Steelers from that era are in the Hall of Fame. One is part of the Fox Studio team (Terry Bradshaw), one ran for governor of Pennsylvania recently (Lynn Swann) and one won a Super Bowl as a coach and will surely get into the Hall of Fame for his coaching merits (Tony Dungy). And that's just those who played for the team; I'm not even counting head coach Chuck Noll or owner Art Rooney among this total. The history of the Steelers is already well-documented on video, but since we are approaching the holiday season, Warner Brothers has decided to relive the Steelers' Super Bowl success from that era once again, with full broadcasts of those four wins, in addition to their recent Super Bowl XL win against Seattle, in this multi-disc release.
While it's nice to have these complete games on DVD, what would have been nicer is if Warner Home Video had actually put some care into the overall presentation of this set. To compare the A&E sets which highlight the World Series each year, or the greatest games compilations of a baseball team, they at least make sure to include some sort of tangible extra material on the discs themselves, be it highlights from other games, interviews, what have you. On this set, titled the Greatest Games Series, you get the games, and nothing else. You see the disclaimer on this set like you do with similar sets, advising on the poor video quality and possibility that some action might be missed, and that's fine. Watching Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier do the commentary on Super Bowl X when the Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys was a nice nostalgia trip, even if I got Black Sunday flashbacks. But you're basically left with games that are just converted to DVD from old videotape copies. This make things particularly frustrating, as Warner missed an excellent opportunity to leverage the relationship they have with NFL Films (and their excellent existing Steelers library), which includes extensive interviews with members of the teams of those years. The amount of additional footage from the Steelers' win over Seattle ventures into the "oodles" category alone, and to make this a truly valuable set, would be one of many awesome inclusions. So while five discs of pro football is nice, considering what's already out there for Steelers fans, this feels like nothing more than a cash grab.
Or to put it another way, when you consider that the America's Game series that focuses on the Steelers includes interview footage with Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mean Joe Greene, and includes the relevant footage from each Super Bowl win, and only costs about $10 less than this Greatest Games set which just has the games, these five discs are more for the completist/Steelers zealot that you know who might enjoy having the games instead of rapidly degrading tapes. But if you're a peripheral Steelers fan, there are better productions out there that are worth exploring and buying before you'd even consider reaching for these discs.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site