Warner Bros. // 2006 // 833 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // July 19th, 2006
It's now or never!
God bless NFL Films for the type of work they do and how far into the huddle they get when they cover a Super Bowl. From every angle and every possible sound bite, starting with I think Super Bowl V when Hank Stram's microphoned banter with players and officials was a bigger highlight of the game than the game itself. And from there, some coaches (like Chuck Noll) may not have enjoyed seeing that camera and microphone around, and others in recent years (like Dick Vermeil and Brian Billick) have a wireless microphone on to listen to any temper tantrums or words of wisdom. Mostly the tantrums.
But it's the memorable shots in these games that have made NFL Films a hallmark institution for sports photography. Lynn Swann's catch against the Rams that had him virtually run into your living room was replayed over and over again. The faces of jubilation and defeat run rampant through the winners and losers. And there I am...watching it on TV and fanatically replaying it to see if I can get a result like the game. First on my electric football set, then on John Madden football. What? You don't do the same thing? Liar.
Anyway, the layout on this set is similar to previous sets, with two Super Bowls on each disc, with five discs total. And for those who forget them, the big games were:
* Super Bowl XXXI
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana; January 26, 1997
Pro football's first Super Bowl winners, the Green Bay Packers, come back home to their long-forgotten championship and look to be reacquainted with the "Titletown" nickname as they play the New England Patriots.
* Super Bowl XXXII
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California; January 25, 1998
The Green Bay Packers return to the big game and attempt to defend their title against the Denver Broncos, whose quarterback John Elway was attempting to claim his first taste of postseason glory in a long and well-established career.
* Super Bowl XXXIII
Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Florida; January 31, 1999
The Denver Broncos and John Elway return to the championship game, and in a game that would eventually prove to be Elway's last, they attempt to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, who came to the game fresh from an upset victory against the Minnesota Vikings in the Conference title game.
* Super Bowl XXXIV
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia; January 30, 2000
The Rams, this time playing in St. Louis, return to their first Super Bowl in two decades against the Tennessee Titans, a newcomer to the Super Bowl, in a game that came down to the final yard and the final second of play.
* Super Bowl XXXV
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida; January 28, 2001
Fresh from a year of personal tribulation and tragedy, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis leads a stifling defense against the New York Giants, who are looking to regain their championship composure.
* Super Bowl XXXVI
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana; February 3, 2002
The St. Louis Rams return to the big game after a one-year hiatus, and play the New England Patriots, an improbable foe from a town seeking its first taste of championship glory in any sport for the first time in over 30 years.
* Super Bowl XXXVII
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California; January 26, 2003
Tampa Bay Head Coach Jon Gruden led the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl, but they were up against perennial guests the Oakland Raiders, who in a unique twist, led Gruden to vacate their Head Coaching position in the offseason to come to Tampa Bay, so the drama was high.
* Super Bowl XXXVIII
Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas; February 1, 2004
The New England Patriots return to the big game, and the expansion team in Charlotte, the Panthers, appears in its first game ever, hoping to thwart the continued postseason heroics of quarterback Tom Brady.
* Super Bowl XXXIX
ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida; February 6, 2005
The New England Patriots return for their third appearance in four Super Bowls, and this time combat the Philadelphia Eagles, their polarizing wide receiver Terrell Owens, and hope to achieve the elusive "dynasty" nickname.
* Super Bowl XL
Ford Field, Detroit Michigan; February 5, 2006
The Pittsburgh Steelers return to the Super Bowl and look for their fifth championship in team history, but the newcomer Seattle Seahawks and their record-setting running back Shaun Alexander hope to have something to say about it.
Along with the films from the games, the pleasant surprise here is that the season films for each year are included. It's pretty cool, as in some of the earlier years, you see Elway in the Broncos orange jersey, or the Ravens in Memorial Stadium, and that's not even talking about some of the players. Touchdown runs by Barry Sanders should be required viewing for everybody. And the access to locker rooms that made NFL Films so famous is an even larger showcase. It also seems to help provide a jumping off point from the most recent collector's set, as perennial Super Bowl guest teams Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills get some love before things get down to the nitty-gritty. From that point, you get comprehensive looks at the seasons all the way through to the most recent one, some legends (like Dan Marino) fade away, and new ones (like Brady) are born. And the feature isn't without some individual highlights and some comedic moments. Jim Mora's "diddly poo" comment is given its full attention, for instance.
There are also separate features on some of the key figures from those winning teams, to add a little bit of depth, but nothing that a lot of people didn't already know. And that's not a fault of NFL films, but with two weeks between the Conference Championship and Super Bowl, there's nothing for anyone else to do but hype, plug some crucial figures for each team and develop stories. And no one remembers the stories years later, they remember the game, how good it was, how bad it was, whether so and so threw for 300 yards, whatever. That's the good part of history and time; it helps bring some distance from the hype.
Those who pick up this Super Bowl set are more than likely updating their previous gift set that carried the first 30 games, so that's a forgivable sin. As a standalone set, it's not too bad. This is something I'll be more prone to rewatch in a few weeks when training camps open up, or in February before the game airs. Approximately 14 hours to cover the last decade of Super Bowls and the games leading up to them makes for a phenomenal set, and this one is another in a great (and growing) group.
Review content copyright © 2006 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 833 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Additional Features
* Super Bowl XL Replica Ticket
* Collectible Booklet with Game Information and Rosters
* Official Site
* Super Bowl Official Site
* IMDb: NFL Films
* NFL Films Site
* DVD Verdict Review: Super Bowls XI-XX