Judge Ryan Keefer's one big play involved cake, a Shakespeare adaptation, and scuba gear. Don't ask.
The big-play men of the NFL.
Football players might come and go, styles and game plans will change, but the two things that stay unchanged when it comes to the National Football League are the extensive cameras and tapes that chronicle memorable game highlights. Throughout the years, the League compiles and markets that footage in DVD form, even as they privately frown upon players whose day-to-day activities are perhaps less than disagreeable. This is the case of In Just One Play, which is 72 minutes of quick edits and slightly humorous narration that chronicles the achievements of many up-and-coming and well-established players. The problem is some of these gentlemen have recently found their way into off-season headlines…and not necessarily for the better.
The host of this little opus is Chad Johnson, wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson, whose uniform number is 85, refers to himself in the third person, sometimes as the Spanish pronunciation for said number. He's decided to do just about anything, short of honoring his $3 million contract, and his behavior borders on petulance. He doesn't really host In Just One Play more than he talks about various aspects of the game from the sidelines of the 2008 Pro Bowl, a game that traditionally few people in the league seem to care about.
Then you have the subjects of the piece. Randy Moss—wide receiver for the New England Patriots and 2007 record holder for catching 23 touchdowns—saw his name in the headlines for violence against a female companion. While the allegations were disproved, the fact that he's gotten into legal troubles in the past doesn't help his case all that much. Steve Smith has been suspended two games in the upcoming season for breaking a teammate's nose in training camp; a story that is unfolding now. Terrell Owens is such a polarizing figure, sometimes the name alone spawns an immediate opinion of him. To merge a couple of his own phrases, "for a lot of people to love them some him, he should drop the popcorn and play to get a ring." Then you have the younger guys whom the league is touting as heirs to the NFL legacy. Some have the warranted talent, like running back Adrian Peterson. Yet others, like fellow running back Reggie Bush, seem to be more of hype than anything else. Continuing the miscreant theme, wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been suspended for the first three games of the 2008 season for violating the NFL Code of Personal Conduct, while running back Marshawn Lynch was involved in a hit and run automobile accident for which charges were eventually reduced.
There are some players shown who are both talented and avoided trouble, with copious footage of LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, and a few others. To the credit of the producers, they try to cover most aspects of the game, such as with big play return men like Devin Hester, and by including interviews with many of these players' peers, it provides an added dimension that might not have been seen before. Spotlighting defensive players like ex-cornerback Rod Woodson, safety Ed Reed, and linebacker Brian Urlacher is admirable, but trimming the piece to just the offensive side of the ball would have cut things in half and made it more entertaining.
Overall, In Just One Play covers the game's big-play threats rather well, but for hard core football fans, this seems more like a quick cash grab. There's not a lot of attention to detail and, aside from a playable demo for Xbox's Madden '09, there's nothing you're really missing out on by renting this puppy instead of buying. Wait for it to air on the NFL Network during the off-season when things get dull and uneventful.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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