For all you Patriots haters out there, Judge David Johnson would like to remind you of this: At least you don't have to deal with the Big Dig!
The Brady Bunch is at it again.
It's a good time to be a sports fan in New England these days. And thankfully, I arrived on the scene just in time to soak in the success. We've had the Red Sox triumph in the World Series for the first time in nearly a century, humiliating their archest of rivals, the Yankees, in the process. The oft-lowly Celtics have put together a scorching win streak in the NBA recently. If not for the NHL strike, the Bruins might have been able to flex some muscle on the ice.
And then you've got the New England Patriots. (I'll conveniently overlook the highly touted Boston College Eagles getting bounced from the NCAA tourney by Wisconsin-Milwaukee.) The Patriots' immense success had led pundits in all forms, from the armchair to the anchor chair, to throw around the D-word: dynasty. Having won three Super Bowls in the last four years, the Patriots have cemented their status as the premiere team of this decade; some could even make a solid case that Bill Belichick's squad ranks among the greatest of the greats.
I'll slip away from that discussion, as I'm about as well versed in NFL history as I am in the agrarian societies of ancient Mesopotamia. But I enjoy a good football game, especially one where my team wins. To appeal to all the other like-minded Patriots fans, NFL films has released its annual year-in-review DVD of the year's Super Bowl champions. With New England's 27-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, they of course get the nod.
The disc sports an hour-long program summarizing the Patriots' season, with all the regular season and playoff games featured and highlighted. An all-too-fleeting peek at the Patriots' training camp prefaces the program.
I love these NFL season retrospectives; they're produced like a World War II film. During the games, sweeping, thundering orchestral music blasts over the on-field action. The plays are slowed, and the teeth-rattling tackles are focused on, with, of course, appropriate percussion synched with the poor schmuck who gets leveled. And during the Pats' two losses—to Pittsburgh and the shocker to the lowly Dolphins—the music turns somber and dark, as if the parent in a Disney movie has just been killed. Throughout it all, Harry Kalas narrates with the throaty, guttural voice one would expect in a Wild West documentary—just swap "Doc Holiday" and "Billy the Kid" for "Deion Branch" and "Tedy Bruschi." It's all very dramatic.
The bulk of the DVD, however, comes in the extras bin. Comprehensive Super Bowl coverage awaits you. The entire game—minus the commercials and endless analysis—is offered; surprisingly, the uninterrupted game has a 1:16 run time, bizarre when you consider that the Super Bowl usually lasts for, like, seven hours. Media day, the preamble to the game where players field questions from the press, and postgame coverage offer bookended reactions from players and coaches. Finally, you get the complete halftime show, the decidedly subdued Paul McCartney affair (compared to last year's exercise in outrageous nipplage).
I found the most interesting stuff on this disc to be the moments of behind-the-scenes coaching at practice. Belichick is revered as true football genius, and the war plans that he and his offensive and defensive coordinators draw up always prove to baffle opponents. This record, mixed with the famous selflessness that infect each Patriots player, has led to unmatched success. It would have been great to see more of that, the prep process and the players' camaraderie. Basically, show us how this machine operates! Alas, aside from the practice footage and some amusing sideline hijinks, the truly revealing stuff stays hidden.
The audio and video quality is strong all around. Sure, the transfer is full-frame, but it looks great. Details are crisp and the action is vividly reproduced. Dolby Digital 2.0 gets the job done well, and if decoded into Pro Logic II it will fill the room with more powerful football music than anyone has a right to. This is a nifty DVD—well-produced and entertaining—and a necessity for rabid Patriots fans.
Postscript: During my six years in New Hampshire, I've observed this much: for the New England sports fan, life begins and ends with the Red Sox. The elation that was tangible following the Red Sox World Series victory was far more potent than the Patriots' Super Bowl win. I'm not saying the Patriots aren't loved or appreciated—they are. What I will relay to you is the answer from all the sports fans I talked to when I asked them this question: "Would you have traded all the Patriots' recent Super Bowl wins for one World Series victory by the Red Sox?" Their reply? "Yes."
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