I was only five years old when the Raiders and Vikings met in Super Bowl XI, but by the time the Bears and Patriots met in Super Bowl XX, I was a full blown football fan. Watching key plays from the big games and the season preceding them is a true thrill. We'll never get to see the likes of Fran Tarkenton or Walter Payton or Jack Youngblood again, so watching clips of them in their prime is quite a sight to see. It was a different game back then, and watching these warriors battle it out on the field made me realize just how special some of these players were. Plus key moments from the careers of John Elway, John Stallworth, William Perry, Dan Fouts, Ronnie Lott, Jim Plunkett, Joe Montana, and so many more.
This 5-disc set really is packed with plenty of key moments in the history of the NFL, narrated by classic NFL Films voices, Harry Kalas or John Facenda. As with the previous set, each disc features footage from two Super Bowls and the season leading up to them. In each 45 minute program, you'll see about 25 minutes of regular season clips and another 20 minutes devoted strictly to the Super Bowl.
While I loved every moment of this set, I must point out that the last two programs, those for Super Bowls XIX and XX, were the best. Not only did these two programs boast a longer running time (70 minutes vs. 45 minutes), they broke down the season into recognizable themes and segments. For example, not only were the league leaders shown, they were named with their league leading stats. After watching hours of footage without these finer details, this was a welcome addition to the footage.
The later sets also showcased key games and key plays that helped propel playoff teams into the post season. While the earlier programs showed these games, the later programs mention the team record and named key players with their stats. Minor details, perhaps, but these added a lot to the effect of the clips.
All five discs really have something to offer, both in footage and special features. I loved watching the greats of the game and reminiscing on days gone by. Sure, I may have been young when these games were played, but many are firmly planted on my memory, and now I have access to these great moments. If you're a die-hard football fan, this set is for you.
NFL Films and Warner Brothers feature Super Bowl XI-XX in 4.3:1 full frame. As can be expected with such old footage, the presentation gets better the more recent the footage. In the older clips, there are plenty of specks and scratches. In the programs for the games in the 80s, these problems begin to become less of an issue. Generally, the colors are either muted or washed out, or overly bright and vibrant. At times, there are contrast problems as sunny days add a lot of brightness to the image. A few times the game film is too dark due to shadows or overcast skies, but for the most part, the image is bright and relatively detailed.
Although these would be considered major problems for a favorite film, I think they add to the mystique of the warriors of yesteryear. Going through and cleaning up the images would've been a difficult task, but I'm not 100% sure it would've added to my appreciation of the footage.
Note that the special features, which were filmed in the last decade or so, feature cleaner, more pristine prints for the interview footage.
NFL Films and Warner Brothers feature Super Bowl XI-XX in a 2.0 stereo track that is adequate at best. As with the video, I think the poor sound gives the old clips a certain flavor that would've been lost with a new remastered track. As it stands, the audio is a bit muffled at times but this is never an issue and it's never inaudible.
The most important aspects of these programs are the narration and the music, both key elements to the NFL Films presentation. Neither sound as good as something you'd find recorded today, but I wasn't expecting that. The music is clear and sounds fine even though it doesn't boom, while the narration and interviews sound good despite the occasional hiss or scratch.
Note that the special features, which were recorded in the last decade or so, feature cleaner, more pristine audio recordings for their interviews.
Each disc features game footage of the Super Bowls along with logos of the teams that participated in them. And of course, there's classic NFL Films music. Unfortunately, however, the logos are current era logos. For example, the Broncos logo shown on the menu for Super Bowl XII is the new sleek horse instead of the old school Bronco in the D. This isn't a big deal in the overall scheme of the universe, but it ticked me off just the same.
THE BONUS FEATURES
Each disc features four featurettes, running between three and seven minutes, that highlight the accomplishments of players and coaches of the Super Bowl teams (two featurettes for both Super Bowls). They may be short, but these NFL Films gems really highlight the personality involved by featuring interviews with the players, coaches, and media, along with, of course, classic game footage.
It should also be noted that the set comes with a full-color booklet with information on each game including a reproduction of the Super Bowl program, box scores, and team rosters. You also get a replica of a Super Bowl ticket (I'm not entirely certain if every boxed set features the same one, but I got Super Bowl XX).
Disc One: Super Bowl XI and XII
Raider Mystique is a 1995 NFL Films presentation that offers clips of the dominating Raiders defense of the early and mid 70s. This is an interesting look at the players' opinions on the hard hits and the cheap ones, too. Ken Stabler is a 2001 NFL Films presentation ladies man of a QB who took the Raiders to the championship that features interviews with John Madden and a few Raiders players.
Staubach/Morton is a 1995 NFL Films presentation that follows these QB combatants from the 1977 training camp through the rest of the season, with interviews with Tom Landry and both quarterbacks. Walters/Harris is a 1997 NFL Films presentation that showcases the business the hard hitting teammates Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters put together after they retired.
Disc Two: Super Bowl XIII and XIV
John Stallworth is a closer look at one of the all-time great wide receivers. This 2002 NFL Films featurette shows just how modest, quiet, and great he really was. Chuck Noll is easily the best special feature in this boxed set. This 16-minute 2001 NFL Films presentation really delves into the greatness of the emperor of the Steelers dynasty. The in-depth interview with the coach follows his coaching timeline and features some fun information on the drafting of Joe Green and Lynn Swann. Great stuff.
'79 AFC Championship is a 1994 NFL Films presentation that showcases the great rivalry between the Steelers and Oilers. The clips and interviews really show what it was like to be a player on the field or a fan in the stands for this incredible match-up. Jack Youngblood showcases clips of the 7-time Pro Bowler who was a member of the dreaded Fearsome Foursome. This is a 2000 NFL Films presentation.
Disc Three: Super Bowl XV and XVI
Jim Plunkett is a 1997 NFL Films presentation that chronicles the career of the New England Patriots' first round draft choice who eventually took a backup roll in Oakland, only to lead the team to the Super Bowl. Wilburt Montgomery is a wonderful look at the somewhat unrecognized running back who is now a business man. This is a 1995 NFL Films presentation.
Ronnie Lott is a 2003 NFL Films presentation about the hardest hitting safety in the history of the league. If you don't think this guy was one tough mother, watch these clips and listen to the interviews. They might just change your mind. Anthony Munoz is a great 1999 NFL Films presentation that looks at the career of one of the best offensive lineman ever to play the game. While much of the featurette's focus is on Munoz's career, a lot is also devoted to his family life and his son.
Disc Four: Super Bowl XVII and XVIII
John Riggins is a 2000 NFL Films presentation that showcases the wild nature of this powerful running back for the Washington Redskins. The man was a rebel, but he was loved by his teammates. The Killer B's Defense is a 1998 NFL Films presentation focusing on the swarming 80s which was made up of relative no names, most of which started with a B.
Howie Long is a nice look at the defensive beast who turned into a Hollywood star and sports announcer. This featurette, shot in 1997, is a great look at the man and how he played the game. Marcus Allen is a 1995 NFL Films presentation that details the career of the amazing Raiders runner who ran for 191 yard in Super Bowl XVIII.
Disc Five: Super Bowl XIX and XX
The 49er Family is a 1995 NFL Films presentation that sheds light on the talented 49er assistant coaches who went on to become head coaches in their own right. Dan Marino is a close look at one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL who holds every significant quarterbacking record in the NFL. This 2000 NFL films presentation is a nice tribute to the all-time great who never won a championship.
'85 Bears Defense is a 1995 NFL Films presentation that features interviews with great quarterbacks like Joe Thiesmann and Phil Simms who met the devastating defense a great number of times. '85 Patriots is a fun 1997 NFL Films presentation that looks at the often overlooked team of unknowns who became AFC champs.
Two words: Father's Day. While the image and audio most certainly aren't going to impress superficial football fans, die-hard fans and those who celebrated the game in the 70s and 80s will definitely appreciate this 5-disc set. At $65, it's a bit of a hit on the pocketbook. However, just the thought of sharing this footage with several generations of football fans makes me give this a high recommendation.