If you're a fan of (or follow) any sport, you've probably had the discussion of which player is better or best than others from various eras. Is Kobe better than Jordan? Is Barry Bonds better than Hank Aaron? Heck, I've seen an occasional discussion about which NASCAR driver is best over eras for goodness sake. And those sports periodically put together lists of all-time players to commemorate anniversaries (the NBA's best 50 players in 50 years and the NFL's best 75 in 75 come to mind.).
But this disc, titled "Top 10 Greatest Players," released by the NFL and Warner, feels like less of a well-intentioned discussion and more of a way to keep football relevant in their current labor struggles. I get that the League wants to distract people from discussing how players and owners want to divvy up the billions of dollars the sport makes, but having a greatest player discussion seems like such a hackneyed way to do this. And it doesn't help when this disc is part of a larger discussion either; the Top 10 Greatest Players is actually the final disc of a larger set that covers the 100 Greatest Players, as you can see when popping the disc in and it tells you that it's Disc Four in the disc menu. Really NFL? Is this what you've become, breaking down smaller portions of larger sets for additional revenue?
For my gripes about how this disc was put together, what is on the disc itself isn't bad. First off, the 43-minute long feature (the final installment of a 10-part miniseries that covered the other 90 players) looks briefly at the previous 10 players, thus providing a bit more depth to the rankings themselves. Then when you get into the Top 10, you get thoughts on the players, each of which is about four to five minutes in length, from a variety of sources. Whether it's teammates, current players who idolized the players growing up or an unorthodox selection (such as Burt Reynolds discussing his thoughts on a player), the recollections mixed with each player's individual highlights or in some cases on-field conversations make for a solid remembrance of their abilities.
What's that you say, you want to know who the 10 players are? Well I couldn't do that in good conscience, or else what's there to talk about? Suffice to say, I think there is or should be very little complaint with who the League (or the "blue-ribbon panel" that put together the rankings according to the League's website) thinks are the ten best players to ever catch a pigskin, put on shoulder pads or tackle a competitor. In watching this and seeing the final 10, I could honestly find little issue with those players voted to be the best, many were prototypes for the positions they played and redefined how football is played and executed. Many had landmark, record-setting careers before some of their records were broken by the other names of the Top 10, appropriately enough.
It makes sense that the Top 10 Greatest Players is decent from a content perspective, but from an executive perspective it's a shameless little cash grab that they didn't even spend an extra minute making a worthwhile experience. Besides, if I wanted to have a quality list of the top players of all time in one pastime, I'd do it with my friends or those I met at the local sports bar, where the substance and company would prove to be a better experience.
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, this feature (which originally aired on the NFL Network) looks decent. The interview footage, done against a white background in many cases, looks very good and reflects NFL Films' superb production values. Much of the game footage is in widescreen save for very few vintage games, though some of those highlights are in widescreen as well. It's a solid reproduction of what is a very good-looking television show.
Dolby two-channel stereo for the effort. I can't say I was surprised at the disc's soundtrack, everything occurred in the front channels and the rears mirrored this to a lesser degree. The sound stays consistent throughout the segments and the soundstage is clear, and there are no chirps or hissing that come from the speakers during listening. Direct and effective listening.
The only extra is a series of deleted footage on players who appear in and outside of the Top 10, ranging from Jim Brown to Troy Aikman to Ray Lewis, featuring individual reminiscing much like what occurs in the piece. There is a "Play All" option, though it only covers those on the each page of names (there are two). The footage runs more than an hour and it's nice to watch nonetheless.
The Top 10 Greatest Players of the National Football League does make a case for some discussion, but that case is better made among friends and acquaintances, and done when one has a chance to look over the more complete list of 100, something which I anticipate will air in abundance during the spring and summer of 2011, and is better suited to watch there before considering grabbing a DVD of this very partial list from a larger set.