Long before ESPN and any of the many highlight shows made the NFL a constant in living rooms, there was NFL Films. That’s the first thing that popped into my head today when the news came down that Steve Sabol — the son of the father-son duo that brought NFL Films to existence and prominence — passed away.
NFL Films is still around and doing fantastic work with the league providing those goosebump-raising packages with the cool movie score music and the slow-motion shots. But it’s one of many outlets anymore, and for many younger fans, it’s just part of the televised NFL crowd. I’m old enough to pre-date the internet, to pre-date ESPN, to remember the time when the NFL was growing to be king and NFL Films helped turn a game into something so much more. A run-of-the-mill Sunday matchup between two non-playoff teams could be made to look like a battle for the ages with the right shots, the right music. NFL Films was a mythmaker, much to my and many others’ delight.
Think of all the iconic shots that are iconic because of how NFL Films caught them on tape. Raiders defensive back Willie Brown running back an interception in the Super Bowl. Niners receiver Dwight Clark’s catch against the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC title game. The moves of Sweetness or the acrobatics of Steelers receiver Lynn Swann, my first favorite player thanks to my mom buying me his jersey at a garage sale when I was 9. When you are young watching NFL Films, how are the players not larger than life?
Ed Sabol, who started NFL Films, made the Hall of Fame. His son, such a huge part of the NFL explosion, may get there too. A statement from Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill:
“Steve Sabol’s incredible vision, talent and creative energy shaped the way millions of us enjoy and experience the National Football League. His loss is a blow to all of us who love football but the passion he brought to the sport lives on in every fan who has been influenced by his amazing work. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the Cardinals are with the Sabol family as well as our friends and colleagues at NFL Films.”
From the last few years, here are some NFL Films moments of the Cards:
Tags: Bill Bidwill, NFL Films, Steve Sabol
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Defensive coordinator Ray Horton wears cornrows normally, although when the team got off the plane when it got back from Philadelphia, I noticed Horton had released his fairly prestigious hair from its everyday trappings. It was hard not to notice it again Thursday, as Horton, 51, coached practice with his hair fanned out like he was lost in the 1970s.
It all seemed like a big mystery. “I don’t know why he’s doing it,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “It’s fun to pick on him a little bit, though. Everyone is coming up with different nicknames. Adds life to the locker room, which is good.”
Said cornerback Richard Marshall, “I asked him, but he really didn’t say too much. He probably doesn’t like it. I don’t know what the situation was.”
Horton just said he was going to be back to his normal look Sunday for the 49ers, and certainly didn’t sound like this was done on his own. (And no, I don’t have a picture, because obviously if I did, it would be posted.)
This afternoon, during an interview on XTRA 910, he explained why. Turns out the offensive linemen (of all people), told him he should let it out when the Cards broke the losing streak. The Cards beat the Rams, but the linemen didn’t say anything, so Horton didn’t follow up. When they finally mentioned it, he said he would if the Cards won two in a row — and they did in Philadelphia.
Horton let the hair out on the plane ride home — hence my scene on the tarmac — and “they all looked at me like I was crazy,” Horton said.
Better yet, Michael and Bill Bidwill saw Horton today and said Horton should leave it out for the game in San Francisco. Horton won’t do that — he wants to try and look as professional as possible — but promised them if the Cards beat the 49ers and the Rams on the road the next two weeks, he will indeed let it out for the next home game, which will be against Dallas Dec. 4.
Meaning, of course, things could get hairy for the Cardinals over the next two games.
Yes, I went there.
Tags: Bill Bidwill, Michael Bidwill, Ray Horton
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Second-round pick Ryan Williams agreed to his rookie contract today, a four-year deal for the running back that gets all the rookies finally signed. I would guess running back Tim Hightower is going to sign his tender offer sooner rather than later too.
– Multiple reports have put the name of WR Braylon Edwards back on the radar screen for the Cards. His name has surfaced and resurfaced a couple of times. He definitely isn’t going back to the Jets after Plaxico Burress signed. Edwards has former teammates like Jay Feely, Kerry Rhodes and Ben Graham here, he’s got a stud receiver in Larry Fitzgerald to take the heat off him, and, let’s face it, the market clearly hasn’t been what he thought it would be for him. To sign Edwards would continue the drastic revamping of the offense in just a matter of days (although let’s be clear — Edwards-to-Arizona is no sure thing).
– We are unveiling part of the camp coverage video-wise today with “Camp Unfiltered.” Here’s how the concept was explained to me: “A ‘raw’ inside look at different aspects of practice and the team.” The first installment puts the spotlight on catching punts.
– A happy birthday to owner Bill Bidwill, who turned 80 today. And while we are on the subject of birthdays — indulge me for a moment — I wanted to note my grandfather, Ray Urban, turned 100 yesterday, and I was lucky enough to be there.
Tags: Ben Graham, Bill Bidwill, Jay Feely, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Plaxico Burress
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There has been much talk about who the Cards are going to work out privately leading into the draft. One guy was Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. On the way back from the league meetings in New Orleans, a group of Cardinals — owner Bill Bidwill, president Michael Bidwill, general manager Rod Graves, coach Ken Whisenhunt and director of player personnel Steve Keim — stopped in Missouri to have dinner with Gabbert Tuesday night and then worked him out this morning.
Does it mean Gabbert’s the guy at No. 5? Of course not. I’d guess this isn’t the only workout planned for the top-echelon players. But clearly, Gabbert is in the mix for consideration.
Tags: Bill Bidwill, Blaine Gabbert, draft, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Bidwill, Rod Graves, Steve Keim
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Last month, Hall of Famer and former Cardinal Ollie Matson passed away and as Mike Sando noted this morning, Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill sent a letter to the family offering condolences and memories. It made sense — apparently Bidwill and Matson remained close over the years, even after the Cardinals traded Matson mid-career.
Matson’s niece, Clark Hochstein, lives in Phoenix (One of his grandsons attends Arizona State as well). Hochstein said, in talking to Matson’s sons, daughters and grandsons, Bidwill used to call the Matson house every Christmas to wish them a happy holiday.
As for the letter, “It was amazing how blown away everyone was to receive this letter,” Hochstein said. “It was so personal.”
In the letter, Bidwill recalled a long ago game against the Bears and how Matson — with the Cards behind 10-0 — returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and later stripped a ballcarrier and returned the fumble for the game-winning score. “People always ask me how certain players from the past would stack up in today’s game,” Bidwill wrote. “I say this with the greatest amount of respect for the current NFL players: Ollie Matson wouldn’t just stack up, he would be a superstar.”
Hochstein said by the time she arrived at the funeral services for Matson — attended by many retired players — she noticed that her family members had shown the letter to many of the former players. “It really meant a lot,” she said. “Everyone was kind of grumbling about how the situation is (regarding labor in the NFL), and to have the letter, it was a way to stop grumbling about what was going on and think about how it once was between players and owners.”
Tags: Bill Bidwill, Ollie Matson
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It was a relatively quiet and low-key practice this afternoon. Matt Leinart looked good in the red zone including a strike for a touchdown, John Skelton looked, well, raw (two straight picks by LB Mark Washington and S Aaron Rouse). And Derek Anderson threw a beautiful over-the-shoulder deep ball to Larry Fitzgerald.
WR Steve Breaston (knee) remained out, as did DT Alan Branch (hip flexor). Wide receiver Ed Gant was added to the injured list; he was sporting a walking boot on his right foot.
On to the other news o’ the day:
– There will be no practice Friday morning in Flagstaff, so anyone thinking about attending this week, tomorrow afternoon is the last workout. The Cards will be back to work Monday afternoon at NAU following Saturday’s preseason opener in Glendale.
– That game against the Texans, by the way, is a sellout. So it will be broadcast on local TV (ABC-15).
– The Cardinals were forced to make a roster move by waiving-injured DL Keilen Dykes (torn tricep tendon) and signing undrafted rookie John Fletcher, who was with the Ravens briefly. It’s a tough thing for Dykes, who worked his butt off coming back from a torn biceps muscle in November. He’s a very good guy and was at the facility it seems every week this summer.
– Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, the longest tenured active pro athlete in the Valley, will serve as honorary captain for Saturday’s game.
– Finally, a video has been posted chronicling the trip made by team president/pilot Michael Bidwill, owner Bill Bidwill, coach Ken Whisenhunt, and fellow coaches on their trip Saturday from Flagstaff and the team’s Red-White practice out to Canton, where they surprised Hall of Fame inductee Russ Grimm. Included are some in-flight anecdotes from Grimm’s cohorts on their Hall-bound friend.
Tags: Aaron Rouse, Alan Branch, Bill Bidwill, Derek Anderson, Ed Gant, John Fletcher, John Skelton, Keilen Dykes, Ken Whisenhunt, Mark Washington, Matt Leinart, Michael Bidwill, Russ Grimm, sellout, Steve Breaston
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