NFL Films and Network: A Marriage Gone Bad
“The thing that has always set NFL Films apart, the thing that has been its trademark, is the slow spiral in the air,” said Comcast SportsNet’s Ray Didinger, an Emmy-winning producer and writer at Films for 9 years before leaving in 2008. “One shot lasting 45 seconds. The ball leaving the quarterback’s hands and being caught. That was the kind of stuff that made NFL Films great and helped make the league so popular. That was their signature.
“But you’ve got these guys [at NFL Network] now with ADD, they’re watching that ball spinning and they’re saying, ‘OK, let’s catch it already. Go, go, go. Catch the ball, will ya.’
“We would sit down in meetings with them occasionally when I was there and we’d be discussing programming for the upcoming season. Every time we would propose an NFL Films-type look at something, you could kind of see them say, ‘Well, ya know, we were thinking of something that was a little edgier and a little punchier and a little faster.’
“The term that we used to get kicked back at us from time to time was, ‘dinosaur television.’ They’d say, ‘That stuff is dated. Been done before. People have seen it. We’re going to change the way football is presented on television.’
“That really bothered me because the one thing about NFL Films was it was distinctive. [If] you saw an NFL Films show on television, it didn’t sound like, look like, feel like anything else on television. If you saw it, you said, ‘That’s NFL Films.’ It had a uniqueness. What’s unique about the NFL Network? It looks like what it is. It looks like a knockoff of ESPN.”