Football As Shakespeare

Fans and non-NFL fans, alike. Do yourself a favor and cough up two bucks and watch this rather incredible documentary on the 1983 World Champion Raiders. There are some great characters in there--Marcus Allen, Howie Long, Todd Christensen. Here's a snippet from the NFL's site. I don't think I'd really appreciate the intelligence and heart required to play football, as well as the sheer beauty of the game, if not for NFL Films. The doc is one in a series--apparently they're now doing one on great teams that lost the Super Bowl.

The thing about the 1983 Raiders is that I have deep memories of that game. The Cowboys lost in the playoffs that year, and I was about to root for the Skins in the Super Bowl, out of NFC East loyalty. But I couldn't do it. My Mom bought me all this Redskins stuff a few days before the game. But when she gave it to me, I just looked at her and said, "Ma. The Redskins are gonna get killed."

The Raiders destroyed them, and it was capped by this Marcus Allen run below. I can remember leaping and yelling while I was watching it (I was only eight.) Every time I see this clip, it's like going back to that moment. The documentary  talks about how the Raiders experienced the run. Todd Christensen (who was a beast in his time) actually starts crying while recalling the run, and years later seeing seeing the NFL Films' rendition of it where Jon Facenda says, "On came Marcus Allen, Running with the night..." What great poetry.

I watch this run and it captures what I mean about football actually being an art. A truly great football play, is a great story. It has a narrative arc--the hero begins his journey, (the Raiders hike the ball) encounters a seemingly insurmountable obstacle (surrounded in the backfield by Redskins,) appears to be done for (Allen reversing field,) and then somehow defeats them (Allen breaks out.) It's a beautiful thing to see, play out.

Watch the documentary. Out of the ones I've seen in the series, it's the best.