Inside the NFL
show_name = Inside the NFL
runtime = 1 hour
HBO(Sept 1977-Feb 2008)
imdb_id = 0331136
"Inside the NFL" is a weekly sports show that focuses on the
National Football League. It originally aired on HBOfrom 1977 through 2008 (following Super Bowl XLII). HBOannounced that the show would end its run on its network, and the program was later picked up by the Showtimecable network. Each NFL season, the program airs weekly beginning the first week of NFL season until the week after the Super Bowl. The show principally features highlights of the past week's games that were captured by NFL Films, in addition to commentary and analysis by the hosts, and occasional interviews with current and former NFL players and personnel.
"Inside the NFL" first aired in 1977 and was
cable television's longest running series. The show was significant for being the first major sports related program to air on the then relatively new HBO network. Perhaps more significant was the fact that it was the first NFL related program to air on cable. The original hosts were Al Meltzerand Chuck Bednarik.
Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawsonjoined the program (replacing Chuck Bednarik) as Merle Harmonsubsequently replaced Al Meltzer. In 1980, Merle Harmon left as Len Dawson was joined by fellow Hall of Famer and former Miami Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti. In 1990, Cris Collinsworthjoined Dawson and Buoniconti as the third host. Several former players and coaches served as co-host throughout this period including Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Glanville.
End of the Dawson–Buoniconti era
Beginning with the
2002 NFL season, the network replaced the aging Dawson and Buoniconti. So, from the 2002–2007 seasons, it was hosted by Bob Costaswith former players Dan Marino, Cris Collinsworth, and Cris Carterserving as co-hosts. Bob Costas acknowledged this change in the season's first episode and paid tribute to the former hosts, saying they paved the way for the show to succeed. In addition to the change in hosts, "Inside the NFL" also featured segments featuring comics such as George Lopez, Jim Florentine, Lewis Blackand Wanda Sykes.
During the last three weeks of the
2005 NFL season, "Real Sports" host Bryant Gumbelfilled-in for Bob Costas. Costas was unavailable because he was in Turin, Italy preparing to cover the 2006 Winter Olympicsfor NBC.
Cancellation, rebirth, and move to Showtime
February 6, 2008, HBO suddenly announced that the show would end its run after 31 seasons. HBO Sports cited increased competition in NFL-related programming since the show's inception as a reason for its cancellation. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/2008-02-06-3063546697_x.htm "'Inside the NFL' ending 31-year run on HBO." Associated Press, 6 February 2008.] ] Skeptics however, believe that the real reason for HBO's decision to drop the show was due to the increasing cost [ [http://beta.profootballtalk.com/2008/02/08/where-will-inside-the-nfl-land/ HBO is denying that the show was killed to save money. According to ProFootballTalk.com, however, HBO was paying NFL Films a whopping $8 million a year for use of the highlights.] ] for usage of the NFL Filmsproduced highlights. In the final episode, a taped montage with highlights from the series' 31 seasons was aired. In addition, former hosts Dawson and Buoniconti did the final signoff as the credits rolled. Bob Costas soon regarded the cancellation by HBO as being a "boneheaded" [ [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/2008-02-07-hiestand-inside-the-nfl_N.htm?csp=34 Bob Costas calls HBO's axing of "Inside the NFL" a "boneheaded" move] ] move.
June 3, 2008, CBS Sportsand NFL Films announced that "Inside the NFL" has found a new home on Showtimeand will air on Wednesdays starting September 10(9 p.m. ET/PT) on the cable channel. "Inside the NFL" will air each Wednesday throughout the 2008 NFL seasonthrough Wednesday, February 11, 2009. It will be produced by CBS Sports and NFL Films. [ [http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d808a52f2&template=without-video&confirm=true nfl.com/news/story] ] [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/football/nfl/06/03/inside.the.nfl.ap/index.html sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/football/nfl/06/03/] ] [ [http://www.profootballtalk.com/2008/06/03/its-showtime-for-inside-the-nfl/ Jim Nantz is likely to replace Bob Costas as the 30-year HBO series becomes a production of CBS Sports.] ] . On July 6, it was announced that James Brown will host "Inside the NFL", the role Bob Costas had on HBO. Brown will also be joined by lead CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms, retired former Defensive Player of the Year Warren Sappand the returning Cris Collinsworth. While Sapp is competing on Dancing With The Starsformer Pittsburgh Steelersand current NFL Todayanalyst Bill Cowherwill be filling in. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/2008-07-06-inside-nfl_N.htm 2008-07-06-inside-nfl] ]
The show was taped in a
New York Citystudio on Wednesday and aired at various times throughout the week beginning Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. Much like other shows on the HBO network, "Inside the NFL" had the freedom to stray from the traditional network format for its program. While the basic elements were the same as any other sports recap show by featuring highlights of the weeks games and discussion of events around the league, the fact that there were no commercials allowed the panel to discuss subjects at length without the normal network time restrictions.
The highlight segments consisted of
NFL Filmsfootage of the past week's games with narration by Harry Kalas. This had long been considered a major asset of the show as the game highlights usually exceed the typical 15-30 second token package seen on most major networks. This was the case at least until the NFL Networkemerged during the 2003 season and aired shows such as the show " Point After" that showed extended highlight segments.
In the last few years of "Inside the NFL", the show decreased its highlight segments, eliminating some low profile games. This angered some fans as for years the show was a way for out-of-town fans to view extended highlights of their favorite teams.
Aside from the highlights, "Inside the NFL" always focused on in depth interview segments with various players, coaches and front office personnel. Among the notable segments over the years was Cris Carter interviewing former coach
Buddy Ryan. Ryan was Carter's first head coach when both were with the Philadelphia Eaglesin the late 1980sand early 1990s. Ryan released Carter with his explanation being the infamous quote "All he does is catch touchdowns." The interview revealed what some had learned over the years, that Ryan released Carter because of his substance abuseproblems that were affecting his performance. Carter admitted that his release was a wake-up call and saved his life as he became a born again Christiansoon after, and went onto have a successful NFL career with the Minnesota Vikingsin which he became the NFL's second leading receiver of all-time.
* [http://sports.sho.com/infl/ Showtime site]
* [http://www.hbo.com/infl/ HBO site]
*imdb title|id=0331136|name=Inside the NFL
*Tv.com show|id=16602|title=Inside the NFL
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