One of the greatest productions on the long list of masterpieces produced by NFL Films has been selected for recognition in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for its place in American culture.
They Call It Pro Football was released in 1967 as the first production of the company founded by Ed Sabol and it quickly established the style that would make NFL Films an indelible part of professional football’s rise to the top of the American sports landscape. It was produced and written by Steve Sabol, who died in September after battling a brain tumor. The film had John Facenda’s inimitable voice narrating the action and featured all the slow-motion shots, creative camera angles and close-ups that we now take for granted as part of the way we watch the NFL.
“Established by Congress in 1989, the National Film Registry spotlights the importance of preserving America’s unparalleled film heritage,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in a statement released by the league. “These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.”
They couldn’t have picked a better film than the one the Library of Congress calls the Citizen Kane of sports movies to represent football’s enduring importance. NFL Films has made the final five minutes of the film available on their website, although we’d urge you to seek out the full film if you’ve never seen it before.