After watching the new All or Nothing series from the Arizona Cardinals, NFL Films, and Amazon.com, one word best describes the most appropriate reaction: More.
In more ways than one. I want more full-season NFL series like this, taking the viewer far beyond the same-old Hard Knocks storylines that primarily revolve around bubble players who may or may not be employed by the time a given episode debuts and delving into the week-in, week-out grind of a full season.
I want to know more about the Cardinals, a bedrock NFL franchise that has been around longer than the NFL itself and that has gone from being one of the league’s various Washington Generals to one of its Harlem Globetrotters, consistently winning more games than it loses and annually contending for playoff positioning. The Cardinals, after decades of blah, have muscled their way onto the short list of national NFL brands. All or Nothing cements the Cardinals as a team that will attract a lot attention far beyond its home market.
I want more Bruce Arians, who combines the profanity of Rex Ryan with the quick wit of Jerry Glanville to create a one-of-a-kind football coach who inexplicably didn’t get a chance to coach an NFL team of his own until he obtained an unexpected opportunity, due to Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s leukemia diagnosis, to prove that Arians deserved it.
Most importantly, I want more of what the cameras and microphones captured that didn’t make it to any of the eight one-hour episodes. Both cornerback Patrick Peterson and running back David Johnson have told PFT Live over the past week or so that the players knew that cameras were present but that they didn’t know when or how the footage would be used. Eventually, with cameras constantly around, the players and coaches become numb to their presence and revert to being who they really are. Not knowing why the cameras are there accelerates the process.
The oft-salty language (there’s a clean version that is suitable for younger viewers, since kids never otherwise hear or use those terms) suggests that the footage is raw and real. But there’s surely plenty of stuff that is even more raw and more real that ended up on the cutting room floor. I want to see that stuff, too.
As Cardinals president Michael Bidwill made clear during his visit to PFT Live, the footage was edited to exclude strategic information or other sensitive moments, like players being cut. Assurances like those were critical to get Arians to go along with the project.
“I don’t watch reality TV,” Arians said in 2014. “It does nothing for me so I don’t really want to be on reality TV. I would have to change totally how I coach. . . . I think it’s a total distraction to what you’re trying to accomplish because everything about Hard Knocks is getting on television and being an individual. And it’s a team game.”
With All or Nothing, the team takes center stage because the show was about much more than the month or so of training-camp practices and preseason games. The individuals nevertheless shine through, too, with the guy who said he doesn’t want to be on reality TV being the person who makes the strongest impact.
All or Nothing, which was released a day earlier that expected, is available at no charge on Amazon.com. It will be available for free until August 31.