NFL Network Set For Debut Of All-Time Team Six-Week Series
The NFL beginning Friday night will reveal the NFL 100 All-Time Team -- comprised of the 100 greatest players and 10 greatest coaches in league history -- as part of the continued celebration of its centennial season. The series announcing the selections -- hosted by Rich Eisen, Bill Belichick and Cris Collinsworth -- premieres at 8:00pm ET on NFL Network and will continue every Friday night through the regular season. The process of forming the team began early last year with the selection of a 26-person blue-ribbon voting panel by a three-person organizing committee of NFL VP/Special Projects Pete Abitante, former Pro Football HOF Exec Dir & Historian Joe Horrigan and former NFL VP/Player Personnel Joel Bussert. "Our goal was to get coaches, executives, former players and others who have spent the majority of their careers around football who also have a real interest in the history of the game," said Abitante. "Every person on the panel certainly exhibited that." In building the list, various commemorative team compilations done by other leagues and organizations were consulted. Abitante: "Was this going to be a true 100 greatest players of all time? There was a group that wanted to have a special team from before 1950, so should we have two different teams? Should we have three teams, an A, B and C? How would those players feel on those other teams?" A 100-player team was ultimately decided upon, with a specific number of players across all positions, with fair consideration given to players who played in the NFL prior to '50.
COACH SPEAK: Eisen, Belichick and Collinsworth filmed the series over a two-day period in May. For Collinsworth, the chance to work alongside the longtime Patriots coach put the project over the top. "He's the gold standard right now," Collinsworth said. "I know what historical perspective he brings, because he's lived it even longer than I have. ... Bill isn't a public figure who enjoys the limelight. He doesn't enjoy the press conferences the way that a Jimmy Johnson might, but I think he really loved the idea of how much he was respected by those great players. He has personal relationships with quite a few of them. You can tell he just loves the game and the history. You want the perspective of the guy who has had the most success coaching in the history of the league."
KEEP IT LIGHT: One aspect of the show that surprised Collinsworth was how funny the tapings became. "Like any fraternity atmosphere, the more time you spend together, the more fun it becomes and the funnier the stories were," he said. "It started as a serious mood -- the first show will be a little bit more serious -- but as it went along, the stories got better and better. When you get into the position categories -- the running backs and quarterbacks, and so on -- they all know each other. So, the more we started digging into their stories on each other, the more fun we had."