A Flame Keepers’ Apprentice

Behind the Scenes, Nick Condit

My first day at NFL Films felt like my first time at a professional football stadium; you enter and are supposed to keep walking to your section, but you just can’t help stopping to take in the view.  Imagine: walls covered with Emmy Awards displayed like championship banners, and life-size framed photographs encapsulating moments like the Titans’ Kevin Dyson stretching toward the end zone in Super Bowl XXXIV.  I was mesmerized.

After finally getting a hold of myself, I continued on to the Ed Sabol Theater, where the interns were gathering to watch our first screening.  The lights dimmed and the screen came to life with “The Season in Six Minutes,” an action-packed short film that condensed the 2010 NFL season into a package of sound bites, slow motion footage, and radio calls.

The fast-paced, modern sports short took your breath away. But what we later saw was something much more monumental: They Call it Pro Football, the feature from 1967 that all new interns are required to watch in order to experience first-hand the history of NFL Films.

The voiceovers by John Facenda set the standard for future Films’ narrators, and along with the Hollywood-style soundtrack, portrayed the sport of football in the epic sense we think of today.  Watching the old-school footage brought us back to the roots of the company.  It also gave us a look at Vince Lombardi and some of the famous lines he probably didn’t even realize he was inventing:  “A seal here! And a seal there! And then we’re gonna run this play in the alley!”

It was an incredible journey through the space of pro football, from the newer style of “The Season in Six Minutes” to the origins of Ed Sabol’s studio. And when it was over, it hit me: my own journey had just begun.

Over the course of the season, I will be checking in here on the NFL Films blog as part of my six-month internship, bringing you one intern’s take on life here at 1 NFL Plaza in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.  It’s only been a couple weeks, but already there have been memorable moments.  Like the East Coast earthquake that made the building sway and forced us to evacuate. I was born and raised here in New Jersey and I’ve never experienced such a thing. I had to convince the interns from other parts of the country that hurricanes and earthquakes really are not common in the Garden State.  Something that is common here at 1 NFL is seeing Steve Sabol walk the halls.  I haven’t met him yet but I’m looking forward to it. They say once the season begins we may very well encounter players, former players, coaches, and other talent. We’ve been instructed not to ask for autographs or pictures. So even though I’m still a fan, I’ll just have to keep reminding myself that this place isn’t actually a stadium.

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