Features Interviews with Dan Fouts, Joe Namath, Roger Staubach, Mike Martz, Chuck Klosterman & More
What do Teddy Roosevelt, Knute Rockne, George Carlin, the Atomic Bomb, the Hail Mary Prayer, Marcia Brady’s broken nose and “American Pie” all have in common? The Forward Pass.
As ubiquitous as it is now, throwing the football was once unimaginable. For the first four decades of football’s existence, the Forward Pass was illegal. However, with rising safety concerns surrounding the game of football, President Roosevelt intervened. It was his demand that rules makers open up the game by legalizing the Forward Pass that saved football from abolition and created the sport we love.
NFL Network’s two-time Emmy-nominated series continues Tuesday, November 19 at 9:00 PM ET with The Forward Pass: A Football Life. The one-hour documentary examines the implementation of the Forward Pass into the game of football and the profound affect it has had on the game and its players, as well as on how football is viewed in society. The Forward Pass: A Football Life tells the story of one of America’s greatest inventions and how it transformed football from a lackluster rugby-style game of running and kicking into the uniquely American spectacle it has become.
Among the topics discussed in the documentary are:
- The role President Theodore Roosevelt played in legalizing the Forward Pass and how it ultimately saved football
- Knute Rockne’s “invention” of the Forward Pass in a 1913 game between Notre Dame and Army, and Hollywood’s role in mythologizing that event
- How football coach and innovator Clark Shaughnessy’s T-formation transformed the quarterback from a blocking back into the hero of every football game
- Former NFL MVP Boomer Esiason demonstrates how the evolving shape of the football made it easier to throw the Forward Pass by throwing footballs from throughout history
- Former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie demonstrates how the Forward Pass eliminated the Drop Kick
- How Don Coryell and Bill Walsh utilized and revived the Forward Pass
- What is the meaning of Don McLean’s use of “The Forward Pass” in the lyrics of “American Pie”?
Emmy-nominated actor from CBS’ The Good Wife, Josh Charles, narrates.
The Forward Pass: A Football Life includes interviews with the following people and more:
Bill Belichick – New England Patriots head coach
Dan Fouts – Hall of Fame quarterback
Joe Namath – Hall of Fame quarterback
Roger Staubach – Hall of Fame quarterback
Steve Young – Hall of Fame quarterback
Mike Martz – Former NFL head coach
Boomer Esiason – Former NFL quarterback
Doug Flutie – Former NFL quarterback
Brian Billick – Former NFL head coach
Joe Gibbs – Former NFL head coach
George Seifert – Former NFL head coach
Michael Oriard – Author, Reading Football
Chuck Klosterman – Author, Eating the Dinosaur
John J. Miller – Author, The Big Scrum
Provided below are some select quotes from The Forward Pass: A Football Life:
– “Americans are great innovators; we have a great history of invention…The Forward Pass when you think about it fits nicely into that tradition. It’s a great innovation that turns a sport like rugby into American football.” – John J. Miller
– “There weren’t many options for how to move the ball. Every play kind of looks like what you would expect from a goaline surge during a blizzard. People are just sort of hammering into each other trying to incrementally move the ball…Punting seemed like half of the game.” – Chuck Klosterman on the game of football before the introduction of the Forward Pass
– “It’s like throwing a weighted basketball with laces.” – Boomer Esiason on the rugby football used before the introduction of the Forward Pass
– “In 1913, we had Columbus coming to America in terms of football and that’s when Notre Dame showed up to play Army on the East Coast.” – John J. Miller
– “Everyone knows that [the quarterback is] the center of the game. If Tom Brady was a slot receiver, would he date Gisele [Bundchen]? It’s possible he might – it’s very possible Wes Welker could have ended up dating Gisele, but it doesn’t seem like it. Joe Flacco has a better chance to date someone like Gisele than Wes Welker.” – Chuck Klosterman
– “Throwing the bomb and hitting that long pass is just electrifying. It still is just thinking about it. You get goose bumps.” – Joe Namath
– “It was very prevalent that passing was too risky, and it was the way that they were thinking about it. But the way Bill [Walsh] talked about it – the short passing game – it was the extension of your running game.” – Steve Young
– “You take a look at the greatest plays of the last 50 years, it’s hard to come up with anything like a comprehensive list without going back time and again to the Forward Pass.” – Michael MacCambridge
Following the episode, Jenn Brown hosts A Football Life: Backstory at 10:00 PM ET, a 30-minute show that provides a deeper look into the lives and story of each subject, features interviews with relevant individuals, and includes material that did not make the final edition of the episode.
Viewers will also have the opportunity to interact and offer their thoughts on Twitter by following @NFLNetwork and using the hashtag #AFootballLife.
Viewers can also interact with and follow the series on their phones and tablets with A Football Life Xtra. Located within the new NFL Mobile app, A Football Life Xtra features producer commentary, photos and artifacts from the NFL Films archives, and career stats and unique facts, as well as trivia games and polls on NFL legends. Visit NFL.com/xtra on your mobile device to download NFL Mobile. Additionally, every episode of A Football Life – as well as all NFL Network programming – is streamed live on NFL Mobile from Verizon, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Below is the broadcast schedule for upcoming episodes of A Football Life:
- November 26 – Steve Gleason
- December 3 – Great Wall of Dallas
- December 10 – Houston ‘93
- December 17 – Marty Schottenheimer
- December 24 – Vince Lombardi, Part 1
- December 31 – Vince Lombardi, Part 2