Perhaps it’s because of the early success of Lovie Smith’s Bears, but I’ve rediscovered HBO’s Inside the NFL this year. Two weeks ago they had a feature on San Francisco 49ers team photographer– and famous Haight Ashbury-era rock photographer Michael Zagaris. (He shot this famous Mick Jagger photo, for instance.) This week, in addition to a look behind the way in which Grossman and the Bears pulled out that come from behind victory, they have a moving (yet not cheesy) story on how Bengals QB Carson Palmer received a knee ligament donated by Julie De Rossi, a woman who died after her car was hit by a drunk driver. The same story in the hands of Fox or ESPN would have beaten the viewer over the head; HBO managed to do it subtly.
I first discovered the show in the 70s era of Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti; in the last 25 years I’ve probably seen it half a dozen times. I like this outfit– Marino, Collinsworth and Carter take the edge of off Bob Costas’ usual annoyingness.