History lessons: NFL team highlight films on Hulu (video)

While the NFL and NFLPA have used their CBA sites recently to teach “history lessons” about the 1980s labor wars in context of today’s battle, fans can get another kind of history lesson — the on-field kind — by way of the archives of NFL Films and online video service Hulu.

In 2010, Hulu teamed with the NFL to place over 400 hundred hours of video on the site, free of charge to watch. Among the titles available are “America’s Game”, “Football Follies”, “NFL Game of the Week”, “NFL Greatest Games”, “Hard Knocks” and “Sounds of the Game”.

But, arguably the best, are the team highlight films converted to video. Before the highlight films were available in your local video store or seen on ESPN and the NFL Network, the films were available for rental from the clubs to show to civic groups, booster clubs and the like.

These films, before the saturation of televised NFL content, were used to generate excitement and ticket sales, and were really one of the best pieces of PR the NFL would churn out each year as teams were always shown in the best light, regardless of the final record.

The quality of the films’ conversion to video is excellent in most cases. As you go through the films of the 1960s, you can see the evolution to the now-recognizable NFL Films music and narration style.

With the induction of NFL Films’ founder Ed Sabol into the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this summer, it’s a way to look back to see the impact these pieces of history — and NFL Films — had on the growth of the game.

To put your mind back on football for a bit, here are two classic team highlight reels. The first is the oldest in HulU’s collection, the 1957 Baltimore Colts, which predates the first of Sabol’s NFL work as part of his company, Blair Motion Pictures, in 1962. The reel gives a look inside a pregame Sunday for the Colts in the locker room, and longtime voice, the late Chuck Thompson, narrates the choppy game highlights of a young quarterback, Johnny Unitas.

The second is the 1967 Green Bay Packers‘ film “The Greatest Challenge”. Narrated by iconic NFL Films announcer John Facenda, the film looks back first on the 1965 and 1966 NFL title teams before getting into the 1967 season highlights. The production has the look and sound made famous by Sabol and Films with the field-level camera work, interviews and the jazzy Sam Spence score leading up to the 1967 “Ice Bowl” in Lambeau Field and Super Bowl II, the crowing achievement of coach Vince Lombardi’s Packers.

1957 Baltimore Colts

1967 Green Bay Packers

To see a list of all of the NFL content available on Hulu, click here.

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