BY TJ Troup
Thought long and hard about how to write this story, and yes it is game day, and usually am having my morning coffee and doing the research before my NFL Sunday begins. During my days as a coach was so focused on my career that spending time reaching out to folks was just not part of the plan(unless it was a coach who could help me). The two exceptions have been detailed here at the Journal before.
Summer of '86 got my first college job and took the time to write to Paul Lionel Zimmerman, and Steve Sabol. Those two men took me "under their wing" ....and yes cliches are part of my lexicon and guided me, and just as important introduced me to folks that made my life better. Some of those men became friends, and today here at the Journal will detail that friendship.
|Chris Willis, NFL Films|
Let's start with Mr. Chris Willis. Arrived at NFL Films to do my research (watch film), and met with Steve early that morning, and boy oh boy was he upbeat and excited. Though cannot remember his exact words, something like "coach, have a new archivist here at Films, and can't wait for you to meet him.
He is full of enthusiasm, has already demonstrated dedication, and everyone here likes him". Chris Willis has stated many times how getting the job at NFL Films has changed his life, and last Thursday evening he did a show on Joe Carr. Having played the game (receiver at Urbana College), and loving history—especially the early history of the game he has written numerous books.
Everyone of those sagas was exceptionally well written and had the depth of research needed to take the reader deep into the core of his subject matter. Chris and myself have had many, MANY talks about the history of the game, how the philosophy of coaching has changed and evolved, and finally his favorite team the San Francisco 49ers. During my visits to Films have brought along my core group(an "Animal House" group of friends who also love the game), and Chris has been a terrific host, and as you can well imagine he has made friendships with those men as well. The best way to detail how well the visits have gone is lunchtime.
A morning of watching film on the different monitors, and then down to the cafeteria for lunch, and of course while eating the back and forth of what we saw, and tangential snippets of conversation about the league, and teams, and players. Then back up stairs for more film.
No doubt there are millions of folks in the world that could care less about watching old film, but WE DO! Due to the damn Chinese Communists have not been to NFL Films since spring of 2019, yet when my next trip does happen we will again have the joy of watching old film and spending time with Chris. Next week Mr. Chris Willis will celebrate his birthday..happy birthday to ya my valued friend!
Dr. Z shared with me his thoughts about a young man who researched the pass rush, and defensive line play like no one else he had ever heard of. Did I know John Turney? Hell no, never heard of him? Not sure the exact year (not that it really matters), have known John for many years, and we have had many long talks about the game and all aspects. He allowed me to become involved in the Hall of Fame voting process and would meet at the SB city.
Those meetings were fascinating/intriguing and learned a hell of a lot. While all of them were fun, the lunch with Jack Youngblood (after he had finally been voted in), and his friends remains seared in my memory for many reasons, but would not have happened without John.
John Turney played the game and has even coached, yet research, and writing are his strong suits. If you have not read my columns at the Journal before, then before going any further...I am one hard-edged individual, don't suffer fools well, and never take prisoners—yes much like Paul Lionel Zimmerman. There are many sites on the internet about pro football, and almost all of them are either flawed(attempting to be kind), or just downright pathetic.
You read, learn nothing, and come away wondering who would hire someone who writes like this? Having a forum where I can share my thoughts and what have learned about the history of the game, coaches, and players is very important to me! John Turney has allowed me to write whenever I want, and not edit my material. THANKS, JOHN!
Before this season is over John and myself will discuss the season, and more specifically the Rams and how they are playing. NFL Films has done team histories of almost all of the teams. Not sure why each of the teams that began play right after the merger has not been done, but no doubt money has something to do with it? Steve Sabol did not care about cost, he cared about the history of the game, and the teams.
One of the teams that does not have a team history on DVD is the Rams. If NFL Films ever did decide to do a team history on the Rams; would fight tooth and nail to make sure that there was a round table discussion by the three people would know Ram history better than anyone else. Who are those three people you ask?
Would have Ms. Jennifer Allen Ricards, John Turney, and myself answer any questions NFL Films producers would ask, and all three of us could and would detail stories about Ram history.
Today is John Turney's birthday...happy birthday John!, and you can celebrate tonight watching the Rams beat the Titans on Sunday Night Football.