The awesome NFL Films documentary series, "A Football life", returns Tuesday for a third season on NFL Network, kicking off with a profile of eventual Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson two days before the 2013 regular season gets underway.
Tomlinson never really rocked the boat with his personality, but that hasn't stopped the two-time Emmy Award-nominated documentary series from creating compelling profiles in the past. I'd have preferred to see someone with a little more buzz to kick off the 22-episode schedule, but there are worse documentary subjects out there.
One of them, in fact, is queued up for the third episode on Sept. 17. On that night, NFL Films will profile 28-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis. This one is a bit confounding. Although Revis is one of the best active players in the game and certainly invited some drama with his contract squabbles during his time with the New York Jets, Revis just hasn't done enough on or off the field to merit being a subject, in my opinion. What was the rush?
Personally, I prefer docs featuring players and coaches who have already cemented their legacies. That's why I'm looking forward, instead, to the Sept. 10 episode profiling Don Shula, who is the NFL's all-time winningest head coach.
NFL Films has yet to release the full 2013 schedule of episodes, but Revis is the only known subject who is still an active player. Here's a look at who else we know will be featured, along with my take:
Sept. 3: LaDainian Tomlinson — They have interviews with Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, but I'm really hoping NFL Films spends more time on Tomlinson's life before he became a famous NFL running back. In 2007, Lee Jenkins of the New York Times wrote a superb article on LT's ancestry, with strong links to slavery, emancipation and a particularly special hill in Texas. If that is the focus, I'm down.
Sept. 10: Don Shula — I'd love to get a behind-the-scenes feel for that grumpy 1972 team that ran the table.
Sept. 17: Darrelle Revis — My expectations are low, but that means I can't get my hopes up. It might be interesting if they were to expand on the strange feel ESPN New York's Rich Cimini discovered when he traveled to Revis' hometown in 2010.
Sept. 24: Derrick Thomas — This is what "A Football Life" is all about. A legend taken from us far too soon after an accident at the age of 33. I want to know more about Derrick Thomas, and you should too.
Oct. 1: Steve Sabol — None of this would be happening if not for the NFL Films co-founder, who died last September. This one is bound to hit home for media types and those who fell in love with football partly due to what NFL Films introduced to them.
Oct. 8: Matt Millen — This could be sneaky good, mainly because of how much of a pariah he became during his time with the Detroit Lions. A lot of people have trouble seeing past that time to his excellent playing career.
Oct. 15: Michael Strahan — Strahan has become such a mainstream star, and it's hard to believe he's still out of the Hall of Fame despite somehow still holding the single-season sack record. Get Warren Sapp involved and this should be gold.
Oct. 22: Pat Summerall — Another broadcasting legend who passed away recently, Summerall was the voice of football for a very long time. A perfect subject with appropriate timing.
Oct. 29: Warren Sapp — Fresh off his Hall of Fame induction. Get Michael Strahan involved and this, too, will be gold.
NFL Network also announced that Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Randall Cunningham and the 1993 Houston Oilers would be featured later in the year. That team closed out the season with an 11-game winning streak. There was also death, suicide, and the inimitable Buddy Ryan. You can't go wrong.