With a new football season ready to begin, NFL Network is ramping up its original programming for the 2015-16 campaign. In addition to its Thursday Night Football schedule plus the Sunday GameDay slate, NFL Network also has several documentary series that will air starting in September.
One of NFL Network’s mainstays has been A Football Life, which will begin its fifth season on September 18 and will continue for 14 episodes. Produced by NFL Films, this is one of NFL Network’s signature series just like ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries and has included past profiles on Bill Belichick, Walter Payton, Tom Landry and Tim Tebow as well as various iconic moments like the Immaculate Reception, the departure of the Cleveland Browns, and interesting subjects such as the forward pass and the Los Angeles Rams’ Fearsome Foursome.
This season begins with a profile of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Christian “The Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye.
Awful Announcing spoke with NFL Media Vice President of Original Programming Ron Semaio regarding A Football Life, “That has become one of the cornerstones of (NFL) Network’s programming in terms of longform storytelling. Our fans have really become affectionate towards the longform biographical type storytelling and NFL Films has been doing that since I was a little kid,” he said.
Semaio notes that the series can focus on one player and some of his greatest moments, “‘A Football Life’ typically focuses on individuals and their careers and their stories. A few times like with ‘The Forward Pass’, we’ve veered into other topics like the Great Wall of Dallas or Cleveland ’95 and we’ve seen success with them.”
Besides Okoye, the other subjects and air dates for A Football Life that have been announced are as follows:
Dexter Manley — 9/25
Jerome Bettis — 10/2
Terrell Owens — 10/9
Dick Vermeil — 10/30
Mike Singletary — 11/13
Charles Haley — 11/20
Semaio said one of the keys about A Football Life is using NFL Films archive footage that can be easily accessed for a documentary, “Even though (footage) is getting digitized, they still maintain a room which has to be kept cold to keep the films preserved and you see all these metal canisters with the duct tape on them with people’s handwriting saying ‘Jim Brown, 1964’ or just ‘Lombardi,’ that’s really classic.”
Semaio said while people like the news and information from NFL Network, he wants fans to learn about their original programming like “A Football Life” and the other series that will be airing during the season. “There’s more than just live games and highlights on the NFL Network,” Semaio said. “We honor the past. We look to the present and look towards the future. And we offer a really diverse offering of content to NFL fans and we try to do it on multiple platforms.”
The fifth season of A Football Life will air Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network starting September 18 with the profile of Okoye.