Amazon’s Audible has launched a new eight-part audio docuseries on the NFL, covering “the most inspirational and unbelievable stories connected to America’s favorite sport.” That series, The League, is a partnership between Audible and Joy Road Entertainment. It’s narrated by Prime Video Thursday Night Football analyst Richard Sherman and features reporter Taylor Rooks.
The League covers a wide variety of topics, from the start of martial arts training for NFL players to the theft of Tom Brady’s jersey through the star-studded 1972 movie The Black Six through the launches of Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football through early female journalists covering the NFL. All eight episodes of the series are available now for free. Here’s a list of episode descriptions from a release:
THE WEI OF THE COWBOY — In 1977, the Dallas Cowboys brought in Bruce Lee protege, Dan Inosanto, to teach their defense martial arts, paving the way for a championship season for America’s Team and ushering in a new approach in the way the rest of the league trained.
MORE THAN A JERSEY — When Tom Brady’s jersey went missing in the wake of the Patriots epic comeback victory in Super Bowl LI, it triggered one of the most furious investigations in recent history. Beneath the investigation’s many plot-twists that eventually would locate the jersey and the culprit, a little-known fact was revealed — the stolen jersey was classified as a “work of art” by the F.B.I.
THE REVOLUTION WAS TELEVISED — No professional sports league in the world is more inextricably linked to television than NFL football. This episode tells the story of how the NFL changed sports forever with its foray into primetime television with its signature program, Monday Night Football, and how it is changing the game again with its new entry into the world of streaming on Thursday nights.
THE BLACK SIX — Imagine if six of the best players in the NFL today teamed up in the offseason to film a Hollywood blockbuster. Well, the truth is it once happened when, in 1972, Hollywood produced “The Black Six.” The film starred six of the most accomplished and visible players in the league at that time and marked the first time Hollywood had ever invested in a movie built entirely around a cast of NFL stars… and it would also be the last.
CROSS WHEN IT SAYS DON’T WALK — Long before the ground-breaking legislation of Title IX and the powerful marches on Washington, there were young women with dreams from all over the country who had the love of sports, the talent to write, and the ambition to pave a trail that would change the relationship between sports journalism, gender, and football forever.
DRAFT, INC. — The NFL Draft has become the league’s third biggest attraction, right behind the Super Bowl and opening week. Given the spectacle and draw of the event, it’s hard to believe that the draft was an afterthought for league officials for almost fifty years. That changed in early 1980, when a small cable company, just months old and with no budget, decided to broadcast the event from their offices in Bristol, Connecticut.
GIRLS LOVE FOOTBALL — There was once a time in the league’s history when the NFL was referred to as the “No Female League.” Those days are long gone. Today’s NFL has six female owners, more than any of the other major professional leagues combined. The NFL has also seen an explosion of female leadership from the boardroom to the sidelines, beginning with Susan Tose Spencer, the first female General Manager in football. With “Girls Love Football,” we’ll get to meet some of the dynamic women who are the real muscle behind the league.
THE PROS PLAY ON SUNDAY — On Saturdays and Sundays in bars and barber shops across the U.S., you might come across the start of an age-old debate — “What would happen if the best college team squared off against the worst pro team?” We polled some of football’s brightest minds, including former players, front office execs, a football analytics guru, sports handicappers, and even an Ivy League professor to get the answer.
There are some interesting story angles in there, and there’s a good list of interviewees. As per that release, some of those interviewed for various episodes of the series include Jared Allen, Chris Berman, James Carville, Ryan Clark, Carl Eller, Jay Glazer, Mel Kiper, Willie Lanier, Mercury Morris, Brent Musberger, Terrell Owens, RZA, Jonathan Vilma, Lesley Visser, Randy White, and Andrew Whitworth. Most of the episodes run around a half hour, with Cross When It Says Don’t Walk longer at 45 minutes.
This is part of a larger Call an Audible initiative from Audible, as they’ve launched several original NFL projects around Amazon’s acquisition of full Thursday Night Football rights. Others there include Block Forever with Ryan Kalil, American Football: How The Gridiron Was Forged with Kate Mara and Michael Strahan, and Think Like A Champion with Russell Wilson, Harry Wilson and Trevor Moawad.
Amazon also plans to run a promo for The League during this week’s Buffalo Bills-New England Patriots Thursday Night Football game on Prime Video. So there’s some corporate synergy and cross-promotion at play in various ways here. We’ll see how this series is received, but it’s notable to see Amazon expanding the NFL projects they’re doing with Audible.
[The League on Audible]