The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
On the back windowsill of NFL Films czar Steve Sabol’s office—which has been preserved since his passing in 2012—sits a row of binders, many containing memos to his staff. One undated sheet, which features a large cartoon of a gladiator blowing a French horn, is headlined: “We need more inspirational music in our films. Heart-stirrers, pulse pounders!” Pick up a copy of “Music From NFL Films, Vol. 1,” and you’ll know exactly what Sabol was seeking.
NFL Films, a catalyst in mythologizing pro football, produces more than 1,000 hours of programming per year. Each show presents the sport through the lens of human drama, with its hallmark style of tight, low-angled shots, slow-motion action, exclusive sideline access and poetic prose. Binding it all together is the music. The orchestral sounds of Sam Spence evoke images of troops preparing for battle, spaghetti westerns or grand literary romances. But if you close your eyes and listen to tracks such as “Gut Pride” or the up-tempo jazzy hit “Ramblin’ Man from Gramblin’,” you might also see a football field.
Combined with booming narration from John Facenda (many of his scripts penned by Sabol), this soundtrack reveals how Americans began to appreciate football as not only a game of X’s and O’s but as a stage for human struggle and success. The tracks are heart-stirring, pulse-pounding and everything we have come to love about the sport.