|In 1964, professional
television was already a weekend staple, but not nearly the behemoth it
would eventually become. Keep in mind that this was still three
before the first Super Bowl, and even a season before NFL Films
started recording and preserving everything in sight. This
series, yet another
obscurity on Bill's
resume, was a weekly, 13-episode interview program featuring NFL
and coaches during the 1964 season. Stations used Pro Football Special (the generic
title was not consistantly applied in the various TV listings) to plug
holes in their
weekend lineups. Many stations used the series on an as-needed
not even airing all the episodes. We only know of seven stations
to have aired the series, though there were undoubtably others.
The series was not a weekly highlight package. The entire thirteen week series was recorded in advance of the season, and was designed to give fans greater insight into the sport itself. According to the Broadcasting Magazine ad at right, the show featured "top pro stars in specially-filmed stop-action and slow motion, demonstrating and dramatizing the 'inside' of this most engrossing of spectator sports." Allie Sherman, at the time the head coach of the New York Giants, led the panel and appears to have essentially served as Bill's co-host.
Over the thirteen weeks, the panel featured some of the biggest stars the sport had to offer, some already at the peak of their fame and some who would eventually become legends. Among the future Hall-of-Famers represented in the series were Doug Atkins, Jim Brown, Roosevelt Brown, Bill George, Lou Groza, Paul Hornung, John Henry Johnson, Dick "Night Train" Lane, Yale Lary, Gino Marchetti, Tommy McDonald, Bobby Mitchell, Jim Parker, Jim Ringo, Bob St. Clair, Joe Schmidt, Bart Starr, Fran Tarkington, Jim Taylor, Johnny Unitas, Norm Van Brocklin and Willie Wood.
grateful to Tim Lones (who first uncovered this forgotten gem),
Jimmy Owen (who found the Broadcasting Magazine ad above)
and Mike Burger for locating the information we have for this