One of the most popular shelves in the expansive NFL Films video library is the humor, or "Football Follies," grouping. There have been five since this fun-watch began in 1969. Just released is No. 6, "The NFL TV Follies" (70 mins., $24.95), hosted by Jonathan Winters.
This edition has a storyline, of sorts. The many-faced comic plays a TV host at a station airing football around the clock. Winters emcees everything from games to shopping shows, horror shows and kiddie shows all abundantly laced with NFL Films' inimitable game and sideline footage. Parodies of "Dance Fever" ("Pigskin Dance Party") and "The Ed Sullivan Show" ("Ed Cellophane Show, Toast of the Turf") add ample spice.
Other shows on this football channel include "Masterpunt Theatre" with Allistar Crook, "Candid Capers" with Allen Punt, "Invasion of the Bleacher Creatures," "Coffin Corner," "That's Incredibly Stupid," "NFL Star Hunt" and "Drop Kick Dragstrip." Also, Geraldo Crassboro searches for an exclusive in the NFL Films vault.
It's written and produced by David Plaut and Dave Douglas, who can take bows for many clever lines and must also take full responsibility for all the puns, some of which are funny.
A second release, "Strange But True Football Stories" (45 mins., $19.95), hosted by master of horror Vincent Price, offers the flip side of the game's folklore. Included are stories of the quarterback with one eye, the tackle whose diet consisted of blood and raw meat, the team that went 20 years without a winning season, and many other vignettes that make up this pro football sideshow. And there's the item on Dallas defensive lineman Larry Cole's four touchdowns in a 12-year career, all against the Washington Redskins.
"A Gallery of the Grotesque" looks at the fattest and smallest, weird team rituals, strange games and bizarre personalities. Thrown in are the the "Immaculate Reception," "Miracle of the Meadowlands" and the "Holy Roller" play. You'll recognize them when you see them.
NFL Films has also moved into the how-to craze with a two-volume instructional series called "Learning Football the NFL Way: Offense" and "Learning Football the NFL Way: Defense," (60 mins., $29.95 each.) The set is also being distributed by Vestron Video and presented by Wheaties in association with David Fishof and Steve Leber Productions and Vestron's Jeffrey Peisch. In addition to all that team play, the side panel of 10 million packages of Wheaties will offer each video for $19.95 and two proofs of purchase.
Eleven of the NFL's big names take part in the instructional segements, each adding his favorite drill and safety tip for the position. New York Giants' quarterback Phil Simms hosts both videos and explains the quarterback position; Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams, running back; Russ Grimm of the Washington Redskins, offensive line; Todd Christensen of the Los Angeles Raiders, pass receiving, and Phil McConkey of the Giants, special teams, conditioning and equipment. On the defense reel, Andre Tippett of New England and Reggie Williams of Cincinnati share linebacking; Rulon Jones of Denver, defensive line; Dave Duerson, Chicago, defensive backs; Sean Landeta, Giants, punting, and Gary Anderson, Pittsburgh, place kicking.
The instructional matter is very digestable for youngsters just getting into the sport, not too fast and not too technical. The best parts, however, are NFL films clips from games showing how sweet it is when you do it right.
A fifth NFL Films release is "The History of the Super Bowl: Super Sunday" (55 mins., $19.95). This one includes big plays from all 21 games, beginning with Green Bay's Bart Starr's pass to Max McGee for the first touchdown in Super Bowl history to Phil Simms' completing 88 percent of his throws in leading the Giants over Denver last January. Many historic plays are packed onto this spool, which is due at the stores in mid-October.
The earlier five Follies videos are available from NFL Films (800-NFL-TAPE) as well as the five new videos mentioned above. The other Follies titles: "Football Follies," (22 mins., $24.95); all-time most popular "Best of the Football Follies" (44 mins., $19.95); "Son of Football Follies" (23 mins., $24.95); "NFL Follies Go Hollywood" (23 mins., $24.95) and "A Festival of Funnies" (53 mins., $29.95).