Very little makes longtime NFL Films employee Tom Costella happier than the unfinished, 55-minute film created for use if the favored Patriots had defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
“I was more nervous about having to be tortured by watching the Patriots DVD than I was worried about whether the Eagles were going to win,” Costella said. “It was going to be torture to kiss Tom Brady’s ring.”
Costella, a lifelong Philly sports fan who has worked at NFL Films for 29 years, grew up in South Philly and was just 9 years old in 1974, when the Flyers paraded the Stanley Cup down Broad Street. He even had co-workers bring him back some of the confetti that fell in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis after the Eagles’ win, which remains scattered across the desk in his office at NFL Films headquarters in Mount Laurel.
In past years, the veteran quality control manager has had to watch every single frame of the Patriots’ five previous Super Bowl films, produced each year about the winning team. But this year, Costella was able to team up with his other Eagles-fan colleagues to work on a project they’ve waited their entire careers to create — the NFL’s official Eagles Super Bowl movie, which will be available to Birds fans on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital HD Tuesday.
At the start of every season, NFL Films senior producer Todd Schmidt said, Costella pokes his head into his office and proclaims this will be the year his staff finally produces an Eagles Super Bowl video.
Last September, he happened to be right.
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“We’ve all made a Patriots film. In fact, we’ve made a few Patriots films. We told that story,” said Schmidt, a Temple University graduate. “Aside from the fact that everyone loved the Eagles and half our building is painted green, it’s just nice to tell a different story.”
The difference between the two stories is apparent from the beginning of the film, which opens on a bustling scene outside Franklin Field ahead of the 1960 NFL Championship game between the Eagles and the Packers and ends with the words of iconic broadcaster Bill Campbell: “The game’s over! The game’s over! The Eagles are champions of the world!”
“You can’t do that with the Patriots, because their backstory is one season, beginning in training camp,” Schmidt said. “This one is going back to 1960, so we’re really able to get into why Eagles fans are so ravenous.”
The 80-minute film spans nearly 60 years and spends a lot of time covering fantastic nuggets that occurred last season, such as Carson Wentz’s reaction to Jake Elliott’s 61-yard field goal to defeat the Giants in Week 3 and footage of Malcolm Jenkins mic’d during the team’s Week 4 rout of the Cardinals.
“If it rains in California he can be there with a bucket,” Schmidt said of Jenkins, noting that his quickness and the range he’s able to cover on the field was something he wasn’t really aware of until he watched the movie. “That to me was a really cool thing that I never saw on TV because I’m always watching the ball.”
The process of creating the film actually began minutes after the Eagles defeated the Vikings in the NFC Championship game. Immediately after the conference games, as usual, Schmidt split up six producers to work on two seperate championship films — one for the AFC team, and one for the NFC team. Once the Eagles won the Super Bowl, the team had to work at a blistering pace to complete the remaining 17 minutes of the film and add narration by Scott Graham, best known for handling play-by-play for the Phillies.
“It was the best week of work we’ve ever had. We got to relive the win over and over again,” said Katie Morello, a King of Prussia native who was a producer on the film. Morello’s family has been Eagles season ticket holders for generations, and she recalls stories of her father munching on a soft pretzel as he walked to Franklin Field with her grandfather.
“It was great to not only do this film for the city and the fans, but also to make your family proud,” Morello said.
The DVD, distributed by Cinedigm, comes with a slew of extras, including the best celebrations around the league and NFL Films’ annual round-up of bloopers and odd plays, which include an unlikely completion from Wentz to tight end Zach Ertz during Week 2’s loss to the Chiefs.
But it’s the smaller details in the centerpiece film that will strike a chord with Eagles fans. At one point, you see a young Pederson in uniform going over a play with then-head coach Andy Reid. In another, Wentz urges Pederson to re-run the same play after he allowed a touchdown pass to sail on him.
“I’ve been here at NFL Films for 33 years and worked on a lot of projects, and this film is just really special and really cool,” said Vince Caputo, a South Philly native who did sound mixing for the film. “This is the film that we’ve been waiting to work on.”