Just in time for the start of the regular season, the NFL Network is giving Eagles fans two more opportunities to relive the team's dramatic Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.
On Wednesday, the NFL Network will air two new specials on the Eagles' Super Bowl win. Both feature a heavy dose of new interviews with key team members. They will air back-to-back on the NFL Network starting at 8 p.m.
Philly Special: Doug Pederson and the 2017 Eagles opens with center Jason Kelce's passionate speech on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and leans on interviews of 15 different coaches and managers — ranging from owner Jeffrey Lurie down to safeties coach Tim Hauck — to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the key decisions that led to the team's first Super Bowl victory.
Production on Philly Special started back in April, when the team's coaching staff began trickling back into the building. It took three to four months to conduct the extensive interviews and put the show together, according to NFL Films producers Greg Frith and Chip Swain — both of whom are lifelong Eagles fans.
"My favorite player as a kid was Harold Carmichael," Swain said. "I was at Super Bowl XXIX with my brother and remember watching the Super Bowl XV loss vividly with my dad as a 9-year-old, so I loved being able to watch this win with my dad and my brother and share it with my three sons."
Anytime you're trying to cram a full-length game and hours and hours of interviews into a special with a runtime of 46 minutes, you're bound to leave interesting tidbits on the cutting room floor. Among the casualties Philly Special overlooked were late-game heroics of safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive lineman Brandon Graham's sack of Tom Brady, which forced a fumble and sealed the win for the Eagles.
"According to [defensive coordinator Jim] Schwartz, when Jenkins undercut the route by [Rob Gronkowski], it caused Brady to pull the ball down and reload, giving Graham just enough time to get there," Frith said. "He called it 'the game-sealing play and it wouldn't have happened without the discipline of Malcolm Jenkins in coverage.' "
Frith and Swain also made a unique choice by turning to Tony and Grammy award-winning actor Leslie Odom Jr. to narrate the special. In addition to originating the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway megahit Hamilton, Odom Jr. grew up in Philadelphia and is a lifelong Eagles fans.
"Any narrator can read the words to this film, but we hoped a voice that would actually 'feel' the words would give the film a professional voice that lived through the suffering of the Eagles fans who would be enjoying it," Swain said.
The second feature, America's Game: 2017 Eagles, continues the NFL Network's popular series by looking at the entire 2017 season through the eyes of four players — Graham, quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, and running back LeGarrette Blount (who was also featured in last year's America's Game about the Patriots).
"It was perfect," Blount, who was let go by the Patriots prior to the start of last season, said on facing his former team in the Super Bowl. "The way things ended there was not to my liking. I had told them how bad I wanted to be there and how much I wanted to stay there and I didn't want to leave. They couldn't get a deal done for me. I just feel like they didn't respect me at all."
Wentz, who is featured heavily in the special, said one of the most memorable moments of the season actually happened during training camp, in an open practice at Lincoln Financial Field that drew a crowd of about 23,000 — larger than the audience at a Phillies game taking place at the same time across the street.
"One thing that I guess really did stick out… someone dropped a pass in that practice and they were booing in training camp. They're the most passionate fans in the world," Wentz said.
According to NFL Films producer Chris Barlow, the four interviews for the network's latest installment of America's Game took place over a four-month span this summer, and editing it all together took about four to six weeks. Barlow said the Eagles version of America's Game is unique in many ways, including the use of four interview subjects instead of three and a score by NFL Films composer Dave Robidoux based off of the Eagles fight song, Fly Eagles Fly.
"With NFL Films being so close to the Eagles in proximity, we know how passionate Philadelphia fans are for their team," Barlow said. "And we know what that song means to people. To be able to incorporate that into the film was special."
Philly Special: Doug Pederson and the 2017 Eagles
8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5
Narrated by Leslie Odom, Jr.