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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

'Inside the NFL' started in noisy NFL Films basement

(Credit: Watchdog)

During my visit to NFL Films last week to research my Sunday newspaper column, I asked Steve Sabol a question about "Inside the NFL's" transition from HBO to Showtime.

Sabol being Sabol, I didn't have to ask another question for 10 minutes.

Click below for his memories of the first season of the show in 1977, when it originated from a basement with noisy overhead heating pipes."I remember the first meeting my dad and I had with HBO. It was Marty Glickman, Mike Fuchs and Austin Furst, and we talked about how before our highlights had always been on late Sunday night and of course we had the halftime highlights on Monday night with Cosell.

"But we never had a really lengthy kind of thinking man’s examination of the weekly highlights. And I thought it would be neat to do it on a Wednesday or Thursday, because every other highlight show in my mind was either prologue or epilogue. It was always either right before or right after the game.

"So I thought, why not try something in the middle of the week when it would be sort of the final, definitive look at what happened Sunday, and also it would be the first look at the next week’s games. And they were intrigued by that idea. Cable was just starting and there weren’t any shows like that and to their credit they said, all right, we’ll give it a try on Wednesday night.

"The first show we did in our old building on North 13th Street and we had Chuck Bednarik and Al Meltzer. But we had no studio, so we had to do it in the basement and we had an old heating system with water and a pump and pipes and it went through the pipes and every like two minutes you heard this rattling.

"So every time we had to do a take we had to wait for the rattle, and we’d go, all right you’ve got two minutes. A lot of good takes would never get used because the heating system or the water system would rattle. That disturbed HBO to the extent where they said we have a studio up here in New York, so the next year they brought in Nick [Buoniconti] and Lenny [Dawson] and for the next 28 years we did it in New York.

"We still continued with the highlights, which to me, I think now are more relevant than ever because personally I think when I watch a lot of the highlight shows now they do what I call the Wile E. Coyote highlights. When we started we slowed everything up so people could appreciate it. Now, everything is sped up. It's polarized, it’s slanted, it’s all distorted, the color.

"They have explosions. They never show plays to the completion. What I’ve always felt is don’t screw with the game. That’s one reason that I’ve always felt this show has lasted so long, because we don’t screw with the game. It’s a thinking man’s examination of what happened."

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