Watch A Football Life

A Football Life is an Emmy-nominated documentary series that was created and produced by NFL Films. It was originally planned as a single documentary film profiling legendary football coach Bill Parcells. After the success of that initial program, the NFL Network began to air it as an episodic series.

The show is notable for going into deep detail about a football player's life, often following his career from childhood leagues to college and eventually to the pros. The show features vintage footage and interviews as well as observations from league officials, family members, teammates, coaches, industry insiders and sports writers. When possible the show would also have new in-depth recent interviews with the subject themselves.

Not all of the subjects were players. Several coaches were profiled as well. A few episodes covered certain groups of players or notable NFL moments. The Los Angeles Rams' famous defensive line the Fearsome Foursome were profiled as a group, and one episode details a 1972 game between the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers. That game was historic because it featured one of the single most famous plays in the league's history, the Immaculate Reception. Philadelphia Eagle teammates Reggie White and Jerome Brown were profiled as a pair. One interesting episode of A Football Life featured an entire franchise and city when it profiled the city of Cleveland and the 1995 Browns team. NFL Films also had an episode that paid homage to the company's president and founder, Ed Sabol.

In addition to those special editions the show has also featured episodes about NFL superstar players, owners and coaches from the past and the present such as Tom Landry, Bill Belichick, Reggie White, Walter Payton, Kurt Warner, Mike Ditka, Tim Tebow, Ray Lewis, Al Davis, Steve McNair, Jimmy Johnson, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Tom Coughlin and Barry Sanders.

Wednesday 8:00 PM et/pt on NFL Network
9 Seasons, 112 Episodes
August 29, 2011
Documentary & Biography, Family, Sports, Talk & Interview
Cast: Jenn Brown, Troy Aikman, Bill Belichick, Jimmy Johnson
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Clips & Extras

A Football Life Full Episode Guide

  • The Thurmanator led the NFL in total yards from scrimmage four straight seasons and scored a touchdown in four straight Super Bowls. Yet throughout his life, his best trait was being able to take his biggest disappointments and turn them into motivation for his greatest triumphs.

  • "Doug Williams: A Football Life" - He grew up without running water in rural Louisiana. He played quarterback in an era when few African Americans did, overcoming prejudice and hardship to become a Heisman candidate, a first round draft pick, and ultimately, a Super Bowl MVP.

  • "Cris Collinsworth: A Football Life" - First, he transformed from a gangly, rail-thin, 6-foot-5 Florida high school sprint champion to a star receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. After football, he evolved from an HBO feature reporter/funnyman to the most respected and decorated analyst in sports broadcasting.

  • "Mike Holmgren: A Football Life" - He led two franchises to the Super Bowl and did something no coach had done in Green Bay since Vince Lombardi--win a title. He's also considered one of the great quarterback whisperers of all time, having coached Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Steve Young and Brett Favre.

  • "Bill Cowher: A Football Life" - He grew up in a Pittsburgh suburb, and as the Steelers head coach he won eight division titles and a Super Bowl championship. He'll always be known for his Western Pennsylvania roots and blue-collar toughness, but Bill Cowher now has a new home, and a softer side.

  • "Dwight Clark: A Football Life" - The story of the former 49ers wide receiver who thought he wouldn't make the team-but went on to make "The Catch," arguably the single greatest reception in NFL history. The play propelled San Francisco to a decade of dominance in the 1980s that saw the team win four Super Bowl titles. Stricken with ALS in his later years, Clark died on June 4, 2018.

  • "Brian Dawkins: A Football Life" - He was known as Weapon X on the field, but he was a gentle family man off it. A Football Life: Brian Dawkins looks at the two sides of Dawkins, from the beginnings of his superstar career, through his battles with depression, all the way to the Hall of Fame.

  • "Willie McGinest: A Football Life" - He played for a high school known for producing NFL players. At USC he became an All American. And he helped turn the New England Patriots into a dynasty. Willie McGinest is no stranger to success, but his journey to the top of the football world had anything but a smooth start.

  • "Tony Romo: A Football Life" - The story of how a perfectionist with a love for sports went from small-town Wisconsin to become the face of America's Team for nearly a decade.

  • "Lawrence Taylor: A Football Life" - L.T. has been in the spotlight from the moment he stepped into the NFL, and as destructive as he was on the field as one of the best defensive players of all time, he may have been more destructive to himself off the field. Through three decades of interviews, Taylor gives raw, unfiltered, honest answers about the highest and lowest points in a triumphant and tumultuous football life.

  • "Carson Palmer: A Football Life" - The golden boy with the golden arm won the Heisman Trophy at USC and was the first overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft. In the NFL, he endured two torn ACLs, two trades, and one very public disagreement with an owner. But he still managed a 15-year career, and currently ranks 12th all-time in passing yards and touchdown passes.

  • Two different personalities, two separate paths, one shared drive for greatness: the rivalry, friendship and artistry of Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.

  • Passed over by every NFL team, John Randle's madcap antics vaulted the undrafted free agent from rags to riches and stardom with the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks.

  • A look at Aeneas Williams's long journey from college walk-on to Hall of Fame defensive back to pastor in Ferguson, Mo.

  • Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is profiled.

  • Hall of Fame Head Coach Joe Gibbs tries to balance his personal and professional life while building the NFL’s most diverse dynasty.

  • A profile of running back Eddie George, who played football for Ohio State and the Tennessee Titans.

  • A profile of Larry Fitzgerald, a man who's caught more than 1,000 passes, scored more than 100 touchdowns and visited nearly 100 countries.

  • How does a man emerge a champion after a life filled with loss? Leading the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowls is only part of Jim Kelly’s legend.

  • He was once deemed too short to play in the NFL, but Sam Mills became an All-Pro and built a legacy that still looms larger than life.

  • Undersized and unwanted, Wes Welker overcomes obstacles to re-define the role of the slot receiver in the NFL.

  • The many football lives of Raiders Hall of Fame coach, broadcaster, commercial star and video game pioneer John Madden.

  • Emmitt Smith makes an indelible impact on the game of football and builds a case as the greatest running back of all time by breaking one of the NFL's hallowed records and making everyone around him better.

  • The singular talent and legacy of Hall of Famer Dan Marino, The Quarterback’s Quarterback.

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A Football Life Video Clips & Extras

Mike Singletary | 'A Football Life': Old School Intensity | NFL Clip (04:55) Mike Singletary | 'A Football Life': The Quarterback on Defense | NFL Clip (04:42) Bruce Arians "The QB Whisperer" Tutors Peyton Manning & Big Ben | A Football Life | NFL Network Clip (03:14) Charles Haley "The Elephant in the Room" | A Football Life | NFL Clip (02:39)