MT. LAUREL, N.J. -- Visitors to NFL Films walk through the main door and one of the first images they see is Patriots running back Antowain Smith surging forward, with a St. Louis Rams defender hanging on, from the team's Super Bowl XXXVI upset.
From there, seemingly every hallway you turn down, there is a snapshot that captures some of the great moments in the history of the game.
They do great work at NFL Films (more than 100 Emmys) and my trip was part of their "Greatest Games" series. They'll soon be featuring Super Bowl XLII -- the Giants over the Patriots -- and I joked that not too many New Englanders will be tuning in for that one. The memory is too painful. I'm not sure what meaningful contributions I made to the soon-to-be-produced piece, but one that seemed to be well-received was the unease some Patriots fans had when they noticed Belichick wasn't wearing his trademark gray hoodie that game. That got a good chuckle out of the crew.
We also taped something on Drew Bledsoe and his role in helping revive the Patriots franchise in 1993. That was timely given Bledsoe's induction into the team's Hall of Fame this year.
One of the things that stood out to me from taking a brief tour of NFL Films is that it is maybe the only media-based facility that has the same video and computer resources the league's 32 teams do. Senior producer Greg Cosell explained how he can pull up every third-and-6 play that Tom Brady has run and analyze them in a matter of minutes.
That's what coaches do, and I left with a greater appreciation and understanding for the process in which Cosell analyzes players and forms opinions. And also why the NFL Matchup show, hosted by Sal Paolantonio at NFL Films, is such a success.
I had one other thought and it tied back in to the Patriots. I kept thinking about Belichick's appreciation for the history of the game and how this is the type of place I could see him being a big part of when his coaching days ultimately end.
Few have such an encyclopedic memory of the history of the NFL as Belichick. Ask him about something from his time on Rick Forzano's 1976 Detroit Lions staff, and he recites it like it happened yesterday.
As I walked through the chilly storage area where highlights from every game are stored (they are also backed up on computer), I wondered what Belichick would be thinking if he had unlimited time to explore.