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Jaworski spent 16 years in the NFL, most of them with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team he took to the Super Bowl in 1981. Now the former quarterback works as a football analyst for ESPN. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies about what it feels like to play in the big game.
Didinger, who has been covering football for decades, says there's a lot of thought that goes into successfully executing a football play. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, "I really don't think you can be truly a dumb guy and play this game at the NFL level."
Chris Nowinski has made a crusade of fighting head injuries in football. The Harvard-educated former pro wrestler had to leave the ring after suffering multiple concussions. He now educates others — including the NFL — on what head injuries can do to players' brains years later.
During his nine years as the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, Brian Billick led the team to a Super Bowl win in 2001. Now a commentator for Fox Sports and the NFL Network, he joins Fresh Air to discuss the upcoming Super Bowl — and the future of the NFL.
Fans of NBC's Friday Night Lights might want to look into DirecTV; the show, about a small Texas town and its high-school football team, begins its third season exclusively on DirecTV's "The 101," and won't hit broadcast TV until 2009. David Bianculli has a review.
Kyle Chandler plays Coach Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights, the NBC-TV series about the big drama of small-town Texas high-school football. The third season of the series will be shown on DirecTV before airing on NBC in 2009.
Sportswriter Mark Bowden. He covered the Philadelphia Eagles for "The Philadelphia Inquirer" for three seasons, and now has a book about the team, "Bringing the Heat." It follows the team through the 1992 season, after their coach was fired and after the death of their star defensive lineman, Jerome Brown.
Defensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons, Tim Green. Green's written a novel, "Ruffians" (Turner), about a football star who's NFL experience is dominated by money and steroids. During football season, Green writes a weekly column for the "Syracuse Herald-Journal". Off season, Green attends law school. His sports commentaries can be heard occasionally on NPR.
Aldridge played in two Superbowls and started a successful career as a broadcaster. In the 1970s, he developed schizophrenia and lost his job, money, wife, family and home. Aldridge now travels the country, talking about his disease and recovery, and about our incorrect attitudes toward mental disease.
Sports writer Rick Telander (TAL-en-der). Telander's new book, "The Hundred Yard Lie," is a scathing indictment of the college football system. Telander says college football makes millions and millions of dollars while bathing itself in a false light of amateurism. The players, meanwhile suffer physical pain, financial corruption, and educational starvation. Telander has seen college football from both sides of the fence. He's a staff writer for Sports Illustrated and a former all-conference cornerback for Northwestern University.
NFL referee Jerry Markbreit (MARK-brite). His book, Born To Referee, is an inside look at the world of football through the eyes of a referee. Markbreit began calling the shots at high school games and made his way up to the pros.
Television Critic David Bianculli previews "Dream Season," a production of NFL Films that creates dream teams that compete in dream Super Bowls. Through computer generation and sophisticated editing, the producers take film from the last 20 years of televised football and extract key sequences featuring players from from top teams of their times and match them with other top opposing teams from different times. The effect is the video equivalent of the `what-if-the-'85-Raiders-played the-'87-Redskins' questions typical of radio call-in shows.
O'Neil worked at NBC and CBS before starting his own independent network. He joins Fresh Air to discuss how football teams and networks have coordinated before games, the pros and cons of instant replays, and his new book, The Game Behind the Game.
Hackford produced the Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba. He recently produced and directed Everybody's All American, about the life a college football hero. Hackford joins Fresh Air to talk about his early successes and failures, and the role songs play in his films.
Actor Carl Weathers. He stars in the new film "Action Jackson." His first big role was as the fighter Apollo Creed in the four "Rocky" films. Before acting, Weathers played football for the Oakland Raiders.