NFL

Andrea Kremer takes fans into the NFL Films’ vault

Kremer, who began her career as a producer at NFL Films, is the host of the weekly podcast.

NFL Films, which began in 1962, offers a treasure trove of content ripe for exploration. DANIEL HULSHIZER

Steve Sabol documented professional football with such distinction that its history cannot be told completely without acknowledging his immense contributions.

During his time at NFL Films, from founding the company with his father, Ed, in 1962 until his death from brain cancer in 2012, Sabol’s filmmaking presented the games as sprawling, epic dramas, complete with classical music and John Facenda’s voice-from-the-skies narration. It was irresistible to those who loved football, and it could make football fans of those who didn’t.

Sabol never overlooked the humorous side, either, as anyone who ever owned a well-worn VHS tape of “Football Follies” knows. And it wasn’t just the human condition that was at the heart of his films, but the people themselves. Sabol was an engaging, candid, and trusted interviewer.

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It’s the latter part of that Sabol legacy that is at the core of a superb new weekly podcast — one with a fitting choice for host.

“NFL Films: Tales From The Vault” revisits some of Sabol’s most compelling interviews, including behind-the-scenes banter as the host and subject prepare for the interview. The first episode, which launched Nov. 17, featured a 2010 interview with then-Eagles coach Andy Reid. This week’s episode is a 1996 visit with Brett Favre. Other upcoming subjects include Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, and Charlestown’s Howie Long.

The podcast is hosted by Andrea Kremer, who began her stellar career as a producer at NFL Films. (Her current gigs include providing analysis on “Thursday Night Football” on Amazon Prime, serving as a correspondent for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” co-hosting on CBS Sports Network’s “We Need To Talk,” and as a chief correspondent for NFL Network.)

“I was just sitting here in the middle of my crazy football season, and [NFL] Films calls,” she said. “And they had this idea, and they’re like, ‘Who else would be appropriate to do it?’ It’s really nice.

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“It does give really great insight into a lot of these guys and to what made them tick. And it’s a certain period in somebody’s life. That’s where my role is important, which is really setting the scene, adding perspective, and juxtaposing some of my personal reflections from my NFL memory banks.

“We grappled with this. You want to be additive, you don’t want to be distracting, but there are certain things you have to set up. The stuff where a listening might go, ‘Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.’ “

It’s fair to presume Kremer’s path to NFL Films and, eventually, being honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award is an unprecedented one. In the early 1980s, she was a law student in New York — “hated it,” she says — who also danced in a ballet company. She moved back to her hometown of Philadelphia and continued ballet there, but also began freelance writing for the largest weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania, the Main Line Chronicle.

“And because I was a dancer, they let me do dance reviews and theater views, but they knew that I loved sports,” she said. “So every now and then, they’d throw me a little bone, and I could do a sports story. One day [an] editor comes to me and says, ‘The sports editor just got fired-slash-quit. Are you interested in the job? But if you are, this is a 24/7 job. You have to give up ballet.’ ”

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She went all-in on the newspaper job, she says, turning a four-to-six-page weekly broadsheet into a separate pull-out tabloid called Sports Weekly Magazine. She wrote a football column and a cover feature, which also included sidebars. One cover story was on the economic impact of a city hosting a Super Bowl.

NFL Films, based in New Jersey, had taken on the task of producing a promotional film to aid Philadelphia’s quest for a Super Bowl. Kremer went to NFL Films to write a sidebar about its role in the Super Bowl quest, touring the vault and interviewing personnel, such as producer/director Bob Ryan (no, not our Bob Ryan).

“I’ve loved football since I was 8 years old, so that was nirvana,” said Kremer. “When it was over, Bob walked me to my car, and he goes, ‘You’re the kind of person that we’re always interested in, someone who really knows football and is a good writer.’ And I said, ‘Oh, OK. Thank you.’ And I go home and I remember telling that to my mom that night and she’s like, ‘Apply now.’ ”

Kremer applied after the 1984 Olympics were complete. The timing was perfect. NFL Films had just started producing rock videos and needed to hire two producers to fill voids on the football staff. Kremer went in for an interview and to take a written test. Her application included a three-page essay on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ trap play. She got the job a week later, becoming the first female producer/director/writer/editor in NFL Films history.

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“And so three years later, Steve came to me and said, ‘We want to try something different,’ ” she said. “ ‘We want to put you on our national show, “This Is The NFL.” ’ ”

Kremer had never been on the air, but Sabol knew what he had and what she could do.

“He told me years later that when they put me on the air, they gave me two years and then they knew that someone would come for me. And that’s when I took the ESPN job,” she said.

“He put me on television. He started my career. We always stayed really close in touch. I was 20-something years old. He knew my family, he knew my parents. It’s really satisfying now to play a part in helping people get to hear him again.”

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