In addition to Jared Allen, Randy Moss and Adrian Peterson, there also are stories about players whose Vikings tenures were a little shorter but still colorful.
Former Vikings head coaches Dennis Green, Leslie Frazier and Norm Van Brocklin are noted in addition to Grant.
“When Denny Green arrived, I realized, ‘This guy is a friend of NFL Films. He knows what we do, he’s in a small-market city, and he likes the publicity,’ ” Angelo said.
Green invited Angelo to film him on a fishing trip, and Grant welcomed Angelo’s camera on two hunting trips.
Angelo also ventured to Grant’s cabin for a feature segment and began working on A Football Life episode for Grant that was later reduced from an hour-long show to a different, 30-minute program.
“Bud said, ‘You’re more upset about this than I am,’ when it got canceled,” Angelo explained. “I said, ‘I really am. For crying out loud, if anybody has enough material for an hour-long television show, you do.’ “
Some of the footage of Angelo’s interview in Grant’s Bloomington living room in which the only man to ever play in the NBA and NFL differentiated between stars and heroes.
“Stars entertain us; heroes define us,” the Navy veteran said, explaining his sincere admiration for other veterans and service members. “In the morning light, stars fade away. Heroes never do.”
Marshall’s zeal for adventure
Marshall had already retired from his 20-season NFL career in which he never missed one of the 282 regular-season or 19 playoff contests when Angelo was tasked with producing a feature for CBS Sports. He had seen footage of Marshall skydiving and driving sled dogs in the winder wilderness from the late 1960s and wanted to relay Marshall’s zeal for adventure.
“I realized this guy has a real good sense of celebrity,” Angelo said. “He was into heroism. He was into big achievements, so I had him quote Teddy Roosevelt to start the piece, one of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speeches.
“One of the things I wanted to do was show Jim as a survivor, a loner who knew how to take care of himself,” Angelo added. “One of the things he wanted to do was take me down to Rochester to show me this area he liked to prowl around outdoors.”
Angelo obliged, gathering footage that included Marshall emerging from a cabin and frying eggs over an open fire.
“This guy is used to living on the edge and always having that gear that allows him to rush quarterbacks, to make plays,” Angelo said. “I walked him through his paces, cut this segment together, and CBS Sports just raved about it. That cemented our relationship. Every time I saw Jim after that, it was like I was family, like I was from the old neighborhood.”
Origin story for Hard Knocks has connection to Vikings
The immensely popular series Hard Knocks began with the 2001 Baltimore Ravens. Angelo was among those dispatched to film training camp of the defending champion under Head Coach Brian Billick, who had been Minnesota’s offensive coordinator from 1993-98.
Angelo had first established a relationship with Green and Billick in Minnesota.
“Denny just a wonderful guy and started it all for me,” Angelo told Vikings.com. “It was the first time I ever got hit with Gatorade. I was standing with Dennis.
“Brian understood the value of good publicity,” Angelo added. “When [NFL Films Co-Founder] Steve Sabol called me into his office and said, ‘I’ve got a show that’s going to take you away from home all summer. You good with that?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ “
As Sabol explained the concept, Angelo smiled because of his prior involvement in producing Six Days to Sunday, an in-season documentary that embedded with the Vikings and included footage of Billick meeting with quarterbacks and offensive coaches.
“Couldn’t have a better guy,” Angelo said of Billick during his conversation with Sabol. ” ‘He’s eloquent. He knows his football. He gets it. He knows that this is going to be a good thing.’
“Steve made every effort to have the profanity taken out because he was concerned about the league office,” Angelo said. “Brian got up [after a screening] and said, ‘Great show, Bob, but we need a few more gratuitous [curse words] in there.’ I said, ‘Steve, the profanity is not an issue.’ The show was raw and real, and it’s one of the reasons that show has endured.”