Only two days into production, it was clear the series had potential to reveal the dramatic inner-workings of an NFL franchise. The scene unfolded during the second round of the 2015 Draft, in the Cardinals "War Room" perched atop team headquarters in Tempe. Team president Michael Bidwill, General Manager Steve Keim, head coach Bruce Arians and vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough were giddy with excitement. It appeared a player they had their eye on for months would fall into their lap, just two picks away. But moments later, McDonough, who was on the phone with the prospect, looked ashen -- another team was calling to inform him he'd been selected. Keim was visibly upset. That lasted all of 15 seconds before the GM quickly pivoted to Plan B, and the next player on their board with full support of those around him. It was a perfect snapshot of how the Cardinals have become a top-flight organization: Prepare, trust the process, don't panic when the unexpected happens, and have fun while you do it.
Twelve months later, scenes like the one that unfolded during the draft will be the focus of "All or Nothing", a new series produced by NFL Films to be distributed on Amazon this summer, the NFL announced Monday at the League's annual meetings in Boca Raton, Florida.
" 'All or Nothing' will deliver the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at America's most popular sports and entertainment media property -- the NFL season -- and we couldn't have asked for a better franchise for our inaugural season than the Arizona Cardinals," said Jordan Levin, Chief Content Officer, NFL Media. "We're thrilled to partner with Amazon on this new series, providing fans even more ways to engage with award-winning NFL programming over a variety of digital platforms."
The eight episodes will follow the Cardinals players, coaches and front office through a full calendar year.
"We take tremendous pride in the dedicated and talented people that make up our organization and welcomed this opportunity to showcase them," Bidwill said. "This unprecedented look into what it takes to compete in the National Football League is something that we think viewers will find fascinating. We all know the quality of work NFL Films does and are just as excited to partner with Amazon on such an innovative way to distribute the series."
For the Cardinals, the decision to be the first NFL team featured in the new series didn't come easily -- understandable, given the unprecedented access that was granted. From meeting rooms to living rooms to locker rooms, NFL Films cameras and microphones were there to capture the moments that comprised the record-setting season and the months of preparation leading up to it. The project would need cooperation from the top down, and everyone quickly bought in to documenting what had the makings of a historic year.
"When it was first presented, I wasn't sure how it was going to work. The reality is that the crew did a great job getting what they needed in a way that wasn't a distraction for our team," Arians said. "I think fans are going to love it because it's a perspective they've never seen before."
The multitude of storylines and richness of characters within the Cardinals appealed to both NFL Films and Amazon. Weaved into the series are the plotlines of quarterback Carson Palmer's return to the field from an ACL tear, cornerback Patrick Peterson's management of type-2 diabetes and the birth of his first child, safety Tyrann Mathieu's emergence as a leader, and rookie running back David Johnson's adjustment to the NFL and his budding stardom.
As compelling as the characters were the moments -- from the bittersweet locker room in Philadelphia where the team celebrated their NFC West title while learning they had likely lost Mathieu for the remainder of the season, to the euphoric overtime conclusion of the Divisional playoff which sent Arizona to the Conference Championship -- viewers will have an all-access pass to the dramatic ebbs and flows of the 2015 season.
Of course, Arians and his staff are central figures, and the coach's philosophy of teaching the game is a prominent theme throughout the series. If nothing else, "All or Nothing" is a great example of the culture built by Bidwill, carried out by the front office, coaches and players.
"Michael has laid out the vision and the template to work within, and given us all the resources to allow us to be aggressive," Keim said. "This project is one more example of his plan to make the Arizona Cardinals a model organization."
The Cardinals are now recognized as such thanks to its talented personnel, top-notch facilities and passionate fans. Every game in the 10 seasons played at University of Phoenix Stadium has been a sellout. The 2015 season saw a franchise-record five primetime appearances and the postseason victory over the Packers on NBC was the highest rated Saturday prime time Divisional game ever. Arizona has become a destination for highly sought-after free agents. Since Bidwill became president in 2007, the Cardinals have reached the NFC conference championship twice as well as a Super Bowl. In 2013, Bidwill promoted Keim to general manager and hired Arians. The Cardinals have subsequently won 10, 11 and 13 games in consecutive seasons -– a progression that has the organization regarded as one of the NFL's best.
This series serves as further evidence of that evolution. "All or Nothing" captures the spirit of a team on the cusp of greatness, if not quite there yet.
In this case, "All or Nothing" is indeed something. And it's powerful.