David Plaut

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David Plaut
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David Owen Plaut

(1953-09-02) September 2, 1953 (age 70)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
CitizenshipUnited States of America
EducationNorthwestern University, 1971-1975
  • Film producer
  • Author
Years active1974-2018
Spouse(s)Joan Cooper (married 1989–present)

David Owen Plaut (born September 2, 1953) is an American filmmaker and author. During his 42-year career at NFL Films he was a creator and showrunner of television series for ESPN, HBO, Showtime (TV network), NBCSN Sports Network and NFL Network. He was nominated for 12 national Sports Emmy Award, and was a seven-time winner. Plaut was senior producer for the annual Super Bowl champions video and DVD from 1985 to 2018. He was a writer/producer on over 900 weekly NFL TV series episodes. Outside of NFL Films Plaut authored five books, and was the book critic at USA Today Sports Weekly for fifteen years.

Early life and education

Plaut was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, Arthur Plaut, had a varied career in media with King Records (United States), Ziv Television Programs and local radio station WSAI, along with his own local advertising agency. David’s mother Bette (nee Ginsburg) also worked in advertising at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample and in public relations before becoming a stay-at-home mom for David and his sister Amy. He was raised in the Jewish religion.

Plaut attended Cincinnati public schools until 1967, when his father accepted a job with KSDO radio in San Diego. After the move, Plaut attended Patrick Henry High School. Immediately following his graduation in 1971, Plaut began a five-year association with the San Diego Chargers football team as a training camp administrative assistant.[1][2] He returned to southern California at the beginning of summer to rejoin the Chargers after completing each of his undergraduate academic years at Northwestern University.[3] Plaut majored in Radio/TV/Film and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1975.

Broadcasting career

After college graduation, Plaut worked with NBC Sports during the 1975 NFL season as an on-site TV crew member for the network’s west coast game broadcasts. In January 1976 he was hired by San Diego radio station KGB (AM) as an on-air personality. Appearing on a daily broadcast entitled “Studs on Sports,” Plaut wrote and performed comedy sketches lampooning contemporary local and national sports subjects.

Film and television career

In late spring 1976, Plaut was offered a production job by Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films. The two had first met in 1973 when Sabol brought a location crew to the Chargers’ training camp. Plaut accepted the offer and moved east to the company’s Philadelphia studios that August.

Plaut’s first years with NFL Films were highlighted by a series of comedy shorts he produced for NBC’s pregame show Grandstand (NFL on NBC pregame show). Most were parodies or satires about topical NFL stories, which included "End Zone Antics",[4] "Metric Football", "As the Pigskin Turns", "NFL’s Wild Kingdom" and "Dr. Grogan and Mr. Hyde". In 1978 Plaut produced his first long-form comedy, a one-hour special entitled Super Bowl: Laughter and Legend, hosted by Ed McMahon.

Eventually, Plaut would go on to produce six additional full-length football follies films. The most noteworthy was 1987’s NFL TV Football Follies, starring improvisational comic Jonathan Winters.[5][6] In the film, a fictitious TV channel decides to junk its failing format and switch to all-football programming. It enabled Plaut and co-producer Dave Douglas to create parodies of children’s shows, crime dramas, sci-fi fantasies, nature documentaries, household product commercials, local news and highbrow public television programming, among others.[7] NFL TV Follies anticipated the creation of the actual all-football channel, NFL Network, 16 years before its inception.[8] Ironically, many of Plaut’s productions during the final decades of his career with NFL Films would be broadcast on NFL Network.

During the 1980 and 1981 seasons, Plaut was producer for Irv Cross’ weekly feature "Focus on Football", which aired on the CBS pregame show, The NFL Today.

In the mid-1980s, NFL Films began producing proprietary programming for the growing home video market.[9] When the 1985 Chicago Bears season|1985 Chicago Bears became a national phenomenon, Plaut was chosen to produce what was referred to in-house as an “instant highlight.” Just five days after Chicago defeated the 1985 New England Patriots season|New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX, Plaut completed a one-hour film on the Bears’ season. Within a few weeks it was in stores and available to Chicago-area fans.[10] Since then, NFL Films has produced a Super Bowl champions video every season[11]. Eventually other sports followed their lead, and now every major North American professional sport annually releases an “instant highlight” film honoring their championship team.

Plaut was also part of the production crew that produced home videos celebrating the greatest moments in Philadelphia and Chicago sports history. Soon after he co-produced a home video for Sporting News, The Greatest Moments in American Sports History.

In the late 1980s Plaut became the lead producer for all prime-time historical content aired on ESPN, first for Monday Night Magazine, then for the weekly feature Distant Replay. He also began producing 90-minute programs in the NFL's Greatest Games|NFL’s Greatest Games series,[12] starting with his 1997 production of the Cowboys-Packers Ice Bowl (American football). He would go on to produce a dozen shows in the series.

Plaut also created and produced for ESPN an anthology series covering the greatest sporting events and personalities of the 20th century, Sports Almanac, which ran for two seasons. In 1998 he co-produced the Emmy-nominated ESPN special Replay! – The History of the NFL on Television. In 2001, as part of ESPN’S Black History Month programming, Plaut wrote and directed Black Star Risen: The Alan Page Story, the first of two films he would ultimately produce on the life of the Hall of Fame player and Minnesota Supreme Court justice.

With the debut of NFL Network in 2003, Plaut contributed multiple episodes for such series as America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions, A Football Life and The Timeline.[13][14] He was also the creator and co-showrunner for Caught in the Draft, a series devoted to the history of the NFL college draft. On January 15, 2016, his production of Super Bowl I: The Lost Game was the highest-rated non-game program ever to air on NFL Network.[15]

In 2009 he was co-showrunner for Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League, timed to premiere during the 50th anniversary of the AFL. The five-episode series was carried on Showtime.[16] Along with his over-the-air films, Plaut produced eight feature-length team histories for NFL Films’ home video division between 1999 and 2013.[17] Plaut’s final production was the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII Champions home video, completed just a week before his retirement.[18]

Selected filmography

Television series

Title Year
NFL Game of the Week 1979-1986
NFL Monday Night Magazine 1987-1992
Sports Almanac 1992, 1995
Distant Replay 1993-2006
NFL's Greatest Games 1997-2017
Lost Treasures of NFL Films 1999-2000
America's Game 2005-2008
Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League 2009
The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players 2010
A Football Life 2011, 2014-2015
Star Spangled Sundays 2013
Caught in the Draft 2014-2015
The Timeline 2015-2017


Title Year
Super Bowl: Laughter and Legend 1978
Best Ever Professionals 1981
Second Chance: The Rolf Benirschke Story 1982
Legend of the Lightning Bolt: History of the Chargers 1984
World Champions: 1985 Chicago Bears 1986
Greatest Moments in Philadelphia Sports History 1986
Giants Among Men - Super Bowl XXI Champion New York Giants 1987
NFL TV Follies 1987
Greatest Moments in Chicago Sports History 1987
Warpath - Super Bowl XXII Champion Washington Redskins 1988
NFL Strange But True Body Shapes 1988
Team of the Decade - Super Bowl XXIII Champion San Francisco 49ers 1989
Super Duper Football Follies 1989
Masters of the Game – Super Bowl XXIV Champion San Francisco 49ers 1990
Football Follies on Parade 1990
Greatest Moments in American Sports History 1990
True Blue - Super Bowl XXI Champion New York Giants 1991
Washington Redskins - Super Bowl XXVI Champions 1992
NFL's Greatest Rivalries 1992
Dallas Cowboys - Super Bowl XXVII Champions 1993
LT: The Lawrence Taylor Story 1993
NFL's 100 Greatest Touchdowns 1993
Dallas Cowboys - Super XXVIII Champions 1994
NFL's 100 Greatest Follies 1994
San Francisco 49ers - Super Bowl XXIX Champions 1995
Dallas Cowboys - Super Bowl XXX Champions 1996
NFL's Greatest Ever Running Backs 1996
Green Bay Packers - Super Bowl XXXI Champions 1997
Denver Broncos - Super Bowl XXXII Champions 1998
Replay: The History of the NFL on Television 1998
Blue Diamond: 75 Years of Giants Football 1999
St. Louis Rams - Super Bowl XXXIV Champions 2000
21st Century Football Follies 2000
Joe Montana: A&E Biography 2001
Black Star Risen: The Alan Page Story 2001
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Super Bowl XXXVI Champions 2003
Dallas Cowboys: The Complete History of America's Team 2003
Cardiac Cats: 2003 NFC Champion Carolina Panthers 2004
Three Games to Glory: The 2004 Patriots 2005
Philadelphia Eagles - 2004 NFC Champions 2005
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Complete History 2005
Seattle Seahawks - 2005 NFC Champions 2006
Indianapolis Colts - Super Bowl XLI Champions 2007
New York Giants - Super Bowl XLII Champions 2008
History of the Washington Redskins 2008
Arizona Cardinals - 2008 NFC Champions 2009
History of the San Diego Chargers 2009
New Orleans Saints - Super Bowl XLIV Champions 2010
History of the Miami Dolphins 2010
Lombardi 2010
Green Bay Packers - Super Bowl XLV Champions 2011
Two Minutes to Glory 2011
The Longest Game Ever: 1971 AFC Championship 2011
Behind the Steel Curtain 2012
Don Shula: 347 2012
New York Giants - Super Bowl XLVI Champions 2012
New Orleans Saints Greatest Moments 2013
Seattle Seahawks - Super Bowl XLVIII Champions 2014
Super Bowl I: The Lost Game 2016
Philadelphia Eagles - Super Bowl LII Champions 2018

Writing career

Plaut’s first professional assignment came in 1974, when he wrote a piece for Pro!, the NFL’s official game program. The story covered the career of player-turned-official Pat Harder. Plaut went on to write several other articles for Pro! (later named Gameday), including a personality profile on Washington Football Team quarterback Joe Theismann and a feature focused on NFL teams’ humorous road trip travel mishaps.

In 1989 he wrote the first of three baseball books for Philadelphia-based publisher Running Press. His fourth baseball book, Chasing October: The Dodgers-Giants Pennant Race of 1962 was published by Diamond Communications in 1994.[19] In 2012, an updated version of Chasing October was released as an e-book and audio book to mark the 50th anniversary of that season.[20]

From 1991 to 2006 Plaut was book critic for USA Today Baseball Weekly (later renamed Sports Weekly).

In 2010 Plaut collaborated with NFL Films colleague Greg Cosell and former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski on The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays, published by ESPN Books.[21] It was the nation’s top-selling pro football book that season.[22]


Title Year
Start Collecting Baseball Cards, Running Press 1989
Baseball Wit and Wisdom, Running Press 1992
Speaking of Baseball, Running Press 1993
Chasing October: The Dodgers-Giants Pennant Race of 1962, Diamond Communications 1994
The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays, ESPN Books (co-author) 2010

In popular culture

In 1973 Plaut provided the voice characterizations of puppet character “Grouchy the Crocodile” for an attraction at Lion Country Safari amusement park in Irvine, CA. The character's voice resembled film and TV comedian Groucho Marx.

Edgar Award-winning author Stuart M. Kaminsky named one of the recurring characters in his Toby Peters mysteries series after Plaut, who was a film student of his at Northwestern University from 1971 to 1975.

“Lease with an Option to Die,” the October 22, 1985 episode of the TV series The A-Team, featured a villain named David Plaut (played by veteran character actor Brion James). The episode was written by Bill Nuss, a college friend of Plaut’s.


  1. Magee, Jerry (August 6, 1973). "Good Evening, Mr. and Mrs. Charger First-Nighters". San Diego Union.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Willis, Chris (May 5, 2016). "Johnny Unitas Week - 1973 Chargers: An Interview with David Plaut". Pro Football Journal.
  3. Morrison, Helane (October 11, 1973). "Hobnobbing with Pros". The Daily Northwestern.
  4. Ostler, Scott (December 26, 1977). "Is This a Way for Grown Men to Act?". Los Angeles Times.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. McCoy, Bob (September 14, 1987). "NFL Films Goes Hollywood". The Sporting News.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. Zad, Martie (1987-09-27). "WINTERS, PRICE SPICE NFL VIDS". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  7. "Tales from the Vault: Jonathan Winters Takes his Talents to the Gridiron". They Call It Pro Football - Official Blog of NFL Films. 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  8. Vogan, Travis. Keepers of the Flame : NFL Films and the rise of sports media. Urbana, Illinois. ISBN 978-0-252-09627-3. OCLC 874180436.
  9. Macnow, Glen (February 23, 1990). "Entertainment Weekly". Patching Up a Blowout.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. Lamb, Kevin (February 14, 1986). "NFL Films 'Unleashes' Bears". Chicago Sun-Times.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. Logan, Joe (February 1, 1987). "NFL Films' Leading Rusher". Philadephia Inquirer.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. Sandomir, Richard (1998-12-29). "TV SPORTS; 'Inside Stuff' Succumbs to Old Stuff". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  13. Allen, Scott (December 12, 2016). "Richard Nixon, Vince Lombardi and their intertwined year in Washington in 1969". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-07-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. Farmer, Sam (2016-09-15). "NFL Films looks back at the day Rams, Raiders said goodbye". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-08-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. Horn, Barry (2016-01-16). "Hot Air: Why presenting a special on 'Super Bowl' I took a championship effort by NFL Films". Dallas News. Retrieved 2020-07-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. Barra, Allen (2009-09-16). "In a Lively League of Its Own". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  17. Thomas, Dave (August 26, 2009). "Chargers history film reels in golden moments of Bolts' past glories". www.sdnews.com. Retrieved 2020-08-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. Ben-Yaacov, Shai (March 6, 2018). "NFL Films senior producer ends long career with swan song to Eagles". WHYY. Retrieved 2020-07-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. Getlin, Josh (1994-03-08). "Writing the Game of Life". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-08-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. Scott Andes 8 years ago Follow @formatallan (2012-06-18). "Book Review-Chasing October-Interview with Author David Plaut". Dodgers Way. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  21. Ryan, Bob (2010-10-10). "Football fans, eat this up". Boston.com. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  22. Farrar, Doug (October 23, 2010). "FO Book Review: The Games That Changed the Game | Football Outsiders". www.footballoutsiders.com. Retrieved 2020-07-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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This article "David Plaut" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles taken from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be accessed on Wikipedia's Draft Namespace.