"Gridiron Gumshoe" My life in and out of the NFL Films' Vault" by Ace Cacchiotti is a Pro Football Fanatics' guide to my literal life working with the most accomplished producers who have lent their artistic values to all that follow the game and who live vicariously through one who contributed to the company by "Paying attention to detail and Finishing like a Pro". From young Steve Sabol's "They Called it Pro Football" produced in 1967, to "Joe and the Magic Bean" again written and produced by Steve in 1976, "75 Seasons"; "The Story of the National Football League" in 1994 to "America's Game" from 2005 and to the late NFL Films' President's tribute; Steve Sabol, "The Guts and Glory of Pro Football" on February 12th, 2013, the game of Pro Football is watched by hundred of millions through the camera eye of what is without a doubt the measuring stick for all others when it comes to capturing passion in and on any field. This author was given a wonderful opportunity to express himself and by doing so left a legacy with not only my peers but with my late loving boss; my friend Steve Sabol.
I hope you will be able to experience through the "Gridiron Gumshoe" a most rewarding Pro Football Journey.
“I was lucky; my ribs broke my fall” and “Fleet of Foot with explosive speed”.
For the most part; living in the vault had more pros than cons: I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend each day looking through film reliving the serpentine cross country exploits of a Hugh “The King” McElhenny, the bone crushing power running of the great Jim Brown and the ball handling wizardry of Rams’ quarterbacks’ Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin. (I sound like Steve Sabol). Sure it was a novelty but “what the hey”; life was good even without Valerie and yet my bliss wasn’t shared with all of my peers: Just because I was still sleeping at 6:00 A.M, the rest of the company was not and on many occasions my alarm would sound with a “Good Morning Ace” over the Public Announcement System. I wasn’t naïve; I knew that many were not happy with the extra attention I was receiving from the media because of my “new digs” but I just wanted to look at the serpentine cross country exploits of a Hugh --------------“. Steve also informed me that many resented the fact that “How come he doesn’t pay any rent”? The “Boss” responded with; “If you would like to move in you can but after I do”! I really believed Steve would have loved being a vault dweller and on more than one occasion made the statement hoping “his ashes would be sprinkled there”. (I didn’t even know he smoked). Another of the pros; was that I had access to Steve’s refrigerator, which was always stocked with Finlandia Vodka that I bought him. Although it was a gift from me; each weekend I would make sure that he would need a new bottle on Monday. Another tells tale sign that my co – workers "embraced" my residence: Whenever anyone from the company received accolades in print, the article would be posted on a wall in the 1950’s cafeteria for all to read. It would last the work week if it was posted on Monday or in general for about five days before being taken down for new news. Whenever my articles were posted; I too would have the same number five but for hours until it became part of the day’s trash. Finally, Steve decided that I should “move” and find a real home because my living in the vault was in violation of the township’s residency laws and that 99% of the employees signed the bill and also that my “home” was getting a “face lift”: In 1980 when Ralph Caputo and his crew built the film vault, he probably had no idea and for that matter who could know the amount of film footage Films would be shooting more than a decade later. More room was needed to accommodate all the celluloid and physically each row of film cans had to be moved closer to gain space. Once that was achieved more shelves could be built to handle the influx. On the second level plywood was laid to cover each opening from one new row to the other. You know that old adage; “accidents happen within twenty five miles of the home”? Well; on Tuesday; July 18th, 1994, I was on the second level of my “home” searching for the original film of Tom Dempsey’s 63 yard field goal that stunned and defeated the Detroit Lions on November 8th, 1970 and while looking; I was not aware that one of the areas still was without the plywood needed to cover an opening to the floor below. As I continued to look for that record breaking kick, I failed to negotiate properly and stepped on the invisible piece of plywood and “Whack;” against the iron shelf. Luckily; my ribs broke my fall and I was able to hold on muttering the sounds much like those of Sergeant Hulka (Warren Oates) when he fell from the observation post in the movie “Stripes” starring Bill Murray and Harold Remis. Nancy Weigle and Laura Gellathin; two of my co workers got help and I was able to extract myself from the compromising position. News spread as always when good things happen and while I waited for the ambulance to arrive I tried to make “small talk” with the “Boss”. It was small and sounded something like this; “arrugh; ah, ah, arrugh: “Ace, save it for later”. Five broken ribs later, I was given Percocet for the pain and responded; “Now I know why people do drugs”! Friday I checked out of the hospital and on the very next day I was back at work writing a letter to those for their kind words while I convalesced. While at work I called Steve at his home and “Big Ed” answered. After a few words with Mr. Sabol, I began my conversation with his son; “You know Steve, I really love working here and I can’t thank you and your Dad enough for giving me the opportunity to be part of the greatest company in the world and if you ever need anything from me – well -----------“. Finally after listening to forty seconds of slurred speech, Steve interrupts; “Ace did you do a perk”! “Yeah, life is great and I want you to know that I really love working here and ----------------“. Monday I posted the thank you letter on the cafeteria wall and by day’s end it found its eternal burial ground waiting to be part of some landfill.
It didn't take a Global Positioning System to find out that Ace Cacchiotti was a perfect fit for what was to be his destiny: From 1988 - 2008, the man who was known as "A walking encyclopedia" adopted the moniker; "Gridron Gumshoe" as he immersed himself in his passion that was the history of NFL Films and the company's relationship with Pro Football.His love for his work manifested itself when he literally took up residence in the NFL Films' Vault from June of 1993 to May of 1994 while working on major projects for the National Football League; such as the "100 Greatest Touchdowns" and "75 Seasons; the Story of the National Football League". Ace not only found himself surrounded by over 51,000 film cans which the late President Steve Sabol had quoted; "Each which its own unique story to tell but with the genuine love for his co - workers and most of all with the late NFL Films' President. "Gridron Gumshoe" at times reads as tongue in cheek but there is no denying Ace Cacchiotti's love for his profession. From his first heartbreak when the Giants lost to George Halas's Chicago Bears in the 1963 NFL Championship to his "retirement" in March of 2008 his love for NFL Films and those responsible for everlasting impressions of the visceral nature made the "Gridron Gumshoe" Pro Football's foremost film authority. Ace currently continues to work in the Pro Football Field with the retired players as he too is an honorary member and resides with his wife Susan in Riverton, New Jersey.