All Or Nothing Review

All or Nothing is a TV series on Amazon Video that follows a sports team through one season of their respective sport. It originally started as a behind the scenes documentary of the NFL, focusing on the Arizona Cardinals. However, they’ve now expanded to rugby and soccer. I’ve only watched the football seasons, but in general the show is really compelling.

Elements I like:

  • The storytelling: you get to put faces to names. If you have no background in football, you’re now given context behind the players’ and the coaches’ motivations in the decisions. You get to see how the team develops throughout a season.
  • The behind the scenes stuff: similar to above, you see a lot more of the people building the team than you do normally. Talking to my brother (who actually follows football), he was surprised at how Bruce Arians (the head coach of the Cardinals) comes across. I guess his personality appeared completely different in broadcasts than portrayed in the documentary. Cursed a lot more, for one. You get to see players have prayer sessions about Donald Trump’s comments on racial inequality – pretty surreal.
  • The team building: Of course, coaching is a large part of building a good team, but you really get to see the nitty gritty of how these organizations construct teams and foster players to direct the team into the type of team they envision. Strategizing first/second/etc round draft picks to fill in the pieces they need, or targeting good value players, etc. The Cardinals picked up some  veteran players that had been written off as past their prime and integrated them into their game plan in their small areas of expertise to maintain high utility.
  • The inside culture and how the coaches and players build the team. In the second episode of the current season with the Dallas Cowboys, you see how the coaches explicitly build comraderie by having a meeting session once a week where players shake hands and hug it out. Constant physical contact and physical affection naturally helps build relationships over time even if the activity may seem contrived.

Of course, the show lives and dies by the quality of the team they follow, so it can be inconsistent. I thought the first season with the Cardinals was great. The second season with the Rams was a bit boring. The third season with the Cowboys is shaping up to be pretty good, so far. Overall, worth watching.