Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NFL Films head Sabol dies

Steve Sabol, President of NFL Films, died of brain cancer on Tuesday, exactly two weeks shy of his 70th birthday.

"Steve was the creative genius behind NFL Films' remarkable work," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. 

"Steve's passion for football was matched only by his talent and energy. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we looked at football and sports, and a great friend. His legacy is assured.

"Steve was an incredible visionary. He spent 50 years at the NFL and changed the way we see pro football. So when you're watching the games this week, it's worth remembering just how much Steve contributed to the way we think, see, and love our game."

Sabol took over the mantle of NFL Films from his father Ed, who founded the company, in 1985. Steve learned in March of 2011 that he had a brain tumor that couldn't be removed, initially hospitalized due to a seizure of unknown origin.

Steve introduced his father during Ed's emotional enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August of 2011.

"My dad has a great expression," Sabol said when his father's induction was announced. "Tell me a fact, and I'll learn. Tell me a truth and I'll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. And now my Dad's story will be in Canton and hopefully that will live forever too."

Generations of NFL fans learned to love the game of football through the lens of Ed and Steve Sabol. Steve started out as a cameraman before eventually running the company and becoming the iconic face of the franchise.

The younger Sabol won over 40 Emmy awards and oversaw 107 Emmys for NFL Films. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

The company broke ground as the first to wire players and coaches for sound. It revolutionized how music was used with sports films. It was the first to use ground-level slow motion and montage editing in sports. So much of what we see in sports television came directly from the Sabol.

He was widely regarded as both an artist and an executive -- the former coming in the guise of a poem which became a part of Oakland Raiders lore, titled "The Autumn Wind."

Sabol was a 1960 graduate of The Haverford School, and the Fords home giridiron bears the name Sabol Field., dedicated as such in September of 2009.

"Steve Sabol was one of the most influential and innovative people in the NFL community. Football benefitted so much from his unique vision and incredible ability to bring fans closer to the action," said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. "He was also a joy to be around, an endless source of energy and ideas. All of us at the Eagles will miss him, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Below is a sneak peek at the inner workings of NFL Films, located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey:

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