The NFL may have issues with replacement refs and bounty scandals, but all that takes a back seat today with news of the passing of NFL Films president Steve Sabol, one of the most innovative men to ever be associated with the game.
“Steve was the creative genius behind NFL Films’ remarkable work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday in an email to NFL personnel. “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 innovated NFL Films and the way the game is remembered when he co-founded NFL Films with his father Ed Sabol, with Steve taking over duties as president in 1985. Since then, Sabol won 40 Emmy’s and oversaw 107 Emmy productions for NFL Films, and he has helped preserve some of the games greatest moments on film forever.
Some of the innovations Steve came up with at NFL films are still widely used today not only in the NFL but in all sports. Sabol was the first person to wire players and coaches for sound, and in doing so he’s captured countless moments now revered as classics (looking at you Vince Lombardi).
In March 2011, Sabol was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, but it didn’t stop him from continuing his work. Later that year, a bald Sabol wheeled out his father in Canton to help enshrine the elder Sabol into the NFL Hall of Fame.
“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.”
Sabol was just 69 years old, and it’s a sad fact to digest that NFL Films will just never be the same without Steve Sabol or his comforting introductions to countless classic highlights.