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Sports Then and Now

Steve Sabol: Turning Football Films Into Works Of Art

Posted on September 18, 2012 by Dean Hybl

NFL Films president Steve Sabol has passed away at the age of 69.

Though he never played a down in the NFL, few have done more to fuel the amazing growth of the NFL more than Steve Sabol, who passed away today at the age of 69.

As a kid growing up in the 1970s we never had cable, but occasionally I had the great pleasure of seeing an NFL Films movie on a regular channel or later on ESPN when in a hotel or visiting someone who did have cable. Then when in college I had a chance to become indulged with NFL Films on a regular basis. In many ways, watching NFL Films were better than watching the games themselves (and still are).

While Ed Sabol founded the company, it was his son, Steve, who developed many of the creative touches that turned NFL Films into a national institution. An art history major in college, Steve brought an artistic approach to football filmmaking that turned simple game films into epic works of art. Thanks to climactic music, skillfully written narrative and innovations such as slow-motion replay and putting microphones on players and coaches, NFL Films made the NFL feel larger than life.

While Steve made his mark behind the scenes, it was in front of the camera where Steve has become well known over the last 25 years as host of such shows as NFL Films Presents and Lost Treasures.

In 2011 Ed Sabol was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I truly hope it isn’t long before Steve joins him. Though it is a shame that he won’t be there to accept such a well deserved honor, we are all fortunate that his great work will live on forever.

Below are a some remembrances by Steve as well as examples of the special magic that NFL Films has produced over the last 50 years.

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