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Sports Then and Now

Steve Sabol: Turning Football Films Into Works Of Art 0

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

NFL Wouldn’t Be a $9 Billion Industry Without Ed Sabol 10

Posted on August 06, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Ed Sabol helped turn the NFL into a $9 billion industry by capturing the sport like never before.

It seems fitting that just days after the NFL and its players finally figured out how to split $9 billion dollars that one of the men most responsible for turning the league into such a financial juggernaut is being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Interestingly enough, the person I refer to, Ed Sabol, is the one person among the seven inductees that never played a down in the league.

Instead, as the founder of NFL Films, Sabol created a platform that showed the NFL players in a completely different light and elevated the sport into a national favorite.

Considering that unlike baseball and basketball, football players are hidden being a facemask, it would seem to be much harder for football players to become recognizable figures compared to players in other sports.

However, thanks to Sabol and NFL Films, which captured the grace and elegance of football through the use of slow motion and zoom cameras, generations of NFL fans are familiar with the style and power of players ranging from Jim Brown, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers in the early days to Walter Payton, Earl Campbell and Mike Singletary in the 1970s and 80s to current stars such as Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and Ray Lewis. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

      Read more »

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