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A big loss for the NFL: NFL films exec Steve Sabol passes

Sabol_lookOne of the most iconic images in Dallas Cowboys history is that of a shadowy Tom Landry walking around Texas Stadium. The picture was captured by NFL FIlms in the '70s, and inside an editing room the shot was immediately recognized by NFL Films exec Steve Sabol, one of the most important people to the growth of the league.

Today, after a long fight with a brain tumor, Sabol died. The story was reported on

Sabol started out at NFL Films, which was founded by his father Ed, as a camerman and eventually became the voice and face of what was arguably the single biggest, and most important, media arm to the league for many years.

What Ed and Steve Sabol did was to produced movies based on an NFL game, or season. They used expensive technology and coupled it with script writing, stirring background music, and an extensive use of slow motion mixed in with sound bites from players and coaches no one could get anywhere else to create memorable scenes.

"He was such an innovator in the way they put together the highlights for the NFL. How many cameras they put out; it was documentary style. It was cutting edge," said TV sports producer Dave Keeney. "It was building on the popularity of the game. It's one of the reasons you had the NFL Network is so popular is because of what they did at NFL Films. The library is huge. They did such an awesome job. You knew what it was the minute you heard the music. You didn't need to see the pictures. You knew it was an NFL game. He and his dad created a brand is what they did."

Sabol's work has been recognized and celebrated by the NFL, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and earned him countless media awards, etc. 

He was 69.


Facebook Mac Engel



I think you totally understated how important not only NFL Films (and by transitive the Sabols) were to the NFL but to sports media coverage in general. They were inventive and many effects they created are still in use today. They also helped popularize the NFL with serious, funny, and poignant images that they meticulously created. NFL Films importance has diminished somewhat in the days of so many media outlets covering the league, but the importance of the body of work they provided over the years has not waned. It is a sad day for the NFL and a sad day for sports journalism to have lost one of its icons.

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