NFL Films President Steve Sabol dies at age 69
Stephen Douglas Sabol was born in Philadelphia on October 2, 1942. In March of 2011 he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor after being hospitalized for a seizure. Sabol was an icon in Philadelphia and for the NFL for changing the way we view football. Before making history with a video camera, Sabol was an All-Rocky Mountain Conference running back for Colorado College, who majored in art history.
“Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement from the league confirming Sabol’s death. “Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”
Sabol started off his tremendous career when his father, Ed Sabol, founded NFL Films. Then in 1964, Sabol started working with his father as a cinematographer and spent the next 50 years working for the NFL and the way NFL Films chronicled games. The technology he started out using is now the mainstay of how we view games with super slow-motion, microphones on players and coaches, reverse-angle replays and some of the famous pre-game speeches we see from the comforts of our homes. He also started the NFL follies films which displayed bizarre plays and funny moments that happen on the field.
In 2007, the Pro Football Hall of Fame honored Sabol with the Dan Reeves Pioneer Award, for recognizing his innovative ideas that have contributed to the game of professional football. He was also honored in 2003 with his father with the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Televison Arts and Sciences.
“Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy,” Goodell said in a statement. “Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever.”
He has always had the talent and you could see that from being an accomplished collage artist to the way he brought the games mythology to life with: America’s Team, The Catch and The Frozen Tundra. In all Sabol brought home 40 Emmy’s for writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing.
“Steve Sabol leaves a lasting impact on the National Football League that will be felt for a long time to come,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said. “His vision and innovation helped make him a pioneer the likes of which the NFL has never seen before and won’t see again.”
Sabol is survived by his wife, Penny; his son, Casey; his parents, Audrey and Ed; and his sister, Blair. The NFL said there would be a private funeral.