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Monday, September 24, 2012 5:40:48 AM(UTC)
Quite surprised this hasn't been started already. Steve Sabol passed away Tuesday after succumbing to brain cancer. He was 69 years old and had nearly 50 years associated with NFL Films, which his father started.
A running back at Colorado College who majored in art history, Steve Sabol was half of the father-son combo that revolutionized sports broadcasting.
Peter King said:
Before you read my tribute to Steve Sabol, who died at 69 last Tuesday, go here. Turn the volume low, especially if you're in your office this morning, but please open this up and listen to the musical stylings of Sam Spence, who created so much of the music you've heard over the years when NFL Films features have played, and the closeups on those spirals that filled the screen. (My favorite, "Let's Go Big O,'' begins at the 5:15 mark.).
I thought the best way to tell the story of Sabol's impact on football would be to find 10 people whose lives were impacted by Sabol and who can tell what he meant to them, and to the sport long-term.
Did you know he was once asked to be commissioner? That he had Bill Belichick eating out of his modest hands? That he and his dad made Vince Lombardi cry? That he's the reason Mike Mayock's on TV? That he's the inspiration for a 23-year-old photography student in a small town in Ireland? That he worked until Labor Day 2012, 15 days before his death? That his fingerprints are all over the last scene of the Ray Lewis documentary, which aired two days after his death?
Take it away, Jim Marshall.
Brett Favre, former quarterbackOne of the most wired players in history, Favre recalls laying in bed the morning of his first Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl XXXI in early 1997 in New Orleans, and hoping his dream would come true that day. The dream included Sabol.
Brett Favre said:
"Just laying there that morning, watching Super Bowl after Super Bowl on TV, I'm more of a history buff probably than most players, and I was thinking about my dreams when I was a kid. I wanted to be a football player. My dreams came true, obviously, and that's an understatement. I loved NFL Films. I used to watch all those blooper reels, and I loved the way NFL Films made the game look. And here I am listening to Steve Sabol talk about all these Super Bowls.
"There was one play where they had Joe Montana checking to what became a big play. And I just thought: 'Wouldn't it be cool to have Steve Sabol, 30 years from now, talk about how Brett Favre fought through such adversity to get to the Super Bowl and to win it?' So many kids watching NFL Films, I'm sure, would grow up thinking what a thrill it would be to have Steve Sabol interviewing them, and showing some slow-motion play that made them look so fantastic.
"It's funny. It used to be when I first got into the game nobody wanted to wear those wires for games. It was like, 'Get that camera out of my face.' Late in my career, it was, 'Hey, I'm wired today! Cool!' Numerous times I would tell [Packers PR chief] Jeff Blumb or [Vikings PR men] Tom West and Bob Hagan no, because I thought they wired me too much. But now, thinking back, I wish I would have done it more. It shows a side of the game you want to remember forever.
"He changed the face of the NFL without ever playing a down in it."
David Maraniss, authorMaraniss wrote the definitive Vince Lombardi book, "When Pride Still Mattered,'' and used Sabol and NFL Films as resources. Sabol was on the ground in Green Bay as a cameraman and producer of several long Lombardi pieces, including a movie about the Packers in 1967 that got Lombardi very emotional. Sabol, at the time, was 25.
David Maraniss said:
"Steve believed Lombardi's voice was something that separated him from others in history, and gave him his character. With NFL Films, the voice was central to the myth-making. They used John Facenda, and he was called the voice of God. But there was a practice in Green Bay once, and a dog got on the field and was interfering with practice. They couldn't get the dog to leave. All the players were laughing it up with this dog on the field, and Vince saw it, and he just yelled over, 'What the hell's going on here? Get that dog off the field!' The dog scampered away. That really did happen. Sabol witnessed it, and he thought it said something about Lombardi that his voice was so powerful, so controlling.''
In "When Pride Still Mattered,'' Maraniss wrote: "To Steve Sabol ... the secret of Lombardi was not so much what he said but the sound of it. 'It was all the voice,' Sabol said. 'The great leaders in history Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Roosevelt, Hitler all had these unique voices. And Lombardi's voice was so unique, so strident, so resonant, it could cut through anything.' The story of the little dog, in Sabol's opinion, revealed the power of Lombardi's voice.''
"After the [championship] '67 season, when Steve went to Green Bay to show Vince and a few of the players the film of their season, they ran it on the projector in Vince's rec room in his house. And they showed the film with that great NFL Films flair to it, and at the end of it, all you heard in the room was the film flapping over and over because Lombardi didn't turn off the projector. He was crying."
Monday, September 24, 2012 7:36:27 AM(UTC)
I think when you rank the people who have contributed the most to the NFL Steve Sabol is right up there. When the NFL network started my tv would basically be on there 24/7 and half of it was NFL films shows that I loved
Monday, September 24, 2012 8:28:38 AM(UTC)
I loved watching their films when I was younger. Like Brett said it was fun to hear so much of what goes on during the game.
Monday, September 24, 2012 8:38:38 AM(UTC)
I'm going to miss hearing his voice. He was the face AND voice of NFL films.
Monday, September 24, 2012 2:55:39 PM(UTC)
RIP Mr. Sabol, you did an outstanding job.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 6:06:32 PM(UTC)
RIP Mr. Sabol, you did an outstanding job.
very well said !!
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