Normally, I write up a preview of the upcoming game for the Dallas Cowboys. But today’s article is centered on Steve Sabol, the man behind NFL Films who passed away after a bout with brain cancer. Sabol was 69 years old.
Blair Motion Picture started in 1962 as former World War II veteran Ed Sabol bid $3,000 to get the rights to film the NFL Championship game between the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won that game, 16-7 but that wasn’t the only history making moment. After filming the game, Ed Sabol started working on filming more games and re-named his motion picture company to a little more appropriate and now worldwide name, NFL Films in 1964.
Ed brought along his son, Steve to help film the games. During the early years in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Steve served as a cameraman while helping his father got NFL Films started and on its way. The ESPN Network started up in the late 70’s and NFL Films was hired to be its production company. Steve went from being behind the camera to in front of it as a TV personality, hosting the show “NFL Films Presents”.
NFL Films received over 100 Emmy’s while Steve garnered 35 Emmy awards as well. He earned them for writing, cinematography, editing, directing, and producing.
In 1978, NFL Films did a documentary on the Dallas Cowboys and Bob Ryan, the voice behind the film coined the phrase, “America’s Team”. The name has stuck despite the fact that former head coach Tom Landry objected to the team being called that. Landry felt like it would give the opposing teams more reason to play harder against the Cowboys.
Since then, there have been many films dedicated to the Cowboys including the production of both seasons (2002 and 2008) of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” Training camp reality show. NFL Films is also responsible for several DVD productions for the Cowboys including “The Dallas Cowboys: The Complete History”
And behind every one of those films, Steve Sabol had a hand it somehow or the other. Sabol was also instrumental in the formation of the NFL Network. NFL Films also produces several different shows from various networks including HBO, Showtime, Velocity, ESPN, NBC Sports, and the NFL Network.
Chances are that if you ever watched anything on the TV that had something to do with the NFL, nine chances out of ten, Steve Sabol and NFL Films had something to do with it. Sabol may have passed, but his legacy will live on in the films he did himself and the production company that gave you…”America’s Team”.
Our condolences go to his family and friends, but they should always take heart that Steve Sabol along with his father, Ed, left leaving the greatest of accomplishments. It is this writer’s opinion that if it weren’t for Steve Sabol and NFL Films, the NFL wouldn’t be where they are today.