NFL Films founder dies at the age of 98

Ed Sabol, the NFL Films founder has died at the age of 98.  Sable revolutionized sports broadcasting and established pro football as the must-watch theater in the USA.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said “Through his determination and innovative spirit, Ed Sabol transformed how America watched football. He ignited the fire of NFL Films with remarkable vision and dedication; telling the stories of the people who played, coached and loved the game.”

Sabol introduced a series of broadcasting innovations taken for granted today: super slow-motion replays, blooper reels and reverse angle shots to name a few. They stuck microphones on coaches and players, set highlights to pop music and recorded pre-game locker room speeches.

”We began making the game like a Hollywood movie – making it personal for the fans.’’ Sabol told The Associated Press, ’’Violent tackles, the long slow spiral of the ball, following the players as they sidestepped and sprinted down the field. The movie camera was the perfect medium to present the game the way the fans wanted to see it.”

Sable was a star swimmer at Ohio State and following a brief stage career served with the 4th Infantry Division as a rifleman during World War II.  Returning from the war and after a short period working in his father-in-law’s coat business he started Blair Productions (named after his daughter).

He won the rights to film and chronicle the 1962 NFL championship for $3,000, changing the course of his film career.  Sabol founded NFL Films, his son Steve worked beside him as a cinematographer right from the start. Both were honored in 2003 with the Lifetime Achievement Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  Steve Sabol, who succeeded his father as NFL Films’ president in 1985, died in 2012 at age 69 of brain cancer.

Sabol at the age of 94 and speaking from the fall of fame said “he dreamt the impossible dream, and I’m living it right at this minute.”

Ed Sabol is survived by his wife of 74 years, Audrey, his daughter, Blair, and grandson, Casey.

From all at – thanks Ed for all your hard work, rest-in-peace and sincere condolences to the Sabol family.