OT: NFL Films President Steve Sabol passes away at 69

Submitted by Moonlight Graham on September 18th, 2012 at 4:03 PM


Sad news about the passing of a true innovator and the de facto "curator" of the NFL brand. As many remembrances are noting, NFL Films created a mystique and a majesty around the NFL that remains to some extent today (although replacement refs and headhunting tacklers aren't helping). Even Football Follies only added to the grandeur.

From what I can personally recall (and also quickly Google) I don't think NFL Films crossed over to do any work in the college game, but it's fun to fantasize about how Sabol would have documented some of Michigan's greatest games and seasons, complete with a mic'ed-up Bo and soundbites from Ufer. Sabol's works were the original hype videos, you might say.



September 18th, 2012 at 4:15 PM ^

I think his work went a long way to help get the NFL where it is. There was a cinematic quality to NFL films work that really brought out the intensity of football. He will be missed.


September 18th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

Damn.  An icon from an iconic family.  I knew he had the cancer, didn't realize he wasn't doing so hot lately (assuming this wasn't an "unexpected" passing).  RIP Steve.  You've certainly helped a proud franchise get where they are today.


September 18th, 2012 at 5:04 PM ^

Sabol (Ed and Steve) and NFL Films, slow-motion replay, blooper reels, the music and the voice of John Facenda really did turn the sport into art and allowed you to drill down to the level of the individuals that make it a great sport. He will be sorely missed. 


September 18th, 2012 at 5:55 PM ^

There are very few things that I find shocking anymore, but I was trully shocked a few years back when I found out that Steve Sabol was not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I know his father is and I've heard a lot of talk today that it's almost a package deal but I'm hard pressed to think of anyone more deserving... player, coach, owner, administrator, broadcaster, journalist.  Who was better at their job and did more for NFL football than Steve Sabol???


September 18th, 2012 at 6:31 PM ^

I got to meet Steve once, as he not only was a fellow alumnus of Colorado College, but a member of my fraternity as well. A really cool, down-to-earth guy who did amazing things for the NFL. He will be missed. 


September 18th, 2012 at 7:40 PM ^

In hours. But when they started there was no record-keeping. It was him and his dad editing film. Putting it together for the rare pre-ESPN afternoon special in the off-season, or when your game was blacked out. Bloopers, big hits and football follies on VHS that you watched again and again wearing them out because that was your only football fix. The majority of what we know of sports highlights started with the Sabols. It is not overstating it that he was one of the great unsung heroes in sports, and the NFL became as big as it is today as fast as it did in part due to them. He will be missed.

Bando Calrissian

September 18th, 2012 at 8:47 PM ^

The Sabols pretty much invented the idea of slow motion cameras being used for sports highlights (while, in an interesting Michigan connection, Don Canham had pioneered it'a use for sports instructional purposes), and pretty much everything we take for granted watching ESPN every night comes from them.

When Ed was put in the HoF, Steve did an interview about running slo mo cameras with his dad in the 60s, about how much of a technical nightmare it was to do, and how much physical film stock was burned through in the process. These guys worked their asses off on Sundays to get the material for the NFL Films productions, and I think it's safe to say there are few NFL fans whose love of the League doesn't coincide with mentally playing that music while watching games.


September 18th, 2012 at 8:00 PM ^

It's weird being sad over the death of someone you've never met or known. But the passing of Steve Sabol means a large part of my childhood has passed on too. Sad stuff. RIP Steve, you will be missed. Legend status.

Alexandre DeLarge

September 19th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

I loved the positive spins NFL Films would give at the end of their episodes that focused on one team's season, even when the team was terrible. In the waning moments of the Lions loss in Green Bay to complete the 0-16 season of 2008, I remember saying "I don't know how Steve Sabol will make this sound hopeful but he will probably find a way."