A Shout-Out to Steve Sabol
September 23, 2012
By now you’ve heard the tributes to the late Steve Sabol, who along with his father Ed, founded NFL Films.
I’d like to add my own here.
Now, I’ve never been a fan of the league itself (I’ve often said I love football, but hate the NFL). Frankly, I don’t care for the guys who run it. Nor do I normally hand out cheap compliments. But none of this applies when it comes to Steve Sabol.
It’s up to the league now to do the right thing, and vote Mr. Sabol into the Hall of Fame the next chance they get. First ballot, no waiting period. That’s because Sabol did as much to make the game what it is today as any player who ever played the game.
Better yet, create a separate wing in Canton for media legends, headed up by Sabol himself. That way you can honor the Howard Cosells, Myron Copes and all the other guys who contributed to the game beyond the playing field. And satisfy all the wrongheaded tight-asses who will whine that only players and owners should be allowed into the Hall.
Steve Sabol took ordinary sports-highlights production and turned it into opera. The two main reasons that pro football overtook baseball as America’s top sport are NFL Films, and television itself. The over-the-top script writing, the majestic music scoring, the “voice of God” narration – all this sold pro football to the public more than any advertising ever could.
Back when I was a very young runt, NFL pre-game shows were preceded by a half-hour NFL Films highlights show. At that time I was probably more into watching baseball – but not after seeing Sabol’s football mini-dramas.
And I know I wasn’t alone. In the backyard we often played football. But sometimes we also played NFL Films – that is, we ran around or tackled in slow motion, mimicking the way Sabol presented the action. Today, of course, slow-motion movement, sound trackingand dramatic camera angles are standard fare in sports – but they were unheard of until Sabol came along. So was the other innovation Sabol pioneered, possibly the greatest in sports-coverage history: the hooking-up of microphones to players and coaches.
Sabol belongs among the next class of NFL personalities to get installed into Canton. If you disagree, here’s a little refresher course on why:
The autumn wind is a pirate – bitches.