Attending the Hall of Fame announcement each year is one of my favorite parts of Super Bowl week. Just like the big game, it’s cool to be in the room when history is made and lives change forever.
The initial crowd reaction when Ed Sabol was announced as a Hall of Famer on Saturday was as loud as any I’ve heard in four years of coming to the event. I think that’s because Sabol’s work resonates so much with fans of all ages. I asked Ed’s son Steve Sabol about that connection after the press conference.
“So many people connect to our films,” Sabol said. “When we started, one of the first films we did, George Halas was upset with something: We were montaging. . . . And Halas said ‘This is terrible. How can you do something like this?’ It was like we were making pornography or something.”
The Sabols understood their audience. They wanted to create a mythic quality to football.
“We were trying to explain it to George Halas. Dad went to [Commissioner] Pete [Rozelle] and Pete said don’t worry about it. ‘You’re not making films for the players or the coaches. You’re making films for the fans.’ That’s the most important thing.”
Sabol told me his father was concerned all week that he would be replacing a player in the Hall of Fame, an awkward truth because Sabol’s goal for 50 years was to glorify and promote players.
Ultimately, the story of pro football just can’t be told without the man who told the story to so many of us.
“My dad has a great expression,” Sabol said. “Tell me a fact, and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. And now my Dad’s story will be in Canton and hopefully that will live forever too.”