Steve Sabol, the longtime NFL Films president who along with his father Ed Sabol helped define the way the American public saw professional football, has died at the age of 69.
Sabol confirmed last year, shortly before he introduced his dad at his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, that he was suffering from brain cancer.
Few people are able to turn their passions into a great professional legacy like the Sabols, who loved football, filmmaking and family and managed to combine them all into one when Ed and Steve started NFL Films together. Ed was just a guy with a movie camera and a vision when he convinced the NFL to let him and his 20-year-old son be the official videographers of the 1962 NFL Championship Game, but before long the two-man video crew had become a part of the NFL. And over the next half century NFL Films became a major part of how America viewed both sports and television.
If you’ve enjoyed seeing super slow-motion replays, or hearing the sounds of players wearing microphones during games, or laughing at the blooper reels that began with “Football Follies,” you can thank NFL Films.
“Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”
He was never a player, coach, commissioner or team owner, but for his contributions to the game from behind the camera and in the editing room, Steve Sabol will be remembered as one of the NFL’s great visionaries.