Steve Sabol reflects on his father’s enshrinement into Hall of Fame

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.”

17 responses to “Steve Sabol reflects on his father’s enshrinement into Hall of Fame

  1. All those players will,barring unlikely early deaths, have other chances to get in while they can experience it for themselves. At 95, Ed Sabol may not be around to be a part of more chances. I would rather he went in now when he is around to enjoy it.

  2. Excellent news!
    Sabol is a man of vision, this is earned, deserved.
    The fact that the Hall makes so few of these kinds of appointments makes it more significant,
    this is a man that merits an exception to the rule.
    Congratulations to Ed Sabol and family.

  3. Sabols in the Hall in my book. Growing up a Dolphin fan in nyc in the 70’s, it was not easy to see highlights. NFL Films brought me highlights on Monday Night Football as well as shows like Inside The NFL. Thanks to the Sabol family……..NFL films is very much a part of NFL history!!

  4. 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.

    That philosophy is the exact reason why I’ll always watch an NFL Films show, and why Ed Sabol’s enshrinment was long overdue.

  5. Well deserved! Just like Stephen Ambrose chronicled WWII in American History, Ed Sabol exposed professional football as an important part of our culture and social fabric in the U.S. Without his contribution, the NFL would have never overtaken MLB as the #1 sport in America. Glad he is around to bask in the glory of his enshrinement.

  6. Take a look at the NFL prior to the infusion of inspired genius that was Ed Sabol, Steve Sabol, John Facenda and Pete Rozelle.

    Then take a good look during and after their run.

    Legends. Those non-players/non-coaches did so much to enrich the NFL experience. Off the charts respect for those four gentlemen.

  7. Sabol admission to the HOF should have been a no brainer. Look at his contribution and impact to the game and the league. Duh.

    It’s not like the ballot had Unitas, Rice, & Lombardi on it besides.


    PS. Here’s a wild idea… Increase the number of slots for induction by 1 or 2. What a manufactured drama.

    And, BTW, not having Ray Guy in the hall is ridiculous. The term hang time was coined for him. He was a weapon that other teams had to plan around. He was also an emergency QB and has a superbowl ring(s). Last I checked special teams do play in the game? But not in the hall?

    Yeah, his stats don’t quite measure to the current kickers, but what the h*ll? Wide receivers get in from the bump-and-run era and their stats don’t measure up to their modern counterparts.

    Not one punter in the hall? Not one punter has ever been worthy? If so, eliminate the position from the field. Really.

  8. For what he has meant to the NFL he belongs in there as much as any player.

    He didn’t take a player’s place; he took HIS rightful place among the greats!

  9. The NFL grew in popularity due to media coverage and NFL Films. Sable clearly deserved it! The NFL has made countless millionaires and billionaires. Yet this small group will hold fans hostage in 2011
    because they are now mostly greedy – hold out or lock out. It’s a shame.

  10. If all of you people knew what played out behind the scenes of filming the NFL all these years, you would not be such fans. Ed was the modern day NFL J.Edgar Hoover who collected dirt on owners and NFL execs, which insured that his company remained the sole company in charge of filming the NFL. FYI, his company that films the NFL is not owned by the NFL. Ed made sure that he remained in a no-bid position all these years. You won’t read about that on ESPN. And that kids, is the rest of the story.

  11. Talk about long overdue that guy should have in the Hall 40 years ago! NFL films meant more to me as a kid than Disney or any other film venue.

  12. The films are unquestionably important in increasing the popularity fo the game along with chronicling its history. Honoring Sabol in the Hall is really honoring the whole NFL Films product, from the camera guys, production team, music, etc. NFL Films, Sabol, and family are well deserving. Congratulations.

  13. Ed Sabol,John Facenda,Steve Sabol.i’m 32 yrs old and i can remember growin up on nfl films and i still love watchin it to this day i just wish there was a way i could buy some of the classic programming from the 60’s 70’s on dvd congrats to Ed Sabol a true pioneer

  14. Glad he made it in. He definitely contributed to the fan’s experience and enhanced the game. Without NFL Films, younger viewers may never get a chance to truly feel the excitement from the earlier Super Bowls.

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