Steve Sabol (1942 – 2012)

The NFL lost a great man today with the passing of Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films. Along with his father Ed, he revolutionized how the game was packaged and presented to us. From humble beginnings, NFL Films grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise that produces highlight films each year for every team, Super Bowl highlights, and countless other incredible works.

Now for my own off-the-cuff response to Steve’s death. NFL Films was an immense part of my childhood. I was raised a diehard Green Bay Packer fan, and the 1996 VHS highlight film of the Super Bowl champion team from that year remains stowed away safely somewhere in my home. I also own several other NFL Films works, including the 2010 Packer highlight film . The musical pieces that accompany nearly all NFL Films productions serve as the soundtrack to some of my fondest memories; I’ve reached the point where I can recall the scene of the highlight film when I hear a Sam Spence arrangement. Several years ago I purchased the entire NFL Films soundtrack, so I could, in part, relive these moments whenever I wanted. Even if you’ve never watched an NFL game in your life, you’ve likely taken in some piece of Steve’s legacy. The images are indelible as well. We are all familiar with them by now: the spiraling football leaving a quarterback’s hand as it arcs toward its target, the duels played out in the cold November mud, the iconic coaches stalking the sidelines. Trying to describe an NFL Films work in words fall desperately short. So I leave you with what has become my favorite NFL Films vignette. It is seminal and haunting. The NFL will miss you greatly Steve. Take it easy up there. We’ll keep on watching down here.

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