NFL News

Steve Sabol, the creative brain of NFL Films, has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The Dallas Cowboys will play in the Hall of Fame game for the first time in this year’s “Hard Knocks” series.
It’s especially apt given the series’ creator was inducted into the hall earlier this year.
One of Steve Sabol’s many legacies at NFL Films that continues to live on is “Hard Knocks,” which began 20 years ago.
Sabol, who died of brain cancer in 2012 at the age of 69, is one of three contributors honored in the NFL Hall of Fame’s 2020 Centennial Class, which celebrates 20 former players, coaches, and contributors from all eras of the league’s first century.
“I’d like to believe it’s no coincidence that ‘Hard Knocks’ will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.”
“I believe Steve is still watching over us,” said Ken Rodgers, senior coordinating producer of “Hard Knocks” for NFL Films. Sabol joins his father Ed, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
They join Tim and Wellington Mara, the New York Giants’ owners, and Art and Dan Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ owners.
The hall of fame acknowledged Sabol in April, and he will be honored at the August induction ceremony.
The Sabols never played or coached a down in the NFL, but you can’t explain the league’s history without including NFL Films’ contribution to making it the powerhouse it is today.
While Ed Sabol was the one who persuaded Pete Rozelle in 1964 that the NFL needed its own video firm to promote and document the game, Steve Sabol was the driving force behind NFL Films.
Using cinematography, slow motion replays, orchestral music, and placing mics on players and coaches, he brought the game and the players to life.
Rodgers stated that when Ed Sabol was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he considered it as a recognition of the entire existence of NFL Films, including his own work.
Steve Sabol’s induction, on the other hand, brings everything full circle for Rodgers and others who grew up watching NFL Films broadcasts throughout the years.
“It’s a monster with two heads.”
“Someone starting a business would have merely started a business that wouldn’t have done anything if Steve’s creative mind hadn’t been there,” he remarked.
“The NFL would not be where it is today if they hadn’t happened together.”
“Creating NFL Films and leading the league into the television space was essentially the birth of sports television.”
But then the creative style also established what sports television is now in terms of creativity.” Sabol attended Colorado College and majored in art history. He was an All-Rocky Mountain Conference running back.
He started as a cameraman at NFL Films in 1964 and ascended through the ranks to become president before his death.
NFL Films won almost 100 Emmy Awards during Sabol’s tenure.
Sabol won the most awards, with 35 in writing, cinematography, editing, directing, and producing.
In front of the camera, Sabol was equally identifiable.
During the season, he hosted some of “NFL Films” weekly series, introducing Super Bowl highlight films and other corporate projects that aired frequently on ESPN before NFL Network began in 2003.
According to ESPN’s Chris Berman, NFL Films programming acted as a springboard for the network to begin airing games in 1987.
“For the first 15-20 years, NFL Films allowed us to be the destination for pro football fans,” Berman said.
“That worked hand in hand with our progress because we had the finest in pro football, which was Steve Sabol at NFL Films, and I will always believe that.” If there is one video that exemplifies Sabol’s mindset about filmmaking and NFL Films, it is 1978’s ” Super Sunday with NFL Films,” which depicts the entire process of how the Super Bowl 12 highlight film was produced, from camera location to narratorial.
The segment when Sabol talks about how he acquired cubism from Picasso’s paintings and how he tackles cinematography by looking at objects from multiple perspectives is the most interesting.
Fall Ritual, a 1986 film, following Sabol’s directive to “keep tradition by disrupting tradition” by demonstrating how the NFL interacts with culture and other creative forms.
That may be the only occasion the Reverend Jerry Falwell and musician Ronnie James Dio appear in the same film and have a common interest: football.
Penny Ashman Sabol, Steve Sabol’s wife, remarked, “He never stopped loving football.”
“I think the greatest thing about him, aside from the influence he had on the way we watch football, is how much people loved him.”
“Hard Knocks” became one of Sabol’s proudest achievements because it demonstrated how NFL Films responded to changing circumstances.
Despite the tight deadlines, it could still convey a captivating story.
“Hard Knocks” was previously characterized by Sabol as “creating an airplane in flight.”
“We’re taking off; we have no idea where it’ll go, and we hope we don’t crash.”
But that’s part of what makes it fascinating.” The show debuted in 2001 at the start of reality television, but it was more realistic than “Survivor” because roster positions were on the line.
“You talk about reality shows, but no one is being voted off an island here.”
“Careers are on the line in the world’s most competitive sports league,” Sabol remarked in 2009, after the Cincinnati Bengals were chosen as the featured team.
“Hard Knocks demonstrated, perhaps more than any other program in our history, that we are not a single sort of filmmaking firm.”
We are versatile filmmakers who can work in any style or media.
Rodgers stated, “On any network.”
When the “Hard Knocks” crew films at the hall and sees Sabol’s bust, it will be an emotional trip, but it will also be a celebration for those who continue to work at NFL Films and have been influenced by him.
“Steve’s induction into the Hall of Fame is for all of us who watched and worked on NFL films,” Rodgers said, “because Steve was the creative mind behind what we all fell in love with.”