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As Sabol passes, the importance of NFL Films

Posted by Darren Urban on September 18, 2012 – 2:43 pm

Long before ESPN and any of the many highlight shows made the NFL a constant in living rooms, there was NFL Films. That’s the first thing that popped into my head today when the news came down that Steve Sabol — the son of the father-son duo that brought NFL Films to existence and prominence — passed away.

NFL Films is still around and doing fantastic work with the league providing those goosebump-raising packages with the cool movie score music and the slow-motion shots. But it’s one of many outlets anymore, and for many younger fans, it’s just part of the televised NFL crowd. I’m old enough to pre-date the internet, to pre-date ESPN, to remember the time when the NFL was growing to be king and NFL Films helped turn a game into something so much more. A run-of-the-mill Sunday matchup between two non-playoff teams could be made to look like a battle for the ages with the right shots, the right music. NFL Films was a mythmaker, much to my and many others’ delight.

Think of all the iconic shots that are iconic because of how NFL Films caught them on tape. Raiders defensive back Willie Brown running back an interception in the Super Bowl. Niners receiver Dwight Clark’s catch against the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC title game. The moves of Sweetness or the acrobatics of Steelers receiver Lynn Swann, my first favorite player thanks to my mom buying me his jersey at a garage sale when I was 9. When you are young watching NFL Films, how are the players not larger than life?

Ed Sabol, who started NFL Films, made the Hall of Fame. His son, such a huge part of the NFL explosion, may get there too. A statement from Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill:

“Steve Sabol’s incredible vision, talent and creative energy shaped the way millions of us enjoy and experience the National Football League.  His loss is a blow to all of us who love football but the passion he brought to the sport lives on in every fan who has been influenced by his amazing work.  The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the Cardinals are with the Sabol family as well as our friends and colleagues at NFL Films.”

From the last few years, here are some NFL Films moments of the Cards:


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