Ed Sabol, 98, who is credited with helping to bring professional football to unprecedented heights of popularity through his NFL Films, died Monday at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., reports the Los Angeles Times.
Sabol took a gamble on his idea for NFL Films in the early 1960s in the hopes of escaping his job as a sales rep, the story notes.
“He contacted NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, offering to double the previous bid of $1,500 for the rights to film the 1962 championship game, which turned out to be between Allie Sherman’s New York Giants and Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in Yankee Stadium,” the Times reports. “Rozelle went for the deal and Sabol, whose previous experience consisted of making home movies of his family — son Steve playing peewee and high school football was a frequent star — suddenly had to come up with a production company. Sabol called Steve home from Colorado College and father and son quickly formed Blair Motion Pictures, named after Sabol’s daughter, and hired a film crew.”
The two Sabol’s pioneered the use of multiple cameras, color film, closeup shots, slow-motion and lively background music — including the familiar theme music many viewers know as “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor,” which became the trademark soundtrack behind much of the action footage.
During Ed Sabol’s tenure running NFL Films the company took home 52 Emmys, the Times says,
Steve Sabol died in 2012, two weeks before his 70th birthday, after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.
We watched a wonderful movie this morning about Ed Sabol and NFL Films that we found here on YouTube, that runs about 45 minutes.