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Sabol's Version of Show and Tell Rates More Than a Game

October 30, 1987|Larry Stewart

When Steve Sabol was growing up in the Philadelphia area in the 1950s, his father, Ed, would film Steve's high school football games with a 16-millimeter camera.

Filming football games grew into more than just an avocation for Ed Sabol when, in 1962, he paid $3,000 for the rights to film that year's National Football League championship game.

Sabol took his 25-minute film and, financed by a cigarette company, toured the country, showing it to various service groups.

Accompanying Sabol were three football stars--Frank Gifford of the New York Giants, former Ram Del Shofner and Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers.

The tour was a success, and NFL Films was born.

At the time, Steve Sabol was playing football at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., and not sure what he wanted to do with his life.

"Playing football and going to movies were the only two things in life I really enjoyed," Sabol said. "So, when my father offered me a job filming football, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do."

Today, Steve Sabol is the president of NFL Films, and his father is chairman of the board.

The company's headquarters is in, of all places, Mount Laurel, N.J. That town of about 17,000 is 30 miles east of Philadelphia.

"People usually think we're located in Los Angeles or New York," Sabol said. "We're definitely off the beaten path for a film maker."

NFL Films, which owns exclusive rights to all NFL footage, has about 150 full-time employees and supplements them with free-lancers to film and edit every NFL game.

The company, known for quality work, has won 35 Emmy Awards, with Steve Sabol getting 9.

NFL Films, which supplies programming for both commercial and cable television, particularly ESPN, is now growing in another direction, as well--the production of home videos.

Sabol came to Los Angeles to promote his latest venture in which he has teamed with HBO Video, a division of HBO, and Sports Illustrated to produce and market a series of "Get the Feeling" home videos.

The first one, "Get the Feeling: Speed," is on the market now, selling for $14.95. It deals with the speed factor in all sports, and is nicely done.

Future videos will deal with power, winning and finesse, Sabol said.

NFL Films learned just how lucrative the home video market can be when it produced "World Champions," the story of the 1985 Chicago Bears. It sold 125,000 copies and grossed $1.6 million.

Since then, videos produced by NFL Films have done well, particularly "Best of Football Follies" and "NFL Crunch Course," which sold 500,000 and 450,000 copies, respectively, grossing $6.3 million and $5.7 million.

Big day: Circle Nov. 21 on your calendar. It's going to be a great day for sports viewing.

CBS will offer Penn State-Notre Dame and Oklahoma-Nebraska in a football doubleheader, beginning at 9 a.m. PST.

ABC, at the same time, will have Michigan-Ohio State and USC-UCLA. Kickoff for the Bruins and Trojans at the Coliseum is set for 12:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, NBC will have four hours of Breeders' Cup coverage, and HBO that night at 7 will show a top-notch fight.

Edwin Rosario will defend his World Boxing Assn. lightweight title against World Boxing Council super-featherweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez at the Las Vegas Hilton.

It will be Rosario's second title defense since taking the WBA belt from Livingstone Bramble in September, 1986.

Chavez, from Culiacan, Mexico, is said to have a record of 52-0 with 45 knockouts. This will be Chavez's first challenge in the lightweight division.

ABC will televise the UCLA-Arizona State game at Tempe, Ariz., Saturday at 12:30 p.m., PST.

Fortunately, ABC will have its first team working this game, which includes announcers Keith Jackson and Bob Griese.

ABC's regional coverage of last Saturday's UCLA-California game was Amateur Hour time. Announcers Cory McPherrin and Lynn Swann were bad enough, but making things worse were the antics of sideline reporter Steve Alvarez.

He does a poor imitation of Al Trautwig, which is especially troublesome since Trautwig's sideline shtick last year didn't work either.

TV-Radio Notes The Rams' game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Anaheim Stadium has been sold out and therefore will be televised. Channel 2 will carry it, starting at 1 p.m. . . . ABC will televise the New York City Marathon Sunday at 10:30 a.m., a delay of three hours. The producer of the telecast is Curt Gowdy Jr., who just finished producing ABC's outstanding World Series coverage. . . . The real iron man at ABC, however, is Al Michaels, who the day after finishing the Series stepped back in to work Monday night's Ram-Cleveland game. Michaels' double duty shows why so many people consider him the best all-around sports announcer in the business. . . . Jim Healy sang Michaels' praises the other night, prefacing his remarks by saying that he isn't swayed by the fact that Michaels, who lives in Brentwood, listens to his KMPC radio show every night. Nah, of course not.

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