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The late Steve Sabol played a big part in putting NFL on map

September 18, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • Longtime NFL Films President Steve Sabol died Tuesday at 69.
Longtime NFL Films President Steve Sabol died Tuesday at 69. (NFL Films )

When people think about the big stars that turned the National Football League into America's No. 1 sport, the names that are usually mentioned  include legendary quarterbacks Joe Namath, John Elway and Tom Brady.

Steve Sabol also belongs on that list. The longtime president of NFL Films who died Tuesday at the age of 69 after a battle with brain cancer, was with his father Ed a chronicler of the league's history for four decades. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Sabol a "creative genius whose legacy will be part of the NFL forever."

Many of the production techniques that Sabol innovated included reverse-angle replays, super-slow-motion and attaching microphones to players to wear during games. Before there was an ESPN or NFL Network, fans turned to NFL Films for highlights and history and were riveted by how Sabol turned a gritty game into high art.

"He thought like a Hollywood storyteller," said NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen during the channel's coverage of Sabol's passing. Sabol won more than 40 Emmy Awards for his work on NFL Films.

Asked what the role of NFL Films was, Sabol said the goal was "to give a creative treatment to reality."

For more on Sabol's life and influence, please see The Times' obituary on him.

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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