The Autumn wind is pirate
September 18, 2012 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Filmmaker, football ambassador, part-time poet, creator of a music video genre and NFL films president Steve Sabol has passed away at the age of 69. The winner of 40 Emmys, Sabol made arguably the single biggest impact on the mythology of American football, completely changing the way the sport was covered and photographed.
posted by nathancaswell (33 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by China Grover at 11:18 AM on September 18, 2012


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posted by drezdn at 11:20 AM on September 18, 2012


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posted by Madamina at 11:20 AM on September 18, 2012


He's survived by his father Ed, the founder of NFL Films.

It's a shame that Steve didn't live long enough to join his father in the Hall of Fame.

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posted by inturnaround at 11:29 AM on September 18, 2012


I enjoy watching the NFL films stuff more than watching the actual games.

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posted by cell divide at 11:30 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


For the remainder of the day and in Steve's honor, I'm going to bank around the office cubicles in slooooooow motion, tackling coworkers and narrating my moves in a really deep voice.

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posted by hal9k at 11:37 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


NFL Films: Remembering Steve.

Love watching these films. Steve's film making coupled with John Facenda's "voice of god" made these must watch films for me growing up. My friends and I tried to imitate the slow motion cameras and the voice in our own super 8 films.

Last year's Super Bowl film when he catches Belichick telling his defense to worry about Cruz and Nicks right before Mannigham caught, arguably, one of the greatest Super Bowl catches (and throws) of all time is priceless.


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posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:38 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fortunately, Journey wasn't the only band whose video work was inspired by NFL Films.

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posted by jonp72 at 11:43 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


JohnnyGunn's "Remembering Steve" link is a must watch, especially if you aren't familiar with Sabol's impact on the game.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:46 AM on September 18, 2012


I enjoy watching the NFL films stuff more than watching the actual games.
This+++

Laughably, that NFL Films style has been adopted by NASCAR for one of the race-recap shows on Speed. It's actually sadly-hilarious seeing that great heroic style being turned on sedans sideswiping each other and guys changing tires.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:47 AM on September 18, 2012


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And thank you, Steve (and Ed!) for giving the world something I can bond with my father over.
posted by grubi at 11:52 AM on September 18, 2012


They should bury his ashes in the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field.
posted by eriko at 12:02 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by last night a dj saved my life at 12:28 PM on September 18, 2012


This post did not receive express written permission from the NFL or one of its authorized affiliates.

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posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:30 PM on September 18, 2012


I always loved these lines written by Steve Sabol for his early film "They Call it Pro Football".
It starts with a whistle, and ends with a gun. Sixty minutes of close-in action from kickoff to touchdown. This is pro football. The sport of our time.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:41 PM on September 18, 2012


I think there was implied oral permission on this one.

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posted by Mister_A at 12:42 PM on September 18, 2012


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posted by zix at 12:58 PM on September 18, 2012


when ed made the hall of fame, i was pretty sure his obituary would show up in a matter of months. reading now, it seems like steve's tumor was found a few weeks after the ceremony. life is weird...and is maybe its weirdest as it approaches death.

nfl films and the sabols are one of the best things sports has given us.

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posted by nadawi at 1:08 PM on September 18, 2012


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:09 PM on September 18, 2012


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posted by brain_drain at 1:30 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


NFL films were an amazing thing to me when I was a boy. I looked up to those characters like they were gods. My European friends rarely get this American football thing. I tell them all to go to an NFL game but only if you are not too squeamish about violence. It is really horrifying if you think about it carefully, but no denying it is spectacle. The NFL films play this to the hilt as the focus of attention is only secondly on the god like personalities. The main focus is the barely constrained violence.

A youtube search on nfl films hardest hits pulls this as the top:

Bronco's safeties Atwater and Smith.

"The Broncos defense flattened the Bills like a truck in the wrong lane." It's not bad with the 2D screen in between you and it. Watching any of this live close up would have been pretty creepy.
posted by bukvich at 1:34 PM on September 18, 2012


NFL Films is probably the most famous thing to come out of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. That or the Mount Laurel Doctrine.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:58 PM on September 18, 2012


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I can't hear "What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor" without getting all psyched about a hall-of-fame quarterback rallying his trailing team down the full length of the field for the go-ahead TD.
posted by klarck at 2:23 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by parmanparman at 3:20 PM on September 18, 2012


The main focus is the barely constrained violence.

i disagree with this. yes, in a program specifically about the hardest hits, they focus on the violence. nfl films is so much bigger than that, though. i think that hard knocks is possibly one of the most humanizing programs about football players ever. there's also the old games and the programs about bad weather games and ones that focus on specific players or coaches or the road to the superbowl. nfl films shows the game, all of it - the violence, the competitiveness, the joking, the insults, the relationship between players, the heartbreak, and the elation.

also, even though i think technically it's not nfl films (but i'm pretty sure nfl films does the recording and archiving), soundFX is another great program that focuses on the men and not the violence that is possible because of ed and steve sabol.
posted by nadawi at 3:49 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]



posted by ob1quixote at 3:53 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by AJaffe at 3:54 PM on September 18, 2012


If slow motion footage didn't exist, NFL films would have invented it.

Didn't really like football as a kid in the '70s but sat in front of the TV mesmerized by this, so

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posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 7:29 PM on September 18, 2012


Fun fact: there was a period of time where NFL films shot more 16mm film stock than any other entity on the planet. Lot of love in my heart for the NFL films family right now.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:36 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ray Didinger's reminiscence of Steve Sabol, his friend for 40 years.

nfl films shows the game, all of it - the violence, the competitiveness, the joking, the insults, the relationship between players, the heartbreak, and the elation.

Being able to hear the players as the game is happening was a huge part of why I loved watching NFL Films pieces. Maybe best of all was getting to overhear the conversations between players and coaches and the refs.
posted by gladly at 7:57 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


From that excellent Didinger piece:

When we were putting together a film piece, he insisted we have at least one “backyard moment.” By that he meant a moment that would make a viewer want to go outside and throw the football around. It might be a slow motion shot of Barry Sanders running or a Tom Brady pass spiraling in the crisp autumn air. Something, he said, that stirred those feelings.

And that's the art of film making.
posted by sixpack at 2:05 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


moment of silence to begin every game this weekend. tonight's game had a small video tribute. i totally teared up a little.
posted by nadawi at 5:25 PM on September 20, 2012


NFL Films and the Magic of Seeing Sports, S.T. Van Airsdale, The Awl, 28 September, 2012
Finish strong. Year after year after year. From the NFL's days idling in the long summer shadows of America's Pastime to its slow burn of supremacy to today's messy $9 billion monolith that has altogether swallowed the idea of American pastime as it flirts with illegitimacy, everything about NFL Films and the league its lens made legendary reflects Sabol's half-century of vision and genius and inducements, right up to the morning of September 18, 2012, when Steve Sabol died.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:31 AM on October 1, 2012


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