Stephen Douglas "Steve" Sabol (October 2, 1942 – September 18,
2012) was an American filmmaker. He was the president and one of the
founders of NFL Films, along with his father Ed. He was also a widely
exhibited visual artist.
Sabol was born in
Moorestown, New Jersey
Moorestown, New Jersey and attended Colorado
College, where he played football and was a member of the Kappa Sigma
fraternity. He was the subject of a humorous article about his
self-promotion exploits in the November 22, 1965, issue of Sports
Illustrated. He began working at
NFL Films as a cameraman alongside
Ed Sabol (1916–2015) after graduation. He started in the
filming industry when his father got the rights to the 1962 NFL
Championship Game, played in Yankee Stadium on December 30.
This company eventually grew into NFL Films, with Sabol serving mainly
as a cameraman, editor, and writer in the 1960s and 1970s. When ESPN
was founded 1979, they soon signed
NFL Films as a production company
and Sabol became an on-air personality in the 1980s. He won 35 Emmy
Awards and had a documentary about him air on 60 Minutes. Sabol played
a part in founding the NFL Network.
Sabol was the author of the poem "The Autumn Wind", later adopted by
Oakland Raiders as an unofficial anthem.
1 NFL Films
2 Personal life
3 Death and legacy
5 External links
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As president of the most honored filmmaker in sports, Sabol continued
to be the artistic vision behind the studio that revolutionized the
way America watches football. Sabol and his father, Ed, who was
elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on February 5, 2011, were
honored in 2003 with the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for "revolutionizing the way
America watches football and setting the standard in sports
NFL Films has won over 100 Emmys, Sabol himself has received 35
Emmys for writing, cinematography, editing, directing, and
producing. No one else in all of television has earned as many Emmys
in as many different categories.
Building on the entrepreneurial spirit of his father and founder of
NFL Films, Sabol was named the 2002 Sports Executive of the Year by
Sporting News magazine. Sabol also received the prestigious Pete
Rozelle Award, which is presented each year to someone who has made an
outstanding contribution to the National Football League and to
professional football. He joins a select group of honorees including:
Vince Lombardi, Dan Rooney, Lamar Hunt, Tom Landry, and Don Shula.
In 2007, the Pro Football Hall of Fame honored Sabol with the Dan
Reeves Pioneer Award recognizing his innovative ideas that have
contributed to the game of professional football. Sabol was the
recipient of the 2010 Sports Leadership Award presented to him at the
March of Dimes
March of Dimes 27th Annual Sports Luncheon, which is one of the
highest profile events of the year for the sports and sports media
business in New York.
In March 2011,
NFL Films was recognized with the
Lamar Hunt Award for
Professional Football, which is given in recognition of visionary
leadership that has helped the NFL become the preeminent pro sports
league in America. Sabol and his father, Ed, were inducted into the
Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in November 2011, which was followed
by Sabol's induction into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in
Sabol received the Sports Business Journal's "Champions – Pioneers
& Innovators in Sports Business" award in March 2012 for shaping
the business of sports through his career of distinguished success.
Sabol began his career in 1964 as a cinematographer working for his
father and founder of NFL Films, Ed Sabol. As an All-Rocky Mountain
Conference running back at
Colorado College majoring in art history,
as well as an avid movie fan, Sabol was, as his father put it,
"uniquely qualified to make football movies."
Sabol won over 40
Emmys during his time with
NFL Films and was honored
with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. Sabol took over NFL Films
from his father Ed, who founded the company, and instituted several
groundbreaking ideas in the world of sports television.
NFL Films was
the first company to wire coaches and players for sound as well as the
first to use slow motion and montage editing in sports. The
Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia inducted Sabol into their Hall of
Fame in 1996.
Sabol was married for over a decade to his first wife, Lisa, mother of
his only son, Casey Sabol. After their divorce, Lisa married John
DeBella. Sabol then married his second wife, Penny Sabol.
Death and legacy
On September 18, 2012, Sabol died of brain cancer in Moorestown, New
Jersey, 18 months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor
in March 2011. He died two weeks before his 70th birthday, and a week
after his father's (Ed Sabol) 96th. He was honored before every NFL
game in Week 3 with a video tribute.
The NFL paid tribute to his life and contributions to the league, at a
ceremony on February 12, 2013, in Philadelphia.
^ Jody L. Bailey (Spring 2006). "The Caduceus of Kappa Sigma, Spring
2006" (PDF). kappasigma.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on
October 7, 2008. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
^ Tom C. Brody (November 22, 1965). "Brody, Tom C. "The Fearless Tot
From Possum Trot," ''Sports Illustrated'', November 22, 1965".
Vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
^ Briggs, Jeff. "Steve Sabol, President of NFL Films, Dead at Age 69".
SBNation.com. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
^ RACHEL COHEN (AP Sports Writer). "
NFL Films President Steve Sabol
dies at 69 – Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved September
^ "NFL to honor NFL Films'
Steve Sabol on Sunday". NFL.com. July 31,
2012. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
^ Barron, David (February 12, 2013). "
NFL Films stages a fitting
tribute to Steve Sabol". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved February 14,
Steve Sabol on IMDb
Steve Sabol at Find a Grave
Sports Lifetime Achievement Award
Jim McKay (1989)
Lindsey Nelson (1990)
Curt Gowdy (1991)
Chris Schenkel (1992)
Pat Summerall (1993)
Howard Cosell (1994)
Vin Scully (1995)
Frank Gifford (1996)
Jim Simpson (1997)
Keith Jackson (1998)
Jack Buck (1999)
Dick Enberg (2000)
Herb Granath (2001)
Roone Arledge (2002)
Ed Sabol and
Steve Sabol (2003)
Chet Simmons (2004)
Bud Greenspan (2005)
Don Ohlmeyer (2006)
Frank Chirkinian (2007)
Dick Ebersol (2008)
John Madden (2009)
Al Michaels (2010)
Jack Whitaker (2011)
Not awarded (2012)
Ted Turner (2013)
George Bodenheimer (2014)
Verne Lundquist (2015)
Brent Musburger (2016)