Bird's Eye View: Sabol changed the way we watched football
By Ted Bird
Published Monday, August 8, 2011 7:01PM EDT
The most influential inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011 never played a down in the NFL, but even the players agree he changed the way we watch the game.
Ed Sabol is not a household name, but his membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at age 94 is a well-deserved and long overdue accolade.
Through the company he founded and with the help of his son, Steve, Sabol has been the primary chronicler of America's most popular sport for nearly half a century.
Sabol was an overcoat salesmen when he bought the rights to film the 1962 NFL championship game.
It was a $3,000 investment that he would parlay into an empire called NFL Films.
Employing simple but relatively untapped filming and editing techniques, NFL Films gave fans an entirely new and revealing perspective.
Marrying the visuals to music, getting permission to mike up players and coaches, and assigning narration to John Facenda's basso profondo doomsday delivery or the rich baritone of Harry Kalas had a spectacular combined effect.
NFL Films routinely produces material that's everything an epic Hollywood movie should be: entertaining, provocative, mesmerizing and larger than life.
Ed Sabol not only gave us unprecedented access into the world of pro football - he did it with breathtaking artistry that provided the NFL with a revolutionary marketing tool, and would eventually launch a new genre of film-making.
This Week In Baseball and HBO's 24/7 have used the same formula to powerful effect, but NFL Films was the original and remains the industry standard.