It has often been said that much of the NFL's incredible popularity can be traced back to the majestic images of NFL Films, which was founded by Ed Sabol.
Sabol died on Monday at age 98, the NFL announced. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and for good reason.
Sabol's history with the NFL began in 1962 when he bid $5,000 to produce that season's championship game highlight film. Sabol was running the Blair Motion Picture Company, and his bid doubled the previous season's price. After a couple years shooting the NFL, Sabol convinced NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle the league needed its own motion picture company. With that, the NFL Films empire was born. In 1985 he turned over the presidency of NFL Films over to his son Steve, who passed away in 2012. Ed Sabol continued as the chairman of NFL Films until he retired in 1995. According to Sabol's Hall of Fame biography, NFL Films won 52 Emmy awards during his tenure.
The Sabols' vision for NFL Films, producing slow motion films from the sideline angle with dramatic music playing in the background, was revolutionary. It made the growing league seem larger than life, and helped build it into the most popular sports league in American history.
"He was the best, he and Steve both," said NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell, who was hired by Ed Sabol in 1979. "They were totally genuine people. Genuine as you could ever meet. That's the way they dealt with everybody."
Sabol served in World War II, and after that was an overcoat salesman. He wanted to make films instead of selling overcoats. Sabol was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
"I dreamed the impossible dream, and I'm living it right this minute," Sabol said during his induction speech.
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