As the face of NFL Films, Steve Sabol helped bring the art and beauty of pro football into the living rooms of millions better than anyone. He helped build football into the media juggernaut it is today. The sport truly lost a legend when he passed away in September. His absence is felt now more than ever as NFL Films prepares for their first Super Bowl without him.
It was Sabol’s love for both film and the NFL that molded NFL Films into the style that football fans have come to love: the slow-motion footage, the epic soundtrack, the seamless melding of game sound and player chatter. No one did it better. Unsurprisingly, no one is now copied more, even at the company he helped build.
Ross Ketover, senior coordinating producer for NFL Films, explains:
“The pressure is on to keep the legacy going this year. What Steve did was, he taught us all so well and put us in such a position that I think we can make him proud. In everything we do, we say, ‘What would Steve think about this?’
“Steve always said, ‘A great run deserves to be seen from the top first. Let’s make sure we see that run before we cut it up too quickly.’ I think every producer here thinks about that multiple times in every show, in every piece they’re editing. ‘What would he think about that?’ That feeling permeates the company every day. That’s Steve’s legacy. His legacy lives on with every film we make.”
Even in death, Sabol’s influence continues. Here’s hoping it never stops.
Take a moment to watch this special CBS News report as we remember the man and his company on his sport’s biggest day.