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Saturday, July 24, 2021

NFL Films creative force Steve Sabol inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

This year’s “Hard Knox” series with the Dallas Cowboys will mark one of their teams in a Hall of Fame game for the first time. That’s fitting because the series’ creator was installed in Hall earlier this year.

“Hard Knox”, which debuted 20 years ago, is one of Steve Sabol’s many legacies in NFL Films that continues to this day. Sabol, who was 69 at the time of his death from brain cancer in 2012, is one of three contributors to Hall’s 2020 Centennial Class, which honors 20 former players, coaches and contributors across all ages for the first 100 years of the NFL .

“I guess it’s no coincidence that this is the year ‘Hard Knox’ will be in the Hall of Fame. I think Steve is still watching over us,” said Ken Rodgers of NFL Films, “Hard Knox.” Senior Coordinating Producer said.

Sabol is joined by his father Ed, who were founded in Canton in 2011 as the third father/son duo. They are joined by Tim and Wellington Mara, owner of the New York Giants, and Art and Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sabol was recognized by Hall in April and will be included in the induction festival on August 7-8.

Sabols never played or coached in the National Football League. But you can’t tell the history of the league without the role of NFL Films, making it the juggernaut it is today.

While Ed Sabol persuaded Pete Rozelle in 1964 that the league needed his own film company to promote and document the game, it was Steve Sabol who was the creative force at NFL Films. He made the game and players larger-than-life by using cinematography, slow motion replays, orchestral music, and microphones on players and coaches.

Rodgers stated that when Ed Sabol was inducted, Steve saw that the entire existence of the NFL Films, including his career, was being recognized. But for Rodgers and those who grew up watching NFL films, the inclusion of Steve Sabol makes things perfect.

“It’s a two-headed monster. Anyone who built the company would have just created a company that couldn’t have done anything without Steve’s creative talent next to him,” he said. “If they weren’t together, then The NFL would not have been where it is today.

“The commercial decision to create NFL Films and move the league into the television space largely created sports television. But then the creative genre also invented what sports television creatively is today.”

Sabol went to Colorado College, where he was an all-Rocky Mountain Conference running back, and majored in art history. He began working at NFL Films in 1964 as a cinematographer and became president before his death.

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