Very few of the artifacts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame's collection can point specifically to the inspiration of a Pro Football Hall of Famer's career. That is exactly what arrived, however, at the Hall of Fame on Monday morning when a package from NFL Films was delivered. In it contained the 16mm Bell & Howell camera that Class of 2011 Enshrinee received as a gift when he married his wife Audrey in 1941.
Use of this camera soon changed the direction of Sabol's life as film photography quickly became one of his passions. Then with the birth of his son Steve in 1942, he began filming everything the young boy did, from his first haircut, to his first pony ride, and eventually his first football game. Sabol's film techniques soon grew a reputation with area schools and he learned that his film services had the potential to be a business. The rest, as they say, is history.
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In 1962 he made a bold move to turn his film hobby into a profession when he created Blair Motion Pictures (named after his daughter). Later that year he doubled the bid for the rights to the NFL's Championship Game between the New York Giants
and Green Bay Packers
when he offered to pay $3,000 for the opportunity. The end product was titled "Pro Football's Longest Day" and received rave reviews. Sabol and his production company won a subsequent bid to film the 1963 and '64 NFL championships. A copy of the telegram informing Sabol that he was awarded those rights was also sent the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 1964 Sabol convinced the NFL that it needed its own motion picture company that would help promote and preserve the history of the game. The league agreed and with that, NFL Films was born. Under Sabol's guidance NFL Films won 52 Emmys and revolutionized the manner in which sports are presented on camera.
"It is very rare for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to obtain an artifact that can point to a first or beginning in a Hall of Famer's career. As such we are extremely proud to have received such a unique artifact," commented Jason Aikens, the Hall of Fame's Collections Curator. "I can think of no better way to portray the accomplishments of and the genesis of NFL Films than by exhibiting this camera for all of our visitors to enjoy."
Sabol's camera will be placed in a special exhibit devoted to the Class of 2011 inside the Hall's Moments, Memories & Mementos Gallery
The camera is the second memento that Sabol has sent to Canton since his election in February. His "trademarked" red socks were shipped to the Hall of Fame in March. See story>>>
Sabol, and the rest of the Class of 2011 – Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Deion Sanders, and Shannon Sharpe – will be formally enshrined into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. ET. Individual enshrinement tickets and a variety of fan packages are still available.
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