Notes & Quotes: Ed Sabol

Notes & Quotes: Ed Sabol

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Ed Sabol is the 19th contributor to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Sabol is also a charter member of the Sports Television Hall of Fame.

Sabol filmed football using three camera methods he called “Trees,” “Moles,” and “Weasels.” The Tree had a fixed camera high on the 50-yard line. The Mole had a handheld camera at field level for shooting close ups of faces, hands, and tight-spiraling footballs. The Weasel also carried a handheld camera but roamed through the stadium, at all levels, looking for anything unique. Once the three rolls of film were edited together NFL Films had a style all its own.

In 1964, Sabol convinced the NFL and its 14 team owners that the league should own its own motion picture company for promotion and historical values of the game. The NFL purchased Sabol’s Blair Motion Pictures and renamed it NFL Films, where Ed would serve as the President.

There are many NFL Films firsts that occurred under Ed Sabol's leadership. Some include:

>1965: First to place a microphone on a player and coach during an NFL regular season game
>1966: First to use graphics to explain football strategy
>1967: First season of "NFL Films Presents" — now television's longest running sports series
>1968: First to produce a sports blooper film
>1969: First to use a 600mm lens for an NFL game
>1971: First to use reverse-angle replay
>1995: First live-action sports movie shot in Cinemascope, the critically acclaimed "100 Yard Universe," shown exclusively at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

NFL Films won its first Emmy in 1978 for "Road to the Super Bowl." NFL Films won a total of 52 Emmy Awards during Sabol’s tenure from 1964-1995.

Sabol won the Pete Rozelle Radio and Television Award in 1991. The award is presented annually for “long and exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.



"My dad has a great expression. He always says, 'Tell me a fact and I'll learn, tell me the truth and I believe, but tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.' Interestingly enough now, my dad's story is going to be in Canton and hopefully that will live forever, too." - Steve Sabol

Well, he didn't know what he wanted to do until he was 48 years old. His message is there are paths to be blazed and dreams to be pursued, no matter what age you are." - Steve Sabol

“NFL Films had a real impact on the way movies get made, particularly montages, lots of different images, images on top of images, using slow-motion combined with the live action, the hard-hitting sound effects, it's very powerful. You juxtapose that with the incredible music and it creates a really emotional experience for the viewer. They made us better fans because they allowed us to appreciate it. You do begin to see the awesome athletic ability of the players. It blows me away. - Ron Howard, film director, who won an Academy Award for "A Beautiful Mind."

“He was the first bigger-than-life person I’d ever met. He’s one of the true giants of the industry.” - Bob Ryan, one of Sabol’s five original employees

“He already had some kind of game plan for me within the first 45 seconds that I met him. He was this visceral ball of energy, when he saw something he wanted, he didn’t spend hours wringing his hands about it.” - Phil Tuckett, former NFL Films producer

"I'm very proud. This is quite a thing. I'm especially proud of the people that I worked with; great people who worked so hard and so well. This is for them." - Ed Sabol

"To me, it's so much of a story with my dad. As a son, he was my father, my role model, my best friend, my boss, the best man at my wedding. He's an incredible man. The fact that my dad was a finalist, all the e-mails and twitters he's been getting, he had to buy an iPad just to answer all the tweets and everything else. We were talking and he said to me, what a great week this has been. It's like a referendum for all the work that we've done over the last 50 years. You say it's indescribable and can't put it into words. But when I think of my dad, his whole life is a message to people who don't know what they want to do with their lives. Well, he didn't know what he wanted to do until he was 48 years old. His message is there are paths to be blazed and dreams to be pursued, no matter what age you are." - Steve Sabol

“The rule became “shoot everything,” including the crowd and the coaches and the referees. We were after angles and sideline shots. We want to show players without helmets, so we could show their raw expressions and the sweat and blood. Slow-motion film? It was more expensive, but so what? It gave us the dramatic effect we wanted.” - Ed Sabol

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