SBD/February 7, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Get This On Tape: NFL Films Founder Ed Sabol Voted Into Pro Football HOF

Sabol will be inducted into Pro Football HOF alongside seven players in August
NFL Films Founder ED SABOL on Saturday was elected to the Pro Football HOF as a league "contributor," earning his "rightful place" in Canton, according to Ray Buck of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. NFL Films President & CEO STEVE SABOL, Ed's son, "described his father as 'emotional, proud and humbled' when getting the news Saturday." Steve Sabol: "He wasn't expecting it." He added his father's "biggest concern is that he didn't want to replace a player." Sabol: "Something needs to be done to make a separate rail for 'contributor' to get into the Hall of Fame." Ed Sabol will be inducted in August alongside RICHARD DENT, MARSHALL FAULK, CHRIS HANBURGER, the late LES RICHTER, DEION SANDERS and SHANNON SHARPE (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/6). Dallas Morning News reporter RICK GOSSELIN, who is one of the 44 HOF voters, said, "We're charged with putting the seven best candidates in, and Ed Sabol's candidacy was as strong as anybody's in that room." Gosselin: "You look at the impact NFL Films has had in growing the sport and making it as popular as it became. When he started the company back in '62, pro football was the third-biggest sport in the nation, behind baseball and college football. Now it's the favorite sport in America, and the committee realized that a big part of that was Ed Sabol." Sabol becomes the 19th contributor elected to the HOF (Reuben Frank, CSNPHILLY.com, 2/5).

LOT OF DEBATE AROUND SELECTION: In Cleveland, Tony Grossi noted the "longest discussion" among voters debating the candidates was for Sabol, taking up 37 minutes. Grossi: "That wasn't surprising because the debate on Sabol was whether his unique role in advancing the popularity of the NFL outweighed the merits of a deserving player" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/6). In Charlotte, Darin Gantt noted Sabol's candidacy elicited the "most spirited debate" among voters (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/6). SI.com's Jim Trotter, an HOF voter, wrote with an "expanding backlog of players, he faced questions not only about whether he was deserving of selection, but also the larger issue of whether a coach or contributor deserves a spot over a player" (SI.com, 2/6). In Dallas, Gosselin noted Sabol became the "annual wild card in the selection process -- a dark horse who powered his way into the class on the strength of superb Saturday presentation." Redskins Exec VP & GM BRUCE ALLEN said of Sabol, "He's received 100 Emmys, but that's sort of Hollywood. This (honor) says we appreciate what the fans are seeing. ... The phrase I've heard from the selection committee was, 'Can we write the history of the game without mentioning so-and-so?' We can write the history of the NFL without Ed Sabol -- but we sure wouldn't be able to watch it" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/6).

FITTING TRIBUTE: In Philadelphia, Paul Domowitch reports all 140 NFL Films employees who worked Super Bowl XLV yesterday "wore red socks ... in honor of the man who built the company they work for." NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL also wore red socks "to pay tribute" to Sabol. Steve Sabol said, "That was one of my dad's sartorial idiosyncrasies. Even if he was wearing a tuxedo, he'd always wear red socks" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 2/7).
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