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Volume 21 No. 2
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Sabol’s vision will endure

The NFL is the product that it is today because, when we think of a great play, we remember not only what we saw, but what we heard — the collision of helmets and pads, the grunts, the screams of a coach from the sideline.

Steve Sabol, the creative force behind NFL Films, saw pro football as none had seen it before. His vision — a football spiraling slowly into a receiver’s hands, set to a musical score, and at times even a poem — became America’s vision of what would become its most popular sport. His work chronicled the game with both drama and humor.

Sabol died on Sept. 18 in Moorestown, N.J. He was 69.

Sabol’s death came 18 months after he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Though frustrated by symptoms that sometimes made it difficult to converse, he continued to work, overseeing films created by the producers, directors and editors who he hired and mentored.

When we named him to our Champions class of 2012 in March, he consented to two days of interviews, which he sat through with courage, grace and good humor. He wanted to talk about his company, and especially its people. And they wanted to talk about him.

Sabol spoke of their talent, their dedication and their loyalty. They spoke of his creativity, his spirit and his leadership. All spoke of their bond.

Steve Sabol was NFL Films. As long as it remains, so shall he.