Growing up watching football, the rough and tumble game as a child was merged with a cinematic flair due to NFL Films co-founder Steve Sabol who passed away today at age 69 due to an 18-month struggle with brain cancer.
Sabol, who along with his father Ed, took how we saw football and changed it. The performances by players seemed almost poetic and like a ballet when Steve and his father were filming and editing the footage.
You could see the ball, almost hung in time, rotating and spiraling effortlessly in slow motion through the air before watching it crash into the hands of a player. The receiver’s gloves would ripple with impact looking like someone dropped a stone in a pond.
The footage that he produced was almost mesmerizing in it’s beauty of a harsh, physical game. Yet it also was eye-opening because of the behind the scenes view that audience got to experience.
Steve Sabol came up with the idea to do something revolutionary which was wire players and coaches with tiny microphones to capture the true emotions of a game as well as shed light on what they were thinking during it.
The running joke on many highlights showed players walking up to others asking if they were “miked up” or telling other players with a sheepish, almost proud grin, “Hey…I’m miked up!”
Since it’s inception in 1962, NFL Films has won over 100 Emmys with Steve personally winning 40 for writing, cinematography, editing, directing, and producing.
He was diagnosed in March of 2011 with a brain tumor that was inoperable but continued to fight the condition until his passing was announced late this morning.