Steve Sabol, one of the preeminent sports documentarians of all time, and the president of NFL Films, has died at age 69 after a battle with brain cancer.
Sabol, who spent the last 50 years of his life working for the NFL, pioneered a slew of storytelling techniques that have become commonplace on sports programming around the world. “Super slow motion, wireless mics on players, reverse angle replays, follies films, and custom composed musical scores. All that’s standard stuff today, but before NFL Films it was unheard of,” The NFL writes in its official obituary for Sabol.
“Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement. “Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”
The recipient of a slew of awards and accolades over his career, Sabol received 35 Emmy Awards, running the gamut from writing and directing to producing and editing.
Sabol was the son of Ed Sabol, another video pioneer, who with his son helped found NFL Films in 1962. Steve Sabol presented his father as the elder Sabol was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.