HOF Profile: Ed Sabol

The third installment in the Hall of Fame Profiles is moving away from the players and instead goes to the contributor category. Ed Sabol is one of the most important figures in NFL history and he didn’t even start out in football. Imagine watching the NFL with a single camera at the 50 yard line. Imagine watching NFL without any insight into the coaching and player personalities. Imagine NFL with no replay and with no great quotes from great players. Well that is the NFL without Ed Sabol. Before Ed Sabol came into the NFL picture the NFL was a small league with a small following that was behind baseball in terms of popularity in the United States. Then Ed Sabol created Blair Studios and offered double the amount of money to film the 1962 NFL Championship game. From then on the NFL was changed forever as Ed Sabol was on his way to creating NFL Films. With new and innovative ideas Sabol changed the face of the NFL almost single-handedly. Instead of using the one midfield camera Sabol decided to bring cameras to the sideline in order to see the players a little more closely. With this came the chance to see the players up close and see the emotion of the game in the players and in the coaches. Sabol continued to use these cameras until 1964 when he convinced commissioner Rozelle that the NFL should have their own film company and so NFL Films was finally born. Ed Sabol was not out of ideas however as he came up with numerous other innovative ideas. Seeing the intensity on the sidelines gave Sabol the idea to listen in on the players and coaches. This led to the creation of microphones on the sidelines and taped to the players, the coaches, and the referees. This gave birth to some great footage including Hank Stram proving that football guys had a pretty extensive vocabulary when he said “Just Keep Matriculatin’ that ball down the field boys” or the pure intensity of the best coach in football when Vince Lombardi yelled at his players saying “What the hell is going on out there!!!” These quotes were all directly because of Ed Sabol.

Ed Sabol did not end his influence there as his innovations created the instant replay and the multiple angle replay. He also allowed the referees to explain themselves over the loud-speaker by developing the microphones further. Along with these innovations Sabol also gave the NFL a personality by creating highlight reels with popular music over the film and created multiple blooper reels in the NFL Football Follies series. Sabol’s reach did not stop at the NFL either, as every other major league began using more cameras with more angles and started using microphones to get the insight into players and coaches minds. Without Ed Sabol we would not be watching sports the way we do today as nothing is out of view and nothing out of earshot. Granted sports purists believe the cameras and the microphones are a bit too much and sometimes that can be true. I for one would not like to sit down and watch football on a single camera and enjoy the multiple angles and playing referee on the couch. With all of these new innovations the NFL became what it is today, the biggest professional sports league in the world that earns $9 billion a year. NFL Films also gave rise to one of the better 24 hour networks in NFL Network with Football news everyday, all-day. Without Ed Sabol the NFL is not what it is right now and that is why he is very deserving of this enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the Class of 2011.


Ed Sabol, Contributor

– Founder of NFL Films

– Pete Rozelle Award Radio-Television Award (1991)

– Began using multiple cameras for football

– Began putting microphones on coaches and players

– Revolutionized the way we watch Football

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