The Genius of Steve Sabol

On a missed understanding of the game of football
Share |
Steve Sabol, co-founder of NFL Films

Photo courtesy of Black and Right

“The autumn wind is a Raider.” What the hell does that even mean, anyway? Regardless, that line ran through my head in a continuous loop all day on Tuesday after I heard the news of Steve Sabol’s passing. “The autumn wind is a Raider.” Somewhere, deep inside, I know what that means even if I cannot verbalize it. That’s ultimately what made Sabol, the late head of NFL Films, a genius—the ability to reach us in places we didn’t know we had; the ability to make us feel rather than think; the ability to, in a game replete with punishing and concussing hits, touch us ever so lightly but oh so deeply.

The genius of Steve Sabol is that he made Americans passionately care about something they never showed much interest in caring about at all. It may seem heretical to speak of the NFL this way today, but before Ed Sabol and his son Steve arrived on the scene in the early 1960s, pro football was something to occupy the periphery of our attention between the end of the World Series and the start of Spring Training. The Sabols (mainly Steve, the artiste of the family) took a game that was at once too fast and too slow for the American populace and recalibrated it. Through their films (which is how most of us recall the seminal moments of the game, rather than through the actual broadcasts), they removed the tedium of the endless huddles and replaced them with non-stop action, augmented with booming soundtrack and drama-laden narration. At the same time, they slowed the action itself down to half-speed to present for the first time the hidden game of pro football—one full of grimacing giants, precision blocking, beauty and grace. While the networks presented the game much as it was viewed from the stands, with stationary cameras perched high above the frustratingly intermittent “action,” the Sabols understood that people at home wanted something different, something better, something much more intimate. Largely as a result of their genius, the NFL became a multi-billion dollar industry.

For those who question the power and influence of Steve Sabol: Watch the replays, in their entirety, of the network broadcasts of the legendary moments memorialized within his films, which are now increasingly available on the NFL Network. Watch CBS’s coverage of the 1975 Cowboys–Vikings playoff game—the “Hail Mary” game, for example. In Sabol’s reimagining of the game, Roger Staubach’s pass to Drew Pearson was epic, the pinnacle of a game slowly building to its dramatic, last-second climax. On CBS, it was something else altogether – a second-down pass with 32 seconds left, still time enough for Dallas to maneuver down the field had the pass not connected. Even after it did, the Vikings got the ball again with 24 seconds left and three timeouts—long enough to change the outcome. On CBS the game was interesting; through NFL Films it became legendary. Watch NBC’s coverage of Super Bowl III—one of the most boring games you’ll ever force yourself to sit through. After Sabol got through with it, however, the half-hour film of that Jets–Colts game is miraculously full of the storylines and drama we recall the game as having. Watch almost any game on network TV up through the 1980s, and then compare it to Sabol’s recreation of it after the fact and ask yourself if pro football would be where it is today without him.

Where the game is today, however, is most likely not where it will be twenty years or perhaps even a decade from now. The game is in the initial stages of decline. Despite the technological advances in broadcasting, or perhaps because of them, storytellers like Sabol are losing ground to the ugly reality show that is the NFL in the 21st century. The welter of microphones and cameras now embedded in virtually all live NFL telecasts (in an ironic twist, all innovations credited to Sabol) record the game at its worst with harrowing regularity. . The crush of bodies, twisting of limbs, the sick pop of helmet-to-helmet hits are all there in HD and in Dolby 7:1 surround sound every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, and. Add in the tragic postscripts written by former players such as Junior Seau, Andre Waters and Dave Duerson, and a national participatory decline in youth football, the decreasing television ratings (slow but steady), and the increase in available seats in several NFL stadiums begin to make perfect sense.

In a way, the NFL is today where boxing was in the 1970s. Who would have thought, with stars such as Ali, Frazier, Foreman and Leonard on the scene, that only a few decades hence boxing would exist solely on the fringes of big-time sports? Alas, as boxing’s storytellers died out—the journalists who gave the sport its context and emotional heft—boxing, at least as a major spectator sport, died along with them. Today, absent the mythmaking bards and existing only in real time on outlets such as HBO, boxing alternatively bores and horrifies the sporting public. Itself increasingly a real-time only sport as well, the NFL is headed toward the same fate.

In fact, all that really preserves the NFL from boxing’s eventual fate is gambling. Despite waning interest by casual fans, the sport nevertheless is a gambler’s paradise. Which is one reason why the referee lockout so troubles the league (although not enough, apparently, to compel it to sit down with the NFL Referee Association and resolve it). Whenever the NFL talks of the “integrity” of the game, know what it is referring to: its ability to present a game to the public that can be reliably wagered upon, whether through the point spreads set in Vegas or through the multitude of fantasy leagues that likewise produce millions upon millions in revenue in various ways. Blown calls by inexperienced refs threaten the confidence in the game as a wagering tool. And once the gamblers go, the NFL’s “bubble” will pop, exposing the truly sorry state of the game that has hidden inside of it for many years. And then the NFL will join boxing on the periphery. It is no longer a question of if but merely when.

Steve Sabol was one of the last remaining wedges against the inevitable.  He presented the game as we wished it to be, rather than how it was, giving us the poetry we yearned for rather than the brutal honesty we preferred not to acknowledge. Now that the poet, the storyteller, is gone, so are the poetry and the story. All the NFL has left is the truth, laid bare before the American public in real time. When it comes to professional football, that may not be something the American public wants to confront.

Share |


Much obliged for setting aside an ideal opportunity to examine this, I feel emphatically about it and affection adapting more on this subject. Consumer Law

If it's not too much trouble proceed with this incredible work and I anticipate a greater amount of your wonderful blog entries. healthypair

I think this is a really good article. You make this information interesting and engaging. You give readers a lot to think about and I appreciate that kind of writing. resbalar y caer

Somebody Sometimes with visits your web journal consistently and prescribed it I would say to peruse also. The method for composing is phenomenal furthermore the substance is first rate. A debt of gratitude is in order for that understanding you give the perusers! domino qq

Much thanks to you for some other enlightening site. The spot else might just I understand that sort of data written in such an immaculate system? I have an endeavor that I am basically now running on, and I've been at the look out for such data. Cinema Box for Android

Much obliged for sharing the data, keep doing awesome... I truly delighted in investigating your site. great asset... support

Driver Easy has Free version and Paid version. You can use the Free version to download new drivers, but you are required to use the downloaded driver files to install the drivers manually step by step. And the download speed is limited. epson printer drivers

This is an awesome motivating article.I am practically satisfied with your great work.You put truly extremely accommodating data. Keep it up. Continue blogging. Hoping to perusing your next post. Mikrowelle unterbaufähig

This is a savvy blog. I would not joke about this. You have such a great amount of learning about this issue, thus much enthusiasm. You additionally know how to make individuals rally behind it, clearly from the reactions. Immigration Law

The term applies to the depiction of the act in place of the act itself, and so does not consist of stay exhibitions like sex indicates and striptease..

Truly an extraordinary expansion. I have perused this brilliant post. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing data about it. I truly like that. Much obliged so parcel for your assemble. voyance amour

A debt of gratitude is in order for the decent blog. It was extremely helpful for me. I'm cheerful I discovered this site. Much obliged to you for offering to us,I too dependably discover some new information from your post. labrador retriever vs golden retriever

back to peruse a greater amount of your helpful data. A debt of gratitude is in order for the post. I'll absolutely rebound.
Language of Desire Review cartomancie gratuite

Im inspired with the exceptional and instructive contents that you provide in such short timing. fly fishing charlestonsc

As a search engine optimization troupe devoted to moral seo services, all our strategies are journalist hat. We deal our byplay relationships critically and purpose to provide lasting size.. Cheapest SEO Pricing

I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy. Drayage Savannah port

I concede, I have not been on this site page in quite a while... be that as it may it was another delight to see It is such a vital subject and overlooked by such a variety of, even experts. experts. I thank you to help making individuals more mindful of conceivable issues.

in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nepal, Kenya, Madagascar and territories such as Antarctica, ecotourism represents a significant portion of the gross domestic product and economic activity. eco-travel

The content on your website never confuses me barre classes

A debt of gratitude is in order for setting aside an ideal opportunity to examine this, I feel emphatically about it and affection adapting more on this theme. On the off chance that conceivable, as you pick up skill, would you psyche overhauling your online journal with more data? It is to a great degree supportive for me. tube rank jeet 3

Much appreciated you all that much to share these connections. Will look at this.. cccam server

A debt of gratitude is in order for your understanding for your phenomenal posting. I'm happy I have set aside an ideal opportunity to see t fat diminisher system review

press release app
Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

Moreover, this Domino QQ offers frequent bonuses and easy to win jackpots to the players as well. The players can make deposits even while travelling and place bets then and there. Adu Q

i was simply skimming along and happened upon your web journal. simply needed to say great online journal and this article truly helped me. Instagram Follower kaufen

Everybody; disabled and abled alike deserve to love and be loved. Love keeps the world moving but for the disabled, finding true love or a compatible single to build a long-term relationship with can be real pain in the neck. However, that is about to change geschlossene fonds

picture editor
Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic. This has really made me think and I hope to read more.

Nha cai Thethaoqq188 Nha Cai Ca Cuoc The Thao Bong Da Truc Tuyen Uy Tin tu tin la nha cai uy tin hang dau hien nay voi nhieu tro choi hap dan. Chi tiet xem them tai geschlossene fonds

Windows 10 has had a variety of issues with drivers not being ready for the launch or updated even after. While some worked when Windows 10 was in the Technical Preview, others failed upon Windows 10 going RTM. sites

To access a copy of Big Picture Loans Privacy Notice, please click here: Privacy Disclosure. Any unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or disclosure is prohibited without Big Picture Loans’ express written consent. fast cash loans

the Sabols understood that people at home wanted something different, something better, something much more intimate. Largely as a result of their genius, the NFL became a multi-billion dollar industry.
philipiak garnki

different, something better, something much more intimate. Largely as a result of their genius, the NFL became a multi-billion dollar industry.minecraft gratuit |
free psn codes

National Coordinator for Eco-Schools Bridget Ringdahl says that at least 1 300 schools have volunteered to be part of the programme nationwide. see it here

National Coordinator for Eco-Schools Bridget Ringdahl says that at least 1 300 schools have volunteered to be part of the programme nationwide. see it here

If the tourists are going to e-book for the loose on foot excursion for go to numerous essential visitor attractions of the la town, everybody is likewise encouraged reserving for the food strolling excursion at the net. walking tour downtown los angeles

That means careful research and selectiveness regarding professional skills, artistic style and personal demeanor are extra important when choosing your photographer. wedding videography

Intriguing subject for a website. I have been looking the Internet for the sake of entertainment and happened upon your site. Marvelous post. Much obliged a ton for sharing your insight! It is extraordinary to see that a few individuals still invest an exertion into dealing with their sites. I'll make sure to inquire again genuine soon. Dirty Questions to Ask a Guy

But there’s enough grounded emotion coupled with modest intent that it doesn’t sour the experience. love rosie

movie with words and things that the actors will say and do. Then a producer hires people to work on the movie and gets all of the money that will be needed to pay for the actors and the equipment. Producers usually get the money by borrowing it from a bank or by getting investors to lend money to the movie production. tv

There has been combative civil argument inside the processing group concerning web bundles changing nearby projects for parcels capacities, especially on cell contraptions comprising of astute telephones and cases. download product key generators

These kinds of birthday cake pictures stir imaginations of Indians and cowboys plays. The birthday party venue is going to be filled with echoes of whoops and hi-hoooo.

I have as of late begun a website, the data you give on this webpage has helped me extraordinarily. Much obliged for the greater part of your time and work. review wizard system review

I can see that you are a specialist at your field! I am propelling a site soon, and your data will be exceptionally helpful for me.. A debt of gratitude is in order for all your help and wishing all of you the accomplishment in your business. review wizard review

The quality aspect is that they do not depart the list up for too lengthy, so it shouldn't get too saturated. in addition they send out all their new lists to their modern-day subscribers, as well as different search engine optimization freebies that help my sites in the search engines like google and yahoo, so it is worth keeping an eye fixed in your electronic mail. best seo package

I have perused your online journal it is exceptionally useful for me. I need to express profound gratitude to you. I have bookmark your site for future redesigns.
Trust Flow

Initial You got a awesome blog .I determination be involved in plus uniform minutes. i view you got truly very functional matters , i determination be always checking your blog blesss. program

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. sunway lagoon price

This is very useful, although it will be important to help simply click that web page link: harga pakej umrah murah

Beaver says I also have such interest, you can read my profile here: linen rental long island

The French have always been highly acclaimed for their robust wines, rich foods, and pioneering culinary techniques. For centuries, French people’s unique methods of food preparation has set them apart from any other country on the planet. The sous vide cooking method is no exception when it comes to setting the benchmark high for exceptional culinary standards far and wide. Best Sous Vide Brands