”From the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field”
One really has to hear the voice behind those words in order to put it in context but since we don’t have sound here at E2 you have to imagine a man with a deep baritone and the image of the so called infamous Ice Bowl game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys that decided the NFL Championship back in 1967. The temperature at game time was −15 °F / −26 °C with the wind chill around −48 °F / −44 °C.
Steve Sabol didn’t play or coach in the game, he didn’t announce it from the booth nor did he make any game deciding decisions that would be endlessly debated in the ensuing years. All he did, along with his father Ed Sabol was film it.
I’ve loved football for as long as I can remember and Ed and Steve Sabol are large part of the reason why. They started a small production company back in 1962 that they called NFL Films and the sporting world hasn’t been the same since. They made the filming of sports into an entirely new art form.
These are just a few of their innovations that have been adopted by most other major sports around the world.
They were the first ones to put microphones on the sidelines and on the players so that fans could hear what was going on on the sidelines and on the field.
They were the first to put their highlights of games to music, often classical or humorous to fit the occasion as accompaniment to their films.
They were the first to use ground level cameras so that viewers could get a better view of the violence and beauty that went on during any given game.
They were the first to make use of the slow motion filming technique and instant replay when it came to sports so that fans could better appreciate the athleticism of those actually playing the game.
Steve Sabol eventually took over the head of NFL Films in 1985 when his father retired and things haven’t been the same since. You could say that he and his father introduced the games to an entire generation of new fans who might not have watched them without their innovations.
For his efforts in his endeavors Steve Sabol has personally won 35 Emmy Awards. To date, no one in television history has won more. His categories included writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing. To top it off, his company, NFL Films has won over 100 and from the looks of it is bound to win a bunch more as the NFL becomes more and more popular with the viewing public.
The sporting world is a little sadder today. Steve Sabol died yesterday at the age of 69 from inoperable brain cancer. Sports fans from across the globe, especially those of the NFL owe him a debt of gratitude.
Note: The voice I described early on in this w/u belonged to one John Facenda. It was commonly known to those who watched NFL Films in their early days as "The Voice of God".