No Huddle: The Impact of NFL Films

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the NFL Network’s “A Football Life” is an outstanding ground breaking series.  I recently watched one on Steve Sabol of NFL Films.  I have been aware of Mr. Sabol and NFL Films since I fell in love with the Eagles and the NFL in general.  Watching this “A Football Life” episode gave me the idea for this blog.

Steve and his dad Ed Sabol transformed the way we watch and look at the NFL.  They had a knack for bringing out the small details we might overlook.  NFL Films did an outstanding job portraying NFL athletes as “Hero’s.”  They were able to see the man behind the face mask and they brought that feeling into your living room.  There are a few shots that ultimately come to mind that we all have seen but probably didn’t think to much about it.

Willie Brown a defensive back for the Raiders intercepted a ball against the Vikings.  We have all seen this image of number 24 running right into your living room.  The camera still on his face as he goes the distance.  Dick Butkus was captured sitting on the bench, his over coat laying on his shoulder pads.  NFL Films zoomed in on his hands.  His taped up, gnarled bloody fingers and hands became a symbol of NFL toughness.  An Early 90’s NFC Championship game between the Cowboys and 49ers turned into a muddy mess.  During pregame NFL films shot the Cowboys walking through the mud.  It’s a simple camera shot that put the magnitude and feel of the game into perspective.

There are hundreds if not thousands of camera shots we all look back to and say, “wow.”  We as fans all have that one shot we all remember and believe this was the shot where we fell in love with the NFL.  Steve and Ed Sabol took their images and creations and paired them with music.  The music aspect really took off conveying the intense drama that is the NFL.  Sam Spence a music composer did an excellent job creating music for NFL Films.  Between the trumpets, pianos and poems this combination of music and film became a marriage made in heaven.  This marriage changed the NFL forever.  We as fans could now get “into” the game on a more philosophical level.

Brian and I try to incorporate some of these creations into our blog and podcast.  We have an entire library of Sam Spence, NFL Films volumes.  We use these as intros and closings on all of our podcasts.  This music just sets the mood when talking football.  When hearing this music it’s almost impossible not to think Sunday in the Fall.

Steve Sabol tragically passed away in September of 2012 after a battle with brain cancer.  A couple months before he presented his father Ed for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Earlier this year in February of 2015 Ed Sabol also passed away.  Their vision and creations still live on through the work of NFL Films.

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Episode 3 will be available in early July.


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