NFL Films President Steve Sabol (1942-2012): 5 Top Ways He Was An Innovator, Visionary, Storyteller

2. Hard Knocks Probably the most critically acclaimed contemporary production from NFL Films and the Sabols would be HBO's Hard Knocks series, where unparalleled access to one NFL team every preseason generates at least one signature moment. (In 2012, it was new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin taking over a minute and a half to fire Chad Johnson, a deed that should have taken all of 15 seconds.) Through Hard Knocks, fans came to understand the sometimes uncomfortable "business" side of the NFL and training camp.

Oh, also, Rex Ryan...

1. Annual team highlight videos
NFL Films would famously produce a highlight film for each team after every season, regardless of how great or poorly the team did. The videos were best known for glossing over or out and out ignoring any negative events that the team experienced during the season. So miraculously, in their Sabol-produced video, the Texans actually went 2-0 in 2005. Come to think of it, of all the noteworthy accomplishments belonging to Steve Sabol, his greatest feat may have been squeezing 30 minutes of highlights out of that Texans team. Incredible.

So, NFL fan, you may not know it, but a big piece of your football-watching soul passed away today. The grandparent who, perhaps unbeknownst to you, was the one telling you your football bedtime stories is no longer with us. We leave you now with The Autumn Wind, the unofficial anthem of the Oakland Raiders, written by Steve Sabol and blending everything that makes NFL Films great -- heroes, villains, football, heart-pumping music and the voice of John Facenda.

Rest in peace, Steve Sabol.

The Autumn wind is a pirate
Blustering in from sea
With a rollicking song he sweeps along
Swaggering boisterously.
His face is weatherbeaten
He wears a hooded sash
With a silver hat about his head
And a bristling black mustache
He growls as he storms the country
A villain big and bold
And the trees all shake and quiver and quake
As he robs them of their gold.
The Autumn wind is a Raider
Pillaging just for fun
He'll knock you 'round and upside down
And laugh when he's conquered and won.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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16 comments
kojacksdad
kojacksdad

@SeanCablinasian Mike is a Greek.

mikeag96
mikeag96

@SeanCablinasian Sean you nailed it. I LIVED for Fantastic Finishes an still have an old taped compilation of them ESPN played one time!

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

@SeanCablinasian Dug your Sabol piece. He was a bigger part of the NFL than people imagine.

BroncosItaly
BroncosItaly

@SeanCablinasian Alcoa fantastic finishes, always a staple of NBC's AFC package during the 80s

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

As good as the Alcoa thing was, I wish they'd bring back IBM's "You make the call."

manxlucky
manxlucky

Every game a clash of titans; every snap an existential moment.  RIP Steve Sabol

russellwing
russellwing

@SeanCablinasian Great post! Damn I miss Alcoa fantastic finishes (and IBM's You Make the Call too).

IrishMik
IrishMik

@SeanCablinasian @HoustonPress 65 toss power trap!!!!

SeanCablinasian
SeanCablinasian

@mikeag96 Those were a staple of my childhood football watching days, Mike. Great stuff.

SeanCablinasian
SeanCablinasian

@CraigHlavaty Thanks man. 2nd behind Rozelle in historical influence. I firmly believe that.

ctemple75
ctemple75

@SeanCablinasian Moreso than Halas?

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

@SeanCablinasian It's the guys that pull the strings that make the NFL work, not just the players. I wish people saw that.

SeanCablinasian
SeanCablinasian

@CraigHlavaty Compared it to the Sopranos and David Chase today. W/ no David Chase there is no Tony, no Paulie, no Chrissy.

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