Ed Sabol Dead: NFL Films Founder Dies At 98

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Edwin “Ed” Sabol was born on February 9, 1916, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He died Monday at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of 98.

The cause of death was not disclosed by the NFL, who announced Ed Sabol’s death.

Mr. Sabol was an American filmmaker as well as the founder of NFL Films, a Mount Laurel-based company devoted to the production of television programs, feature films, commercials and perhaps most notably, documentaries on the National Football League, in addition to other unrelated events and awards shows. The company was originally founded as Blair Motion Pictures, which was run by his son Steve until his death back in 2012.

Inquisitr reported at the time of Steve Sabol’s death that he had passed away as a result of brain cancer just weeks before his 70th birthday.

Steve, Ed’s son, who was also born in Jersey, co-founded NFL Films with his father. The company is now owned by the NFL and produces most of its videotaped content with the exception of its live game coverage which is handled separately by individual networks.

Ed, who was a star swimmer at Ohio State University, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in 2011 for his work with NFL Films.

Sabol and his son Steve’s slow-motion style of documentary filmmaking with its tight focus on passes, closeups portraying the anxiety on the faces of players and the hard-hitting game seen from the ground level, all lent to the portrayal of the sport in what The Washington Post called a “provocative way.” The report quoted Sunday night NFL telecast’s executive producer at NBC, Fred Gaudelli, as having said during an interview that the late documentary filmmaker had “created this mythology and aura about the game that hooked the whole country.”

“When you talk about the popularity of the NFL, Ed Sabol is one of the seminal figures in the history of the league (…) NFL Films created this mythology and aura about the game that hooked the whole country. They took people who were somewhat faceless and made them larger than life. They could make a three-yard run look like Armaggedon.”

Since the 60s, NFL Films has won over 100 Emmy Awards, which include a lifetime achievement Emmy which the father and son team were awarded back in 2004.

Sabol once told The Associated Press that his son and him “began making the game personal for the fans, like a Hollywood movie,” USA Today reported.

“We began making the game personal for the fans, like a Hollywood movie (…) Violent tackles, the long slow spiral of the ball, following alongside the players as they sidestepped and sprinted down the field. The movie camera was the perfect medium at the time to present the game the way the fans wanted to see it.”

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