Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, died Tuesday after an 18-month battle with brain cancer. He was 69.
Regarded by NFL fans, players, commentators and executives as a football innovator, Sabol took the reins of the league’s official production company in 1985 from his father, Ed Sabol, who founded the venture.
Under Sabol's guidance, NFL Films was the first production company to wire players and coaches for sound and use ground-level, slow-motion montage editing in sports.
During his three-decade rule at NFL Films, Sabol won more than 40 Emmy awards and oversaw 107 Emmys.
Sabol started his career as a cameraman.
"Steve was the creative genius behind NFL Films' remarkable work," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday in an email to NFL personnel, which was posted on NFL.com. "Steve's passion for football was matched only by his talent and energy. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we looked at football and sports, and a great friend. His legacy is assured.”
After news of Sabol’s death broke, admirers took to Twitter:
“I am greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Sabol,” wrote former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders. “I would like to send my most heartfelt condolences to the Sabol family.”
“He did not play or coach or own a team but few have impacted the NFL like Steve Sabol,” tweeted ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” announcer Mike Tirico. “So sad to lose this legend.”
“The NFL lost one of its most influential figures and the world lost a great man. RIP, Steve Sabol,” wrote NFL analyst Adam Schefter.
“Steve Sabol always refused to name his favorite player of all time: ‘It's like asking me to name my favorite noodle in a spaghetti dinner,’ recalled veteran Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King.
Sabol is survived by his wife, Penny, his son Casey, his sister Blair and his parents Ed and Audrey.
The Sabol family requested that any donations be sent to the Jefferson Foundation for Brain Tumor Research, c/o Lindsey Walker, 925 Chestnut Street, Suite 110, Philadelphia, PA 19107.