Stepping aside from footy for a moment.... It sucks getting old. Aside from things hurting more and for longer, hairs getting grayer, (and in some cases translucent - that one was a surprise), it's tough to realize that everyone else is getting older too. In the past year, my community of TV production free lancers here in Texas has been shaken up by cancer - get better soon guys.
Earlier in the week, I got an e-mail from a friend of mine in Costa Rica, and my former boss on a couple of NFL shows I worked on in the 90's. Steve Sabol had passed. For those of you who don't know, Steve Sabol was the son of Ed Sabol, the man who created NFL Films. Under Steve, NFL Films would go on to become the quintessential sports production company. It would be a lie to say the news was surprising, as Steve had announced that he had a form of brain cancer last year. It was still devastating. As someone who works in the sports business, I owe a huge debt to Steve Sabol.
And it's not just because I would soak up all those NFL Films shows that would air at all hours of the night on ESPN when I was in my young and impressionable stage. I got to meet Steve and work for him for one football season. At the time, he was the King of an unbelievably successful and highly acclaimed media empire, and yet, was so down to earth, so centered, so humble, so approachable, so nice. It was a good lesson to learn: You don't have to be a jerk to make all that happen. He liked our show. That meant the world to me. Still does.
Steve influenced the way I write, the way I edit, the way I produce, and the way I try to tell stories. If I can do it one quarter as well as he did, then I would consider that a huge accomplishment.
He loved football, and he loved film making, and it showed in his work. I loved the fact that despite his years of experience being in front of the camera, he was still a ham. Of course, behind the camera, he wasn't too shabby either. And his writing? Underrated, to be sure.
I was thrilled for the Sabol family when Ed was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer. It was long overdue. NFL Films helped propel the NFL to become the most successful professional sports league in the country-- one of the most successful in the world. Forgive me if I shed a few tears when I saw Steve, sans hair because of the chemo, introduce his father to the Canton crowd.
It shouldn't be long before Steve gets a bust in Canton, either.
I leave you with one if Steve's best, from the NFL 1974 - The Championship Chase...
Thanks for indulging. Now back to futbol.