Ed Sabol from the NFL movies

Ed Sabol’s vision for NFL movies has a huge impact on professional football

Ed Sabol became the nineteenth contributor to be elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 2011.

The courage gained when Sabol, then a 46-year-old family man, took the risk and walked away from comfortable living as a coat salesman to form Blair Productions in 1962.

He went out on a long limb and doubled the offer that the NFL accepted in 1961 to film the 1962 NFL Championship game. Sure, the $3,000 offer caught the attention of NFL Commissioner Pete Rosell, but that doesn’t mean that Sabol and his production company They will get the job immediately.

Rozelle summoned Sabol to the league office to see if he was legit.

NFL Films founder Ed Sabol.

Sabol promised to double the number of cameras used in the field from four to eight. He also planned to use various forms of slow motion photography. Finally, he undertook to use color film, which at that time was rather modern and was definitely more expensive.

Two days later, Sabol received a telegram from Rozelle stating “Congratulations…”

In 1964, two years after successfully filming the NFL games, Sabol convinced the NFL and its 14 team owners that the league should own its own motion picture company in order to promote and capture the game’s historical values.

The league bought Sabol’s Blair Motion Pictures and renamed it NFL Films, with Ed serving as president.

A camera used by Ed Sabol from NFL Films

Not only has this changed the professional football landscape, but it has also changed the way people view all sports.

Sabol filmed football using three camera methods he called “trees”, “moles” and “weasels”.

Tree had a fixed camera high on the 50-yard line.

Mole had a field-mounted camera for shooting close-ups of faces, hands, and tight spiraling footballs.

The weasel also carried a portable camera but scoured the field, on all levels, looking for anything unique.

FILE- In this August 6, 2011 file photo, Ed Sabol touches a bust of himself after he was unveiled during the induction ceremony at the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  Sabol, the founder of NFL Films who revolutionized sports broadcasting and transformed professional football from an up-and-coming sport into a must-have theater, died Monday, February 9, 2015, the league said.  He was 98 years old.  (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

Once the three film rolls were released together, NFL Films created a style of their own.

“NFL movies have had a real impact on the way movies are made, especially the montage, lots of different visuals, photo on top, using slow motion combined with live action, and powerful sound effects. It’s so powerful,” said Academy Award winning director Ron Howard. You compare that to the amazing music, and it creates a really emotional experience for the viewer. They made us even better fans because they let us appreciate that. You start to see the amazing athletic ability of the players. It blows me away.”

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