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Archive: Lights, Camera, Football

In 1960, Ed Sabol left his job selling overcoats to pursue his true passion: capturing football on film.
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In 1960 Ed Sabol left his job selling coats to pursue his true passion: moviemaking. Two years later Sabol, whose sports-filming experience was limited to the football games of his son, Steve, called Pete Rozelle, the National Football League commissioner, and bid $3,000 for the rights to film the 1962 championship between the Giants and the Packers. Rozelle was flattered. At the time, the league had only 14 teams, and it would be seven years until the championship was dubbed the Super Bowl. The rights to the 1961 match had sold for $1,500. Rozelle accepted the offer. Sabol, with help from Steve, dramatized the game film with theatrical music, voice-overs, multiple angles, and gritty close-ups. Rozelle loved the result. Before long, Sabol persuaded him -- and the team owners -- to help launch NFL Films for marketing purposes. Ed Sabol served as president until 1987, when Steve took over. This year NFL Films, which has 300 employees, built a $45-million, 200,000-square-foot studio. Not bad for a former mom-and-pop -- or actually, son-and-pop -- operation.


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