From there, Ed, who originally called his company Blair Motion Pictures after his daughter, used his substantial salesmanship skills (he sold overcoats before becoming a media mogul) to persuade NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and the league's owners to fund his company and change the name to NFL Films.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, the man who gives the Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based company its true grit and personality is Steve Sabol, who took over Films when his father, Ed, retired in 1990, at age 73. He's the creative director and holds the title of president, but more than that, he's the passionate field general behind NFL Films.

A former all-conference running back for Colorado College, the younger Sabol has been infatuated with the sport since he first put on a uniform at age 10. "Not much else mattered," he says. "Really, it didn't. I never even had a bar mitzvah because Hebrew school conflicted with football practice."

Steve began his reign at Films as a lead writer, but his gregarious nature and ease on camera led to his current stint as the host of NFL Films Presents, the longest-running syndicated sports series on TV. But that groundbreaking show is only part of the more than 400 hours of original programming the company broadcasts each year.

"People think the access we get is mandated by the league," Sabol has said. "It isn't. It's all based on trust and the relationship I have with the coaches and the owners."

While some film companies might take offense to being called a propaganda organ for the league, NFL Films embraces it like Emmitt Smith taking a handoff. After all, when you can afford to build a $45 million, 200,000-square-foot studio - complete with your own symphony hall - there are worse things in the world.