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.