Ed Sabol, founder of NFL Films, has earned election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after tonight's vote on the Class of 2011. And he well deserves it.
NFL Films released a statement via Twitter.
NFL FILMS FOUNDER ED SABOL ELECTED TO THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME - Congratulations Big Ed, for today being named a member of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2011. Nearly fifty years ago you began a celebration of America's Game that each day we are honored to continue. From all the "Keepers of the Flame" that you ignited with your passion for football and storytelling, thanks for your leadership and vision in creating a place where football lives forever.
As the founder of NFL Films, it was Sabol's vision that helped the NFL establish a brand for the sport of football and exalt the NFL's version of football above all others. Sabol first founded Blair Motion Pictures in 1962, and filmed the NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers that year; he would turn Blair Motion Pictures into NFL Films in 1964, and secured an exclusive deal to produce films about the NFL.
Sabol was the subject of a 1967 Sports Illustrated profile, titled "C. B. Demille Of The Pros," and described some of his films in glowing terms:
A special installment was the Green Bay Packers film. It opened with one full minute of trench warfare from World War I. Brutal, straight-on, carefully and massively prepared grind-'em-into-the-mud violence. For those fans who go all goose-pimply watching the San Francisco 49ers' Dave Parks catch a pass and then get flipped on his head, Sabol in another film gave them scrambled Parks in rapid-fire sequence. Parks catches the ball and gets hit. Another catch and he's hit again. And again. All this to the roll of kettle drums. Or Gale Sayers, who makes those breathtaking runs for the Chicago Bears a couple of times each game. In the Sabol film on runners, Sayers zigs and zags for six minutes to the coolest kind of jazz. If there is a problem with the Sabol format, it is that his shows might be too good, better than the game itself. Even the National Football League is capable of turning out an occasional stinker, sloppily played, lopsided, dull. Call Sabol sloppy, even lopsided, but not dull. He has never been dull.
Sabol won an astonishing 91 Emmys in his career, and retired from NFL Films in 1995. His son, Steve, is the current president of NFL Films.
Ed Sabol also managed to pack a lot of life into his years prior to becoming the NFL's chronicler. He set world records as a swimmer in high school, and declined a selection to the 1936 U.S. Olympic Team because of the Games' connection to Nazi Germany. He also acted on Broadway, and served in World War II.