For football fans, there were few people more important to the collective memory of the sport than NFL Films founder Ed Sabol.
Sabol passed away Monday at the age of 98, leaving behind a memorable legacy that included numerous innovations that took the game from the field into homes around America. For decades it was Sabol who implemented much of what put fans in the middle of huddles and changed the way we watched not only sports highlights, but how we remember football history.
From giving microphones to coaches, players and referees to adding music to footage, Sabol managed to create new ways to make what we saw on the field all the more memorable. He helped make football feel like a movie, and with microphones on coaches and players on the field, the athletes and coaches became players on the stage. Most times, those movies were dramas: game-changing plays and games with emotions and energy laid out bare on the field. And sometimes they were comedies, with bloopers showing the light-hearted side that sometimes can be hard to see.
In 31 years under Ed Sabol's direction at NFL Films, they won 52 Emmy Awards. Sabol was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011 as a contributor to the game.