Late NFL Films president Sabol honored at Kimmel Center

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Late NFL Films president Sabol honored at Kimmel Center
February 13, 2013, 10:15 am
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Sports Movie Night

You can join Ray Didinger of and Glen Macnow of WIP for a sports movies night at the Eagles Nova Care Complex tonight with the proceeds going to charity.

Didinger and Macnow will host an evening that features classic scenes from some of the best sports movies of all-time, including Rocky, Hoosiers, The Natural, Million Dollar Baby and others. Didinger and Macnow, who authored "The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies" will share little-known details about the making of these films and also answer questions from the audience.

Tickets cost $50 and each person who attends will receive a gift copy of "The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies," a $20 value. Didinger and Macnow will sign each book.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the program starts at 6:30. It will be held in the auditorium at the NovaCare Complex. Light snacks will be provided following the program in the Eagles' cafeteria.

Money raised will benefit the Eagles Youth Partnership and City Year Greater Philadelphia. It will help fund the Eagles Eye Mobile and Eagles Book Mobile as well as other EYP outreach programs. The event is part of the Eagles Radiothon, an annual event on WIP Sportsradio.

Tickets can be obtained by contacting the Eagles Youth Partnership or WIP.


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, team owners including the Eagles' Jeff Lurie and many former players were among those who came to the Kimmel Center Tuesday to honor Steve Sabol, the late president of NFL Films.
“We consider Steve Sabol the greatest ambassador the game will ever know,” said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “He is the greatest historian and storyteller there will ever be.”
It was a splendid tribute entitled “Steve Sabol: The Guts and Glory of Football,” and it combined all the elements of NFL Films: the memorable images, the soaring music and the words of the man whose creative genius turned pro football into modern mythology.
The program included famous footage from the NFL Films vault – The Immaculate Reception, Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary pass, the Miracle of the Meadowlands – and framed it with interviews in which Sabol talked about his love for the sport and passion for filmmaking.
“I always strive for those moments when you give people goose bumps,” Sabol said in one interview. “I’d rather make people feel than think.”
Sabol died in September after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was 69 years old.
On Tuesday, Sabol was eulogized by Goodell, NFL Films COO Howard Katz, former Kansas City Chiefs president Carl Peterson and NFL Films senior producer Bob Ryan, who was one of the company’s original employees.
Ryan said Sabol’s mission as a filmmaker echoed a lyric from the Rolling Stones song Start Me Up: “I’ll take you places you’ve never, never seen.”
That was what Sabol did for generations of football fans, Ryan said. He took them inside the game with his cameras and his microphones. He allowed them to hear the collisions, hear the strategy and feel the emotion.
Kraft said watching NFL Films was one of the things that hooked him on the game and ultimately led to him purchasing the Patriots.
“NFL Films Presents on UHF TV in Boston became appointment viewing for me,” Kraft said. “Steve Sabol helped fuel my love for the game.”
It is a well-known story, how Sabol’s father Ed started the company 50 years ago in Philadelphia. He had only six employees, including Steve, who left Colorado College to become one of the first cameramen. Today NFL Films is the most honored sports filmmaker in the world with more than 100 Emmy Awards. Ed Sabol was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
The story was beautifully told in Tuesday’s program, which filled the Verizon Hall. It opened with a montage of Sabol family photos including some which showed Steve as a youngster playing football for the Little Quakers. There was a 90-piece orchestra on stage playing the familiar NFL Films music composed by Sam Spence, Tom Hedden and Dave Robidoux.
The films shown included many poignant moments but there was humor, too. There were amusing outtakes from various interviews including one in which Sabol lost his train of thought as he talked football with NBC News anchor Tim Russert, a Buffalo Bills fan.
“Does this ever happen to you?” Sabol asked as he shuffled through his notes.
“No,” Russert replied dryly.
In another clip, Sabol was interviewing 49ers defensive end Charles Haley who said: “I’m honored that Steven Spielberg came all this way to interview me.”
The most touching part of the program was a reading of excerpts from letters sent to Sabol after he became ill. Thousands of people reached out with messages of support. They told stories of how NFL Films had inspired them and, in some cases, changed their lives. It was a powerful tribute that spoke volumes about Sabol’s legacy.
“Steve once told me that art is love accomplished,” said Peterson who was one of Sabol’s closest friends. “Steve was an artist and television was his canvas. He became the face of NFL football.”
The program concluded with the orchestra, conducted by Cristian Macelaru, playing Sabol’s favorite NFL Films composition, “A Hero Remembered” while on the screen there were shots of his office in Mt. Laurel, N.J. On his desk there was a card that read: “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”
“If ever there was an original,” said former Eagles general manager Jim Murray, “it was Steve Sabol.”

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