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Oct. 2 Will Be 'Steve Sabol Day,' Senators Proclaim

The NFL Films founder, a former Moorestown resident, died last fall.

Sens. Diane Allen and Dawn Marie Addiego (both R-Burlington) will introduce a resolution Feb. 4 to honor the late Steve Sabol, naming Oct. 2 as "Steve Sabol Day."

Sabol, a former Moorestown resident, was the president and co-founder of Mount Laurel-based NFL Films. He died in September 2012 after an 18-month battle with brain cancer.

Roger Goddell, the NFL commissioner, called the move "a great honor."

“Steve Sabol was a creative genius who changed the way we look at football and sports,” Goodell said. “This is a great honor that I know Steve would proudly share with all of his colleagues at NFL Films headquarters in Mount Laurel.”

Allen said Sabol's filmmaking documented the "intellect, emotion and humanity" of football.

Addiego said Sabol's "ingenuity, artistic brilliance and endless commitment to creating history are celebrated across the country and around the world.”

She called him a "pride of Burlington County." 

Draft text of the resolution is as follows:

A Joint Resolution designating October 2 of each year as “Steve Sabol Day”

Whereas, Stephen Douglas Sabol was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1942; and

Whereas, In 1962, Ed Sabol, Steve’s father, convinced the Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), Pete Rozelle, to accept his low bid for the job to film the 1962 NFL championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants; and

Whereas, Immediately after being awarded the contract by the NFL to film the 1962 championship game, Ed Sabol called Steve, 19 at the time, and said, “All you’ve done all your life is play football and go to the movies.  You ought to be able to make some contribution”; and

Whereas, In 1965, after three years of selling the NFL films of its own games, the NFL agreed to purchase the company, which would be run independently by Ed Sabol and his son, Steve, who would be named co-founder of NFL Films; and

Whereas, According to Ed Sabol, Steve was the creative power behind the innovative filming and narration techniques which would become hallmarks of NFL Films for decades to come; and

Whereas, Steve Sabol understood that there existed a certain art and beauty amid the violence of professional football, and believed that, through his films, he had the ability to convey that beauty to the American people; and

Whereas, Steve Sabol integrated a hand-held camera on the sidelines to capture intense close-ups, invented the idea of playing classical music during highlights, wrote scripts to be read as narration during the films; and

Whereas, In his film review of the Raiders’ 1974 season, Steve Sabol included a poem now known to generations of football fans, read by the legendary narrator of NFL Films John Facenda, who declared in a bold, booming voice that, “The autumn wind is a Raider, pillaging just for fun. He’ll knock you around and upside down and laugh when he’s conquered and won”; and

Whereas, Perhaps most importantly, Steve Sabol convinced players and coaches to wear microphones during games, eternally capturing in their glory legendary figures such as Vince Lombardi, Hank Stram, Al Davis, and John Madden, as well as more modern stars from Bill Parcells, John Elway, and Reggie White, to Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick; and

Whereas, Under Steve Sabol’s direction, NFL Films has also become the definitive historical archive for American football films, with its film vault storing more than 100 million feet of game film, including Thomas Edison’s film of the 1894 college football game between Rutgers and Princeton; and

Whereas, The success NFL Films has had in the sports industry is unparalleled, with the company winning a total of 107 Sports Emmys, with Steve Sabol being personally cited on more than one-third of the awards; and

Whereas, Steve Sabol is the only person in television to win Emmys for writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing; and

Whereas, NFL Films has had its headquarters in New Jersey for decades and is currently located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey; and

Whereas, Steve Sabol passed away in Moorestown, New Jersey, on September 18, 2012 after a long, courageous battle with brain cancer; and

Whereas, It has been said that while Ed Sabol may have created NFL Films, Steve Sabol defined what it became: the finest cinematic reflection of a sport in absolute totality, consciously designed to amplify an intellectual viewing experience through emotional means; and

Whereas, In honor of a great New Jerseyan, it is fitting and appropriate that the Legislature and Governor commemorate Steve Sabol’s ingenuity, artistic brilliance, and his endless commitment to providing the public with unprecedented access to the most popular sport in the country; now, therefore,

            Be It Resolved by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

            1.  October 2nd of each year is designated “Steve Sabol Day” to honor the widespread impact that New Jerseyan Steve Sabol and his company, NFL Films, has had on generations of American football fans and aspiring filmmakers.

            2.  The Governor is requested to annually issue a proclamation and call upon public officials, private organizations, and all citizens and residents of this State to observe October 2nd with appropriate events and activities.

            3.  This joint resolution shall take effect immediately.

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