SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Steve Sabol, the president of NFL Films who, with his father, revolutionized sports television starting in the 1960s, died of a brain tumor at age 69 Tuesday. John Madden was a good friend.
“They were storytellers,” Madden told the KCBS morning crew. “I was one of those guys who always believed the story is the score. It’s who won, who lost, who made the play, who didn’t make the play… He was the creative guy, that there’s a story behind it, you tie it altogether, you do all these things. And as you look at it and you say ‘that’s what it is today,’ and it’s kind of obvious, in those days it wasn’t.”
The Sabols are credited with building the national image of the NFL.
“They were the frosting on the cake,” Madden said. “We didn’t have cable in those days, so you would watch a local game, know your local teams. And then to package the whole NFL, it was done through the Sabols and NFL Films.”
As the Raiders coach, John resisted much of what Sabol wanted to do, such as putting a microphone on the head coach.
“He always wanted me to put a wire on, you know, to wear a wire, and I thought that was the dumbest damn thing I ever heard of,” John said. “He was very, very creative. He was ahead of his time, and conversely, I was way behind my time.” (7:05)
Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM. And catch John’s extra report at 9:15 a.m. Mondays and Fridays during the NFL season.
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