Rich Cohen has a fine piece in the Atlantic on the late Steve Sabol and his father, Ed:
We live in a bourgeois society, where works of art—those that attract a large audience, anyway—teach you how to consume, or else make the process of consumption more pleasurable. Ed and Steve Sabol taught the average fan how to consume football: where to look, what to notice, when to exult. They revealed the game inside the game, the story beneath the story. In doing so, they helped football achieve its paramount position in American culture. Football is among the last entertainments that still draw a mass audience. Everyone is watching, or in the vicinity of someone who is.
I loved Steve Sabol and what he and his father did with the silly little idea to film NFL games. For the pre-ESPN generation, “This Week In Pro Football”, which was made from the films (not video tape) taken by the Sabols, was really the only way you could see extensive highlights of other teams, and it was only on once a week. You had Pat Summerall and Tom Brooksheier introducing clips voiced by the incomparable John Facenda, and the way the game was presented was solely the result of the work the Sabols did. And the way they filmed the sport, and presented the highlights, essentially defined the way the NFL (and, to some extent, all the other sports) is presented on TV today. Sabol made the game accessible, interesting, and dramatic. We won something like 30 Emmys for his work, and he was truly an innovator. A sad loss of an iconic figure.