When I was a kid the best part of Saturday was watching the Highlights Reel from NFL Films.
If you were around 30 years ago you might recall Charlotte once had an Athletic Club, called the CAC for short. The Club is gone but the memories are still fresh.
Well a good number of Saturday's were spent at a Father and Son lunch which the club ran a 16mm film of the prior Sunday's games. NFL Films even back in the day was the Warren Miller of football. Miller shot and narrated snow skiing films may have started the voice over narration and slow motion film style but NFL Films took it to new extremes.
By many accounts the company founded by Ed Sabol and today run by his son Steve is a story of amazing success. Sabol was a clothing salesman whose only film experience was shooting 8mm silent movies of his 14 year old son's football games when he won the rights to film the 1962 NLF Championship Game.
On August 6, 2011, Ed Sabol was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame as a major contributor to the National Football League.
Back prior to VHS NFL Films cameramen had the best angles and film gave a crisper view of the key plays of the week. It was HiDef compared to what came across the television during the game in the 80's. The closeups, slow mo and tight on the spiral, a reference to the frequently-used slow-motion shot of the spinning football as well as the full impact audio gave an amazing perspective to the past weekend's games.
But it was the narration that made NFL Films a success. The late Harry Kalas and Scott Graham, both voices of the Philadelphia Phillies, and the famous John Facenda, the late WCAU-TV anchor called by some "The Voice of God" brought drama to each play.
In addition to the great narration voices, NFL Films also dubed sound bites of local radio broadcasts over key plays, because radio announcers were typically more enthusiastic about their home teams than are network television broadcasters.
Today NFL Films paints an amazing canvas of football's epic battles.
But I miss those father and son lunches of long ago.
Cedar Bonus: Steve Sabol interviews Steve Smith