Larrivee: Sabol, Packers partnership played major roles in NFL Films' prominence
GREEN BAY - The connection between the recently-passed president of NFL Films, Steve Sabol, and the Green Bay Packers became a critical piece of the rise of what may be the premier film storytelling company in the genre.
"Steve Sabol was the guy who took (his father) Ed Sabol's vision and took it to the next level, and the NFL with it," said Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Voice of the Packers, Wayne Larrivee, on "Wisconsin's Morning News." "It's one of the great flimmaking companies of the world, NFL Films."
Steve passed away after a battle with brain cancer. He was 69 years old.
The first game the Sabols ever filmed was the 1962 Packers-Giants NFL title game. It involved comparatively rudimentary film technology with marching band music and the voice of former Giants announcer Chris Schenkel.
Four seasons later, NFL Films chronicled the Packers' Super Bowl I triumph over Kansas City. The next season, they gave what would now be considered a reality-TV presentation of Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers as they went on a journey to an unsurpassed third consecutive NFL championship.
"Vince Lombardi recognized right away that Ed Sabol and his son Steve were the guys he wanted personally on his Packers highlight films of the 60's," explained Larrivee.
"Lombardi was intricately involved in those. They had great access at the Ice Bowl. Great access to Lombardi's cocktail party at his home after the Ice Bowl."
NFL Flims crews even rode in Lombardi's car, filmed him in practice, meetings, even lifting weights at the Lambeau Field practice facility.
45 seasons later, the Sabol's storytelling vision has become one of the standards for the sports media industry, and Larrivee got his own first-hand reality TV-like look from NFL Films.
"They did a piece on me last year, a five-minute piece for one of their shows. Their attention to detail...they (spare) no expense to get exactly the story that they need to tell. They sent a crew of five to six people out. We were in Chicago, playing the Bears that day. They spent the whole day, from the morning to the end of the game, filming for what would be a small piece in a show. That's the kind of detail that they were able to do."
They also placed a camera inside Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Packers Radio Network booth at Super Bowl XLV when the Packers upended Pittsburgh in February 2011.
"The story they tell with the Super Bowl games, it is phenomenal. You almost want to see the NFL Films version of it before you watch the TV replay. That's a testament to them."