RIP Steve Sabol, My Favourite High School Teacher

“I was raised on TV,” says Jeff Winger to the elderly black woman in the cafeteria, whom he tells he’s been raised to believe is a wise listener who can dole out one-line bits of long-lasting advice. And, with that, the first season of Community has begun.

If you’ve ever read this site and are now returning, you are one of a few things: an overweight Internet troll with too much time, a couch potato, a former athlete, or a fashion student trying to tap into the psyche of a somehow-employed 25 year old quasi-journalist with two degrees, neither one of which will do him any good or use.

Well, it would help you to know, I wasn’t raised by the Cosby Family, or even by Steve Urkel, or by Dennis Miller rants on Saturday Night Live. I was raised by NFL Films. I was raised by Steve Sabol – although I never really knew his name or paid enough attention to at the age of 13 – and the voice of John Facenda.

Sabol taught me about Gale Sayers. He differentiated Robert Smith from every other semi-incredible running back, and told me just exactly why Randy Moss was so electric.

Steve Sabol is the reason I wanted to get into film, or into journalism. Or, film and journalism. TV, they call it, but I watched him on the Internet, and that’s who I’m writing to you now. Some kids grow up on Jaws and want to become Spielberg. I grew up on lines like, “The Autumn Wind is a Raider,” which Sabol himself wrote.

I would stall my cereal and my carpool because I was crouched on my floor, pretending to cram for a test when I was really watching the story of Joe Namath and the 1969 Super Bowl, or Vince Lombardi’s tactical wizardry.

For me and – I will assume, as dangerous as that is – so many others like me, NFL Films and those programs like it (whether it’s E:60 or even Red Bull’s YouTube channel) were a creative stimulant. They were inspiring. They still are.

That was Steve Sabol. And, that is why he will be sorely missed.