Steve Sabol has documented professional football with such distinction that his story cannot be fully told without acknowledging his immense contributions.
During his time at NFL Films, from the founding of the company with his father, Ed, in 1962 until his death from brain cancer in 2012, Sabol’s cinema presented the games as epic, sprawling dramas, with classical music and the voice of John Facenda. storytelling from heaven. It was irresistible to those who loved football, and it could turn football fans into those who didn’t.
Sabol never neglected the humorous side either, as anyone who has ever owned a well-worn VHS tape of “Football Follies” will know. And it wasn’t just the human condition that was at the heart of his films, but the people themselves. Sabol was an engaging, outspoken and trustworthy interviewer.
It’s the last part of that Sabol legacy that’s at the heart of a great new weekly podcast – one with a suitable choice for the host.
“NFL Films: Tales From The Vault” revisits some of Sabol’s most compelling interviews, including behind-the-scenes banter as the host and subject prepare for the interview. The first episode, which premiered on November 17, featured a 2010 interview with then-Eagles coach Andy Reid. This week’s episode is a 1996 visit with Brett Favre. Other upcoming topics include Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, and Howie Long from Charlestown.
The podcast is hosted by Andrea Kremer, who began her successful career as a producer at NFL Films. (Her current gigs include providing analysis on “Thursday Night Football” on Amazon Prime, as a correspondent for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”, co-hosting on CBS Sports Network’s “We Need To Talk” and as the chief correspondent for the NFL Network.)
“I was just sitting here in the middle of my crazy football season, and [NFL] Films are calling, ”she said. “And they had this idea, and they were like, ‘Who else would be appropriate to do this? ” That’s really nice.
“It gives a really good overview of a lot of these guys and what motivated them. And that’s a certain period in someone’s life. This is where my role comes in, which is really to set the scene, add perspective, and juxtapose some of my personal thoughts from my NFL memory banks.
“We struggled with this. You want to be additive, you don’t want to be distracting, but there are some things you need to put in place. The stuff where a listen might go, ‘Oh, yeah, I forgot that.’ “
It’s fair to assume that Kremer’s path to NFL Films and ultimately being honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award is unprecedented. In the early 1980s, she was a law student in New York City – “hated it,” she says – who also danced in a ballet company. She returned to her hometown of Philadelphia and continued ballet there, but also began freelance writing for Pennsylvania’s largest weekly newspaper, the Main Line Chronicle.
“And because I was a dancer, they let me do dance reviews and theatrical views, but they knew I liked the sport,” she said. “So every once in a while they would throw a little bone at me and I could do a sports story. One day [an] the editor comes to me and says, “The sports editor just got fired. Are you interested in the job? But if you are, it’s a 24/7 job. You have to give up ballet. “
She got into the newspaper, she says, turning a four- to six-page weekly newspaper into a separate tabloid called Sports Weekly Magazine. She wrote a football column and cover story, which also included sidebars. One cover story was about the economic impact of a city hosting a Super Bowl.
NFL Films, based in New Jersey, had taken on the task of producing a promotional film to aid Philadelphia in its quest for a Super Bowl. Kremer went to NFL Films to write a sidebar on his role in The Super Bowl Quest, tour the Vault, and interview staff, like producer / director Bob Ryan (no, no our Bob Ryan).
“I have loved football since I was 8, so it was nirvana,” Kremer said. “When it was over Bob walked me to my car and he said, ‘You’re the kind of person we’re always interested in, someone who really knows football and is a good writer. ‘ And I said, ‘Oh, okay. Thank you.’ And I come home and I remember saying that to my mom that night and she said, “Apply now.” “
Kremer applied after the 1984 Olympics ended. The timing was perfect. NFL Films had just started producing rock videos and needed to hire two producers to fill the gaps in the football team. Kremer went for an interview and a written test. His candidacy included a three-page essay on the Pittsburgh Steelers trap game. She got the job a week later, becoming the first female producer / director / screenwriter / editor in NFL Films history.
“And so, three years later, Steve came to me and said, ‘We want to try something different,’” she said. “We want to put you on our national ‘This Is The NFL’ show. ”
Kremer had never been on the air, but Sabol knew what he had and what she could do.
“He told me years later that when they put me on the air, they gave me two years and they knew someone would come for me. And that’s when I accepted the ESPN job, ”she said.
“He put me on TV. He started my career. We have always stayed very close. I was in my twenties. He knew my family, he knew my parents. It’s really rewarding now to play a part in helping people hear it again.
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