Steve Sabol was pretty much the greatest guy at the NFL.

AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer

 

Because he had the eye of an artist, the soul of a philosopher, and the fearlessness that comes with being the best at what you do. Oh yeah, he was wicked funny too.

At NFL Owners meetings, he was the one who refused to rehearse, refused to use PowerPoint, and always said he would only perform when it was time to perform — with the owners in the room. And then, he always wowed them.

He wasn’t exactly Mr Digital, at least not back in the late 1990s, but he tolerated our early NFL.COM experiments.  We produced video that looked like amateur night in Dixie, compared to what he did, but he helped us define what kind of clips and replay made sense on a low-bandwidth, low resolution screen.

My favorite moment?  At my last NFL Owners meeting — Miami?? Phoenix?? — he did his presentation and then had to introduce the next speaker.  He introduced me as “Dr Annie.”  Now, that REALLY confused the owners.  For five years,nobody at the NFL knew that I had a PhD from, gulp, Princeton, until then, other than my dear pal Tola Murphy-Baran, who called me Dr. Annie in private.  Steve thought this was really funny, and actually, it was.

I wish he had made me one of those fabulous dioramas with found objects that he loved to create.

I know more about brain tumors than I would like to know.  Too terrible that another wonderful life has been claimed.

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