Sabol Files: A Ring for a Red Letter Day

Denver Broncos, Films Encore, Paul Camarata, Sabol Files, Steve Sabol

Two weeks ago during a Broncos practice, our cameras captured a conversation between Denver’s head coach John Fox and his second year wide receiver Eric Decker.  In the season opener, Decker had helped the Broncos to a 23-20 victory over the Raiders with a  90-yard punt return for a touchdown.  Fox’s objective was to compliment his young player’s performance, but also, to turn the chat into a motivational moment.  “Good job last week,” Fox said.  “Just repeat it, week after week after week.  Because then it’s not just a great game, it’s a great season.  The guys who accomplish a lot in this league, that’s what they’re able to do.  Then all of a sudden at the end of it, it’s a great career.”

The message was that longevity and consistency build success:  brick by brick, day by day.  And in the case of our founder Ed Sabol, film by film.

Click on the letter for a larger version

His Hall of Fame enshrinement this year stemmed less from one brilliant production than from his persistent pursuit of quality, which lay at the heart of memos such as the one pictured to the left, written on September 28, 1971.

In much the same way Fox speaks with Decker, Big Ed – head coach to all the young NFL Films-makers – provides clear, honest, genuine feedback composed of both encouragement and constructive criticism.  It’s a reflection of Steve Sabol’s oft-cited definition of what leadership is: the quality that drives someone to make those around him better.  Ed demonstrated that quality when he wrote letters like this, certainly without any consideration of how they might – one day, exactly 40 years later — lead to him receiving a ring signifying his membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  That celebration occurred September 28, 2011 here at 1NFL, the result of Big Ed’s great career, built from so many great performances, repeated “week after week after week.”

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