Mind of Sabol: Coaches

Baltimore Colts, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Featured, Looking Back, Miami Dolphins, Mind of Sabol, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Nick Calabrese, Sabol, Steve Sabol

By Nick Calabrese

Starting in the 1960s, Steve Sabol established a habit of writing his thoughts down on 3″x 5″ index cards. His thoughts could include anything from poetry, commentary on coaches or players, even thoughts on entire seasons and teams. He also kept newspaper clippings and taped them to a card when he found them interesting. It’s rare that you get to experience the thoughts of such a great creative mind while they were still simmering, still being mulled over. The producers here at NFL Films use these cards as inspiration for the stories they tell and so Steve Sabol’s writing lives on in their work.

In the Mind of Sabol series, we’ll be taking a look at some of these cards. Here are Steve Sabol’s thoughts on some of the most influential coaches in the game.

Don Shula

“Don Shula’s career fits the classic pattern. He excelled early; he drilled himself in the fundamentals to the point where he could see the untried potentials more clearly; he accepted the disappointment of his own physical limitations – and realized, as a consequence, that he could still come out on top in the competition by motivating other souls to see & do what he knew could be done. That’s what it’s all about.” – Steve Sabol


“George Halas is silent & invisible but so is pride, courage, and the will to win. It wouldn’t be fair to call him the last of his kind, because the game has never seen anyone remotely like him.” – Steve Sabol

George Halas

“Plenty of franchises have great players but never become great teams. The difference comes down to coaching — not just tactics and strategy but attitude, habit of mind. Under Bill Parcells, 45, a confident, generous, plain-speaking, tough tough man who is not afraid to kiss his quarterback. The Giants have found an identity. The identity is Parcells.” – Steve Sabol

Bill Parcells

“They called Paul Brown cold and calculating. It was mostly writers in rival New York when Brown was coaching Cleveland. A bloodless machine, they said. There was some truth in the old labels, if a brilliant planner is calculating and a courteous, gracious reserved personality is cold.” – Steve Sabol

NFL Hall of Famers

Paul Brown

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