Steve Sabol a hero of many hometowns

Sabol
Sabol
Posted: September 19, 2012

STEVE SABOL took everything seriously except himself. He was a character, but not a buffoon. He was colorful, but respectful.

Sabol was magna cum laude at the Haverford School when his life took an odd turn. He was rejected by Harvard and went to tiny Colorado College, where his zest for life flourished.

In a 1982 interview with Daily News columnist Tom Cushman, Sabol talked about some of the pranks he was able to pull. Usually, he was his own target. Remember, this was the early 1960s, so some of this stuff wouldn't fly today.

Sabol was a fullback languishing on the bench when he had the idea to change his hometown from Haverford to Coal Town, Pa. "They'd never had a player from one of the tough Pennsylvania towns," he reasoned. "Once [the coaches] noticed, I moved up two notches on the depth chart."

He doubled as the editor of the game programs, so the switch wasn't difficult. It was so easy, in fact, he changed it from Coal Town to Possum Trot, Miss., because he had the idea to include a picture of himself as an 8-year-old wearing a Haverford School uniform. Alongside the photo was the message: "The Possum Trot Chamber of Commerce Wishes 'Sudden Death Sabol' a Successful Football Season."

The hockey program the subsequent winter included a congratulatory note, "The Possum Trot Chamber of Commerce Congratulates 'Sudden Death Sabol' on a Fabulous Football Season."

"Most people, including our coaches, took it in the spirit in which it was intended: for laughs," Sabol recalled. "I don't think I could get away with something like that today. Sports have become too serious."

Slasher film

Shortly after the 1983 Super Bowl, Sabol was asked how NFL Films was going to produce an exciting film off the Raiders' 38-9 romp of the Redskins.

"It was the NFL's answer to the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre,' " he said. "[So] it will be our first splatter movie."


Contact Ed Barkowitz at barkowe@phillynews.com.

 

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