RIP, Steve Sabol

Steve Sabol died this week at the age of 69 from brain cancer. Steve Sabol and his father, Ed, founded NFL Films and their genius and doggedness turned a basement operation into major sporting enterprise. Anyone who reported on the growth of NFL Films or on the way the company became a national institution concluded that the energy that Steve Sabol brought to the table was an essential element of its success.

Last year, Steve Sabol saw his father, Ed, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at age 96. It was a touching moment for the two of them. However, I am now confronted by the realization that a 97-year old man has to deal with the frailties of aging and with the prospect of burying his son. Ed Sabol will need a lot of strength and support to make it through that.

There have been a lot of eulogies written for Steve Sabol; I shall not try to compete with them. The best one, in my opinion, was written by Ray Didinger currently writing for Didinger is a long-time journalist who covered the NFL; he is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his writings; he also was an Emmy Award winning writer and producer at NFL Films. His eulogy is a tribute to a friend who also happened to be his boss for a while. You can find that eulogy here. The headline entry is “Steve Sabol changed the way we watch football”.

Rest in peace, Steve Sabol – - and may his family find peace and solace too.

There is an AP report out there saying that Vince Young is broke – - already. Evidently, he missed payments on a loan, the creditor got a judgment against Young, and now he is claiming that he was duped into signing up for the loan. Here are some highlights:

    Young is suing his former agent and a financial planner in NC; and in his suit, he contends that they “misappropriated” more than $5.5M of his money.

    Young’s rookie contract made him a guaranteed $26M; his subsequent contract with the Eagles last year paid him far less than that.

    Young is 29 years old and came into the NFL in 2006. During the NFL lockout last year, Young took out a loan for $1.9M from a company called Pro Player Funding. That loan carried an upfront payment of just over $600K in interest and the loan was made at 20% interest.

      [Aside: I am not a banker. However, if this loan was executed during the NFL lockout, that would put the time somewhere between March 2011 and July 2011. Interest rates on personal loans from banks at that time were at most half the interest rate specified here. Let’s just say whoever made the decision to go with a loan from Pro Player Funding may not have been the brightest bulb in the marquee of financial experts.]

    Young allocated portions of his salary from the Eagles last year to go toward paying this loan. Now he is unemployed and in his suit he claims that he did not “knowingly execute” any of the documents pertaining to the loan itself. One might wonder here why he would direct some his salary last year to go to pay a loan he never “knowingly executed”, but that is for a judge to decide now.

Recall when Young was about to be drafted out of the University of Texas, there were reports that he had scored “6” on the Wonderlic Test. That test supposedly measures a person’s aptitude for learning and problem solving. I am not a psychologist but two former colleagues of mine who are psychologists once explained to me that a Wonderlic score of 20 approximated an IQ of 100. A Wonderlic score of 12-14 is what one might expect from an unskilled laborer. Any Wonderlic score below 10 might indicate that the person being tested had serious learning deficiencies and/or serious inabilities to solve problems. Take all of that for what it is worth, but it is difficult to draw a conclusion other than this:

    A Wonderlic score of “6” indicates a not overly bright individual.

Perhaps that is why Vince Young has no money left. Perhaps he was victimized by others. Perhaps he is nothing more than a profligate spendthrift. There are lots of possibilities here.

However, it is clear to me that the one thing Vince Young needs is a job as an NFL QB and he does not have one at the moment. I would say that his prospects for obtaining such a job in the immediate future are not very good. Consider:

    Jeff Fisher tired of his act in Tennessee; and, in 2008, cast the team’s lot with Kerry Collins. Let me be clear; the Kerry Collins of 2008/2009 was not a great QB.

    Andy Reid had Young in Philly for one year in 2011 and in 3 starts, the Eagles went 1-2 while Young threw 4 TDs and 8 INTs.

    Chan Gailey looked at Young during the exhibition season in Buffalo prior to the 2012 season and decided that the Bills did not need his services.

Were I an NFL GM, that is not a résumé that would make me run to the phone to place a call to that player’s agent. Jeff Fisher is a highly respected coach in the league; both Andy Reid and Chan Gailey are “offensively minded” coaches. When that trio has given up on a QB, it might be wise to read the tea leaves and look elsewhere for help at that position.

Bill Russell underwent open-heart surgery to replace a faulty heart valve last month. Russell is recuperating in Seattle and has said that this was a routine procedure and that it was not life threatening. While indeed heart valve replacement procedures have been performed many times, the fact that Russell is 78 years old makes any surgical procedure that opens his thoracic or abdominal cavity a “big deal”. Wishing nothing but a speedy and fully successful recovery for Bill Russell…

Speaking obliquely of surgery, here is an interesting comment from syndicated columnist, Norman Chad:

“Why is it called ‘Tommy John surgery’? Shouldn’t the procedure be identified by the doctor who first performed it, Frank Jobe? After all, the Heimlich maneuver isn’t named after the person who was choking.”

Finally, here is a comment from Conan O’Brien:

“Over the weekend Mitt Romney made an appearance at a NASCAR race in Virginia. There was an awkward moment when he asked a NASCAR driver why he didn’t just hire a chauffeur.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Siggurdsson  On September 20, 2012 at 8:59 am

    The best way for the No-Fun League and Commissar Goddell to celebrate the life of Steve Sabol would be for each network to put one of the older — say circa 1970-1975 NFL Films features — and play one during their pre-game shows for the rest of the season. [Just my two cents...]

    I remember ESPN used to have a couple of shows devoted entirely to NFL Films features of playoff games, etc. I can not to this day remember seeing a bad feature.

    Condolences to the Sabol family.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On September 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm


      Welcome aboard.

      NFL Network shows NFL Films features fairly regularly these days. I believe that NFL Films is owned by the NFL now – - if not, then the NFL has a significant stake in the company – - so I doubt that they would be putting NFL Films shows on the other networks nor do I think the other networks would want to lose the revenues that their pre-game shows generate and all of them get good audiences.

  • Rich  On September 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Why isn’t Tommy John in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On September 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm


      Haven’t heard from you in a while. Retirement must be agreeing with you…

      Perhaps, one of these days, Tommy John will elbow his way into the HoF.

  • Ed  On September 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I understand they wnated to do the surgery on an infielder teammate first, but the Sportwriters Guild of America bribed Jobe to do John before Billy Grabarkewitz

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On September 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm


      And the headline writers at all those newspapers chipped into the fund that was used to pay off Dr. Jobe… ;)

  • Rich  On September 28, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Retirement has been good, Curmudgeon. Been traveling. One trip was to Reno, NV to deliver our son to UNR for freshman year. Took him to see the Reno Aces there, and that is a AAA ballpark I recommend. I am also enjoying the retirement of the NFL replacement refs.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On September 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm


      I have never been to Reno; if I get there, during baseball season, I will try to see the Aces.

      Glad retirement is working for you. Good to hear from you.

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