CANTON, Ohio -- Ed Sabol officially entered a place that, for the longest time, he never felt he belonged Saturday night.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The 94-year-old founder of NFL Films became just the 19th "contributor" to enter the Hall. Fittingly, Ed’s presenter Saturday was his son Steve, the creative visionary of Films and the company’s president since 1986.
"I dreamt the dream. The impossible dream. I dreamt the impossible dream and I’m living it right this moment," Ed Sabol said after his son, who is battling brain cancer, walked onto the stage, kissed his father on the forehead, and unveiled the bronze bust of him that will be placed in the Hall along with Saturday night’s other five new inductees.
Ed paid tribute to the hundreds of former and current NFL Films employees who made the long trip to Canton to for their former boss’s induction.
"I’ve been to many of these events in the past, usually with a camera in my hand," he said. "All of the people that would enter the Hall of Fame would pretty much say the same thing. They would thank their high school coach and their college coach and their pro coaches."
Pointing to the section at Fawcett Stadium where his supporters were sitting, he said, "I didn’t have the luxury of having a coach. But I do have fans and they are all you people sitting out there in those seats.
"This honor really goes to NFL Films. I just happen to be accepting it. I’m very, very happy to have been your boss for all those years. You’re a great bunch of people and the reason I am up here."
Steve, who worked side by side with his father, spoke of the kind of boss his father was. Ed was 45 when he decided to turn his film making hobby into a business. Convinced then commissioner Pete Rozelle to give him the film rights to the 1962 NFL championship game and the rest is history.
"As a boss, he believes that every kick in the butt was a step forward," Steve said in his presentation video. "He believed in us, so we believed in ourselves.
"He’d tell our cameramen, 'Don’t be afraid to fail. You can’t fly with the Eagles if you crap like a canary.' When producers had creative differences, he would say, 'A crowded elevator smells different to a midget.'"
For the longest time, Ed Sabol felt the Pro Football Hall of Fame should just be for players. But after finally becoming one of the 25 semifinalists for the 2011 class late last year, and then making it to the final 15 modern-era survivors, he changed his tune.
"When he found out he had made the Hall of Fame," Steve said, "He called and said, 'Send me a producer. I’ve got one more film in me.'"