Steve Sabol was born Oct. 2, 1942, in Moorestown, N.J., and while growing up nurtured two great passions: art, whose appreciation he got from his mother Audrey, who befriended up-and-coming artists and hung their work in the Sabol home; and football, a craving he developed on his own.
So determined was he to succeed as a football player that when he went to Division III Colorado College as a 170-pound fullback, one with little discernible talent, he decided all he needed was some positive publicity.
He took out newspaper ads, had T-shirts, brochures, buttons and color postcards printed, all touting "Sudden Death Sabol, the Prince of Pigskin Pageantry now at the Pinnacle of his Power." He invented a new hometown, Coaltown Township, Pa., then later changed it to Possum Trot, Miss.
He rarely played for two seasons, yet, in the program for the last game of his sophomore season, a full-page ad appeared: "Coach Jerry Carle congratulates Sudden Death Sabol on a fantastic season." And the next fall, an ad in a Colorado Springs newspaper proclaimed, "The Possum Trot Chamber of Commerce extends its wishes for a successful season to its favorite son – Sudden Death Sabol."
Coach Carle, Sabol often said, "looked at me like I was a side dish he hadn't ordered."
And yet, as a junior, having gained 40 pounds, he not only played but was voted to the all-conference team and, he figured, big things awaited him as a senior. Except his father called, saying, "I need you here." So Steve went home, took the only job he ever had and turned it into bigger things than Sudden Death Sabol had ever imagined.
Sabol is survived by his wife, Penny; their son, Casey; his sister, Blair; his mother, Audrey; and his father, Ed, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.