Sabol, 68, is fighting a brain tumor and aphasia. Despite chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Sabol remains positive according to King:
“Now don’t think that Sabol can’t talk well. He can. The voice is strong and unmistakably Sabol. He sounds 90 percent of the time precisely like the voice of NFL Films that you have all grown to know and respect so much. But there are times, when he gets tired or emotional or spent, when his speech is garbled. He sounded great to me in our 45 minutes together, but he said two or three times, “You should have heard me yesterday. Almost perfect.”
At one point during our talk, Mike Mayock walked into the office and the two men hugged the way Sabol had hugged me. Years ago, Sabol urged him to move from commercial real estate, a job that made Mayock unhappy, to analyzing football, which made him deliriously happy. Now Mayock reminded him, and Sabol sat down at the chair behind his desk, and the garbled words came in droves. Too emotional.
What I found most amazing about Sabol is his desire to talk about everything. I mean, anything I wanted to bring up, he welcomed. He’s undergoing chemotherapy and radiation at a Philadelphia hospital to try to shrink the very dangerous tumor in his brain.
“I’ve got to ask you something morbid,” I said.
“Good!” he said. “Ask me anything!”
“What’s the prognosis?” I said. “Are you going to make it?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t asked. I don’t want to know.”
But he did tell one of his doctors he had to make it until August, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct his father, Ed, the founder of NFL Films. “You’ll make it,” the doc said. Talk about buoying Steve Sabol’s spirits.”