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A's blank Angels again, 2-0; Bassitt 1st in AL to 11 wins

A's blank Angels again, 2-0; Bassitt 1st in AL to 11 wins

Chris Bassitt became the first American League pitcher to reach 11 wins, Matt Chapman homered and the Oakland Athletics blanked the Los Angeles Angels for the second straight night with a 2-0 victoryBy JOE REEDY AP Sports WriterJuly 31, 2021, 6:05 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleANAHEIM, Calif. — Chris Bassitt thinks Oakland isn’t receiving enough attention for having one of the best starting rotations in the American League.With another dominant outing Friday night, it might be time to start giving the Athletics their due.Bassitt became the first AL pitcher to reach 11 wins as the A’s shut out the Los Angeles Angels for the second straight night with a 2-0 victory Friday.“I feel like everyone still doubts us and that these numbers will disappear. I think we take a lot of pride in our job and helping each other and pushing each other,” Bassitt said.The A’s, who have won 11 of 14 against the Angels this year, have shut them out in three straight meetings — the first time that’s happened since 1994. Los Angeles has scored only one run in its last 43 innings against Oakland.It was also the Athletics’ 10th shutout of the season, tied with the Yankees for most in the AL. Oakland’s starting staff has a 3.01 ERA since the All-Star break, third-lowest in the majors.“It’s important these guys can get deep in games and not overwork the bullpen,” manager Bob Melvin said. “They seem like they have got stronger as the season has gone along. It shows you the quality of the guys that we have.”Bassitt (11-3) struck out seven and allowed six hits over seven innings as he won for the first time in three starts after the All-Star break. It is the 10th time in 23 starts the right-hander has gone at least seven innings.Bassitt said he struggled with his off-speed pitches the past couple outings, but not this time.“I felt like I had all my pitches working. It was a very hitter-based game plan as far as attacking, and everyone was different,” he said.Matt Chapman, in a 7-for-56 slump when he came to the plate in the eighth, gave the A’s some insurance with his 14th homer, a solo shot to center field off Mike Mayers.Lou Trivino gave up a leadoff double to Justin Upton in the ninth, but retired the next three Angels batters for his 17th save.Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Mark Canha drew a bases-loaded walk from Patrick Sandoval (3-5) to score Jed Lowrie.The Angels didn’t get a runner to third and went 0 for 4 with men in scoring position. Their best opportunity was in the fifth with runners on first and second, but Brandon Marsh struck out to end the inning.“We’ve been staying with them toe-to-toe, we’ve just got to somehow break through offensively,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We failed against them offensively again and we have to figure that out.”SANDOVAL’S NIGHTSandoval took a no-hitter to the ninth inning in his last start at Minnesota on Sunday, but didn’t have the same command Friday.The left-hander threw a career-high 115 pitches, 73 for strikes, in 5 2/3 innings. He issued a career-high six walks and allowed four hits with six strikeouts.“He had good stuff. They are very patient and don’t have a bunch of chase guys. Just give them credit for working good at-bats,” Maddon said.Oakland had the bases loaded with two outs in the second, but Sandoval struck out Tony Kemp on the hardest-thrown pitch of his career, a 96.6 mph sinker.TRAINER’S ROOMAngels: RHP Alex Cobb was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to July 27 due to right wrist inflammation.UP NEXTAngels LHP Reid Detmers, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft, will make his major league debut Saturday. The Athletics will counter with LHP Cole Irvin (7-9, 3.62 ERA), who is averaging a major league-low 14.5 pitches per inning.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

NBC quickly hires Maria Taylor after her departure from ESPN

NBC quickly hires Maria Taylor after her departure from ESPN

Maria Taylor has joined NBC less than a week after her contract with ESPN expiredBy JOE REEDY AP Sports WriterJuly 24, 2021, 7:27 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMaria Taylor has joined NBC less than a week after her contract with ESPN expired.NBC formally made the announcement during its primetime Olympic show Friday before a replay of the opening ceremony.ESPN and Taylor announced Wednesday that they could not agree on a new contract. Her first assignment for NBC will be the Tokyo Olympics, where she will join Mike Tirico during the nightly 2 1/2 to 3 hours of “Prime Plus” coverage as well as serve as a correspondent.NBC also said that Taylor will be a host and contributor for “Football Night in America” on Sundays during NFL season and will host the network’s coverage of this season’s Super Bowl.“Maria has excelled in a wide range of roles at marquee events, and will be a powerful addition to our team. We are always looking to improve, and Maria is going to make us better. We are very excited for her to join us right away in Tokyo,” NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement.Taylor had been with ESPN since 2014 but her contract expired Tuesday. Her last assignment for the network was Tuesday night at the NBA Finals, where she was the pregame and postgame host for the network’s “NBA Countdown” show. Taylor had hosted “NBA Countdown” since 2019 as well as being a reporter for “College GameDay” and ABC “Saturday Night Football” since 2017.Taylor said in a statement: “Literally, hosting the Olympics, Football Night in America, and the Super Bowl is what I dreamed of when I started in television – and this would not be possible without standing on the shoulders of all of those who came before me and made this path possible. And I plan to pay it forward.”ESPN had been discussing a contract with Taylor for over a year but things reached a boiling point over the past month. Taylor rejected an extension last year and the two sides were far apart heading into the NBA Finals. Then came a report from The New York Times detailing comments colleague Rachel Nichols made about Taylor last year during the NBA’s restart in Florida.Nichols, who is white, was introduced in September 2019 as the NBA Finals host but the network later decided to promote Taylor, who is Black.Nichols apologized July 5 while hosting “The Jump.” She was slated to be the sideline reporter for the Finals, but was pulled off the assignment.———More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Giants rally in 9th for 2nd straight night to beat Dodgers

Giants rally in 9th for 2nd straight night to beat Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — The San Francisco Giants have built the best record in the majors with a sound defense and one of the top bullpens in the National League.On this night, though, it was smart baserunning and a couple of calls that allowed them to extend their lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.LaMonte Wade Jr. broke a ninth-inning tie with a two-run single and San Francisco rallied against closer Kenley Jansen again for a 5-3 victory over the Dodgers on Thursday.The Giants trailed 3-1 going into the ninth before scoring four times to increase their division lead to three games over the defending World Series champions. San Francisco (61-35) took three of four in a tense series between the longtime rivals that saw the final three games decided in the ninth inning.“This series shows a lot about our team and shows we can play on both sides of the ball with the best of them. We have to keep that mentality throughout,” Wade said.Before his clutch single, the Giants were able to tie it at 3 on two key plays in the ninth.Jason Vosler got a good lead off first base with the bases loaded and beat shortstop Chris Taylor’s throw to second on an infield single by Thairo Estrada. That kept the game going and scored Wilmer Flores to bring San Francisco to 3-2.Vosler was initially ruled out at second for the final out, but the call was overturned following a replay review.Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Vosler’s lead off first and beating the throw was the most important play of the game.“(Max) Muncy was playing pretty far off the bag,” Vosler said. “I was trying to get the biggest primary lead that I could and make sure I got to second on the ground ball. That makes the difference.”Darin Ruf then checked his swing on a full-count cutter — although replays appeared to show he went around — to draw a walk from Jansen that forced in the tying run.Dodgers manager Dave Roberts yanked off his cap and argued vehemently, leading to him being ejected in the ninth inning for the second consecutive night.“There’s no doubt in my mind that he went and the game should have been over. In that spot with two contending teams you just can’t miss that call,” Roberts said. “We should have won that game and it’s a game we really wanted, we had, and we didn’t.”Wade then hit a sinking liner to right field that dropped just in front of newly acquired Billy McKinney, giving San Francisco a 5-3 advantage.Jansen was lifted to a chorus of boos for the second straight night.“You have to be able to hit the mistake pitch and luckily tonight that was the first pitch of the at-bat. When you get it, you try not to miss,” Wade said.Jansen (1-4) fell to 21 for 26 in save opportunities. He has allowed seven runs on seven hits with four walks in one inning over the past two games.Roberts was steadfast that Jansen will remain his closer.“I don’t think all the blame should be on Kenley. The game should have been over a couple times in that inning,” Roberts said.José Álvarez (4-1) got the win and Jake McGee pitched the bottom of the ninth for his 20th save.Will Smith hit a two-run homer off Anthony DeSclafani, and Walker Buehler allowed one run in 7 1/3 innings for the Dodgers.The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the first when Wade scored on Mike Yastrzemski’s sacrifice fly. The Dodgers evened it in the bottom half when the first three batters got base hits off DeSclafani, including Justin Turner’s single to drive in Taylor.THEY LOVE LABy taking the series, the Giants finished 6-4 at Dodger Stadium this season, marking the first time since 2014 they had a winning record at Chavez Ravine.The teams have a three-game series beginning Tuesday in San Francisco before playing their final series of the season Sept. 3-5.“We’re enjoying the fact we played a good series, but we’re already thinking about playing Pittsburgh,” Kapler said.FOR STARTERSBuehler tied his season high by going 7 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out nine and allowed five hits. Buehler has gone at least six innings in all but one of his last 22 starts dating to last season, including the postseason.DeSclafani yielded two runs on six hits in six innings with seven strikeouts.TRAINER’S ROOMGiants: 1B Brandon Belt (right knee inflammation) will begin running the bases this weekend. … 2B Tommy La Stella (left hamstring strain, right thumb) went 2 for 2 and RHP Aaron Sanchez (right bicep tightness) allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings during rehab assignments at Triple-A Sacramento.Dodgers: Muncy will go on paternity leave beginning Friday and miss the Colorado series. … RHPs Corey Knebel (right lat strain) and Jimmy Nelson (back) both pitched an inning during a simulated game. Roberts said Nelson could be activated this weekend.UP NEXTGiants: Begin a nine-game homestand Friday against Pittsburgh. RHP Johnny Cueto (6-5, 4.01 ERA) has gone 0-2 in his last three starts and will be opposed by Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (3-5, 4.31).Dodgers: Continue their homestand against Colorado on Friday. LHP David Price (4-0, 3.12 ERA) allowed one run in four innings last Sunday against the Rockies. RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (3-6, 5.99) takes the mound for Colorado.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Sounds of the Games: NBC doesn't plan on adding crowd noise

Sounds of the Games: NBC doesn't plan on adding crowd noise

One of Molly Solomon’s favorite memories from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics was watching Lindsey Vonn before she skiedBy JOE REEDY AP Sports WriterJuly 22, 2021, 2:18 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleOne of Molly Solomon’s favorite memories from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics was watching Lindsey Vonn in the start house. Cameras would focus on the skiing great, with microphones picking up her breathing while she listened to final instructions.With no spectators in the stands during the Tokyo Games, Solomon is hoping to pick up on more of those moments.The NBC Olympics executive producer said that the network will not add additional crowd noise to its coverage. The hope is that fans will hear the Games as they haven’t been able to before, whether it is the action in the pool during swimming or conversations between competitors and coaches during gymnastics.“You look at gymnastics and think about the distinctive intricacies of each apparatus, and we really feel like we’ll be able to bring the viewer closer to the athlete’s experience here in Tokyo than ever before,” said Solomon, who is working her 11th Olympics for NBC.The only crowd noise that viewers may hear is ambient crowd noise that venues might use to generate atmosphere for the athletes.With more than 300 events at the Olympics, it would be a logistical nightmare for NBC and Olympic Broadcasting Service, which provides the world feed, to layer in crowd noise, especially with each sport having its own cadence and pace.Solomon noted that during breaststroke races in swimming, fans whistle during the races. Layering that in would be over the top. Most venues will run some sort of sound tracks to simulate crowd murmur or presence, but only to prevent total silence and for competitive reasons.“We’ve pivoted to know that we’ve got access to all of these fields-of-play microphones. So, we really feel like we can enhance the sounds of the Games. But you will also hear any crowd presence that is actually being injected into the venue. You’ll hear it as the athletes hear it,” she said.Terry Gannon, who will be broadcasting gymnastics, said not having a crowd will also call for some changes into how announcers call events.“There are certain things you do as an announcer because you play off and wait for the crowd. Now you don’t have the crowd and you’re probably going to have to come in right away,” he said.With friends and family unable to watch in the venues, NBC is deploying production teams throughout the country to catch their reactions. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has set up a base at Universal Resorts in Orlando, Florida.Other broadcasters are taking a different approach. Australia’s Seven Network says it plans to layer in crowd noise because it gives fans a level of familiarity.“We will be using crowd effects in our Olympic Games coverage purely to enhance the viewer experience, said Lewis Martin, Seven’s head of network sport. “These effects have been successfully refined in our coverage of the AFL (Australian Rules Football) over the past 18 months, when we have worked tirelessly to meet the feedback of our viewers, whose primary expectation is simply that the contest they’re watching sounds and looks like the sport they know and love.”———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Taylor leaves ESPN after failing to reach contract extension

Taylor leaves ESPN after failing to reach contract extension

Maria Taylor is leaving ESPN after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extensionBy JOE REEDY AP Sports WriterJuly 21, 2021, 9:56 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMaria Taylor is leaving ESPN after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension.Taylor had been with ESPN since 2014 but her contract expired Tuesday. Her last assignment for the network was Tuesday night at the NBA Finals, where she was the pregame and postgame host for the network’s “NBA Countdown” show.“So thankful to Jimmy (Pitaro) and all of my great teammates and friends at the SEC Network, College GameDay, Women’s and Men’s college basketball, and the NBA Countdown family — the people who believed in me, encouraged me, pushed me, and lifted me up,” Taylor said in a statement released through ESPN. “Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.”Taylor had hosted “NBA Countdown” since 2019 as well as being a reporter for “College GameDay” and ABC “Saturday Night Football” since 2017.“Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her abilities and work ethic,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “There is no doubt we will miss Maria, but we remain determined to continue to build a deep and skilled talent roster that thoroughly reflects the athletes we cover and the fans we serve. While she chose to pursue a new opportunity, we are proud of the work we’ve done together.”ESPN had been discussing a contract with Taylor for over a year but things reached a boiling point over the past month. Taylor rejected an extension last year and the two sides were far apart heading into the NBA Finals. Then came a New York Times report detailing comments her colleague Rachel Nichols made about Taylor last year during the NBA’s restart in Florida.Nichols, who is white, was introduced in September 2019 as the NBA Finals host but the network later decided to promote Taylor, who is Black.Nichols said in an accidentally recorded phone call obtained by the Times: “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball. If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”Nichols apologized on July 5 while hosting “The Jump.” She was slated to be the sideline reporter for the Finals, but was pulled off the assignment.Pitaro said last week in a memo to ESPN employees: “We respect and acknowledge there are a variety of feelings about what happened and the actions we took. The details of what took place last year are confidential, nuanced and complicated personnel matters.“Maria Taylor was selected as ‘NBA Countdown’ host last year because she earned it. Please know our commitment is that assignments and opportunities at ESPN are based on merit and any concerns, remarks, or inferences that suggest otherwise have been and will continue to be addressed.”Pitaro’s memo, which was obtained by AP, also stated that 52% of the talent hires made over the past year were people of color and 42% were female. He also stated that 63% of ESPN’s executive leadership team is made up of women and/or people of color.NBC and Amazon are favored to be Taylor’s next stops. Taylor could host “Football Night in America” if Mike Tirico moves to the booth next season. Al Michaels’ contract expires at the end of the upcoming season. Taylor could join the network immediately and have a role in its coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.NBC also has Notre Dame football and opportunities in its news division. Amazon becomes the exclusive carrier of the NFL’s Thursday night package next season.———More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Smith's pinch 3-run HR in 9th rallies Dodgers past Giants

Smith's pinch 3-run HR in 9th rallies Dodgers past Giants

Pinch-hitter Will Smith connected for a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied from five runs down to defeat the San Francisco Giants 8-6 in the second game of a pivotal series between NL West rivalsBy JOE REEDY AP Sports WriterJuly 21, 2021, 7:07 AM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLOS ANGELES — Even without three of their biggest bats, Will Smith and the Los Angeles Dodgers found a way to rally for a big victory over the San Francisco Giants.Smith connected for a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Dodgers rallied from five runs down to defeat the Giants 8-6 on Tuesday night in the second game of a pivotal series between NL West rivals.“That was huge for us. This is a huge series. We stuck with it and came back and found a way to win a game. That’s our biggest win of the year so far,” said Chris Taylor, who hit two home runs while going 3 for 4 with three RBIs.Los Angeles evened the four-game set at one apiece and moved within one game of the first-place Giants despite missing Mookie Betts, Justin Turner and Max Muncy. Betts was out of the lineup for the third straight day due to a hip pointer, while Turner and Muncy eventually ended up leaving the game after each getting hit by a pitch.“We have a lot of depth and guys that we can run out there,” Smith said. “With the lineup and taking good at-bats, that keeps us in the game and we can walk away with the win.”Taylor and Matt Beaty drew walks from Tyler Rogers (1-1) before Smith drove an 0-1 slider into the stands in left-center for the third walk-off homer and first pitch-hit shot of his career.“I’m going to have a Bud Light and rinse this one off and be ready to get back at it tomorrow,” said Rogers after his fifth blown save of the season.In a game that featured seven home runs, Los Angeles trailed 6-1 in the fifth before coming back. Taylor — who had the third multi-homer game of his career — hit a solo shot off Alex Wood in the fifth and a two-run drive against John Brebbia during a three-run sixth.Giants manager Gabe Kapler said he still has faith in Rogers.“Everybody has a hiccup. So obviously, it’s a disappointing loss,” Kapler said. “I can’t wait to get him back out there so we can turn the page and put this one behind.”Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski each hit a two-run homer for San Francisco. LaMonte Wade Jr. and Thairo Estrada added solo shots for the Giants, who lead the majors in home runs (142) and percentage of runs scored via the long ball (52.9%).Jimmie Sherfy (2-0) got the win.The Dodgers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single up the middle by Muncy with the infield drawn in.The Giants quickly responded in the second. After Wilmer Flores started the inning with a double off the center-field wall, Dickerson lofted a changeup from Darien Núñez into the right-field seats for a 2-1 lead.San Francisco’s other three homers came off Josiah Gray, who was making his major league debut. Wade, the second batter Gray faced, greeted him with a solo drive to right in the third inning on the eighth pitch of his big league career.Estrada — taking the place of injured All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford — led off the fifth with a homer to center on the first pitch. Yastrzemski then extended the Giants’ lead to 6-1 with a two-run drive to right.HOME RUN DERBYAccording to Sportradar, it was the first time since 1958 in the Giants vs. Dodgers rivalry that the teams combined to hit seven or more home runs in a game. It was only the eighth time in the 2,527 regular-season games in the series that it has happened.FOR STARTERSWood allowed three runs and six hits in five innings, and was a bit erratic with three hit batters, including Turner (bruised left knee) and Muncy (bruised right shoulder). Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Turner is expected to miss Wednesday’s game.Roberts decided to use Núñez as an opener before going to Gray. Núñez allowed two runs and two hits in two innings. Gray struck out seven in four innings but was charged with four runs and four hits.WEB GEMDodgers right fielder Zach McKinstry made a diving catch in the second to rob Donovan Solano of a hit.TRAINER’S ROOMGiants: 2B Tommy La Stella (left hamstring strain, right thumb) will resume a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday. … RHP Aaron Sanchez (right biceps tightness) threw a bullpen before the game.Dodgers: Roberts said SS Corey Seager (broken left hand) felt good after taking batting practice Monday, but an activation date remains to be determined.UP NEXTDodgers LHP Julio Urías (12-3, 3.78 ERA), tied for the major league lead in wins, is 1-3 in 11 career starts against the Giants. San Francisco RHP Logan Webb (4-3, 3.54) is 3-0 in his last five starts.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

NFL Films' creative force Steve Sabol enters Hall of Fame

NFL Films' creative force Steve Sabol enters Hall of Fame

This year’s “Hard Knocks” series with the Dallas Cowboys will mark the first time one of its teams is in the Hall of Fame game. It is fitting because the creator of the series was enshrined into the hall earlier this year.“Hard Knocks,” which started 20 years ago, is one of Steve Sabol’s many legacies at NFL Films that continue to live on. Sabol, who was 69 when he died from brain cancer in 2012, is one of three contributors part of the hall’s 2020 Centennial Class, which honors 20 former players, coaches and contributors across all eras of the NFL’s first 100 years.“I would like to think it’s no coincidence that this is the year that ‘Hard Knocks’ will be at the Hall of Fame. I think Steve is still watching over us,” said NFL Films’ Ken Rodgers, the senior coordinating producer of “Hard Knocks.”Sabol joins his father Ed, who was enshrined in 2011, as the third father/son duo in Canton. They join Tim and Wellington Mara, owners of the New York Giants, and Art and Dan Rooney, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers.Sabol was recognized in April by the hall and will be included in the induction festivities on Aug. 7-8.While it was Ed Sabol who persuaded Pete Rozelle in 1964 that the league needed its own film company to promote and document the game, it was Steve Sabol who was the creative force at NFL Films. He made the game and players appear larger than life through cinematography, slow motion replays, orchestral music and putting microphones on players and coaches.Rodgers said when Ed Sabol was inducted, Steve saw that as the entire existence of NFL Films, including his career, being recognized. But for Rodgers and those who grew up watching NFL Films shows over the years, Steve Sabol’s induction makes things whole.“It’s a two-headed monster. Someone creating a company would have just created a company that wouldn’t have done anything without Steve’s creative genius next to it,” he said. “If they didn’t happen together, the NFL wouldn’t be where it is today.“The business decision to create NFL Films and lead the league into the television space pretty much created sports television. But then the creative style also invented what sports television is creatively today.”Sabol went to Colorado College, where he was an All-Rocky Mountain Conference running back, and majored in art history. He began working at NFL Films in 1964 as a cinematographer and rose to president before he passed away.During Sabol’s tenure, NFL Films won more than 100 Emmy Awards. That included 35 won by Sabol in writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing, the most by anyone.Sabol was also recognizable in front of the camera. He hosted some of “NFL Films” weekly series during the season, introduced Super Bowl highlight films as well as other company projects which aired frequently on ESPN before NFL Network started in 2003.ESPN’s Chris Berman said having NFL Films programming served as a springboard to the network eventually airing games starting in 1987.If there is one creation that shows Sabol’s philosophy toward film making and NFL Films, it is 1978’s “ Super Sunday with NFL Films,” which shows the entire process of how the Super Bowl 12 highlight film was produced, from camera placement to narrator John Facenda going over the script.The most interesting part is Sabol discussing how he learned cubism from Picasso’s paintings and that he approaches cinematography from looking at things from different points of view.“ Autumn Ritual, ” which was made in 1986, is a film that follows Sabol’s mandate that “maintain tradition by breaking tradition” because it shows how the NFL fits in with culture and other art forms. It might be the only time when the Reverend Jerry Falwell and rocker Ronnie James Dio appear in the same film and agree on something — their love of football.“He never stopped loving football,” said Penny Ashman Sabol, Steve Sabol’s widow. “I think that apart from the influence he had on the way we watch football, I think the greatest thing about him is how much people loved him. He helped so many people start and build their careers that his legacy is all the people making great films and television shows.”“Hard Knocks” ended up being one of Sabol’s proudest accomplishments because it showed how NFL Films adapted with the times. It could still tell a compelling story despite tight deadlines.Sabol once described “Hard Knocks” as “building an airplane in flight. “We’re taking off, we’re not sure where it’s going to go and we hope we don’t crash. But that’s what makes it exciting.”The series came along at the dawn of reality shows in 2001, but was more real life than “Survivor” because roster spots were at stake.“You talk about reality shows – hell, this isn’t anyone getting voted off an island. This is careers at stake in the most highly competitive sports league in the world,” Sabol said in 2009 after the Cincinnati Bengals were selected as the featured team.“What Hard Knocks proved more than any other program, maybe in our history, is that we are not one type of filmmaking company. We are filmmakers that can adapt to any style and format. On any network,” Rodgers said.It will be an emotional trip when the “Hard Knocks” crew films at the hall and sees Sabol’s bust, but it will also be a celebration for those who continue to work at NFL Films and were impacted by him.“Steve making it into the hall is for all of us who watched and worked at NFL films,” Rodgers said, “because Steve was the creative genius behind what we all fell in love with.”———More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

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