First, he reads an observation from a Harper's Weekly in 1893 that "The brutality in football must be done away with and the danger minimized." Then, there's a quote Sabol got directly from Vince Lombardi in the early 1960s in which the legendary coach told him, "This is a violent game and to play it any other way but violently would be imbecilic."
It's precisely that mish-mash of ideas that challenges the work of Sabol, the president of NFL Films, the organization charged with chronicling the history of the league.
"What you're seeing now is those two points of view about players' safety which is very important, but don't mess with the core and the essence of the game," Sabol said from his New Jersey offices.
Sabol said he places no restrictions on what his cameramen shoot at each game, and that he receives no marching orders from the NFL to excise violence from NFL Films productions.
But they will not show illegal contact, unless it's germane to the game. Even then, it must be documented in the script and narration that the offender was penalized and the hit was illegal, Sabol said.
"We've been aware of this issue for 20 years and have been very careful about it," Sabol said. "Anybody that says that we're capitalizing on these illegal hits is way off base. We realized 15 years ago when the (videos) came in that we couldn't be making money on something that they were fining the players (for)."
"Somebody that's saying that is 20 years out of date."
Football is an inherently violent game. Always has been. Always will be, and the occasional savagery of that violence is a prime selling point for many who tune in each Sunday and Monday.
As Sabol points out, football is "a meeting of violence and artistry," and the public has responded to the combination, in part, by gobbling up some of NFL Films' videos that show particularly forceful collisions.
"It's the tension between the two (violence and artistry) that I think is so appealing," Sabol said. "When artistry is threatened by violence and the outcome is in doubt, in many ways, that epitomizes the game's attraction."
However, the combination of increased awareness about the short- and long-term effects of concussions and a particularly intense set of hits from last Sunday, which triggered $175,000 in fines against Pittsburgh's James Harrison, Atlanta's Dunta Robinson and Brandon Meriweather of New England, set off a furious debate about the level of violence in the NFL.
For Sabol, who has filmed NFL games for 48 years, this current discussion is just the latest round in an ongoing conversation that has reared its head, waned, then come back again.
Like a wide receiver trying to get two feet down in bounds on a sideline route, NFL Films has been doing a delicate dance, trying to balance showing the big hits and violence of football, without lapsing into gratuitousness, while also accurately marking the changing mores of the game.
For instance, a film history of defense in the NFL in the 1960s and '70s would certainly have to reflect the times, when conduct that has long been outlawed was commonplace.
"It was all legal," Sabol said. "Spearing was legal. The head slap was legal. The crackback was legal. So when we first made those films, we would show that because it was legal."
"But then, when the rules changed and those shots were still in the show, there was a concern, where people said, 'Oh, the NFL is showing illegal hits.' That wasn't the case. At the time, they were legal. But then, we realized that we were confusing our audience, so we just stopped making those shows altogether."
For the foreseeable future, Sabol and his crew plan to be on each NFL sideline, juggling the artistic quality and organized brutality of football and turning it into a thing of cinematic beauty, albeit with a rough side.