It’s what you know and what you do that lets you stay
Moll tells the story of one of her early experiences at the job, working with the legendary Steve Sabol, one of the founders of NFL Films. He was scheduled to interview Sam Wyche, former head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, who lives in Easley. Sabol, who knew Moll had gone to Clemson, suggested she come along on the trip.
“This was my first trip with Steve, and there was no way I was going to screw this up,” she says. “So after we checked into the hotel, I got back in the car and drove around to every place we would have to go the next day, including every place I thought Steve would want to go, including where to go to get a great Southern breakfast. It may sound silly, but taking that extra time and never having to take a U-turn with your boss in the car — huge.”
That story illustrates the approach Moll has taken in every phase of her career at the NFL.
Sarah Moll ’99 with Katy Perry
“I didn’t get where I am without being a hard worker,” she says. “And I’m also organized to a ‘T.’ Some people may call that anal, but I’m just organized. That’s just gotten me where I am. Who you know gets you in the door. What you know and what you do lets you stay, and I truly believe that.”
Seven years of hard work with NFL Films led to an opportunity to move to New York City and work in the NFL’s league offices. Among the responsibilities of the new job was overseeing the halftime show. That year, Prince had already signed on to perform.
“Let me get this straight: I get to live in New York City, I get to work on the halftime show, and it’s Prince?” said Moll. “Sign me up.”
“I never had a desire to live in New York City, but I’m really glad I did,” she says. “I feel like everyone should try and live in New York at some point in their life. I became the person I was meant to be, and I grew as a person and became very strong. I don’t think I’d be as good in my job if I hadn’t had a chance to work in the league office and learn the business side of things.”
She pauses. “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”
With eight Super Bowls under her belt, and artists ranging from rock and roll icon Bruce Springsteen to relative newcomer Bruno Mars, Moll sets out each year to put on the best show possible. In 2014, the Super Bowl drew 115 million viewers; in 2015, that number rose to 121 million. It’s hard to even imagine the pressure that brings.
Moll says the best solution to that is to try not to think about it. “I try to put on the best show possible and know that my work is going to speak for itself, and the artist is going to give 100 percent. You can’t think, ‘I want to top that rating.’”
She downplays her part in that success: “The game gets better, there are more people in the world. The jump last year was pretty big; Katy [Perry] is obviously attributed with that.”
Last summer, her role with the NFL shifted again. “I was spending more and more time in our Los Angeles office, so much that they asked me to move out there, creating the trifecta of working in all three of the NFL’s domestic offices.”
The move to California has been a positive change for Moll. “I live on the beach, so I go for bike rides on the beach probably every weekend,” she says. “I’ve started to pick up my golf game again, and I do a lot of yoga. The California lifestyle is really appealing to me.”
That lifestyle provides some relief from the pressure of a job that can be all consuming. “I’m not married; I don’t have children,” she says. “So it’s easy to be all in with your job, 24-7. I’ve been trying to consciously not do that — by having a life and taking some time off work. I take so much pride in what I do and the products we put together, so it’s kind of hard for me to turn that off.
“But I’m working on it,” she says.