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Super Bowl

Feb 4

In history, In The Field at 8:27am

So the Super Bowl ball game is done, and has now modified and progressed into the Super Bowl of Trying to Get Home. A wall of snow just fell on NY, heavier and more sustained than a Kam Chancellor hit, and football fans of all descriptions are stuck in the Big Apple. I flew out this past Supe Sunday, and thus escaped before the city got rolled by the weatherman.

I shot one Super Bowl in my day, which was amazing to me, as I suck at sideline photography. This may sound odd, as I did have a contract with Sports Illustrated for a number of years, despite not being adept at shooting moving objects. I would get intrigued by the hoopla, color and obsession of the sport at hand, but was not all that compelled by the grunting and sweating out on the field. So, they would send me to something like a Super Bowl to shoot that which no one else was interested in, in this case, the refs.

The game was the 1987 matchup of the Broncos and the NY Giants, a game won by the Giants, and featured a legendary performance by QB Phil Simms. I don’t really recall seeing any of the game itself, as I had to key in and shoot pix of all nine of the refs. One of the biggest challenges was getting them all together for a group shot, however quick and dirty it had to be. And trust me, it was.

The above was shot less than two minutes before kickoff. I had made arrangements with the refs to meet me in the corner of an end zone that had a last sliver of daylight, with the field as a backdrop. To “fill” this picture, my ever grumbling SI staff assistant had to hoist a 4×6 Chimera soft box onto a monopod, and sling four Norman 200B battery packs on his shoulders and follow me out onto the grass. Phil Jache, the resident techno-wizard at the mag, had adapted a Speedotron Quad to Norman cables and flash tubes, so I had the equivalent of 800ws of portable power blowing through one lamp head. It was truly a Rube Goldberg arrangement, and the two us trundling this Frankenstein of a light out in front of millions of people I’m sure looked perfectly ridiculous.

And of course, there literally dozens of my colleagues on the sidelines, all being helpful. “Hey Joe, the flash isn’t working!” “You’re light’s not goin’ off, dipshit!” Constructive suggestions as to my lighting, staging, composition, overall demeanor, my looks and my ancestry rained down on me. The intimation my light was malfunctioning was a real possibility, as it was pre-Pocket Wizard days, and I was using a Hawk Radio transmitter system, which had all the sophistication and dependability of your basic garage door opener. Shot Kodachrome, no time for testing, or Polaroid.

I got a serviceable group shot, and then spent the rest of the day chasing the zebras during my one and only Super Bowl adventure. Story never ran. More tk….






Marc Austin-Zande says:

on February 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

That story just made my day Joe… or my night (it’s past midnight here now)

Thank you 😉

Life with Kaishon says:

on February 4, 2014 at 10:12 am

No way! It never ran! Get out of the city! : )
I am glad you didn’t get stuck in the snowstorm in NYC or Jersey yesterday. I live outside of Philly and I can attest to the magnitude of snow.


Stay warm.

Jamie Bagnall says:

on February 4, 2014 at 10:16 am

I want to see more of your shots!

Paul Frocchi says:

on February 4, 2014 at 11:10 am

Thanks Joe. Would love to see the images of that day.
Thanks for sharing!

Andor says:

on February 4, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Just another amazing story makes me smile – thanks Joe!

Lenny Gemar says:

on February 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Great story! Hindsight always being 20/20, I’d have had the black ref in the sun on the right side rather than in the shadow of the left. But hey, we’ve all been under the gun and not realized something like that in the heat of the moment, haven’t we? (Well, at least I have…)

Joe McNally says:

on February 4, 2014 at 4:23 pm


James Stephens says:

on February 5, 2014 at 5:17 am

Awesome as always!

Mark says:

on February 5, 2014 at 8:12 am

Your photography talent, immense as it is, may only be surpassed by your writing and story telling skill. Love reading your stuff Joe.

Mark says:

on February 5, 2014 at 8:13 am

I’d love for you, or someone, to track down those refs for a reunion pic. Wonder how many are still with us. Great write up.
How does it feel after all that hard work to not have the story used? Is it something you get used to?

Rene Dietrich says:

on February 5, 2014 at 8:31 am

Wonderful short story to read. You get an “eww!” reaction when you see the photo initially, but it makes all the sense of the world once you read through. I really enjoy the blog, not only there is mastery in photography, but in story telling as well.
Thank you!

Cheryl Tadin says:

on February 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I like the image. Would love to see other images from that day.
Was this image shot on Chrome?

Huguenin-Photography says:

on February 10, 2014 at 2:38 am

Great post! Thanks for sharing :)

ron says:

on March 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Joe, Awesome pic

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