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….