When I was starting my search for Superbowl themed images, I knew just where to begin. Many FH readers remember my many past pieces featuring the work of Joe from FLYFOTO. I love Joe's work, especially many of the Massachusetts photographer's holiday and event themed shoots. Joe's Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas have all appeared on the site, as well as some of his earlier football themed images. (HERE:)
Joe philosophy on shooting is that the final image must be dynamic, dramatic, artistic. This series of images beautifully checks each of Joe's three requirements. I especially love how Joe shot most of the models he show, literally protruding from their football tights. It's almost as if they're fighting hard to escape the tight confines of their uniforms.
So many of us are drawn to hot quarterbacks and wide receivers due to their bulges and curves and what's hiding under their jersey's, pads and uniforms. There is element of mystery to football players, as when you watch the game, their faces are mostly covered by their helmets, so it's their bodies that we first see.
FLYFOTO also increased the dramatic and dynamic by capturing an artistic nod to Colin Kaepernick and the 49er Quarterback's peaceful, yet powerful statement about racial injustice and oppression. It still boggles my mind that taking a stand (or in this case a knee) was considered a political statement, leading to the NFL basically refusing to hire Kaepernick. Racial injustice is simply a fact, and knee or not, it is widespread and stoked and used for gain by the idiot in The White House.
Kaepernick may not have an NFL contract, but he did get one with Nike, and is seen by many as a hero. You know if it was Dree Bree's taking a knee to raise awareness of child abuse or animal neglect, the response would have been very different'..... Kaepernick did raise my awareness of the many issues in the NFL, racial and otherwise. Although i've never been a bit fan of football, (you can read why on Page 2) I am a fan of football players, especially Kaepernick, and love FLYFOTO's tribute to the player, his impact on the game and the country.
'Winning is not everything, but wanting to win is.'
I loved sports when I was growing up, both playing them and watching them. At different points in my life I played baseball, (in grade school) hockey, (in Jr. High) and basketball. (in High School) Although I loved playing, I didn't have the passion to win that Lombardi references in the above quote. I enjoyed the process, most of my teammates were annoyed that although I wanted to win, I didn't especially care when we didn't.
The one sport I had little to no interest in however, was football. In part it may have been that I came from a 'hockey' family, but I think more, it may have been assumptions about the players and the game. Every sport of course, even less aggressive sports like golf and synchronised swimming, is competition based, with winning the goal. Football however, always seem more about beating, than winning, bashing the life and spirit out of opposing team. There was an animistic element of masculinity which always turned me off. I saw this in hockey as well, but never as intensely, nor as intrinsically a part of the game. Good hockey coaches didn't promote it, as it' unpredictability, didn't usually result in goals or wins.
I also viewed football as painfully slow, with so many starts and stops that tested my patience, even when watching. Clearly, given it's popularity, I'm in the minority, but it's a sport that I've never learned to appreciate or enjoy. What has changed however, is my respect for the players. It's a tough game not only to play, but a tough world to be apart of.
Over the last couple of decades, we learned more and more about the impact of the violence, both on and off the field. Many players have suffered life long brain injuries due to trauma on the field decades early. Others, have struggled to keep the violence on the field, with issues of domestic abuse, fights and even dog fighting being residual pieces of a career with violent core.
It's not just football, it's any career that has using physical force as a requirement. Whether it's an adrenaline fueled sport, or the police force, prison guards or bouncers. They all attract a percentage of men and women who not only must learn to use force, but who want to. Not all do of course, but you look at any of these professions, and you'll find a fairly large percentage of participants who struggle with violence and aggression. Many of them were channelled into these careers by parents or teachers for exactly that reason. The hope, I assume, was to help them control it, but as we all know, that often isn't the case...
It's one of the reasons I've grown to appreciate players like Colin Kaepernick, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Players whose game is about more than just physical strength and force. Although it's becoming easier, it wasn't always easy to balance respect and humanity with a career in the NFL. One of football's greatest coaches Vince Lombardi was an early and great example of someone who brought humanity into the game.
Lombardi's coaching career spanned over three decades, from the 1930's through the late 1960's. Lombardi was known not only for his wins, (He never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL) but also for his humanity. He was known for addressing issues of racism and homophobia within the league. Although known for his gruff demeanor, he was far ahead of his time in creating a supportive environment for gay players, and he emphatically challenged existing Jim Crow Laws, and provided leadership to break the color barrier within the sport.
Although I still don't enjoy watching football, Lombardi, and many specific players, have given me a new found respect for the game, and those who fight and challenge some of the long standing issues within the sport.