So here’s exactly what happened to me at the Bears/Packers NFC Championship Game yesterday: I’m set up right on the goal line. Just minding my own business. Taking a few shots. Chatting with other photographers, and sharing my hot cocoa with them. Pretty typical game.
On the Packer’s first possession, they drive right down the field, and they’re on the 2 yard line. Greenbay Packers’s Quarterback Aaron Rodgers drops back to pass, but everybody’s pretty well covered, and he sees a hole on my side of the field, and he starts running directly at me and dives for the Goal Line (as seen below).
I’m shooting my 400mm f/2.8 on a Gitzo monopod, but when I see this unfolding, I hold my Monopod with the left hand, and grab my 2nd body; a Nikon D3 with a 24-70mm f/2.8, with my right hand—I put it up to my eye and start firing at Rodgers as he’s running straight at me. Rodgers lands right in front of me, and starts sliding toward me. I keep shooting. Rodgers keep sliding. I keep thinking at some point he’s going to stop sliding, and then BAM—-he’s levels me, the guy beside me, and my camera on the monopod goes flying.
You can see from the photo I took above, Rodgers is between me (with my 24-70mm), and my 400mm on the monopod (which you see upside down on the other side of him). This is not good.
And then I see it—-the bottom half of my monopod is gone!! Ripped off at the stem. So I’m right in front of Rodgers, and I yell, “Hey…..Rogers….you broke my monopod!” And he looks at me, and I guess he sees my Bears earmuffs, and says “Too bad, Bears fan!” And I said “Hey, you’re buying me a new Monopod!” And he looks at me says, “Yeah, right.” and I’m all “Yeah, we’ll just see pretty boy.”
Above: Just then, one of his teammates sees what’s going on as Rodgers is getting up from the ground, and he runs over, grabs his jersey (seen above), and I overhear him say, “Hey man, I think you need to buy him a new Monopod. It looks like a Gitzo—- those aren’t cheap.” Then I hear Rodgers say, “How much do you think it costs?” He says “Probably $350, but it didn’t look brand new, so I’d just offer him $250.”
Above: Rodgers did score so I think he just wanted to get this over with, so he looks back at me and says “I’ll give you $250.” I paused and said “Well, OK,” and his buddy pats him on the back (shown above) and whispers, “You did the right thing man,” and then Rodgers just heads into the end zone to celebrate the score with his other teammates.
Here’s a photo taken of the TV screen during the game (photo by blog reader George Zanotti) right after Rodgers agreed to give me the $250, and even though I’m still down, I keep shooting and I’m all smiles now knowing at the very least, I’m getting my Gitzo monopod replaced.
Here’s what one one of my readers, Michal Tuzinkiewicz, wrote on my Facebook page when he saw the play unfolding live on TV:
“Scott Kelby a true NFL photographer: gets Slammed on the sideline during the bears/packers game, gets right back up, his camera in one hand and keeps on shooting with a huge smile on his face.”
It’s true—–I didn’t hold a grudge, I just got back to shooting (though I did see the broken off end of the monopod, and I picked it up and took a swing at Rodgers leg as he was running away. Don’t worry—I missed. Barely though).
An Unexpected Twist
Of course, I didn’t see Rodgers again until the end of the game, at center field, where all the players and coaches are rushing out there for interviews and celebrations. Rodgers sees me, and I think he’s going to walk right by me, but then—without making eye contact—he reaches out and shoves a wad of cash into my hand, and then he heads for the tunnel. I just stood there, more than a little stunned. When I counted the money, there was only $220. Sigh.
One last thing
Of course, none of the above is true. Well, the part about Rodgers hitting me and breaking my Monopod was real, but the rest is totally made up. It’s not Rodgers job to look out for me—it’s my job to get out of his way. I didn’t feel a thing, which is great, and while my camera, 400mm lens, and most of me were covered in dirt, we were all working perfectly, which is why I was able to pop up and keep shooting with a big smile on my face, but I was lucky. Well, at least until I counted out that cash. ;-)
It’s late here, and I have an early flight, so I’ll work on the real game photos tonight and post them on Tuesday. Thanks to everybody who sent me texts, posted on Facebook, or here on the blog when they had a “Scott Spotting.” That was a kick. :)