Aaron Rodgers Owes Me a New Monopod!

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. :)

  1. Thanks for the photos, Scott! You should frame the monopod with some of the pictures of the “event” side-by-side. I’m sure it’s one experience you won’t forget…one you can tell your grandkids someday! “Let me tell you youngsters about the time I took on a giant man from Wisconsin, with nothing but a broken monopod and a smile. He never stood a chance!”

    Can’t wait to see the rest of the photos!


      1. Ken:

        Are you referring to how many times you post first vs. me? I blame it on my long-winded posts! I started my 1st post today at 12:16 am after I refreshed the page waiting for Scott’s blog post. Next time, I’ll just say “cool”! :D


  2. Glad you’re okay, Scott! I can’t wait to see the rest of your shots. At least it wasn’t Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji coming your way!


  3. Hi Scott,

    With every wish there comes a curse. In your previous blog post you said you want te be recognised on tv. Your wish is fully granted!!! :-)
    Good to read you and your gear are fine (well. except for the monopod)

  4. Let this be a lesson to all Photographers out there…if you’re shooting sports, a portrait or heck even a wedding…if your client flattens you and knocks you to the ground just get back up, keep smiling and keep shooting! :)

    All I’ll say is he got off lucky…Rodgers I mean :)

    Great story and great start to the morning,
    Cheers, Glyn

  5. I’m so gullible! I believed every word and was totally fascinated. I’m a huge sports fan so I’m jealous you got to do this, haha. Great story though whether it’s true or not. I’ll be sure to tell all my friends how Rodgers replaced your tripod :)

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Wonderful start to the day. You got a few things out of it too! Firstly, a moment on TV. Secondly, an invaluable piece of gear, broken by someone famous. Finally and most importantly, you have a great story to tell in the future.

    I fully expect by now that you send Rodgers the broken pieces with a (nice) greeting card stating the worth!

  7. Maybe Scott, just maybe, you should have taken the opportunity to actually minor injure him, than our Bears might have won, *sight*

    Anyway, I did not see you the entire game (obviously I was looking for the pimped monopod that was broken), and I really tried. I guess I suck at Scott-spoting… Are you going to be at the superball??

    And how did you manage to shoot with your 400mm without a monopod for the rest of the game?

  8. Hey scott , dont throw away that monopod , you need to mount it right below the photo you took of him smashing it , im sure it would make the best game memorabilia ever :)

    Your a Champ Scott way to go , lol

  9. Wow cool story, wish I would have seen it live. I’m amazed that the only thing damaged was the monopod. So, in retrospect, what should you have done differently to not get clobbered?

  10. I guess Gitzo can’t claim they’re indestructible. Or maybe it’s a new ad campaign for them. “holds up well, except if you get leveled by an NFL player”. Glad you’re ok, which is obviously the important thing. Monopod can be replaced, but Scott can’t!

  11. Those action shots are incredible! The fact that you took them with a grin on your face while being collided with is impressive – then again that kind of excitement doesn’t come along every day, may as well enjoy it right?

    Glad you and your gear (minus one monopod) are still in working order, way to take one for the other team! ;)

  12. Great story with a ton of humor, you are really the right man in the right place.
    Nice going with keeping that shutter-button pressed all the way through, that´s the way to do it!
    Best thing with the “pro” gear is that it actually can take quite a beating.
    I´ve dropped stuff and slammed them into doorways and so on, no problem. Works as a charm!

  13. When shooting sports you have to have a feeling for where the action is going to be. Couldn’t get any closer than that, right? :)
    Got to see if any of my Swedish channels are showing the game!

  14. Great story Scott, you’re a real raconteur. Glad to hear you didn’t suffer any injury with that blow. Sorry to hear about the monopod though but surely that’s a small price to pay for getting your 15 seconds of fame on TV ;-)

  15. A W E S O M E – the single most entertaining post you have ever written Mr. Kelby!

    But I did make a mental note: “If Kelby ever calls and tries to sell you a ‘gently’ used 400 F/2.8 tell him you already bought one from some kid named Rodgers.”

    Seriously – glad you are ok. Sorry your Bears (and my Jets) lost. THAT would have been a heck of a Super Bowl.

  16. I saw that on the replay at half time. The fact that you popped back up with a big smile on your face was amusing. That shows real professionalism. I saw the pictures above with the camera and the busted monopod. My heart would have just sank if that happened to my gear. I’m glad the camera and 400mm 2.8 are ok. On the same note of bringing extra camera bodies….Do you think you may bring an extra monopod just in case? I spotted you at least three or four times besides the crash scene…..a little out of focus but with expressions that showed you had a good time. Great story Scott.

  17. Scott

    You gave me a belly laugh at 4:00 am this morning. What an experience. I’m glad you are okay and have such a great sense of humor about it. Sorry your Bears lost. Geeze a busted mono pod and the Bears out of the Super Bowl and you still keep smiling and doing your thing. What a Pro!!

    This is why your post is the first thing I read in the morning.


  18. Great post , thanks for the heads up email! I knew it was you……that Fender hat was a dead give away! Glad you’re okay! We’ll all mourn the loss of the tripod…..lol. Hope you’re not sor today , I know how it is for us old men!

  19. LOL. For end zone shots, you need a double-brimmed baseball cap with both teams. Just make sure you flip it to the right team. Had you done that, you might have gotten full replacement value ;-)

    Great attitude and a great story. Have you thawed yet?

  20. Well my friend, that’s what can happen on the sidelines!!!! I once was rolled on the sidelines by Two Tall Jones in Dallas! It was made worse because my back was turned to the field shooting the Cowboy Cheerleaders….Oooops. Made even worse because ut turned out to be a highlight, my wife wasn’t thrilled. You know what they say, even more today, “Some days you eat the bear, somedays the bears eat you!”

  21. They showed the replay during halftime and I throught to myself “hey, they kinda looks like Scott Kelby” I figured you would have it on your blog if it was and sure enough…..
    Too Funny!

  22. That was a really weird football experience for me. Everybody else in the room is focused on the game and play action and I’m staring at the background and sidelines, even in between plays… a strange way to watch a game.
    It’s cool that you were a part of the action! I like how you shared the moment on the blog here too. I feel like I was there even more than when I watched on TV. It almost makes me want to go outside and toss my camera on the ground and snap off the bottom segment of my monopod. Almost.

  23. Thanks for sharing, and of course, glad you survived unscathed. Great job continuing the shot… Most would have ended up with 15 pictures of the sky with a little blur of the top of the stadium as their momento… not 4 pictures worth of framing.

    (and don’t let Matt pimp out any more of your gear!)

  24. I saw you get wiped out in the corner of my eye (i was at the buffet), and all my buddies were yelling, “Steve, that photographer just got smashed!” Which is when you get up still shooting, and i yell back, “Yeah, check it, he’s still shooting!” … no idea it was you. Glad you weren’t hurt. Coulda been worse, you could got a golfball in your lens.

  25. Scott, you didn’t fool me one bit with your story. Right from the start I knew you were pulling my monopod and yanking my “R” strap. In addition, there is a an NFL rule that says “no money on the playing field”. This was put in effect to prevent the players from bribing the officials to change a call.

    You have to get up pretty early (8AM) to pull one over on me.

  26. I think you jinxed yourself with this line in your previous post, Scott…

    “Brad added some red flames and bright yellow tape around the top section of my monopod and hopefully if I show up on camera, it won’t be from me diving out of the way of an incoming receiver.”

    Maybe next time Brad needs to attach a big plexiglass riot shield to your monopod.

    Nah, a great story is always far more valuable that any monopod.

    Trev J.

  27. I was the 1st to tell you going in – the Pack was going to win. You went in to take pictures but didn’t see the “big picture” going in! Sorry for your loss – both the monopod and the game.

  28. Do you feel a little like Jack Lemon? Don’t answer the door if Walter Mathieu comes knocking. I don’t normally watch football until the Superbowl, so when I told my wife I was watching just to spot a photographer, my geek status shot through the roof. She was medicated for a sinus infection, so maybe she won’t remember.

  29. Great story, great experience (except for the broken monopod). Maybe you can get Rodgers to autograph the monopod for you. That would also make for a good story – when you (or someone acting on your behalf) approaches him and asks for his autograph he’d probably wonder “why do you want me to sign a stick?”. You could then explain that it’s a monopod that he broke when scoring the 1st TD in the NFC Championship game, and I’m sure it would put a smile on his face.

    I spotted you on TV at least three different times. I can’t wait to see the rest of your shots. I’m guessing you were able to keep using the monopod the rest of the game, but that you just had to stay low to the ground since it didn’t have the extension leg on it anymore.

  30. Whoaaa nice! Great thing is everyone and everything is well… except for the monopod of course…
    Also real lucky no one was stabbed by the splintered ends… heard it can give quite damaging and painful results.

  31. Great story, and one that will keep us shooters entertained for a while.

    On a serious note, this is my only complaint about carbon, there simply is no give to the stuff, it will simply snap. Had it been a [slightly heavier] aluminum monopod it would have more than likely bent. Either way, a monopod is a cheap replacement if that’s all that broke, the 400mm on the other hand, wouldn’t have been.

    Might want to mention how important PPA or similar insurance is to those looking to get into professional shooting too ;)

  32. Nice story. It happens all too often when players crash in to photographers.

    But, didn’t you have your gear insured? Maybe your excess was higher than the price of the monopod though.

    Glad the camera/lens weren’t damaged, and most importantly that you and Rodgers weren’t injured.

  33. Sorry for your troubles, but it was so worth it to have the Packers win! And I did see a photographer get slammed on his run, thought about you being somewhere on the sideline, didn’t even know it was you until now!

  34. At least your 400mm was okay. I’d much rather replace a monopod than a big lens like that. Hopefully you got some amazing shots that will pay for the new monopod.

  35. Scott: Great story. I missed seeing you on tv, but my buddy told me he thought he saw you on that Rodgers diving play. I posted to my FB friends that you would be shooting the game. And what do you know, he was right! And he’s not even remotely into photography…lol. Can’t wait to see some of the photos you took yesterday. Please post only Bears photos and crappy out of focus ones, because I have a feeling I will want prints haha! I’m stoked my Packers are heading to the big dance again. Been a lifelong Packers fan and it’s exciting when your team makes it to the Super Bowl.

      1. Dont give me that look! every sports photographer thinks about it. You just wonder how you will react. Im super impressed with the shots scott got. he shot till the bitter end

      1. I can imagine. I’ve not shot a ton of sports, but even with what I have done, I’ve had plenty of shots ruined by refs, coaches, other players, etc. running right in front of me at just the wrong time.

  36. LOL! That is the funniest made-up story I have heard in a long time…. but maybe only us photographers find it funny. But even cooler is that I watched that play and saw a guy get wiped out….nwt I feel cool knowing who it was. :)

  37. Glad to hear everything turned out alright and I can’t wait to see the photos soon. As a Packer fan I must say that yesterday was the single best day I’ve had since living in Chicago the past two years.

  38. Yes, we’re all glad that Scott was not injured and we’re sorry about the monopod but somebody PLEASE post this video on YouTube! :-)

  39. Everyone knows Rodgers likes Gibson not Fender ;-)

    Glad to see you are okay–and love that Rodgers gave you cash! Rothlisberger would have stolen cash from you ;-)

  40. Oh man Scott, was it like complete slow motion watching Rodgers crash into your 400mm I can not imagine the moment, what a great attitude you have though, thanks for sharing!

  41. This precise scenario is the subject of the Billy Wilder movie The Fortune Cookie where a sideline photographer is hit at a game and convinced by his crooked brother-in-law to sue the player. So consider getting a lawyer and starting to limp.

  42. I was worried about that new 400mm lens when I saw the photo of it hitting the ground. How does that happen and the lens come out fine? All of this aside, when you said you took a swing at Rodger’s leg and missed, I thought why…oh why. If you wouldn’t have missed we (da Bears…haha like I had anything to do with any of it) may now be heading to the Super Bowl…it was soooo close. Great story though!

  43. Monopod….Gitzo…sounds like a catastrophic failure. Box that puppy up an mail it Gitzo R&D for a replacement. The engineers at Gitzo totally owe you one! I mean if it fails by simply supporting 8-10lbs of gear and getting bumped by 200lb man in protective gear traveling at 10-15mph I mean can it be relied upon in the field? Great job!

  44. That’s a good story but you’re not fooling me. I know good and well you busted that tripod taking out Jay Cutler’s knee after the way he played in the first half. I wish you would have worked up the nerve in the first quarter, we might have won!

  45. You are lucky it was Aaron Rodgers and not BJ Raji that slid into you. If it were Raji that had to slide on his TD interception I think you might just be writing this from a hospital bed. I saw the whole game but missed you getting taken out by Rodgers. I think I may just have to purchase the game on iTunes and watch that again and see if I can see you. Sorry for your Bears loss but happy for my Packers win. It was a great game, full of excitement.

    1. Hi William:
      Nice try. :-) Although I totally made up the conversation with Rodgers, you’re wrong on this one. I did get hit by Rodgers, he did break the Monopod, and if you read the comments here, you’ll see lots of people who did see me get hit. Also, how do you explain the photo above with 1/2 of a monopod and a camera being on the other side of Rodgers? Do you think I threw it over him once he landed?


      1. How much money did you have on the Bears? Did you cover the spread? Hmm, gives a new meaning to being speared in a football game. How’s that new policy with Aflac? Seriously, you need to talk to the NFL camera guys to cover the contact if you’re going to take a dive taking photos.

  46. That’s what you get for being a Bears fan. He was actually trying to separate you from your 400, because he knew I needed something longer than my 300. After hearing all the money talk about a cheap old tripod, he knew he couldn’t walk away with 400 without you putting up a fight.

    1. Scott, please take images of Big Ben hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and then email them to Aaron Rodgers. That will make up for your broken Monopod. (Dont forget to include a few smiley faces.)

      Go Steelers!!!!

  47. Mr Kelby while I do admire your fantastic ability as a photographer and a teacher, I would like you to please refrain from trying to hurt our players by whacking them with your monopod. I understand it is only a carbon fiber monopod but the results could have been very upsetting to us up here in the land of snow and cheese. I reccommend that in the future you go with a rubber monopod that will bend and not cause possible injury to players. Can you imagine how hurt Mr Rodgers could have been if you had been out there with your TriPod or a steel Monopod.
    Please take this into consideration next time.

    Mike Mcarthy
    Head Coach Green Bay Packer

  48. Scott, your “Scott Spotting Guide” from January 20th would have been far more concise if you had simply stated that you’d be the photographer leveled by Green Bay’s Quarterback. Much easier than trying to pick you out based on your hat or jacket…

  49. Dear Scott, I dont understand it I have you in the perfect sopt at the key moment, you alone can have a major impact on the outcome of the game, and you hit Mr Rodgers with a plactic MonoPod. If you cant bring more sturdy equipment to complete the work needed ( helping the Bears) then I will have to look in another direction. You understand how it would have looked funny for me to have been where you were and to have that chance to get Rodgers out of the game. People would have been asking questions.

    Your Friend
    Michael McCaskey

  50. We all know your a master of photoshop and this whole story just proves it.
    After a little more digging i found a shot which must have been taken by a photographer beside you. You can come clean now and use this as another example of just how powerfull the new content aware fill really is.


  51. I saw that hit, and when i saw that Huge White Lens going Topsy Turvy, the last thing I would have concerned myself about saving, was a measly old monopod! Even if it was carbon fiber. Not sure if the Lens or the A$$ was the most important, but the monopod was dead last IMHO! Hahaha!

    1. Oooops Scott! Looks like I saw another guy get blasted because you don’t have a Huge White Lens on your camera. That being the case, you don’t have to feel like you were the only Photog to get run over this week! If that’s any consolation! :-)

  52. Scott,
    I DVR’d the game just to see if I spotted you. I only saw the yellow monopod cover but never saw you get “Jacked Up”. I’ve rewound it several times and still haven’t seen you. Great post. Bear Down Scott, at least the SuperBowl isn’t being played in your team’s stadium this year! Man, if that monopod would have not snapped….ka’ching for an endorsement deal! Be well.


      1. Hey Scott: That’s the part I rewound like 10 times. Didn’t see you specifically but recognized the monopod. Gonna have to see it again. Can’t wait for the “Jacked Up” Segment on D-Town. Lol!


  53. Of course you realize that breakage is NOT covered by the Gitzo warranty. But i have a feeling if the get it back they may see it in a different light.

  54. Hey Scott.. you can get another one from B&H. They are the best. I’m not getting any commission from them for recommending them to you. I’m just telling you what I would tell a friend;))))

    Isn’t your gear insured??? shouldn’t that cover even a monopod??? Thanks Scott and sorry if you don’t like my joke. Gimmie a break.. we read your jokes all the time.. some are really good others are…..good >:| if you know what I mean

  55. Scott, Too bad the Bears quarterback isn’t as tough as you! Maybe you can be the 4th string QB for Da’ Bears!!!! They could’ve used you … I would like to see the photos Rodgers scoring the touchdown compared to the photos of Cutler scoring a touchdown… oh wait, I forgot that didn’t happen…

  56. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
    So funny, sorry!
    This story should be a small part onb your next books.
    Something about “good position of taking pictures” :-)

    Dont forget what i told you about “Frank” at the dinner:-))))))))))

    lg Calvin

  57. Hey Scott!
    If Aaron paid for that Monopod, you should give it to him!!
    After all, he does own it. ;-)
    Maybe you could present it to him on a plaque, just remember to put a bell on it so it makes noise to scare off Da Bears… Nice shoot’n! :-)

  58. See, should have used aluminum. It would have probably just bent and you could have bent it back and gotten through the day. (there is some tongue in cheek there for anyone who thinks I’m being a smart aleck).

  59. I have to question the toughness of your monopod. You know a lot of monopods would have to be carted off the field before they didn’t support you in a game of that magnitude.

  60. I saw you get hit on TV. I jumped up and told my wife “Hey Scott Kelby just took a hit!”. I even hit rewind to make sure it was you I saw. I am always looking for you on the sidelines :)

    I just think its amazing that I was right considering how quickly you came on and off the screen.

  61. LOVED the post! I’m still laughing at it as I add my 2 cents worth. I’m very happy that you weren’t injured and as a Packers fan EXTREMELY happy that Rodgers wasn’t injured! Now, next time, get the heck out of the way!!! :)

  62. In college, I shot for the campus newspaper, and regularly covered games. At an ESPN-televised game (U. of So. Carolina vs N.C. State, I believe), a buddy went through pretty much the same thing, albeit with a much cheaper monopod.

    I went over to check on him and he shouted excitedly, “Did you see that? He had the ball! The cameras were on him! I’m on national TV! I’m on national TV!”

  63. I’m a HUGE Bears fan, and I was AT that game!! I WAS a big fan of yours Kelby. All you had to do was poke out his eye or twist his ankle a little bit…you let me down.

    Disgruntled Bears fan,


  64. Hi Scott,
    Where did you get that loupe that’s hanging around your neck? Now
    that the Super Bowl is over maybe you can get your half monopad
    signed by A. Rodgers.

  65. Scott, you are funny as heck! Love your writing and I’m sure you have no problem making this stuff up! Have a great time in NY tomorrow, wish I had signed up for the class!

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