What’s it like to be the photographer run over by an NFL player?
I’ve been a photographer at NFL games since 1987, and Saturday’s Patriots-Texans playoff game at Gillette Stadium was the first time I’ve ever been hit and knocked over by a player.
I’ve had many close calls where players have run past me, hurdled me, and slid past me. But Texans cornerback Andre Hal was the first to make contact. He knocked Getty photographer Rob Carr and me over as he was trying defend a long touchdown pass from Tom Brady.
It was the fourth quarter, with 7:44 on the clock. The Patriots had the ball, first-and 10 on the 24-yard-line. I kneeled on the Texans side of the end zone, about seven yards deep, envisioning an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch in my corner.
Brady dropped back to pass and looked toward my corner. I dropped my long lens and grabbed my short, wide-angle lens. The play came my way – finally a play to my side of the field.
I started my motor drive, then realized the ball was overthrown and wouldn’t be a touchdown. Then the Texans cornerback was getting big in my viewfinder, and as soon as I dropped my camera, he was on top of me.
The first reflex of a photographer is to protect your gear and not let your camera and lens smash into the ground, especially my fairly new $12,000 lens.
All I remember after that is being on my back with a huge football player’s face about two feet from mine saying, “Are you OK, are you OK?”
I am fine and consider myself lucky. Last season at a Patriots game photographer broke his nose after getting taken out.