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|| News Item: Posted 1999-09-27

Runnin' With The Razor
By Gary "Razor" Bogdon, The Orlando Sentinel

Photo by Gary Bogdon/Orlando Sentinel

Photo by Gary Bogdon/Orlando Sentinel
It's that time of year again, when every major newspaper in the state of Florida sends its photographers out to shoot their annual preseason football section covers. I've seen it all, the low angle with the wide lens using the blue or stormy sky as the background. The mean, tough, in-your-face defensive lineman looking oh so macho. The mini-trampoline jump, so your subject is leaping in the air picture. But this year our sports editors came up with a 'theme' that I haven't shot or even seen before. Our sections were going to celebrate the 'sights and sounds' of 100 years of football.

I admit, I wasn't so big on the idea at first either. But when it was all over, I was pleased with the results, and had some fun doing it. For 6 different section covers, I shot coaches, players (college, pro and high school) and even Jay Berwanger, the 86-year-old first Heisman Trophy winner ever, (1935, University of Chicago) all with a 'musical theme'. That is, each of them were playing,holding,carrying, etc.. a musical instrument, and Berwanger, dressed in one of his old uniforms was our conductor of the 'band'. Sound crazy?, Well it was.

A few observations:

Jay Berwanger: I couldn't believe he had one of his old uniforms, not to mention that he can still fit in it. He was great, he stood for about an hour for me, in his driveway in Oakbrook, Ill., (home of the TY Beanie Babies, I know this because I drove past the corporate offices), in front of my makeshift studio that was rigged up in his driveway against his townhouse garage. As we shot, his friends and neighbors would stop by, or drive past and yell out things like "go get 'em Jay". What a wonderful person, and a terrific sport to put up with our crazy idea and me. He says he has about a 35 handicap and plays golf 3 times a week. I hope I can pick up a golf club and swing it when I'm 86.

Steve Spurrier: I thought he would be my toughest subject, but after telling him I shot fellow Heisman winner Jay Berwanger, and his archrival FSU's Bobby Bowden playing a guitar, he didn't mind at all that I had him playing a saxophone. He even said in the 7th grade he played a trombone. That was fine with me, I just wanted a good picture, and didn't want him yelling at me in that southern twang.

Photo by Gary Bogdon/Orlando Sentinel

Photo by Gary Bogdon/Orlando Sentinel
Bobby Bowden: Headline read: "He's got a No. 1 hit", so we posed him playing a guitar. If you've ever worked with coach Bowden, you know how easy going he is, and will do just about anything. I told the reporter that he would wear an Elvis wig and ride a unicycle for us if we asked him. The reporter didn't know I was joking, and when he showed up with an Elvis wig, I said there is no way I'm going to ask Bowden to wear this. Besides it looked like a really bad 'toupe'.

NFL/Pros: You know how it is when you're dealing with pro athletes. Oh sure, the media director says: 'Sure, they'll do that for you, anything you want, and you'll have plenty of time with them." Yeah right! When the asst. trainer for the Tampa Bay Bucs showed up prior to the shoot and brought the helmet and shirts, he had this sickening look on his face, (actually I had the sickening look, he looked more like, 'you need what?') when I asked him where the pants, and shoes were. He said no one asked for pants and shoes.(Lesson: never rely on the reporter's word that they've taken care of everything.)

The pants were all being washed, and shoes were at another facility, but with some pressure and some begging, they rushed over and got them in time. Warren Sapp and the rest of his Bucs teammates were really great to shoot and having fun with the idea, which was the whole point. I would have never guessed that Terrell Buckley would have such small hands that it was hard to hold onto the cymbals. I thought I was going to have to gaffer tape them, but he figured a way around that.

Photo by Gary Bogdon/Orlando Sentinel

Photo by Gary Bogdon/Orlando Sentinel
University of Central Florida Knights: The story here this season, after the departure of all-star quarterback Daunte Culpepper, (now with the Vikings) was which QB can take over for him. So we shot them all (originally 4 of them) playing the violin, (2nd fiddles no more, get it?). Problem was, the day after the shoot, one of the qb's quit the team. So we had to reshoot it.

High School Preps: It is so much easier dealing with high school athletes. No egos, (compared to college or pro), no hangers-on, (other than the parents or girlfriends) and they'll do anything you ask. We had them (representing 5 different area high schools) all singing together, as I had Lauren Hill's 'That Thing' pumping on the stereo in the background. They took a little coaxing, but had fun with the shoot.

After over two weeks of driving from one end (Tallahassee) of the state to the other, (Miami) and a few stops in between (Tampa, Gainesville, and Jacksonville) it was still a fun, but exhausting experience.

I would like to thank our Deputy Managing Editor for Sports Van McKenzie (former Editor of The National Sports Daily) who made this entire project possible. Van is new at The Sentinel and is making a lot of changes that are resulting in much better picture play, like you can see in these section fronts.

(Gary Bogdon is the Senior Staff Photographer at the Orlando Sentinel.)

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