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|| News Item: Posted 2011-02-20

Scrum Lords

By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter Newsletter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Bob Deutsch (far right) is in his usual spot after the Super Bowl; two-feet in front of the game MVP.
Pushing and shoving, yelling and screaming it rolled across the field between the 40 yard lines, bouncing off of and sucking in everything in its path like a category 5 hurricane

Three hundred – pound linemen doing combat like modern day gladiators?

Nope. I’m talking about The Scrum surrounding the winning quarterback or head coach after a big game.

I am no wall flower … but the sight of an ugly mess like that can turn an atheist to a deeply religious person because they think they are about meet their Maker.

As the final seconds ticked of the clock, the avalanche started to roll as the masses swarmed from the sidelines to the middle of the Cowboy Stadium field. Like a hurricane, a post-game scrum sucks you in. Dozens of people pressed against each other, moving as one entity.

Your job in the scrum is to seek out a player, any player (but hopefully one you’ve heard of) and get s decent frame of him … surrounded by other scrummers like you.

Focus? Forget about it.

Have the WIDEST lens you have set to 3 feet (or 5 if you’re at the back of the pack), point the camera in the general direction of the player (if you can figure out where he is) … and put the hammer down!

When they coined the expression Hail Mary they didn’t have The Scrum in mind, but it’s appropriate because you have to say a prayer to get a decent frame.

When the clock runs out on a big football game, I have a moment where I think back to my second Super Bowl. When The Scrum was forming in the middle of the SuperDome in 1990, a TV cable puller decided to do his job (which up to the point had consisted of standing in front of photographers on the sidelines) knocking over several people, including me. The sprained wrist and bruised knee that resulted, I’ve always considered my Super Bowl Red Badge of Courage.

I still charge into the abyss at the end of the big game. I get my share of frames of winning players surrounded by photographers --- which I’ve never really understood why it’s the photo that everyone has to run on the front page. But I still do it.

There are guys that are really good at this and have been for years.

I think every Super Bowl MVP or winning coach in the last 20 years has had my good friend and colleague Bob Deutsch back peddling about 2 feet in front of them as they yell “I’M GOING TO DISNEYLAND!”

Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Look close in the Vince Lombardi Trophy: In the middle is an unnamed USA TODAY west coast staff photographer.
Looking over my Super Bowl frames over the years, I see the same guys near Bob, other great Scrum Lords like Al Tielemans, David Phillip and Jeff Haynes.

What they do takes real talent. Honest to God. They have the sense to know when to charge the field. The anticipation to know who THE player is that will be in the middle of The Scrum. And the toughness to get there.

These guys are always in my frame but that’s because they are the best at doing this.

We all hate doing The Scrum. We bitch about it for days leading up to the big game. But it’s become a tradition of sorts.

The NFL has used different methods over the years to control the post-game chaos. From a human wall of security, to ropes and even a warning to photographers not to go on the field over the stadium PA during the final minute of the game. At least we get the access, for what it is. At the end of the NBA Finals, the only photographers allowed on the court are the black-vest league shooters.

Maybe the NCAA has the right idea. At the end of the Final Four there is an edict that nobody --- not even the networks --- can run the court for a brief period of time after the buzzer sounds. This (in theory) gives everyone the opportunity to get “clean” celebration photos.

But this year’s Super Bowl, there wasn’t much, just a few security personnel on the sidelines. And as the game ended, we just run like hell to the middle of the field.

* * *

This (belated) issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter features a story that affects all working photographers, our health. And more specifically our backs. Patrick Smith relates his experiences of the past year, battling back from a serious back injury plus handling a big move from Utah to Maryland.

After changing the Sports Shooter Newsletter Annual Contest to a Portfolio Competition, I asked a couple of good friends to write about making a collection of one’s work. Robert Seale writes about assembling a personal portfolio and Robert Beck discusses entering our new portfolio contest.

James Madelin continues his series on basic lighting techniques.

LCD viewfinders is the topic of the Pimp My Rig feature and I start a new regular feature, Blog Log, which links to interesting, thought provoking and cool web content.

* * *

On the nightstand is the latest from Robert Crais, “The Sentry”. This month’s must-listen recording is Gregg Allman’s collaboration with T-Bone Burnett “Low Country Blues” (thanks Ron). Check out my colleague Bob Deutsch’s video interview with Allman at this link:


As always, special thanks to: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin and Joe Gosen.

Thanks this month to contributors: Patrick Smith, Robert Seale, Robert Beck and James Madelin.

The comments, opinions and other perceived nutty statements that the writers may have expressed, implied, imagined or made up are theirs and theirs alone. Sports Shooter, Inc. and published these articles in good faith with the purpose of education and inspiration.

Permission in writing must be obtained from Sports Shooter, Inc. and the author of the article before being reprinted.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at

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