Story   Photographer   Editor   Student/Intern   Assistant   Job/Item

 Front Page
 Member Index
 Latest Headlines
 Special Features
 'Fun Pix'
 Message Board
 Educate Yourself
 Equipment Profiles
 Classified Ads
 Monthly Clip Contest
 Annual Contest
 Current Issue
 Back Issues
 Members Area
 "The Guide"
About Us:
 About SportsShooter
 Contact Us
 Terms & Conditions

Sign in:
Members log in here with your user name and password to access the your admin page and other special features.



|| News Item: Posted 2001-10-25

Doomed in Denver
TV Cart Breaks Foot of Photographer Chris Covatta

By Brad Mangin

"I had a cheeseburger and two Heinekens to deaden the pain in my foot after the Bronco game in my shitty room at the Adams Mark in downtown Denver. My room had no view- what do you expect for a cheap weekend rate?" said Chris Covatta from his Austin, Texas home while limping around on crutches.

What started out as a fun trip to Denver to shoot a Chiefs vs. Broncos game on Oct. 7, 2001 and an Avalanche hockey game a few nights later for The Upper Deck Company turned into a nightmare for Covatta when the sideline TV cart on wheels ran up the back of Covatta's right leg, breaking two bones in his foot.

"It was a great day with beautiful, screaming light," recalled Covatta about his first-ever trip to Invesco Field at Mile High. "I was shooting with the sun behind me...I then moved to the other end of the field in the 2nd quarter. Then I got pissed when I missed Mike Anderson's long run that went away from me. I decided to go back and shoot the pretty light."

Photo by Bob Binder

Photo by Bob Binder
It was then when Covatta walked past the TV cart at the 50-yard line behind the Bronco's bench. "As I was walking behindthe bench the TV grip ran by me yelling, "Get out of the way!"" Covatta said. Covatta then turned and saw the cart coming his way. He ran to the end of the bench area and onto the grass.

"The damn thing ran up the back of my right leg. I stayed up and had tire tracks on the back of my blue jeans. It pushed my foot forward and I heard two bones crack. I looked at him and he looked at me- then he took off," Covatta remembered.

Paramedics finally showed up a few minutes later and fellow freelancer Tim Umphries convinced someone on the Broncos bench to give them a bag of ice. There was no place to sit that wasn't in the way of the TV cart, other shooters or cheerleaders so Covatta limped over to the 10 yard line and shot the rest of the 2nd quarter.

At halftime Covatta limped over towards his equipment cases and saw Chicago-based freelancer Ron Vesely. Vesely was angered at seeing his friend hurt so badly.

"How can a guy get a broken foot from a TV cart at an NFL game??!! I guess the answer is when the cart driver is simply an idiot and definitely at fault due to his negligent behavior! Most reasonable people would agree that this person (or his employer..CBS) should be held accountable for this reckless action," Vesely said.

Vesely then added, "I might have been more pissed off than Chris was at the whole scenario as it unfolded in Denver... it could have been any of us! Chris's shin was skinned pretty good from the cart running up his leg... I could tell by his limp that something bad happened to his foot.

"Chris is a "gamer", and rarely complains (note... about physical ailments...). He mentioned he heard two "pops"... not good indeed. Since I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express the night before, I examined his foot, ran in through the x-ray at security at Stapleton (after waiting 2 hours..another story) and recommended he take two aspirin and call me in the morning..."

After trying to shoot the third quarter Covatta packed up and headed out of Invesco Field. "Parking there is hideous. A guy on a bike with a cart (like a rickshaw) showed up and pulled me and my case up the big hill to my car for six bucks!" said Covatta.

After a trip to Walgreens for bandages and painkillers it was off to the shitty room at the Adams Mark for the before-mentioned cheeseburger and beers.

By Monday morning the foot had swelled so much there was no way Covatta could stay around for the Hockey game Tuesday night. Covatta decided to drag his broken-down body through DIA and DFW and made it home that night after a trip to the emergency room in Austin. Diagnosis: Two broken bones, 4-6 weeks on the disabled list.

Covatta lost ten days of scheduled work and got calls for four more days of work that he had to turn down. He will make his return to work on October 30th when he shoots the Clippers @ Spurs game in San Antonio. Covatta will make his return to the NFL on November 4 in Phoenix.

Vesely had more to say, "After talking to Chris a few days ago, he informed me that he might not be able to take any course of action, this after reading the fine print on the liability waiver that is presented to most photographers/camera people prior to receiving one's credential at most NFL games. No accountability??? Give me a break! The driver left the concrete pad and still did not stop.

Do the networks have unlimited power without accountability?

Perhaps the sidelines can be described now as being in a "wild west" state, where anyone in the "restricted zone" gives up any and all "protection" from not only accidental injury from a "game related" incident, but also from morons that don't give a flying #$*%& who's in the way, as long as they get their camera man in position for the next play. Never mind there are 4 to 8 additional cameras covering the play.

Does this lack of sideline liability mean that the next time this or something equally as bad happens to a photographer, the photographer is within his rights to retaliate and return the favor by smacking whomever with his monopod, knowing beforehand that there is no accountability for ones actions in the "restricted zone"? I don't think so!"

Vesely ended by saying, "I'm pissed for Chris... and I'll be even MORE pissed off if no one can be held accountable for their obvious negligent behavior. CBS carries insurance for this kind of thing... and Chris should not have to be out of work 3-5 weeks, and be kept from making a living without SOMEONE being held responsible and paying the freight. This is something that can affect every one of us working the sideline."

"I'm looking into my options concerning reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages," concluded Covatta.

Sports Shooter was unable to confirm the rumor that the TV cart driver had a Canadian driver's license and had been pursuing Covatta for over a year...

(Brad Mangin is a Bay Area freelance photographer whose work appears frequently in Sports Illustrated. His website, also hosts the Sports Shooter archives.)


Related Links:

Contents copyright 2020, Do not republish without permission.
Getting paid to eat pizza, smoke cigars and drink beer? One lucky photog ::..