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|| News Item: Posted 2007-10-17

In The Pink: Update on the NFL's Sideline Vests
'So far, things haven't changed much since they arrived.'

By Dan Powers, Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

A bunch of red vest watch a fly over prior to the start of the game Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
(Editor's note: Before the start of the NFL regular season, Sports Shooter had several photographers give them observations and opinions on the NFL's new policy requiring sidelines photographers to wear a red vest. This policy caused a huge initial controversy because the vests were printed with logos from two of the league's corporate sponsors. Outcries came from photographers and newspapers, with several making formal complaints to the NFL and writing editorials criticizing the policy. After 1/3 of the season, Sports Shooter wanted to revisit the situation and asked several photographers to write updates.)

Ahh. The red vest.

Or in the case of Lambeau Field: The red vest that is fading more and more to pink with each game.

(Hey, at least they're clean!)

So far, things haven't changed much since they arrived.

First, I must say that I don't like the idea of the advertisements on the vests, no matter how small. I do wear one of those old Fuji vests from the 1990s, however, it is my choice to wear it. When I received it back in 1990 at the U.S. Open tennis tournament when I was an intern at the Associated Press, it was definitely not mandatory.

I have only seen a few photographers taping over the logos and I have never seen anybody of authority give them a hard time about it.

The number of photographers on the sidelines seems to be less, but I think that is due to the NFL cutting back on passes in general. I don't think the vest issue has anything to do with that...but I could be wrong.

At Lambeau Field we are required to show our press pass and give our cell phone number when we're issued the vest at the tunnel entrance to the field. After the game, you can either drop it off at the same table or they will come to the photo workrooms a little bit later to collect them.

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel staff photographer Mark Hoffman formats a card in the final moments of the game at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Notice Bob Deutsch of USA TODAY in the middle has taped over the Canon logo on his vest.
What doesn't make sense is that they still check our credentials during the game. I thought the reason for having the vest was to identify us. So what's the point of checking the credential? After all, we needed the credential to pick up the vest in the first place! To their credit, they have never interrupted me, asking to see my pass while there was action on the field.

At the Metrodome, all we did was give them our credential number and sign a safety waiver. But now that I think of it, we had to sign that waiver before the days of the vests. We got our vests in a tunnel similar to Lambeau. Nobody ever collected the vests at the end of the game, so we just left them in the Twins' dugout where we were working... never heard anything from them so I assume they found the vests.

At Giants Stadium it was the same scenario as Minnesota. They, too, never collected the vests, so we left them with a security guard.

Other than the whole advertising logo issue, there are a couple other things I don't like. Although I could stand to lose a few pounds, the vests are just another layer of cotton to sweat through. Before their first washing, they actually stained the white North Face logo on one of my jackets - it's now pink. Hopefully it will wash out. Also, I think the vests are going to be pretty snug when I have to bulk up for a winter game in December at Lambeau Field.

All in all, I think we were fine before without the vests and I haven't noticed any major positive changes because of them. If the NFL wants to make sure the right people - people working - are on the field, they should consider not issuing passes to friends of friends, former players or celebrities so they can get snapshots with their point and shoot cameras. That's what box seats are for.

(Dan Powers is a staff photographer with the Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent. You can view his work at his member page:

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Dan's member page

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