On Seeing: A Journal – #249
I have begun a photographic study of how the musculoskeletal systems of professional football players look and function. How does the body fit the player’s specific position? And given the demands of a physically punishing sport, what do players do to improve on what nature has given them.
More than almost any other sport, football has specific functions at every position that, in general, require an “ideal” physical structure to perform well in each of the roles filled by offensive and defensive players.
For example: An offensive lineman’s main purpose is to create a wall to protect his quarterback or to open lanes for running backs. Small men need not apply. They must be very large, often 300 pounds or more, with the power necessary to prevent equally large defenders from breaking through.
Defensive backs must be lightning quick and able to run backwards and sideways almost as fast as forward.
Bryan Scott, defensive back
I asked my friend Tiki Barber, the retired Pro-Bowl running back for the New York Giants, for his guidance and assistance.
He wrote the following note for inclusion in the letters of invitation sent to many key players.
“I’ve had the pleasure and honor of being photographed by Howard Schatz during my professional football career. It was one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of my life. We are all physically unique and having an unforgettable photograph made by one of the icons of the industry was remarkably empowering. I hope that you’ll agree to take the journey with him – it’s one that you will never forget.”
– Tiki Barber
I have done a number of photographic sessions with pro players in the past and now I’ll continue, building on these earlier explorations.
This marks the formal beginning of my new project.
Greg Jones blocking back
Portrait of Tony Gonzales, pro-Bowl Tight End
Adrian Wilson, NFL Safety
Robert Porcher, NFL Defensive end
Visanthe Shiancoe, NFL Tight end
Tiki Barber, “flying” to catch a football