Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Small world

So a recent comment from an old friend on the blog has inspired me to post a fairly interesting story, in my mind anyway. I had a Patriots game to shoot for UPI back in December. A winter storm moved in that Saturday night before the game. I woke up early Sunday morning and sure enough the roads were really bad. So I headed to my car and was out the driveway by 9 am. The roads had not been plowed but I have all wheel drive so I put it to good use. It took about an hour and a half to get to the stadium. The highways were a mess but the Subaru handled it all pretty well.

So I get to the stadium parking lot find a spot and start getting ready. The weather had not subsided. It was sleeting and snowing and raining. Time to bust out the foul weather gear. Waterproof insulated pants, insulated waterproof boots, rain coat, and several layers. For the camera and lenses, well they make rain gear, but I am still using large trash bags with some tape and strategically placed rubber bands. Hey that rain gear costs big bucks. Anyway I get all geared up at my car and start to make the trek to the stadium.

I check in at media will call with no problems and make my way to the media filing center. Unfortunately I was redirected to the field because the players were hanging out in the hallway that leads to the media room. Not a big deal, it happens all the time, but I was just hoping to stay dry. So I head out to the field to walk around to the media room. As I am doing so I am confronted by a large truck clearing off the sideline. So I walk further out onto the turf to go around the truck. That was my mistake.

Okay, I should mention one of the other reasons why I wanted to get there early. The Patriots were playing the New York Jets. For some, reason enough to be excited. But for me it is because I went to college with Eric Mangini the head coach of the Jets. I played football with him. I lined up against him almost every day in practice my freshman year. He was a senior at the time, and played defensive line, I was an offensive lineman. I even hung out with him a fair bit in college. I wasn't a good friend of his by any means, but I figured he would remember me. And I thought the only time I could maybe get near him was during pre game as the teams warmed up.

The turf, was covered by a green tarp. The tarp in turn was covered in slush and ice and snow, making it really really slippery. I took one step and both of my feet just slid out from under me. Cue the slow motion machine and like a cartoon I just slammed completely flat on my back. At the same exact time the tail end of my 300mm lens, which weighs 7 pounds and was draped over my shoulder, nailed me in the forehead. For some reason the thing that stands out in my mind when it happened was laying on the ground for a split second and hearing the Jets players burst out laughing at me. So it probably looked pretty funny. Almost immediately some security people from the stadium as well as a firefighterrushed over to help me get up. I stood up and my legs buckled. This was a new feeling for me. I don't think in all my years of playing contact sports that I had been knocked out, or on the verge of being knocked out. I didn't like it. The firefighter said something to the effect of "Whoa there buddy, why don't we take you over and you can have a seat."

I followed his advice. I spent the next hour chatting with the EMT's and said firefighter. Oh and also with the roving insurance person at the stadium who took all my info. I had a nice lump on my head and was getting dizzy. The firefighter eventually suggested that I take a trip to the hospital but I declined. I decided to try and shoot the game. It went alright, I was a bit out of it. I tried not to run too much on the sideline but I wasn't as careful as I probably should have been.

So the Patriots beat the Jets and it was time for the post game handshake between the coaches. I am hustling to get in position and the next thing I know I get shoved by a security guard (Belichick was right behind me) and I am face to face with the same guy I used to play against every day in college, except now I was surrounded by national tv and print media, security, and 50,000 fans.

It was one of the strangest moments in my three year career as a photojournalist.




Follow up. The fall gave me a concussion. I was having dizzy spells for almost two weeks. Good fun.

2 comments:

Dargan said...

Awesome story.

Matt H said...

Thanks man. Been meaning to put that up there for awhile now.