When the Raiders moved back to Oakland from Los Angeles, my family instantly acquired two season tickets. The next year it went up to five.
Through the end of elementary on through the beginning of college I attended anywhere from 5-10 games a year. We painted up for every game, added a few dog chains and skull-related attire and headed to our seats in section 117, right on the rail of the players’ tunnell. The teams entered and exited the field just to our left, as we hung over the side and shouted various things.
Of course that only lasts so long. After the players come coaches, then trainers, equipment managers, other hangers-on and then the photographers and reporters.
My brothers and I made it a point to cheer for everyone. The guys who carried the bikes, the guys with the massage tables and even the lowly journalists, truly the bottom of the barrel. By the time they came through we shouted mainly for the irony.
Out there on the interwebs is a video of me shouting at an AP photogrpaher shooting video on his still camera, set up on a monopod. It’s the final shot of his video on the AFC championship game. There I am, full facepaint, screaming “Way to go camera-stick guy. Way to hold that camera on a stick!”
Years later I stumbled upon as I was researching photojournalism for myself and looking for tips. At that moment it seemed like I had come full circle, the subject becoming the shooter. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago, as I was in Arizona for the BCS National Championship (a phrase I hope to not use again for many, many months), that the switch really finished
I had been on the field in pregame, so I knew where everything would be and what I needed to shoot. I knew where to go and was no longer in awe of the giant space of University of Phoenix Stadium.
Then as I walked out I noticed two kids hanging over the railing to my right, peering in for a look at what they hoped would be players. They scanned me, saw the camera and moved on.
There was no cheering for the camera guy, but I saw my brothers and I 10 years ago. I saw us as numerous photographers had over the years. It was a little weird. I thought about calling my mom, but of course, as in any good stadium, there was no cell reception of any kind.
The photo above pretty much sums up everything that happened before the game. I’m the one right in front of Oregon coach Chip Kelly, just to the left of the big guy in the light shirt. You can kind of almost make out the back of my head, as the rest of me is swallowed by arms desperately thrusting their microphones at the coach.
For just more than a week I went from press conference to practice to press conference, trying as hard as possible to not only come up with something we hadn’t written or shot the day before but something the thousands of other media members hadn’t already covered.
My role on the trip was mainly video of those events (the paper also sent two print reporters and a photographer) and then whatever else we could dig up. That included profiles of LoLo’s Chicken and Waffles workers who provided lunch for the Ducks one day and an interview with Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach, who had been part of the first college power ballad earlier in the week.
The game itself was pretty bittersweet as an Oregon graduate, but the experience itself as great.
And n the nearly 10 days I spent in Arizona, there was truly only one time I lost composure and got a little too fanboy.
Standing in line for the media elevator at University of Phoenix Stadium (the school has one of the better online football teams in the nation) I was about 15 feet in front of Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski. That also meant there were around 300 people in between us. I will have to awkwardly meet him some other time, unfortunately.
After I got downstairs to the digital media room, I told our photographer who I had seen. He looked at me and said, “Who?” Sorry, Joe.