Note to readers: This series features the behind the photograph stories of images from the past year. These are not always my best photos but they are photos that have some meaning to me. Of course, sometimes that meaning is simply the photo was one of my best images.
This photo is, perhaps, my favorite football image of the year. It captures the raw emotion of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel who was propelled to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race by this game against Alabama. If you cover a lot of football you will know the helmet usually stays on the player’s head. Getting quality shots of a player showing his face is not as easy as you might think so I am doubly pleased with the emotion and that I can see his face.
Texas A&M was on a roll in the first quarter against Alabama. The Crimson Tide was coming off of a dramatic win over rival LSU in Death Valley and this game was what you would call a “trap game,” meaning, Alabama could very possibly get caught napping after an emotional win the week before. Alabama was favored in the game by about 14 points if my memory is accurate. Johnny Manziel must not have read the papers.
Manziel had the Aggies up by a touchdown early in the game. Then he added a second touchdown. Then a third and before you know it, A&M leads mighty Alabama 20-0 in the first quarter at home. One of those touchdowns went under review. Replay reviews are times to take a nap or review your images and tag the good stuff. I caught myself napping like almost everyone else while they did the review. Then I noticed Manziel had his helmet off and was looking at the replay on the big board.
I got my camera up and ready. As soon as the ref announced to the stadium the touchdown was good Manziel gave this great reaction, no helmet, and his emotion came through loud and clear. Alabama woke up after the first quarter and mounted a steady comeback. The game tightened. The Bama defense only gave up nine points the rest of the game but it would be too little too late as A&M held on for a 29-24 win and Johnny Football cemented his reputation and legacy in that one quarter in Tuscaloosa. It provided him with his Heisman moment and helped him be the guy on stage hoisting the Heisman Trophy. It helped me too. I got a picture that was widely published both after the game and with the coverage of the Heisman Trophy. And, all’s well that ends well, Alabama recovered from the loss and still made it to the National Championship Game.
This is it; the final installment in the Twenty Moments series for this year. I hope you have enjoyed reading about these photos and the stories behind them. I also hope you have some stories of your own to tell. Go make some pictures!