48 and Counting
NEW YORK CITY — Four photographers have shot every Super Bowl. Two are Sports Illustrated staffers, including one who covered the inaugural game when he was just 15. Super Bowl XLVIII was just another day at the office for John Biever, who got his start as an assistant for his father, Vernon, the legendary Packers’ team photographer. Biever’s favorite shot from the 1967 game: Vince Lombardi walking off the field, Vernon Biever to his far right. “My two heroes in the same frame,” John says. For Super Bowl XLVIII, Biever was less concerned about the possible inclement weather (he grew up in Lambeau country, after all) as he was about access. Super Bowl I featured maybe 50 credentialed photographers. “Now there are over 400,” Biever says. “And the field hasn’t gotten any bigger. “Because of the overcrowded sidelines—and, in this case, a lack of drama in the game—Biever says good pictures often arise from being in the right place at the right time. “You’ve got to play your odds, and this game was definitely an odd start,” Biever says, referring to the bad snap on the Broncos’ first play that resulted in a safety. “I don’t know if many photographers were ready for it. A lot thought Peyton Manning was calling a timeout.” Biever didn’t get a great shot of the opening safety but captured a powerful image of Richard Sherman and Clinton McDonald celebrating, which frames a dejected Manning plodding toward the sideline.
Biever’s longevity stems from his passion for the game. He talks about Cover Two defenses with the same knowledge and fervor as shutter speed or aperture. “I don’t take as many pictures as most people do,” Biever says. “I’m just looking for the right shot.” He now has 48 years of them.