Right from Week One of the college and professional football season we are preparing for the big games, the ones that will bear heavily on rankings, championships, titles and bowl invitations, not to mention the dispositions of wildly partisan fans who would rather drink hemlock-on-the-rocks than see their team clobbered by an old rival. And while there is no accounting for inspiration, luck and the miraculous—those things that make any two teams worth watching in a showdown—we are most assuredly counting on the action happening in every section of the country. We note, for example and without surprise, that last year the football editors sent writers and photographers down South for six stories, to the Southwest for five others, to the Midwest 18 times, out to the West Coast 10 times, up into the plains and mountain states twice and up and down the eastern seaboard on 10 occasions The big game is where you find it and wherever it is, we plan to be there, too.
There will, moreover, be a significant expansion of our football coverage this year. The photographers who roam the sidelines and lean out over the top of press boxes to snap the action will have color film in their cameras all season long. This week, for instance, Photographers Walter Iooss and Neil Leifer were on the scene in Milwaukee to catch the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts whacking away at each other, and the results are those two pages of mayhem accompanying Tex Maule's account of the game (page 26).
We have long been aware that football is color—from pompons to bloody noses to violently clashing jerseys—and have steadily advanced the deadline between the time a picture was snapped and when it appeared in the magazine. In the Stone Age of magazine publishing the wait was a standard six weeks, which nowhere near approached the immediacy we were after. But recently there have been wonderful technical innovations in engraving and printing processes, and the result is what we call fast color. We can take a picture in color late Sunday afternoon and develop, engrave and print it in time to make the magazine that begins to reach newsstands by noon Wednesday.
We tried relatively fast color for the first time in 1959 at the Boston College-Navy game played on a Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The film was rushed to a laboratory in Chicago, where our main printing plant is located. There the best single picture was chosen and the layout made. Nobody was at ease for that one. Would it be a disaster? Maybe we would have to switch to black and white.
September 18, 1966
The results were spectacular. Saturday's stories were fair game for fast color from then on. This year there will be more of it—much more—and now Sunday's professional action is being given the full color treatment, too. In fact, fast color will get its most extensive workout so far next weekend when we will go after the Texas-USC game at Austin on Saturday, the Giants-Cowboys game on Sunday and plan to "close" a baseball pennant-race cover. Two of the stories will be handled in New York, the other in Chicago, as Photographers Leifer and Iooss, who will be spelled later by such colleagues as Jim Drake, Art Shay, Herb Scharfman and Tony Triolo, begin their long season of dashing for jets. It will be frantic, but we'll take that. We like seeing the news in color. Don't you?