The first weekend of the NFL Super Bowl Tournament offered SI a chance to explore its logistical limits. With twice the number of games ever scheduled in a round of pro football playoffs, we sent eight writers, one for each game, and 16 photographers on the road. They in turn sent us some 20,000 words and, more daunting, 725 rolls of color film.
Unlike copy, which is developed in the mind and transmitted to our offices by machine, exposed film must be hand delivered to the Time-Life color lab in New York City. As our Monday morning deadlines approach, time becomes critical. Usually a courier can collect photographers' film after a Sunday game and still catch the last commercial flight out of town. That was the case last week, except for the Atlanta-Minnesota matchup, which began too late for us to make the last flight out of the Twin Cities: A chartered jet brought back that film.
Working in teams of three or four, each photographer shot between 20 and 40 36-frame rolls per game. The eight-game glut, added to routine shipments of basketball, hockey and golf film, made for a long day in the lab. "About twice as long as normal," said Assistant Supervisor Jim Coursen. Even with two extra technicians on a "hand-line," a manual system which supplements the automated processing system, the lab didn't close till 4:30 a.m. Monday, 23½ hours after it had opened. By that time it had produced 28,872 transparencies.
At 8 a.m. Sunday, Picture Editor Barbara Henckel's staff of four editors, plus two temporaries, began "whittling it down," in Henckel's words. They assembled the best shots from each game, which were then shown to Managing Editor Gil Rogin and his aides, who chose the 17 photos that appear on pages 14 through 29.
January 17, 1983
Despite our efforts to cover Round 1 thoroughly, there was one picture we thought we hadn't got. Staff Photographer Manny Millan, in Washington for Saturday's Redskins-Detroit Lions game, found himself in perfect position to record Redskin Receiver Alvin Garrett's third touchdown catch of the day. "I shot it," said Millan. "Garrett was right in front of me with five Redskins around him in a semicircle. He started orchestrating this strange dance, and then they all leaped into the air—really the best picture of that game." Only then did Millan realize there was no film in his camera. "After something like that," says Millan, who in 10 years at SI has about 40 covers to his credit (including this one), "you really wonder if you shouldn't apply for a hack license." Fortunately, Staff Photographer John Iacono, shooting from the opposite side of the end zone, got the picture. He hadn't run out of film, as the photograph on page 22 attests.