Although Richard B. Woodward has gained acclaim as a writer on
photography, his favorite sports memory reflects an image on a TV
screen. "I watched the Thrilla in Manila [1975] in the pouring
rain," says Woodward, whose essay on sports photography begins on
page 74. "I was in Amsterdam, and there was a cluster of us
outside a TV store. We stood there for an hour and a half in the
rain, watching this amazing fight." Woodward, 51, has been a
visiting critic at the Rhode Island School of Design. He's now
working on a book about why certain pictures become iconic, but
when it comes to his personal favorites, he admits, his reasoning
is not terribly sophisticated. "I like old photographs," says
Woodward, "because they remind me of when I was a kid."

Adam Stoltman

His assignment: to find the best photos ever published in SI. It
took Adam Stoltman four months to go through 50 years of SI page
by page, and his first edit defined the ambition of this special
issue. "It was one of the truly extraordinary tasks I've ever had
to do," says Stoltman, a former deputy picture editor at SI. "I
enjoyed being with the ghosts of the past."

Gene Menez

A photography buff in his spare time, writer-reporter Gene Menez
combined his interests in words and pictures when he worked with
Neil Leifer, who has shot 169 SI covers since 1961. Menez's
account of the stories behind seven Leifer photos begins on page
94. "I've always thought I was a photographer in a previous
life," says Menez, who joined SI in 1998. "After speaking with
Neil, I really hope I was."

COLOR PHOTO: MEL LEVINEDISCERNING EYE Woodward redefines the power of sports images. TWO COLOR PHOTOS: MEL LEVINE