Football Nostalgia

It has been an long week since the longed-for Super Bowl concluded the 2011 NFL season. For all of you who have been on hold since then, watching the replays and impatiently waiting for September 6, the opening of the 2012 season, here is a post that might help you with your nostalgia.

Please be comfortably seated, and enjoy the game.

Erich Salomon, Football game between Yale and Harvard, Boston Stadium, 1932

Arthur B. Rickerby, Weary sentinels, Cleveland Browns, September 18, 1966

Arthur B. Rickerby was born in New York City in 1921. While studying political science and government at Duke University, Rickerby took photographs of the school’s sporting events and players and sold them. After enrolling in the US Navy in 1942, he joined Naval Photographic Unit headed by Edward Steichen and photographed the Far East including life in  a POW camp and the historical 1945 Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri. Back in the United States, he started his career in photojournalism covering various assignments for United Press International. At this time, Rickerby also captured striking sport photographs, a reminiscence of the very beginning of his career.

This photograph illustrates a 1966 football game in Lambeau Field between the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers. The Browns defenders, Walter Johnson, Dick Modzelewski, Paul Wiggin, and Jim Houston, appear as blatantly downcast underdogs, losing the NFL championship game. This same season saw the very first Super Bowl game won by the Packers.

It was published in LIFE in October 1966 in “Battle of Pro–Violence under Control,” an article depicting the brutal combats of the professional football league. Alongside Rickerby’s images, players testify of their experiences of violence and share their own tactical strategies.

“My mother saw this on TV and after the game she called from Chicago to find out if I’d broken my neck.” Larry Garron

“These are the great moments of line backing. But when a 9.5 halfback runs pass patterns on you all day or when you have to get hit by guys like McClinton, you begin to wonder. But the sweet part comes when you throw up the perfect defense against what that other quarterback wanted to do on a particular play.” Chuck Allen

“On this punt I’ve got a pretty good shot with a blind side block–that’s the most effective kind because Lorick couldn’t see me. I came up on his side and almost clipped him. Your job is to knock somebody down–you can’t dance around.” Joe Marconi

Indeed, football players are not ballerinas.

The 1992 ICP exhibition “The UPI and LIFE Years, 1941–1971: The Photography of Arthur B. Rickerby” focused on Arthur B. Rickerby’s work for United Press International and LIFE.

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