It’s a perfect storm of a pinup: A last-gasp play seemingly interpreted in opposite ways by two replacement refs—patsies, really—working from a complex rule book. But the photo of the last play in the Monday Night Football game on Sept. 24 will force you to rethink the Packers-Seahawks finish, says Ben Reiter. “You never really know the life that a photograph is going to take on,” says Otto Greule, who took the photo. “That particular frame, to me it’s definitely a moment, an important moment. As far as the aesthetics, it’s kind of pedestrian. But I do like the context, showing the end zone, all the fans going ballistic page 62).”
While Greule’s photo is a fine one—clear, well-framed, exquisitely timed—it would not have been a sensation solely on its artistic merits. Context was everything. Analyzing the photo that precipitated the end of the NFL referee lockout, Ben Reiter digs into the story behind the now-iconic image, talking to the referees about why they made their decisions and how their lives have been changed by the controversy. Says Wayne Elliott, the referee who upheld the touchdown call: “It was the absolute biggest thrill of my life. I was making $225 a game in D-II football, without a travel allowance. I loved that. I would have done it forever. But if I had to sacrifice that to work seven weeks in the NFL? Man, it was amazing (page 66).”
Steve Rushin spends time with the lawyer, grandfather and ceramic zebra collector who represents the football fan’s national security blanket
After a controversial Hail Mary ended last Monday’s Seahawks vs. Packers game and expedited the end of the referees’ lockout, Ed Hochuli, the referee known for his bulging biceps, is the most important man in football. His leadership of the locked-out referees and commitment to the game land him on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.
A partner at a Phoenix law firm and grandfather of ten, Hochuli has officiated NFL games since 1990 and is known for his intensity. Why? He knows all of America will scrutinize his calls. He says: “Sometimes I open my mouth and don’t know how the sentence is going to end. I can’t tell you how many times I start to say something and realize halfway through, ‘This is going to be on YouTube, isn’t it?’ ” (page 48).