Sunday, February 1, 2009

Championship Football And The Lower East Side: Neil Leifer

I'm not aware of any "son of the les" who played on a championship team. We do, however, have Al Smith's Ronnie Bliey who played on the Giants briefly. His brother Ernie found us here a while ago. But we have Neil Leifer who took the photo above of Ameche's 1958 touchdown as a 15 year old. He went on to become one of the country's most respected sports' photographers.
from wikipedia:
Neil Leifer (born December 28, 1942 in New York, New York) is a noted photographer for the Time family of magazines. As a boy in New York City, Leifer would gain free admission to New York Giants games by pushing the wheelchairs of handicapped patrons into the stadium. Using his free ticket and a camera, he would then position himself on the field with the photographers.
Leifer gained free admission to the 1958 NFL title game between the Giants and Baltimore Colts. This game became famous as the first overtime game in league history. Leifer, on his sixteenth birthday, caught several images of the game winning touchdown which he sold to Sports Illustrated.
Sports Illustrated's editors liked Leifer's work and he quickly became a boy wonder at the magazine. He had his first cover shot in 1962 at age 19.
Leifer was also known for taking risks. For the 1966 heavyweight title fight between Cleveland Williams and Muhammad Ali, Leifer placed a camera in the rafters of the Houston Astrodome in order to get a shot of the canvas when the victor knocked out his competition. His shot of Ali standing over a defeated Williams has been seen by millions. A year earlier, Leifer was one of the only two photographers with color film in his camera when Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine, and his image of the moment has become not just one of his most famous photos, but one of the most memorable sports photos of all time.
Neil is also known for the help offered to photographers at new venues. His knowledge of all the major sites of events saved many a young shooter, and made his place among the not-only greats, but tops among the "good guys."
After over 150 covers for Sports Illustrated, Leifer left sports for a wider range of assignments with Time Magazine. This included a notable spread on the "Big Five" shot on safari in Africa.
In later years, Leifer gradually reduced his workload. He likes to brag that the only pictures he takes anymore are of his grandchildren, although he has been known to come out of retirement for a special cover shoot for Sports Illustrated on rare occasions.
In recent years, Leifer has focused his creativity to the moving image. He is the director, and often writer, of noteworthy films. Most recently, Leifer was shortlisted for the documentary film short Oscar for 2007, titled "Portraits of a Lady".

1 comment:

Howie Leifer said...

That is NOT Neil Leifer's picture of the winning touch down in the 1958 Championship game. It is similar to the one that he took.