When you think of being part of NFL history, you think of most Super Bowl Wins or most touchdowns caught. Never did I imagine that in Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season that I would be part of the longest game in NFL history between the Miami Dolphins and the Tennessee Titans. 7 hours and 10 minutes; that was how long the game was that I was a NFL photographer for.
Going into shooting the first game of the season, never did I think I would be a part of 2 game delays due to lightning that would make this 1pm game end after 8pm. Just goes to show you that anything can happen in football, even the longest game in NFL history. Here in South Florida we’re use to the rain and occasional lightning, but this was something else.
There was a minute or so left in the first half when a bolt of lightning struck just west of the stadium. I was in the opposite endzone and saw the lightning. Few moments later over the PA system and jumbotron game the announcement that the game was delayed. With it being near halftime I was able to head to the photo room where the pulled pork for lunch was being served and I was actually able to eat and take my time instead of rushing out for the 2nd half.
What was initially a 30 minute delay got pushed to almost an hour and a half. I was in the tunnel with the Tennessee Titans players just waiting for the game to start. The sun was out and everyone was anxious to get it going. Then the rain came and it kept coming. So I was there in the tunnel with Tom DiPace, who is an amazing photographer, talking about baseball during a rain delay in football. And we waited and waited. Every time an official or team spokesperson came out the time got pushed back even more.
The players finally came out, warmed up and we were ready to go. Since we have just an elongated delay, halftime would be 10 minutes and the players would stay out on the field. 2nd half kicked off and wouldn’t you know it, the rain came and then the next delay for lightning. And there I was again, standing in the tunnel talking with other photographers and watching the Titan players pace back and forth; itching to get back on the field.
To be honest I don’t remember how long the delay was, all I was thinking about was will this game ever end? The 4pm games were wrapping up and here we are still playing our game from 1pm. After the game was over, what was left of the fans departed swiftly. Players and photographers alike were relieved that the game was over. The game might have been over, but my work was just beginning. I had to upload my 1,000+ photos up to the NFL so the teams can go through them and pick out which ones to use. I upload select shots during the game so it can quickly be transmitted for social media use, but after the game is when I send everything up.
So yeah, I can say I was a part of history, the longest game in NFL history that is. I will be triple checking the weather for the next home game against the Oakland Raiders, best believe you me.