It’s fall, which means one thing: football. The start of a new season can bring a mix of emotions — some fans have a renewed sense of hope, some seek redemption from robbed ref calls the year before, and others expect nothing less than a one-way ticket to the playoffs.
Regardless of where you stand, the beginning of the season is a big deal. At Libris, we’re all about powerful visual storytelling, so we get pretty excited for another reason — awesome sports photography. Each team is different – not only in how they play, but also in how they share stories and engage their fans. And great images are at the heart of it all.
So to celebrate football season, we wanted to ask: What’s the one image that defines your franchise? (No pressure, right?) Below, six teams share their most iconic photo and the story behind it.
The Photo: On December 31, 2017, with two minutes left in the game, Quarterback Marcus Mariota stiff armed Jaguars defender Barry Church to pick up a crucial first down and send the Tennessee Titans to the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
The Story: This photo captured an iconic moment in a new era of Tennessee Titans football. Mariota’s stiff arm not only catapulted the team into the playoffs but also was a defining moment in his young career.
The play, particularly the stiff arm, encapsulated the team’s toughness and the intensity of the rivalry with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The image also had a striking resemblance to the Heisman trophy, an award Mariota won in 2014. Fans took to social media to share the image and create their own memes. The Mariota photo was one of the Titans’ best performing images on social media, generating well over a million impressions.
— Nate Bain, Social Media Manager, Tennessee Titans
The Photo: Linebacker Ray Lewis enters M&T Bank Stadium for the last time as a player on January 6, 2013 during the AFC Wild Card game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Story: Lewis’ final performance of his famous “Squirrel Dance” drew his entire team near the flames around him. His opponents even craned their necks to see. In the stands, Ravens fans roared with excitement watching Baltimore’s finest entertainer. Lewis was recently inducted into the Pro Football hall of Fame Class in 2018.
— Erin Herbert, Digital Media Manager, Baltimore Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs
The Photo: This photograph (called “The Return”) of safety Eric Berry was taken on September 17, 2015 and shows the This Is Chiefs Kingdom banner. We refer to our fans as The Kingdom and it’s a term we hold close to our hearts.
We’ve used this photo in many ways throughout the organization — from plaques for partnerships to internal signage and branding. It’s also one of my all-time favorite photos I’ve taken for the team.
The Story: This image signifies the return of football because it was taken during the 2015 season opener. It also marks the return of Eric Berry after he won his battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
We knew that Eric Berry’s first game back would be an epic moment so I wanted to capture a photograph to showcase that. My goal was to get a low angle that would tell a complete story and monumentalize the subject.
— Steve Sanders, Official Photographer, Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Rams
The Photo: Quarterback (16) Jared Goff and Running back (30) Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams during pre-game warm ups, getting ready to play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, December 10th, 2017 in LA.
The Story: This is a great photo because it captures two of the Rams’ young pros exchanging words as they go through their pregame routine. In this brief exchange between teammates there is ambiguity, a serious tone and friendly vibe.
— Julia Faron, Media Relations Manager, Los Angeles Rams
The Photo: Seahawks fans had such an impact on the success of the team in the 1980s that then Seahawks President Mike McCormack forever retired the number 12 jersey on December 15, 1984, a tribute to the best fans in the NFL.
The Story: In Seattle, the fans are known as “the 12s.” They give a new meaning to home field advantage at CenturyLink Field, where the crowd is acknowledged as one of the loudest in the league. The 12s are still honored today just before each home game kickoff with the raising of the 12 Flag, a symbol for the relentless support of Seattle fans.
— Jeff Richards, Vice President of Marketing and Community Engagement, Seattle Seahawks
New York Jets
The Photo: This is an image of the New York Jets pregame huddle prior to kick off against the Buffalo Bills on November 2, 2017. The team went on to defeat their division rivals, 34-21, on Thursday Night Football.
The Story: At the conclusion of every practice and before every game, the team huddles together. This represents a diverse but united group of players and coaches joining together in reflection of their preparation and anticipation of what they are trying to achieve. While there are multiple voices, the message remains consistent: One Team, One Goal.
— Eric Gelfand, SVP Communications & Content, New York Jets
Next Up: How the New York Jets Engage Fans with Real-Time, Thumb-Stopping Photography
Want to see firsthand how teams like the Jets move their iconic photos from the field to your social media feeds? Watch the behind the scenes video below and check out the full story here.
For more inspiration and to learn how over half of professional football teams are sharing images instantly, check out our webinar Engaging Your Audience with Real-Time Visual Storytelling.