Was One of the Most Famous NFL Photographs Ever Never Actually Printed in a Newspaper?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The famous photograph of Y.A. Tittle was never published in a newspaper.

Morris Berman’s photograph of New York Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle moments after suffering a concussion and cracked sternum (on a play that resulted in an interception for a touchdown) is one of the most iconic photographs in sports history.

And yet his newspaper would not even run it!

The photograph happened in an early season game between the visiting Giants at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It beautifully captured, more or less, the ending of a beautiful career by a Hall of Famer. Tittle was 37 at the time and 1964 was to be his last season.

However, Berman’s paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, felt that the picture lacked action and refused to run it!

They instead ran a series of other Berman photographs from the game.

Berman was undaunted, though. He began to enter the photograph in contests across the country, and it soon began to draw a great deal of national acclaim. It won the National Headliner prize as the best sports photograph of 1964.

It likely would have been a strong contender for the Pulitzer Prize for photography in 1965 (although the winner, Horst Faas, had some brilliant Vietnam War photos – but I think Berman would have had a chance) except for one thing – Pulitzers are only awarded to photos published by newspapers!

For the rest of his life (Berman passed away in 2002 at the age of 92) he bemoaned his paper’s decision!

But luckily for us sports fans Berman pushed the issue with the photo, because it is not unreasonable to believe that the attention given to his photo helped revolutionize sports photography as we know it – with many more photographers willing to go for the shots like the Tittle photo.

The legend is…

STATUS: True (at the Time, That Is. Obviously it has appeared in newspapers since then)

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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