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2/7/2009
09:58 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Super Bowl Photo File Almost As Good As The Game

Steeler fans are sure to love it, but even for others, this outstanding collection offers not only superb action images from the game but also some striking candids: Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin clutching hands on the sideline during a tense moment, Troy Polamalu hugging his infant son, Hines Ward with tears running down his cheeks, and many more.

Steeler fans are sure to love it, but even for others, this outstanding collection offers not only superb action images from the game but also some striking candids: Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin clutching hands on the sideline during a tense moment, Troy Polamalu hugging his infant son, Hines Ward with tears running down his cheeks, and many more.This massive collection reflects not only the game but also our profoundly digital age and lifestyle, in which the work of dozens or perhaps even hundreds of people can be fairly easily pulled together and made accessible through a link of about 40 characters. Can anyone over 25 imagine the time, money, effort, and grunt work that would have been required to compile such a collection in the not-so-long-ago film days?

And yet, as far as we've come with nearly ubiquitous digital technology, the human factor will always win out. I've looked at lots of magazine photos from the game, video replays, and online images, but none of those representations -- none of them -- can show conclusively whether James Harrison absolutely positively had the ball across the goal-line at the end of his 100-yard interception return. (Which, by the way, is becoming known as the greatest Super Bowl play of all time, but I'd go beyond that and say it's the greatest defensive play the NFL's ever seen -- but, I digress.)

Even the huge photo file in the link above doesn't deliver the proof -- it does have a terrific sequence of Harrison tightroping down the sideline, bodies flying behind him in both directions, Cardinal players racing even out-of-bounds to try to catch him, and then a beautiful series of almost stop-action shots of Larry Fitzgerald wrestling with Harrison and trying to pull the ball away as Harrison tumbles to the ground.

But in spite of all the brilliant images, and the dozens of video cameras at every conceivable angle, and the air-cam spinning on wires above the field, and the hundreds of photographers ringing the field and particularly the end zone, the "truth" about whether the ball crossed the plane before he was down remains as elusive as the square root of pi. And I like that.

P.S. -- Since I first saw the file, the creators have added this note at the top requesting donations to offset the massive load the file's popularity has put on their server: "If you enjoy these images, please help support our Pittsburgh-based website by making a donation. The amount of traffic we are receiving as a result of the interest in this collection of images is approximately 300 times our normal daily traffic and we are entirely volunteer/non-profit, so any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Even if you can donate just $1, you will actually make a big difference in defraying our costs. Thanks for your help."

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