Shooters Seeing Red Over NFL’s Vest Rule

Sports photogs are a famously independent bunch. They do what they do and they don’t wanna be hassled. Now the NFL is driving their association crazy with a new scheme: Starting this fall, every shooter on the sidelines of NFL games must wear a red vest with a Canon and a Reebok logo on it.

The National Press Photographers Association is not happy and they’re fighting back. “I think it’s extremely unfortunate that the NFL, after limiting the number of local video photojournalists on the sidelines (last season), is now attempting to turn them into roving billboards,” attorney and former photojournalist Mickey H. Osterreicher said today in Buffalo, NY, where for many years he covered the NFL’s Buffalo Bills before becoming a lawyer who specializes in First Amendment and press freedom issues.

“I would strongly suggest that any news organization whose photographers are required to wear such vests protest the requirement in the strongest of terms.”

The shooters say that by making them don these stupid vests, they’ll be breaking their own rules, that prohibit accepting gifts, favors or compensation from those who are trying to influence coverage.

Larry Roberts of hte Pittsburgh Post Gazette blasted back: I am fully against my staffers being used as billboards for companies which we may or may not support. The Post-Gazette, as a paper, uses Nikon equipment. I am sure Canon will love seeing their name behind a Nikon. … Or, will we now be prohibited from covering NFL events if we do not use Canon cameras? And by the way, I am sure that the photographs will be so much better with flashes of red drawing a reader’s eyes away from the action.”