Dallas, Texas - 2023
There are no more celebrated Dallas Cowboys than Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman and the chance to photograph them together was high on my bucket list.
Equally, with opportunity comes reponsibility. My sense was that a single frame had to pay homage to the great city of Dallas and the world’s most valuable sports franchise as well as it’s two greatest quarterbacks. That’s not an easy brief, but I knew of a downtown location in the East Quarter that offered a generous level of context.
Using a car to build a story is not alien to us. It is a prop that not only offers opportunity, but it also gives reason and plausibility for the presence of the protagonists. The 1979 Lincoln Continental we opted for had the necessary length that I was looking for in the composition and by good fortune was a nod to the time the Cowboys became known as “America’s Team”. 1979 was also Staubach’s last NFL season, so the car worked both optically and historically.
The nickname America’s Team originated with the 1978 franchise film, in which the narrator (John Facenda) opened with the following introduction:
“They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, “America’s Team”.
The name stuck and much of the credit for that lies with quarterbacks - Roger and Troy - the winners of five Super Bowls between them and two legends of the game. Moving forward to 2023, and their post-game careers have set an example for former professional athletes, Roger as a genuine innovator in real estate and Troy as the leading sports pundit of his generation.
My sense was that I needed the two great men to be in conversation and for there to be an implicit sense of brotherhood and mutual respect. Roger - a Heisman Trophy winner, Naval Officer and Vietnam veteran - has a statesman’s face that I needed to fully recognise and Troy could walk onto the set of Yellowstone and no one would blink an eye.
When I directed them on that hot Sunday evening in downtown Dallas, I - despite my Scottish roots - hope I had the sensibility to appreciate that millions of Texans would have paid many dollars to be in my shoes. It was a true honour and both men are outstanding individuals who make a strong case for the defence in the argument about “never meeting you heroes”.