During the second quarter of No. 17 Oklahoma’s loss to No. 11 Kansas State, Sooners wide recevier Sterling Shepard efforted for a would-be touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Knight in the back of the end zone. As has happened a thousand times before and will happen a thousand times again, Shepard’s momentum took him out of the field of play and into the photographers’ row, where he collided with equipment belonging to Tulsa World photographer Mike Simons.
“When he landed, he fell into me and came down on my Canon 400mm F 2.8 lens. Shepard was hurt. He let me know it while he writhed in pain. For that, I would like to apologize that our paths crossed. I felt horrible and still feel very bad about that. I was relieved when he came out and played in the second half,” Simons wrote in an apology letter to Shepard.
Shepard led all receivers with 15 grabs for 197 yards and a touchdown – including seven grabs for 100 yards post-collision – in the Sooners’ 31-30 loss.
Simonds noted that places his gear on the ground because that is where he feels it is safest both for himself and the players. His system, Simonds notes, worked perfectly until Saturday. It was the first time in 26 years of photographing football games to collide with one of his subjects.
In the end, it was Simons’ (very, very expensive) lends that sustained the only real damage.
“The carnage from my end of this incident was that a Canon 400mm F 2.8 lens was broken in half. The lens sells for $10,499. It’s a lot of money, but nothing in comparison to a player’s safety. I feel lucky to have escaped the incident unhurt.”