FOR OCT. 14, 2013
In Andy Lamb's memory, a football field is the scene of a murder. The victim is black, the killer white, the weapon a helmet. The year is 1972, the place Alabama. The motive is racial hatred.
Dr. Lamb (right, uniform and portrait) has told this story many times in the past 41 years: to his sons at the table, to friends around the world. It happened before his eyes, and it still plays in his mind, over and over, like a clip from a film.
When I heard the story last year, I went to Alabama to see if it was true. What I found was complicated. A few young men die every summer and fall, necks broken, brains smashed, their deaths caused by football itself. These fatal collisions require no criminal intent. They happen rarely but inevitably, as a matter of course, in a game that rewards the controlled use of violence. They happen now just as they happened then, in Alabama, in 1972, when the violent death of a young black man could be hard to separate from the lingering climate of racism.
Imagine testifying in court about something you saw yesterday. Could you be certain of every fact? Now try to remember something you saw 40 years ago. The eye can deceive and so can the memory. Even if you saw it the way it really was and accurately remember what you saw, you may never know the whole truth....
FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Longform, go to SI.com /speedy
Beyond the Box Score
A lot has changed in the almost 60 years since SPORTS ILLUSTRATED launched on Aug. 16, 1954. There was a time when the magazine ran a page in each issue titled FOR THE RECORD, a section that provided readers with scores, stats, standings and a roundup of the week's action. These days fans have, well, just a few more ways to keep up with sports news. One thing, though, hasn't changed: SI's commitment to muscular reporting and storytelling that goes beyond the scores and highlights.
This week SI.com launches Sports Illustrated Longform. The concept is simple: regularly present the kind of rich, narrative, in-depth storytelling—through enhanced photos, video and interactive elements—that in the words of SI.com managing editor Matt Bean "is in the very DNA of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED." Together with SI creative director Chris Hercik and assistant managing editors Stephen Cannella and B.J. Schecter, Bean has spearheaded the development of the new venture, which will merge lean-back journalism with a print design sensibility in a digital experience. Executive director, SI Digital Christopher Gibbons and his group in the client marketing department conceived the vision for the platform's look and functionality, a vision that deputy design director Alicia Hallett and interactive Web designer Louis Gubitosi have taken to a new level.
Sports Illustrated Longform kicks off with Thomas Lake's powerful and previously untold story of Speedy Cannon. It's the first of what we believe will be a groundbreaking series.
COURTESY OF DR. ANDY LAMB (LAMB UNIFORM)
COURTESY OF DR. ANDY LAMB (LAMB PORTRAIT)