GROWING UP in Cleveland, Tony Tomsic shot his first football game at age 14. Sixty-five years—and by his estimation, some 500,000 pictures—later, he was on the sideline of Super Bowl XLVIII, one of only four photographers who had worked each of the NFL's championship games to that point. Though his streak ended the following year, his images have long endured. Tomsic died on April 21, following a brief illness, at age 83.
In 1955 the self-taught Tomsic joined the Cleveland Press, quickly becoming known for his versatility. He shot games, of course, but also covered news events. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in '64 for his image of a civil rights demonstrator being killed by a bulldozer in the East Side neighborhood of Cleveland.
But Tomsic became best known for his work on the Browns' sidelines, chronicling the careers of Jim Brown and Bernie Kosar. He joined the staff at SI in 1981, and in all, shot 16 covers and countless more iconic images—like this game-winning touchdown by Webster Slaughter on the last weekend of the 1988 season.