The relationships and memories you build through the years as a team photographer are priceless.
You have a special entrée to a very unique group of characters in the universes’ daily theater.
As each season unfolds you begin to learn and really understand the inner-workings of your football club. It’s virtually a big wheel with many cogs that lock together to keep the flow, rhythm and unity of TEAM in balance and running smoothly.
We all know players become a significant part of that circle in motion. Not one player looks alike, acts alike or plays alike, but intriguingly they all fit together.
When you have a missing link due to injury, a trade or — tragically — a loss like we had yesterday with Kenny McKinley, the orbit in which the club operates takes a hit.
Kenny was a very unique cog. As a second-year, 6-foot, 183-pound player, he was one of our more recent squad members that at least in my dreams made me feel like I might have been able to step onto an NFL field. That’s where it ended, though. He was deceptively fast, had good hands and carried as big of a smile as I have ever seen in the league.
Generally, players are pretty good at small talk but not very good on long talk. I think because of his fun-loving personality, McKinley and I connected early on in his career, and we had many good conversations often peppered with humor.
Through the years I have tried to be courteous, friendly and supportive to all players, but it is hard not to have favorites. Kenny certainly was one.
Just as it was with Darrent and Damien, it will take the big wheel that drives the organization a while to get back in sync. But with time and heavy infusions of love, support, counseling and determination, all will realign and begin to revolve efficiently once again.
May that ever-present smile of Kenny’s shine down on us to keep the TEAM spirit and unity alive and the wheel turning.
God bless No. 11.
-Eric Lars Bakke