National Football League’s best photos of 2021 season revealed in annual Hall of Fame contest

CANTON, OHIO – Self-employed photographer Mark Brown is the winner of Dave Boss Excellence Award for entering the 54th Annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Photo Contest. His photo, titled “Backlit Backup”, was selected by a jury as the Photograph of the Year for the National Football League’s 2021 season.

The image features Dolphins quarterback Jacoby Brissett stepping back to pass into the shadows of Hard Rock Stadium with fans in the background creating a colorful mosaic. The image was taken during Miami’s game against the Houston Texans on November 7, 2021.

Brown, a graduate of Lynchburg College, is based in South Florida and has worked as a photographer since 2012. His clients include Getty Images Sport & Entertainment, various NFL teams, Major League Baseball, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and others.

The prestigious Hall of Fame contest is open to professional photographers on assignment to cover NFL games. Photos taken during the 2021 NFL season, including Super Bowl LVI, were eligible.

Brown’s entry won first place in the Feature category, while the freelance photographer Douglas DeFelice was first in the Action category. His photo, “Eye Ball,” shows Carolina Panthers running back Royce Freeman attempting a catch with one eye fully focused on the ball during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Bank of America Stadium on October 10, 2021 .

Judging was conducted in April by a panel of prominent photo editors and photographers. Judges included Ben Liebenberg (NFL Director of Photography), Terrell Lloyd (Director of Photography Services, San Francisco 49ers), John Reid III (Longtime NFL Photographer), Paul Spinelli (President, SpinPhotos, Inc. .) and Kevin Terrell (President, Kevin Terrell Photography and Photo Editing).

REMARK: To see all of this year’s winners, go to

For images of this year’s winners for editorial purposes in connection with the contest, please contact Saleem Choudhry at ([email protected]).




Feature Winner – Mark Brown, Mark Brown Photos LLC


First Place – Mark Brown, Mark Brown Photos LLC, “Backlit Backup”, Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins, November 7, 2021.

Second Place – Dan Szpakowski, New York Jets, “All Gas, No Brake”, Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets, Oct. 31, 2021.


Third place – Meg Williams, San Francisco 49ers“So Close to LVI”, San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams, Jan. 30, 2022.


Hon. Citation – Arron Anastasia, Pittsburgh Steelers, “Double 07,” Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers, October 10, 2021.


Hon. Mention – William Glasheen, The Post-Crescent, “Shared Smile,” Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers, October 3, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Shawn Hubbard, Freelance, “66-Yard Celebration,” Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions, Sept. 26, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Joey Pulone, Joey Pulone Foto, “2 Ravens Ready to Fly,” Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, Sept. 19, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Joey Pulone, Joey Pulone Foto, “This Way, Men!”, Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens, October 17, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Karl Roser, Pittsburgh Steelers, “A Time to Reflect,” Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers, Jan. 3, 2022.


Hon. Mention – Meg Williams, San Francisco 49ers“The People’s Tight End,” Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, Nov. 7, 2021.



First Place – Douglas DeFelice, Los Angeles Chargers, “Eye Ball,” Philadelphia Eagles vs. Carolina Panthers, October 10, 2021.


Second Place – Jason Parkhurst, Jason Parkhurst Images, “Gronk Grab,” Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dec. 12, 2021.


Third Place – Jeff Lewis, Los Angeles Rams/AP Images, “DK Metcalf”, Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans, Dec. 12, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Mike Carlson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, “Gronk Spike about to activate,” Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sept. 9, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images, “A Commanding High Jump for the W,” Washington Football Team at Atlanta Falcons, October 3, 2021.


Hon. Citation – David Richard, Free Lance/Associated Press, “That’s A Stretch,” Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns, October 21, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Ezra Shaw, Getty Images, “Diving Touchdown,” Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers, October 24, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Al Diaz, Miami Herald, “The Best Game That Didn’t Count,” Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins, Nov. 11, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Joey Pulone, Joey Pulone Foto, “I Believe I Can Fly,” Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, Dec. 5, 2021.


Hon. Citation – Kevin Sabitus, Kev Sabitus Photography, Inc., “Why They Named Him Chase”, Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers, December 19, 2021.


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