Viral Super Bowl photo mystery solved
IT'S BEEN the great mystery of the decade so far and it has finally been solved.
The podcast The Greatest Season That Was Presents ..., which is currently looking into the history of the Australia A cricket side, had been sent a picture of Super Bowl XXX between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It captured the celebration following Larry Brown's intercept touchdown that sealed a 27-17 win for the Cowboys.
But background figure raised plenty of questions, featuring a man wearing an Australia A jersey with a headset on the sideline.
The podcast had been sent the image by Twitter user Asian Cup on January 21, sparking a social media manhunt.
It sent social media into a frenzy as the suggestions of who it might be began to pour in.
It had plenty of media attention with ESPN's Laurie Horesh also getting in on the act.
Not everyone believed it could be real as it appeared like it was too good to be true.
Even veteran sports TV producer David Hill, who worked on the likes of World Series Cricket, six Super Bowls, Academy Awards shows and is one of the world's premier sports producers, laughed off the image.
"The worst photoshopped image piece of rubbish I've ever seen in my life," Hill said on RSN radio's Breakfast Club.
"Some w***er standing there with a pair of shorts and a top badly photoshopped into what looks like the offensive line of the Cowboys. How anyone could believe it was anything at all is beyond me."
But it was true, with the photo coming out of the Getty Images library and the man attending several other Super Bowls.
He was at Super Bowl XXXV waving the players on to the field from the tunnel and was a background player in several different matches.
But the telltale orange gloves narrowed the field down, with the arm-wear pointing to the TV time-out producer at games.
Working for CBS, which filmed Super Bowl XXX, the man on the sidelines was Jimmy Hadder.
The podcast then pulled together an emergency podcast with hosts Shannon Gill and Adam Collins, chatting to the man himself.
While bristling at being labelled "a w***er", the man from Boise, Idaho then explained how it came about that he was wearing the Australia A jersey at one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
"Originally I was in Australia for almost a two-year period," he said.
"I had come there to do the World Cup Athletics Championship in Canberra in 1986. I call it my lost years because I was all over there.
"I was also down there for the World Cup Weightlifting Championships in Melbourne when the big weightlifter defected, Naum Shalamanov.
"I then stayed down there and was over in Perth for the America's Cup. And during that time, I got turned on to cricket, which is the greatest game in the world."
While it's jarring to hear an American talk about how much they love cricket, the story doesn't end there.
Having travelled around, he was at the MCG for a match between Australia and New Zealand and saw Kapil Dev, Viv Richards, Gladstone Small, Ian Botham, Steve and Mark Waugh and some of the big names of cricket history.
He may not want to telegraph he had told Horesh that Australian legend Allan Border "was an overrated player" though.
But the Australia A experiment didn't start until December 1994 and January 1995 when Australia played in a quad-series against England, Zimbabwe - and Australia A.
Hadder has been to Australia five times through his life and wasn't sure when he bought the shirt.
"I think I bought it at a souvenir store there if I'm not mistaken," Hadder said.
He also didn't realise it was such a unique part of Australian cricket history.
Hadder said he was going to break the jersey out of storage and keep it going.
"When I'm out there and calling for time-outs, with the orange gloves, I'm sending hand signals to the referee, the man with the white hat, whenever TV wants to take a time-out," he explained.
"You can't just take them at any time. You're stationary but there are so many people on the sidelines that you have to be seen. So you never wear colours of either team that's playing on the field because you're going to get mixed in with all those people right off the bat and with that pattern and everything, you're going to stick out like a sore thumb. And I love the game and I wore the top.
"And also, I wore a different Australia top at the Super Bowl that was played in Tampa in 2001, the Giants and the Baltimore Ravens and if you can get video of that, I'm in the tunnel at pre-game where they're calling all the players out of through tunnel and I'm queuing all the players and I've got another uniform top that's darker like a forest green with yellow star on it."
Hadder is on the CBS team still and can wear whatever he wants but won't be covering the Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. But Aussie fans should look out next year.
"If you want me to wear the shirt, I'll wear it again," Hadder said.
The best thing about it - he's still a mad cricket fan.
Well done to all involved and keep an eye out for the telltale Aussie jersey on NFL sidelines in the future.
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