Top Photos Of 2021 National Football League Season Revealed In Hall Of Fame’s Annual Contest

CANTON, OHIO – Freelance photographer Mark Brown is the winner of the Dave Boss Award of Excellence for his entry in the 54th annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Photo Contest. His photo, titled “Backlit Backup,” was selected by a panel of judges as the Photograph of the Year for the 2021 National Football League season.

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

Brown, who is 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 Hall of Fame’s prestigious 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 was the first-place winner in the Feature category, while freelance photographer Douglas DeFelice was first in the Action category. His photo, “Eye Ball,” features Carolina Panthers running back Royce Freeman attempting a catch with a perfectly focused eye on the ball during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Bank of America Stadium on Oct 10, 2021.

Judging was conducted in April by a panel of prominent photo editors and photographers. The judges included Ben Liebenberg (NFL Director of Photography), Terrell Lloyd (Director, 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).

NOTE: To view all this year’s winners please go to

To obtain images of this year’s winners for editorial use in relation to the contest, please contact Saleem Choudhry at ([email protected]).


Dave Boss Award of Excellence, 2021 (Photo of the Year)

Feature Winner – Mark Brown, Mark Brown Photos LLC


First Place - Mark Brown, Mark Brown Photos LLC, “Backlit Backup," Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins, Nov. 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. Mention – Arron Anastasia, Pittsburgh Steelers, “Double 07,” Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers, Oct. 10, 2021.


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


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


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


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


Hon. Mention – 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, USA TODAY Sports, “Eye Ball,” Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers, Oct. 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. Mention – Mike Carlson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, “Gronk Spike About to Activate,” Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sept. 9, 2021.


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


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


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


Hon. Mention – Al Diaz, Miami Herald, “The Best Play That Didn't Count,” Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins, Nov. 11, 2021.


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


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