Vernon Biever, who was associated with the Packers since 1941, died on Wednesday at the age of 87. Biever was only 18 when he shot photos as a freelancer with the Milwaukee Sentinel. He was attending St. Norbert College in De Pere, and just five years later he became the official team photographer for the Packers.
Biever's work chronicled five NFL championship teams and the careers of 15 Pro Football Hall of Famers. He took his place on the sidelines with every Packers head coach from Curly Lambeau to Mike Sherman. Players like Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Willie Davis, Brett Favre, Reggie White and many others became subjects for Biever's timeless photographic artistry and graced the pages of countless sports publications and virtually every major newspaper in the country. In later years, when he was having health problems, Biever took his camera to a private booth in the Lambeau Field press box, clicking away with his high-powered zoom lens cameras.
Vernon Biever shoots from a private box at Lambeau Field.
Photo courtesy Tom Andrews
In 2002, Biever was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame along with wide receiver Sterling Sharpe. Biever's presenter was none other than Starr, who lobbied hard for Biever's induction.
"Football teams and football players throughout the history of the NFL have entrusted their images to the photographers who cover the sport," Starr noted in Biever's book, "The Glory of Titletown."
"That trust demands a keen knowledge of the game and a deep respect for it, high standards of professionalism and disciplined dedication to the craft. I'm glad to have played for the team that had Vernon Biever as photographer, because he possessed all of these traits and, even more, a lasting level of excellence in his artistry."
Once asked to describe his approach and philosophy on snapping pictures amidst the violent mayhem of professional football, Biever said that his goal was to get that "one shot" each year. "If I can get just one shot a season, I've had a good year," he said. By that standard, Biever enjoyed more than a lifetime of "good years," as any longtime Packer fan can attest.
A native of Port Washington, Wis., Biever ran a travel agency there when he wasn't busy shooting and developing his classic photographs. Biever's two sons, John and Jim, followed in their famous father's career footsteps. John is a photographer for Sports Illustrated while Jim works the sidelines at all Packer games, shooting pictures for the team and NFL Properties.
Funeral arrangements for Biever are pending.