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Opus captures football’s magic

By Reena Amos Dyes



If you refer to XL Super Bowl The Opus as just a book the head of the company that created it says:


“You have made me put another dollar in the swear box.”


Then Karl Fowler, founder and CEO of Kraken Sport and Media, goes on to explain why the tome about America’s most revered sporting event is a work of art and worth the Dh147,000 that the first 400 copies are being sold for.


“We teamed up with the National Football League to assemble historic moments, rare photographs and stories from iconic players and coaches,” he told Emirates Business.


“The Opus documents the 41 years of the Super Bowl from its inception in 1967 through to the big game in Miami on February 4, 2007, like never before.


“It took us three years to put it together. To qualify as an Opus at least 50 per cent of the photographs should never have been seen before or be specially commissioned.


 In our Opus, 70 per cent of the photographs have never been seen before.


“It took our researchers a year to go through three-and-a-half million photographs before they settled on the 2,000 images that finally made it into the Opus.


“This was because each picture we chose had to have a story behind it.

For instance, one of the pictures we have used is of Vince Lombardi, the legendary head coach of Green Bay Packers, that was found in a shoebox.


The photograph was taken 35 years ago by the son of photographer Walter Iooss Jr.

The child was taking a photograph of his father at the Super Bowl and unknowingly clicked Vince Lombardi in the background.


“When Iooss found out that his son had touched his camera he grounded him. The photograph and the incident were forgotten until he started working on the Opus with us and then when he was going through his old stuff he found this picture in the shoebox and realised that his son had actually captured Lombardi in the background.”


But does all this really justify the Dh147,000 price tag?
Well, the Opus is a limited edition, hand stitched, exhaustively researched and lavishly produced work that presents the reader with an almost cinematic experience.


There will be no reprints of the Opus, which comes in a silk-covered clamshell box.


This leather-bound, gilt-edged work measures 20x20, consists of more than 850 glossy pages and weighs a record-breaking 88lbs (39.9kg).


The first 400 copies of the limited edition of 20,000 will be individually signed by all the living Super Bowl Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winners.


The legends who have signed the Opus include Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Chuck Howley, Roger Staubach, Jake Scott, Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff, Randy White, Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, Joe Montana and John Riggins.


“In America to be a MVP winner is like being knighted in the United Kingdom,” added Fowler.


“Only one player is given the award each year – 35 are still living and we got them to sign 400 sheets that have been hand-stitched into the first 400 Opuses.


“This has never been done before in the history of Super Bowl. It took us two long years to get these 400 sheets signed. Each sheet has been valued at Dh129,000 by experts.

As the years go by the value of these signatures will just keep growing.


“In fact, some of the people who have bought the MVP signed edition have asked us to put the Opus in humidifiers.


This means they are treating it as an investment, which is a pity as we have told the iconic story of the Super Bowl like it has never been told before.


“This was the idea from day one and with an introduction by literary icon David Halberstam and selected works by Red Smith, Dan Jenkins, Roy Blount Jr and Michael MacCambridge, author of the best-seller America’s Game, the Opus is filled with some of America’s finest writing.”


Now that the XL Super Bowl The Opus is complete, Fowler’s company is working on 18 other projects and is in talks about producing one on Dubai.


“It will be our first Opus to celebrate a place,” he added.