Sports

Okwara exhibit captures pandemic from NFL view

DETROIT, Mich. — Romeo Okwara is used to having cameras follow him as a starting linebacker for the Detroit Lions. Starting Friday, however, people will get to see his perspective of NFL life during a pandemic from behind the lens.

An exhibit of his photography, featuring behind-the-scenes images from the NFL’s 2020 COVID-19 season from a first-person perspective, will be on display at Leica Gallery Los Angeles. The exhibition opens Friday and runs through Nov. 2.

Okwara first picked up photography while shooting pictures of friends as a sophomore at Notre Dame. It continued throughout his NFL career with the New York Giants — in 2019, Okwara photographed firefighters from FDNY Rescue 2 for a project in New York.

“As a professional athlete in the NFL, I’m accustomed to having the camera directed at me. Picking up a camera a couple years ago enabled me to express my side of the story,” Okwara said in a statement. “Whether I’m at the training facility with my teammates, out shooting random moments I find interesting or documenting daily life, photography gives me that same spark of joy I feel on the field on Sundays.”

This time around, Okwara is giving a firsthand look at life through his own camera during an unprecedented tragedy and is now being featured in an epicenter for art and photography.

“We were so thrilled to have Romeo Okwara exhibit here at Leica Gallery LA, especially during the season,” said Paris Chong, gallery manager and curator. “He is a really gifted athlete, photographer and he captured some amazing images behind the scenes of some of the most notable NFL players with candor and a lot of humor. We would love to see him here in L.A. when he recovers from his injury.”

Okwara was placed on injured reserve and has had surgery after suffering a season-ending Achilles tear during the Lions’ Week 5 loss in Chicago.

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