Bob Lilly: A photo finish

Former Cowboys defensive lineman Bob Lilly talks about his love for photography in our next Where Are They Now?

Originally Published: June 23, 2007
By William Bendetson | ESPN.com

Throughout the offseason, we'll catch up with former NFL players and coaches to find out what they have been up to since leaving the game. Bob Lilly, known as "Mr. Cowboy," has become the consummate photographer since his retirement from football in 1974. After photographing his teammates for the 1992 book "Reflections," which he co-authored with Dallas sportswriter Sam Blair, Lilly has turned his lens to the outdoors.

Every year Lilly, 67, takes four trips through the Southwest to shoot more photographs to put on the wall of his Texas home. Except for a five-year stint in Las Cruces, N.M., Lilly and his wife, Ann, have lived in Texas since his retirement.

Mr. Cowboy

Images from the 14-year NFL career of Bob Lilly, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
Lilly photo gallery

"I used to love the darkroom for developing my pictures," said Lilly, a Hall of Fame defensive tackle for Dallas from 1961-74. "But now even I have converted to the digital side."

Among the locations Lilly travels to photograph every year are Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park and the Grand Canyon. Lilly also has an enormous collection of photography books in his home. One of his favorite photographers is Ansel Adams.

Lilly, however, still has some advice for sports photographers.

"Make sure you know the down and distance," Lilly said. "Also, research the tendencies of the team you are shooting and remember that luck is involved when it comes to capturing an exceptional play."

Lilly enjoys life despite not having a lot of money. His pension from the NFL is $112.50 a month, which he said is barely enough to pay his electric bill. Recently, he needed a new set of teeth as a result of deformities suffered during his playing days. The procedure cost more than $20,000.

Lilly List
Bob Lilly's five favorite defensive linemen of all time:

1. Reggie White
2. Deacon Jones
3. Merlin Olsen
4. Gino Marchetti
5. Eugene Lipscomb

"I am lucky that I have a little savings from the money I made in real estate," Lilly said. "When people talk about the (NFL) pension issue, I know what it feels like."

Still, Lilly has fond memories of his playing days and said that he stays in touch with many of his former Cowboys teammates, including Lee Roy Jordan, Cornell Green, Chuck Howley and Calvin Hill.

Lilly, who enjoys speaking of his playing days, still remembers his first preseason game when he lined up against Colts Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jim Parker.

"I never even saw the quarterback," he said.

Lilly also played in the famed Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL Championship Game. He said that his coach, Tom Landry, did not allow the Cowboys to wear gloves despite the temperature being about 20 below zero. Lilly said the Packers wore fancy gloves.

"Even though we lost the game, I was just so happy to get out of there alive," Lilly said.

William Bendetson is an intern for ESPN.com