During his long career, David Turnley has dodged gunfire, shaken hands with world leaders, witnessed the toppling of regimes and won a Pulitzer Prize. But what has given him perspective, he said, are memories from an indelible part of his college years: a 1973 stint as a walk-on — along with his twin, Peter — on the University of Michigan’s storied football team.
Before he fell for photography, the sport was his first love. “I was always attracted to the struggle of football — the intensity, the competition, the camaraderie,” Mr. Turnley said. In 2012, he returned to teach at Michigan. But he turned to football a few years later when the university’s struggling football program hired a new coach, prompting Mr. Turnley to embark on a new project.
Mr. Turnley reached out to Coach Jim Harbaugh and explained his interest in documenting the team. They recognized each other as kindred spirits and bonded over their shared love of football and competition, developing a friendship built on mutual admiration for the perils and challenges of each other’s careers.