SEPTEMBER 9, 1963
For Bob Lilly word that he had been chosen to the 1960 Kodak All-America team was worth thousands of pictures. Then a senior defensive tackle at TCU, Lilly and the rest of the honorees each received 35-mm Kodak Motormatic cameras and 200 rolls of 36-exposure film. It was Lilly's first camera—he had never used one before—and it got him started on a hobby that quickly became a passion. "I love everything about photography," he says. "It's such a challenge to take a great picture."
While the 64-year-old Lilly is always at the ready for snapshots of friends and family-including Ann, his wife of 31 years, four children and nine grandchildren—his favorite subject is nature. His love for the outdoors grew out of bird hunting and fishing, but these days capturing scenes with a camera is his primary pursuit. Lilly's latest project is photographing the seasons in Gunnison county, Colo., for an exhibition scheduled next fall. He scouted the area for several weeks this fall and will return three times next year.
"One picture I'm really looking forward to taking is a mountainside of fir trees that have a fresh flocking of snow," he says. "You take a section of that, find a highlight somewhere, maybe aspen trees with their white trunks in the corner of the frame. When you blow that up to a 30-by-40-inch print, especially in black and white, it's very pretty."
Lilly was the first player ever drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, in 1961, and he never missed a regular-season game in 14 years. While establishing a reputation as one of the best defensive tackles in NFL history, Mr. Cowboy, as Lilly came to be called in Dallas, was All-Pro seven times and played in two Super Bowls. After retiring from football, Lilly invested in commercial real estate and was a partner in a beer distributorship for seven years. He left the distributorship after he helped some boys in an overturned pickup and discovered that they had empty beer cans in the truck. He now resides in Georgetown, Texas, 25 miles north of Austin, and derives income from his real estate investments in Texas and New Mexico, and by making about a dozen speaking engagements annually.
Wherever Lilly goes, his camera is always handy—as former teammates, who dubbed him Camera Bug, remember well. Lilly snapped countless photos of his fellow Dallas players and published several in his book, Bob Lilly: Reflections, in 1982. "I just happened to be one of the first guys who carried a camera around everywhere," says Lilly. "Now everyone does it."
Some, obviously, put it to better use than others.