Greg Foster learned the limits of his size and quickness during his stint as a walk-on defensive end with the Georgia Bulldogs in 1979. "When we ran wind sprints, guys who weighed 100 pounds more than me would pass me," Foster says. Inspired by photos he saw in SI and other sports publications, he soon discovered that tackling photo assignments was more his speed. For this Where Are They Now issue Foster, a freelancer whose work first appeared in SI in '92, got the goose-bump experience of photographing his childhood hero Dick Butkus. "I wore his number 51 in high school, and I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall," says Foster. "I admired Butkus for being mean and ferocious, but at the shoot he took direction well and never complained."
Al Tielemans also has a bit of history with his subject in this issue, Scott Norwood, whom he covered in Super Bowl XXV—the Bills' heart-wrenching 20-19 loss to the Giants—for SI in 1991. Having witnessed Norwood's devastation over missing the potential game-winning kick, Tielemans, an SI staff photographer, did not want to invoke the past. "We never talked about the miss," says Tielemans, who was a kicker, too—on his peewee team in North Wales, Pa. Instead Tielemans aimed to portray Norwood in the cheerier light of his life today. "People associate him with one negative event," says Tielemans, "but that doesn't define who he is."
A team of SI reporters actually answered the question, Where are they now? "My real question is, Where am I now?" said Bill Syken after a dizzying stint tracking down every ex-jock on Capitol Hill. Jaime Lowe, meanwhile, went unbeaten in her games of phone tag with marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson, former pitching prospect Brien Taylor and the 1996 Olympic women's gymnastics team. True gumshoe duties, however, fell to Chris Mannix, an ex-Celtics ball boy, who sleuthed out the seven boys who were the U.S.'s top basketball prospects in '86. He didn't reach his last man—Barnabas James out of Los Angeles—until just before deadline. "I had an address but no phone number, so I FedExed him every day, pleading. Finally, he called. I worked every day for three months, but I was totally into it."