Alumnus captures Philly’s own masterpiece

By Brandon Scalea

Rider graduate Neil Davis, ‘17, took this now-viral photo during the celebration of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl victory on Feb. 4.

While Philadelphia pulsed with euphoria immediately following the Eagles’ first Super Bowl win, a duo of fans celebrated with a taste for Renaissance art, and a recent Rider graduate captured the now-viral image.

Neil Davis, ’17, took a photo of two ecstatic fans recreating Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” — the famous centerpiece of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel — as the pair dangled from telephone poles and barely touched fingertips.

Even before the Eagles took on the favored, dynastic New England Patriots, Davis had his night planned out.

“Win or lose, I was going to Philadelphia after the game,” he said. “If the Eagles win, the fans would go crazy on Broad Street. If the Eagles lose, the fans would go crazy on Broad Street.”

Ultimately, the resilient Nick Foles and company upset the elite Patriots, 41-33, for their first championship in the Super Bowl era and first title in 53 years.

Just moments after the time ran out and confetti began falling in Minneapolis, Davis’s prediction came true. Broad Street, the cultural epicenter of Philly, was a mob scene.

Davis, a Cherry Hill resident, quickly left New Jersey to join the pandemonium just 8 miles away.

“I took my camera with me to go celebrate in the city, and I’d say there were at least 100,000 people just on that one street,” the former graphic design student said.

Davis explained that this photo, which he later named “The Creation of Super Bowl Champions,” sort of just worked out perfectly. It was spur of the moment; nothing was staged and he didn’t know these two men.

“I got so excited watching this happen that I didn’t even lower my ISO, which is why the photo is a bit grainy,” he said. “I realized later how much it actually resembles Michelangelo’s painting.”

The next day, Davis uploaded the photo on various social media and his mother posted it side by side with “The Creation.” This post has nearly 2,000 shares.

It spread so much among family and friends that Philly.com caught wind of the photo and published a Feb. 7 article about it that also appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“This was just awesome,” Davis said. “I did not expect this to go viral at all.”

The 23-year-old credited his keen photographer’s eye to his experiences at Rider. As a freshman, he began working as a sports photographer for Rider Athletics and also shot for The Rider News. His goal is to work as a photojournalist for a major newspaper or media outlet.

Davis also wanted to pass some advice along to those looking to get into the industry.

“Take risks,” he said. “Take your camera everywhere and take action. Try to find that perfect shot.”

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