by Amy Lignor
or a Rainfall of Skittles?
Although you want to believe the ‘Swimsuit’ issue is the best one Sports Illustrated puts on the shelves each year, the reality is that this is the magazine that is still at the top of their game after decades of awesome reporting.
Seeing as that it’s the NFL in the spotlight with the Super Bowl just a week away, some of the SI stories come back to memory in the blink of an eye. From Vince Lombardi being hoisted in the air on that frozen tundra that truly started the ‘love’ of football and the big game; to a man named Theisman wearing tape over his mouth trying not to talk about the Redskins chances – SI has covered it all.
SI has covered the good, the bad and the ugly (some, really ugly), players and coaches that made the sport of football an actual novel everyone wanted to read. And soon the Manning Kingdom will go up against the loud, brash Seahawks in a battle that will, according to experts, not be all that difficult for the Broncos to win. But the SI cover that will be created from that game is still up in the air. Whether the Broncos win or lose, will Sherman earn the cover with tears in his eyes, or wearing a smile so wide that Niners fans will all have to run to their bathrooms and…um…cry too. Or will it be the QB who has broken record after record this year, besting everyone by leading a team that has scored more points this season than any other?
Although the players will need their Gatorade this coming Sunday, it looks like viewers will need their coffee. What could be the most boring game played since the Niners and the Bills stood on the Super Bowl field and Steve Young ran around it at the end of the game because he was beyond excited – even though he’d known about ten minutes into the game that the Niners had already won – ether way, SI will definitely offer fans the best story possible.
One of the most renowned covers SI dedicated to the world of football was Johnny Unitas in 1959. On this spectacular issue, the player everyone loved was a drawing; a painting of precision, not a photograph in Technicolor that eventually took over every publication in existence. Named the NFL’s MVP by the Associated Press, the face on the cover was definitely that of a man who knew his job.
It was just the year before that Unitas played the ‘Greatest Game Ever Played” in the NFL. Passing for 2007 yards and 19 touchdowns, the Colts won the Western Conference title, and then went on to take the NFL Championship on December 28, 1958, defeating the Giants in a sudden death overtime that fans still wish could be repeated. It was Unitas and his skillful flow on the gridiron that made the popularity of football skyrocket out of control..
Another cover to be remembered was the sad-face of Dan Reeves back in 1967; a cover that many remember because of the headline reading: “The Unwanted Cowboy.”
He was one player in the NFL that never seemed to excel at anything. In other words, he maintained that B average but could never quite reach his A-game, and people – especially Dallas fans – were not all that interested in seeing him stick around.
But it was the magician, Tom Landry, who gave Reeves his career, even though Landry didn’t actually mean to do it. Mel Renfro was put into the running back spot, and was hurt; Reeves took over and showed everyone that he was one of the best by having a killer season and leading the Cowboys with 757 yards, scoring 96 points, and setting a Cowboys record with 16 touchdowns. The quiet, unnoticed and unappreciated man became the Cowboy everyone wanted.
From the memorable cover of Dick Butkus earning the title of the most feared man in football; to the stars of the 80’s and beyond – SI has continued to offer the best stories in the world of sports.
So as the Super Bowl looms…will the SI cover end up to be an ‘ode to orange’, or a rainfall of Skittles with the headline reading: “Take That NFL!”