Oct 03 2008
The NFL has been around for over 80 years and through those years it’s evolved quite a bit. Whether it comes to games in a season, steroid use, dynasties, elite quarterbacks or fantasy busts, we as fans never seem to tire of the gridiron.
And who better to encapsulate this league than the periodical that covers sport? Sports Illustrated. I managed to rummage through 497 NFL covers to find 30 that I felt if you only looked at these 30, you’d get a great sense of the league since Sports Illustrated began putting the NFL on the cover.
Enjoy the walk down memory lane.
Johnny Unitas – October 5th, 1959
The first elite QB.
Jim Brown – September, 6th, 1960
The first elite RB and arguably the best ever.
Joe Namath – July 19th, 1965
The beginning of show time!
Vince Lombardi – January 22nd, 1968
A great picture representing one of the best coaches of all time. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
OJ Simpson – July 14, 1969
Had to put in a picture of OJ Simpson.
Miami Dolphins – January 22nd, 1973
Jon Gilliam – September 23, 1974
There were barely if any black QB’s around back then so this cover was pretty important.
Terry Bradshaw, January 20, 1975
Can’t leave out the Iron Curtain.
Walter Payton – November 22, 1976
RIP Payton. Man this guy take the league by storm.
Tony Dorsett – December 7, 1981
Dwight Clark – January 18, 1982
Most famous catch in the history of the league.
Dan Marino – November 14, 1983
Chicago Bears – February 3, 1986
The Fridge baby. The Fridge.
Herschel Walker – August 18, 1986
Now this guy was a machine. One of the most dominant RB’s during his day.
LT – January 26, 1987
There have been linebackers who’ve gotten more sacks but none have ever encapsulated or represented the position better than LT.
Vinny Testaverde – August 3rd, 1987
The start of big time money in the NFL.
Bo Jackson – December 14th, 1987
Highest YPC ever. You gotta put Bo in this list.
Tony Mandarich – April 24th, 1989
Nowadays, 315 lbs is nothing for an O-Lineman but Mandarich was one of the guys that started this insane O-Line eating binge.
Joe Montana – October 2, 1989
How do you not put in Montana?
Deion Sanders – November 13th, 1989
Arguably the best cornerback ever.
Barry Sanders – September 10, 1990
Probably the most exciting RB of all time, and arguably the best.
Lyle Alzado – July 8, 1991
Steroids finally made a serious issue in the NFL.
Jerry Rice – December 26, 1994
It was either Rice or Steve Young. Either would have been fine for this spot.
John Elway – December 30, 1996
Finally got his titles. Elway will always go down as one of the fiercest competitors to ever play the game.
Peyton Manning – November 22, 1999
I’m curious to see if this guy breaks the yardage record when all is said and done.
Marshall Faulk – September 3, 2001
Quickly how players like Faulk are forgotten. He put together one of the best 3-5 year stretches in the history of the league.
Tom Brady – April 15th, 2002
Pretty boy Nah, he’s great.
Ladanian Tomlinson – December 25th, 2006
Where will LTD go down in history?
Brett Favre – December 10, 2007
New York Jets.
New York Giants – February 8, 2008
Biggest. Upset. Ever.
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