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Oct 03 2008

30 NFL Covers From Sports Illustrated That I think Represent the League Quite Nicely

Published by at 3:25 am under Football,NFL

Sports Illustrated Covers

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

Sports Illustrated Covers

The first elite QB.

Jim Brown – September,  6th, 1960

Sports Illustrated Covers

The first elite RB and arguably the best ever.

Joe Namath – July 19th, 1965

Sports Illustrated Covers

The beginning of show time!

Vince Lombardi – January 22nd, 1968

Sports Illustrated Covers

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

Sports Illustrated Covers

Had to put in a picture of OJ Simpson.

Miami Dolphins – January 22nd, 1973

Sports Illustrated Covers


Jon Gilliam – September 23, 1974

Sports Illustrated Covers

There were barely if any black QB’s around back then so this cover was pretty important.

Terry Bradshaw, January 20, 1975

Sports Illustrated Covers

Can’t leave out the Iron Curtain.

Walter Payton – November 22, 1976

Sports Illustrated Covers

RIP Payton.  Man this guy take the league by storm.

Tony Dorsett – December 7, 1981

Sports Illustrated Covers

Yardage Machine.

Dwight Clark – January 18, 1982

Sports Illustrated Covers

Most famous catch in the history of the league.

Dan Marino – November 14, 1983

Sports Illustrated Covers

The Legend.

Chicago Bears – February 3, 1986

Sports Illustrated Covers

The Fridge baby.  The Fridge.

Herschel Walker – August 18, 1986

Sports Illustrated Covers

Now this guy was a machine.  One of the most dominant RB’s during his day.

LT – January 26, 1987

Sports Illustrated Covers

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

Sports Illustrated Covers

The start of big time money in the NFL.

Bo Jackson – December 14th, 1987

Sports Illustrated Covers

Highest YPC ever.  You gotta put Bo in this list.

Tony Mandarich – April 24th, 1989

Sports Illustrated Covers

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

Sports Illustrated Covers

How do you not put in Montana?

Deion Sanders – November 13th, 1989

Sports Illustrated Covers

Arguably the best cornerback ever.

Barry Sanders – September 10, 1990

Sports Illustrated Covers

Probably the most exciting RB of all time, and arguably the best.

Lyle Alzado – July 8, 1991

Sports Illustrated Covers

Steroids finally made a serious issue in the NFL.

Jerry Rice – December 26, 1994

Sports Illustrated Covers

It was either Rice or Steve Young.  Either would have been fine for this spot.

John Elway – December 30, 1996

Sports Illustrated Covers

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

Sports Illustrated Covers

I’m curious to see if this guy breaks the yardage record when all is said and done.

Marshall Faulk – September 3, 2001

Sports Illustrated Covers

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

Sports Illustrated Covers

Pretty boy :)  Nah, he’s great.

Ladanian Tomlinson – December 25th, 2006

Sports Illustrated Covers

Where will LTD go down in history?

Brett Favre – December 10, 2007

Sports Illustrated Covers

New York Jets.

New York Giants – February 8, 2008

Sports Illustrated Covers

Biggest. Upset. Ever.

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7 responses so far

  • Sam

    A lot of good ones there but how can you leave out the Doug Williams cover? You have the Gilliam cover but ask any black football fan over 30 and they will tell you the Doug Williams win in the superbowl was one of the biggest moments for blacks in the NFL.

  • Brian

    No, the Giants beating the Patriots wasn’t the biggest upset ever…how can that be? They nearly beat them in the regular season just a few weeks before.

    Biggest. Upset. Ever. in super bowl history is hands down Broadway Joe and the Jets winning the super bowl.

    Just because it was recent doesn’t make it the biggest….Jets winning the super bowl was the biggest upset in SB history.

  • Tony Lovell

    Most famous catch isn’t the one you claim at all — The Immaculate Reception was, certainly.

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  • http://boortz.com Uncle Bubba

    If Deion Sanders had had the desire and more importantly the ability to tackle he may have been the best corner ever. As it is he was the best coverage man ever. Give me a hitter like Ronnie Lott over Sanders any day.

  • Blackout12

    Where’s Butkus? Completely innovated the LB position and was probably the most feared player in NFL history.

    Lott easily beats Sanders for CB way more class and doesn’t know the meaning of running out of bounds.



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