EDITOR NOTE: The Nov. 21, 2005 Sports Illustrated cover of the Arizona Wildcats’ basketball team running up court was a regional cover. I included that in this slideshow because technically it is an SI cover, but not a national one.
Thirteen different Arizona Wildcats have graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a featured subject and another — former basketball player Loren Woods — was part of a montage of players leading up to the 2001 Final Four.
Nick Foles, a quarterback for the Arizona Wildcats from 2009-11, became the latest this week. Sports Illustrated has a shot of Foles, one of the leading stories in the NFL this season, in the Philadelphia Eagles’ snow-filled win over the Detroit Lions last Sunday.
The cover reads: “A dreadful start, no home wins before November, another winter of discontent coming in Philly…..And then Nick Foles happened.”
The natural reaction among Philadelphia Eagles fans, a tough group who take a while to endear themselves to any player: Will Foles be cursed by the Sports Illustrated cover jinx now?
Arizona Wildcats fans will simply celebrate the latest athlete to gain celebrity status as part of the legendary Sports Illustrated cover, the sports equivalent of the Life magazine cover.
Chuck Cecil was the first Arizona athlete to make the Sports Illustrated cover on Oct. 11, 1993, with the magazine title asking: “Is Chuck Cecil too vicious for the NFL?” Imagine Cecil in today’s NFL? Cecil, now the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, would be a poster boy for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with his extreme physical style of play.
Other former Arizona Wildcats tollowing Cecil on the Sports Illustrated cover (in chronological order): Tedy Bruschi, Sean Harris, Jim Hoffman, Tony Bouie, Brandon Sanders, Miles Simon, Woods, Trevor Hoffman, Jason Gardner, Luke Walton, Bruschi (again), Jennie Finch and Rob Gronkowski (see the accompanying slide show).
How has Terry Francona, who ended the Curse of the Bambino by managing the Boston Red Sox to two World Series, not made the Sports Illustrated cover?
Some other Arizona Wildcats immortals have never graced the Sports Illustrated cover such as Lute Olson, Sean Elliott, Mike Bibby, Damon Stoudamire, Ricky Hunley, Rob Waldrop, Chris McAlister, Lance Briggs, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Jim Furyk.
Somehow, Kenny Lofton, through 17 years at the major-league level, stealing all those bases and playing for playoff teams, never made it on the Sports Illustrated cover. Not once during their championship ride with Michael Jordan and the Bulls did Steve Kerr or Jud Buechler grace the SI cover.
Foles is the Arizona Wildcats’ career passing leader but nobody could have predicted his immense success in only his second season in the NFL. Now the Sports Illustrated cover?
Sports Illustrated senior writer Michael Bamberger writes of Foles in his article: “This whole season could easily have gone another way, and the city’s mood with it. More than the cracked bell, the Phillies, Rocky and all the rest, the football team is the thing that binds Philadelphia. This latest potential franchise quarterback, with his blond hair and XXL hands and earnest manner, is doing more for the city than he could possibly know.”
FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.