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Curse of Magazine Cover! « Mary Beth Ellis' Blog


Curse of Magazine Cover!

I am a bit superstitious. Okay maybe more that a bit. I did a blog last year talking about my odd behaviors as a swim kid and a runner such as having a lucky bathroom stall.  Yes, weird I know.

But I have always believed in the curse of the magazine cover.  I may just be paranoid, but after you examine the evidence you can decide for yourself.  It is real just look at the list below of all the Sports Illustrated athletes that have faltered post-cover.  And on the triathlon side, Chrissie Wellington still won last year but crashing 2 weeks prior was certainly not lucky.  (And getting sick in 2010 also not lucky)  Only Chrissie’s sheer will and determination kept her from becoming a cover stat.  And another notable cover last year, TO had a tough Kona getting sick.  Is it any coincidence that he was a cover boy in the late summer?  Other triathlete covers on Lava, Inside Tri, or Triathlete Magazine that had some bad luck at the races in 2011 or 2012 were Julie Dibens, Michael Ralert, Paula Findlay, and Pip Taylor who faced injury woes in 2011 or 2012, Laura Bennett who narrowly missed grabbing her early Olympic berth and had to race in 2012, Jarrod Shoemaker and Matt Charbot who missed their spots in 2012, Gwen Jorgenson, Manny Huerta, and Simon Whitfield who had some bad luck in London, Lance Armstrong and who facing some issues now, and many more.  And that is just a few of the potential cover cursee’s in triathlon since 2011.  I can’t tell you how glad I am not to be on that cover anytime in the past years.  I have enough challenges without having to deal with the voodoo that a cover adds!

It is important to note that Michael Jordan escaped the cover curse.  Perhaps in our sport there a few that can do that, but I wouldn’t want to press my luck.

Here is the Sports Illustrated List of Cursed Athletes…beware it is mighty long!

  • August 16, 1954: Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews is the first person to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The Braves snapped a nine-game winning streak, and a broken hand later caused Mathews to miss seven games.
  • January 31, 1955: Skier Jill Kinmont suffered a near-fatal crash at Alta, Utah the same week that she appeared on the cover, and was left paralyzed from the chest down.
  • May 28, 1956 – Indy 500 Winner Bob Sweikert was featured on the cover. Less than three weeks later he died in a sprint car crash.[4]
  • November 18, 1957: Oklahoma Sooner Clendon Thomas appeared on the cover, along with others on the Sooner sideline, with the headline “Why Oklahoma is Unbeatable.” The next game of that season Oklahoma lost to Notre Dame, ending their NCAA Division I record 47-game winning streak,.
  • May 26, 1958: Race car driver Pat O’Connor appeared on the cover. He died four days later on the first lap of the Indianapolis 500.
  • February 13, 1961: 16-year-old Laurence Owen, the 1961 U.S. National and North American Figure Skating Champion appeared on the cover as “America’s Most Exciting Girl Skater”. On February 15, she and the rest of the U.S. figure skating team were killed in a plane crash near Brussels, Belgium while en route to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.
  • June 9, 1969: Lee Trevino appeared on the cover as part of a preview to the U.S. Open. The defending champion failed to make the cut.
  • June 27, 1976: Ken Norton appeared on the cover just prior to his third fight with Muhammad Ali, and lost a highly disputed decision.
  • December 5, 1977: Earl Campbell and the 11-0 Texas Longhorns appeared on the cover. They lost their next game, the Cotton Bowl, to Notre Dame.
  • June 6, 1978: Ken Norton again appeared on the cover, this time before his first title defense against Larry Holmes, who beat him in a split decision by one single point.
  • August 7, 1978: Pete Rose appeared on the cover the same week that his 44-game hitting streak ended.
  • June 7, 1982: Boxer Gerry Cooney appeared on the cover before his fight with Larry Holmes, who dispatched him in 13 rounds four days later.
  • September 14, 1981: Thomas Hearns was featured on the cover the week before his fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, who knocks him out in the 14th round.
  • July 30, 1984: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert appeared on the cover with an interview with the headline “The Man of Steel.” Lambert would miss most of the 1984 season with a turf toe injury and subsequently retired.
  • April 6, 1987: The Cleveland Indians, with Joe Carter and Cory Snyder, were featured in the cover with the headline “Indian Uprising”, and being predicted as the best team in the American League. While both men would have a good season, the Indians themselves would have a dismal 61–101 season, the worst of any team that season.
  • June 20, 1988: Michael Spinks appeared on the cover before his fight with Mike Tyson with the quote, “Don’t count me out”. Tyson promptly knocked him out, and into retirement, in just 91 seconds.
  • September 26, 1988: Dwight Evans appeared on the cover and went 4-for-30 in a two-week span.
  • April 24, 1989: In the preview issue for the 1989 NFL Draft, football player Tony Mandarich was featured on the cover, with the label of “best offensive line prospect ever.”[5] Mandarich has been widely regarded as a bust in the NFL. In fact, he would appear on the cover again three years later under the headline “Incredible Bust”.[6]
  • May 8, 1989: Jon Peters of Brenham High School in Texas set the national high school record for games won by a pitcher, with a 51–0 record. The next game after the cover, he lost for the first (and only) time in his high school career.[7]
  • January 13, 1997: Mark Brunell of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kerry Collins of the Carolina Panthers appeared on the cover as their respective teams advance to the AFC and NFC Championship Games. Both teams lost.
  • September 11, 2000: Painted in gold, gymnast Ivan Ivankov was on the cover of the Olympic preview issue with the caption, “The World’s Best Gymnast.” He won no medals in Sydney, finishing an unlucky fourth in the all-around contest.
  • February 12, 2001: The XFL was featured on the cover, with the headline “Cheap Thrills: Will sleazy gimmicks and low-rent football work for the XFL?” The league’s popularity dramatically declined after that point, and the XFL failed after its first season.
  • March 5, 2001: Nomar Garciaparra appeared on the cover and his off-season conditioning was detailed in the issue. The week after the issue hit newsstands, he would break his wrist, ruining his season and changing the trajectory of his career.
  • August 13, 2001: Oregon State Beavers featuring Kenny Simonton were listed as the #1 team in the nation. The Beavers went on to have a 5-6 record with a less than stellar performance from one time Heisman candidate Simonton.
  • September 15, 2003: Buffalo Bills DT Sam Adams was pictured running back a fumble for a touchdown against the New England Patriots. The Bills did not beat the Patriots again until 2011.
  • September 2003: The Oregon Ducks were placed on the cover after starting 4–0 and upsetting Michigan. They lost their next four games.
  • October 11, 2003: In the midst of each league’s respective League Championship Series, both the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox were featured on dual covers to that week’s issue. Both teams would go on to suffer great collapses, as the Florida Marlins beat the Cubs and the New York Yankees beat the Red Sox; allowing both teams to advance to the World Series.
  • November 17, 2003: The Kansas City Chiefs appeared on the cover after starting the season 9-0, but would lose the following game in Cincinnati to the Bengals. Kansas City finished the regular season 4-3, losing home field advantage to the New England Patriots, followed by losing the divisional playoff against Indianapolis.
  • January 26, 2004: Carolina Panthers WR Muhsin Muhammad appeared on the cover after the Panthers beat the Eagles 14-3 to lead them to the Super Bowl. The next game after appearing on the cover they lost to the New England Patriots 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
  • January 17, 2005: Indianapolis Colts WR Marvin Harrison appeared on the cover after a win versus the Denver Broncos. Next weekend they face the New England Patriots but lost in the divisonal playoff round.
  • In November 2007, Kansas Jayhawks wide receiver Kerry Meier appeared on the cover, which stated “Dream Season (So Far)” after the Jayhawks were 11-0. In their next game they lost to their archrivals, the Missouri Tigers, 36-28, ending their perfect season.
  • In September 2008, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared on the cover of the NFL season preview issue. Brady tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee minutes into the season opening game to the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • In September 2009, Pre-season Top 10 teams Oklahoma State and Ole Miss both lost after being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
  • November 9, 2009: Iowa’s Derrell Johnson-Koulianos appeared on the front cover with the words “Still Perfect.” The Hawkeyes lost to Northwestern two days before the issue date, ending the longest winning streak in school history.
  • November 16, 2009: The Indianapolis ColtsPeyton Manning appeared on the cover “Inside the Helmet of the League’s Most Cerebral Quarterback” – the Colts ultimately lost to the New Orleans Saints 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV.
  • January 11 2010: Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys was on the cover; Dallas lost the Divisional Playoff Game to the Minnesota Vikings.
  • In January 2010, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was on the cover with the headline “Favre on Fire” before the NFC Championship Game and lost. New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez was on the cover in the Northeast and lost the AFC Championship Game.[8]
  • In January 2010, Kentucky point guard John Wall appeared on the cover under the headline “The Great Wall.” The next week undefeated Kentucky was upset on the road by 11-8 South Carolina in a game where Wall was outplayed by Gamecocks’ point guard Devan Downey.
  • In February 2010, American alpine skier and Olympic gold medal hopeful Lindsey Vonn injured her leg the same week as she appeared on the cover. Vonn suffered a severe bruise on her right shin following a crash during training February 2. She caught a break when poor weather caused the alpine events at the Olympics to be delayed, enabling her to recover enough to win gold in her first event, the downhill. However, the “jinx” would apparently catch up with her in her other four events. First, she crashed out in the slalom portion of the super-combined after finishing first in the downhill portion. In the super-G, she admittedly skied the last part of the course too conservatively, ending up with a bronze medal. Vonn then crashed out of the giant slalom, and was disqualified for straddling a gate in the slalom.
  • In March 2010, Gonzaga Bulldogs star Matt Bouldin, who appeared on the cover of the SI issue on March Madness that month, suffered a poor performance in a heavy loss to the Syracuse Orange in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The next week, Ali Farokhmanesh, whose three-pointer in the last minute clinched Northern Iowa’s epic upset of #1 Kansas and placed him on the cover, had a poor performance of his own after being featured. He went 2-9 and missed 3 free throws as the Panthers fell 59–52 to Michigan State.
  • In April 2010, the “Core Four” of the New York Yankees (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada) appeared on the cover, and within one week, all but Jeter suffered injuries. However, Jeter went on to have the worst offensive season of his career.
  • In June 2010, Stephen Strasburg was featured and later that week earned his first MLB loss, and then was injured and was put on the disabled list. On August 28, 2010 it was confirmed that Strasburg would need Tommy John surgery and will likely be out for 12 to 18 months.
  • On July 19, 2010, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all appeared on the cover introduced as the Miami Heat‘s Big Three. At the time Bosh and James signed with the Heat during free agency, and the team was heavily favored as a championship contender. The Heat would represent the Eastern Conference in the 2011 NBA Finals, but ultimately lost to the Dallas Mavericks. LeBron also saw a significant drop in stats during the six games in the Finals, and was heavily criticized and questioned for his performance in late-season and clutch situations.
  • In August 2010, three University of Texas football players were featured on a regional cover of SI noting a defense worthy of “winning it all.” Starting the season ranked fifth, the Longhorns would finish the season 5-7, making them ineligible for the college football postseason. Five of those losses came at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, their home field.
  • October 11, 2010: David Price was shown blowing a bubble on the cover of the magazine’s Major League Baseball playoff issue, the Tampa Bay Rays pitcher had a poor outing in the first game of the 2010 American League Division Series, allowing 4 earned runs on nine hits, including two homeruns, in a 5-1 loss to the Texas Rangers. Price would go on to pitch in Game 5 of the series and lose by the same score of 5-1 to end the Rays playoff run and season.[9]
  • November 29, 2010: Michael Vick appeared on the cover after a comeback win over the New York Giants. The next week against Chicago, he threw an interception and the Eagles go on to lose to the Bears.
  • January 10, 2011 Vince Wilfork appeared on the cover after the win versus Miami in Week 17. In his next game, his team (Patriots) lost to the Jets in the divisional playoff game.
  • January 19, 2011: Jay Cutler appeared on the cover. He injured his knee as the Bears went on to lose to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.
  • January 19, 2011: Calvin Pace appeared on the cover after a win vs New England in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. In the next game, the Jets lost to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.
  • March 24, 2011: The BYU Cougars player Jimmer Fredette appeared on the cover after the Cougars beat Gonzaga to take them to their first Sweet 16 since 1981. In the next game, Jimmer only hit 11 of 29 shots in a loss to the Florida Gators .[10]
  • On April 19, 2011, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls appears on the cover prior to the NBA Playoffs. The Bulls had a good stretch in the postseason, but eventually lost in the Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. The Heat would go on to the Finals but then lose to the Mavericks.
  • September 29, 2011: The Buffalo Bills (specifically, cornerback Drayton Florence returning an interception for a touchdown) were featured on a regional cover after breaking their 15-game losing streak to the New England Patriots, their first appearance on an SI cover since the last time they defeated New England (see above). They went on to lose the next week to the Cincinnati Bengals, breaking a winning streak the Bills had against the Bengals that dated to the 1980s.[11] Florence, in turn, would be cut from the roster during the offseason.
  • August 21, 2011 – Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick was featured front and center on the college preview cover. He did not finish his senior year because of a torn pectoral muscle.[citation needed]
  • October 15, 2011 – Jimmie Johnson had an accident at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Bank of America 500, jeopardizing his chance of a sixth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Johnson would finish 6th in the points, his worst finish since joning the Sprint Cup series full time.
  • October 24, 2011 – Outfielder Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the 2011 World Series began. The Rangers would go on to lose the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games despite being one strike away from winning the Series twice during Game 6.
  • December 14, 2012: The Denver Broncos (specifically Tim Tebow) appear on the cover after a six game win streak. They would go on to lose the next three games of the regular season and ultimately the playoffs.
  • January 8, 2012: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared on the Sports Illustrated cover as the 2011-2012 NFL playoffs began. The Packers lost at home to the New York Giants 37-20 and became the first NFL team with a 15-1 regular season record to lose their opening playoff game.
  • January 22, 2012 – The San Francisco 49ers were featured on the January 23, 2012 Sports Illustrated cover just prior to the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers subsequently lost the game in overtime to the New York Giants 20-17.
  • February 5, 2012 – Following the AFC and NFC Championship Games on January 22, 2012, won by the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, the Patriots appeared on both Sports Illustrated covers leading up to Super Bowl XLVI. The January 30 cover featured quarterback Tom Brady and the February 6 cover featured team owner Robert Kraft. The Patriots went on to lose the Super Bowl to the Giants 21-17. The Giants became the first team with a 9-7 regular season record to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots, who had an AFC-best 13-3 regular season record, had already lost to the Giants in week 9 of the regular season and in week 4 of the preseason. The Patriots had also lost to the Giants in their one previous Super Bowl match-up in Super Bowl XLII.
  • On February 17, 2012, with point guard Jeremy Lin featured on the Sports Illustrated cover, the New York Knicks snapped a seven-game winning streak by losing at home 89-85 to the New Orleans Hornets, the team with the second-worst record in the NBA.
  • On February 23, 2012, when featured on a second consecutive Sports Illustrated cover, New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin went 1 for 11 as the Knicks lost to the Miami Heat 102-88. In March, Lin tore a meniscus in his left knee and subsequently underwent season-ending knee surgery.
  • March 26, 2012: Albert Pujols was featured on the Sports Illustrated baseball preview cover. Next to the cover photo was the caption, “The game’s greatest slugger starts over with the Angels“. Pujols did not hit a home run with the Angels until May 6, 2012, in his 28th game and 111th at-bat of the season. Dating back to 2011, his regular season homerless streak lasted 33 games and 139 at-bats.[12] Prior to 2012, Pujols had hit 445 career home runs, 32+ home runs in each of his 11 MLB seasons (including 37 in 2011), and 3 home runs off 3 different Texas Rangers pitchers in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series,[13] tying Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson for the most home runs in a World Series game.
  • April 16, 2012: New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was pictured on the Sports Illustrated NHL playoff preview cover. The top-seeded Rangers lost to the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils ended up losing to the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • May 23, 2012: The Los Angeles Dodgers (specifically Matt Kemp and Magic Johnson) appear on the cover. They held the best record in baseball (30-13) at the time and looked poised to sweep the 19-25 Arizona Diamondbacks who had been struck by injuries. They went on to lose to the Diamondbacks the same night in an 11-4 blowout. Ted Lilly received his first loss of the season. Clayton Kershaw lost to the Astros the following night. The Dodgers were then swept by the Milwaukee Brewers and then lost a series with the Rockies. They lost 8 of the next 11 games. Matt Kemp’s seemingly minor injury became much more serious and the team is expected to be without him for at least four weeks.
  • June 11, 2012: Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is featured on the Sports Illustrated cover. On June 15, Hamilton is hospitalized because of an intestinal virus.[14]

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