How does it feel to land on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

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The cover of Sports Illustrated is where greatness is confirmed, arrivals are announced and achievements are celebrated. So what types of reactions do we get when our subjects find out that they’ve landed on the cover? In regards to this week’s Oct. 17 issue, Jimmie Johnson said: “It’s a great honor, a huge honor. I’m happy to see our sport getting the respect and awareness that it should among other sports.”

Johnson might also be one of the rare athletes not concerned with the SI jinx, even as he chases a sixth straight Sprint Cup title: I guess it’s out there for some other sports teams—but in my heart of hearts, there is no way the photo on a cover of a magazine is going to change the luck of a race team. If we lose a championship, it’s because of what happened on the race track—not because of a photo that was on a magazine.”

Here’s what some other recent cover subjects had to say:

  • Brad Pitt (Sept. 26, 2011): “I was just happy to do Sports Illustrated. To do something other than the fashion-y things, for something I respect, is much more fun.”
  • Dustin Pedroia (Aug. 15, 2011): “It’s exciting. It’s the finest athletes in the world…. I’ll probably get mine blown up. That’ll be pretty cool.”
  • Derrick Rose (April 18, 2011): “It’s definitely a big honor to be on the cover of that magazine. Everybody gets Sports Illustrated.”
  • Vince Wilfork (Jan. 10, 2011): “It was a complete surprise for us to find out about the cover. As a nose tackle, you don’t expect to have any glamor. This has been a great experience for us. Who knows if it will ever happen again? We never thought it would happen once so we are very thankful. SI has always been the sports magazine, and we are glad to be a part of it.”
  • Drew Brees (Feb. 15, 2011): “As a kid in athletics you have dreams about winning a championship, celebrating with your teammates and appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was part of the idea of what winning meant when you were growing up, and to have appeared on the magazine’s cover is an honor and a memorable moment in my career. The cover from the Super Bowl issue was even more special for my family because I was able to share it with my son, Baylen.”

Also from This Week’s Issue: Brad Pitt Outtakes, The Boston Red Sox and their “New” Moneyball, Cam Newton Silences His Skeptics, The Perfection of Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and How Sports is Saving the World

You’ve seen the Sept. 23 cover featuring Brad Pitt and read our review of Moneyball. Here’s what else readers can find in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now.

OUTTAKES FROM BRAD PITT’S PHOTO SHOOT

To say that Pitt enjoyed his photo shoot with photographer with Simon Bruty would be an understatement. Check out some of the outtakes that hit the cutting room floor by visiting Sports Illustrated’s Facebook page today . To view the photos, click the “Like” button at the top of the page (if you’re not already a fan) and click the “Fan’s Only” section on the lefthand side of the page.

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Also in This Week’s Sports Illustrated: The Meanest Player in MLB, The End of the “Outrage Open” in Flushing, Predictions for the Most Competitive NASCAR Chase Ever and College Football’s Ultimate Underdog

You’ve seen the three covers for this week’s issue, out on newsstands now. The Sept. 19 issue of Sports Illustrated also includes the following.

MLB PLAYERS POLL

Who is the meanest player in baseball? (page 22)

  1. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox C….29%
  2. Chase Utley, Phillies 2B….13%
  3. Milton Bradley, Mariners LF….11%
  4. Carlos Zambrano, Cubs SP….5%
  5. Vicente Padilla, Dodgers RP….4%

[Based on 215 MLB players who responded to SI’s survey]

FAST FACTS: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has said of his catcher, whose aggressive play has clearly chapped many an opponent, “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.” … In 2006, SI named Utley baseball’s dirtiest player—for his often muddy uniform, not his demeanor…. Since ’06, Padilla has plunked 56 batters, fifth most among all pitchers, and Zambrano has hit 49 (10th)…. In a similar poll, the Indians’ Jim Thome was voted MLB’s nicest player.

Read on for more after the break.

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