How do I get a franchise quarterback? This is the nonstop question every NFL team must ask if they don’t believe their signal caller can win it all. In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, senior writer Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) examines the most prized currency in the league and explores… “When do you cut loose a quarterback and start over?” (PAGE 47)
Bill Polian, former Vice Chairman and General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts says,
“You never forget what it feels like to not have a quarterback…It’s an ongoing thing. Every single minute you don’t have that guy, you think about it” (PAGE 46)
The pressure intensified for General Manager’s in 2013 because of the immediate success of rookie QB’s Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and second –year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl this season. Because of their instant success this season, front offices and fan bases hope the draft can now help them find the next great quarterback who can succeed right away.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED writer Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) complements the article by listing five current quarterbacks in which he feel’s won enough to tease and lost enough to have their G.M.’s consider change: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bills), Tony Romo (Cowboys), Matt Cassel (Chiefs), Josh Freeman (Buccaneers), and Mark Sanchez (Jets).
Ravens linebacker and team leader Ray Lewis is featured under the headline “Does God Care Who Wins the Super Bowl?” on the cover of the Feb. 4, 2013 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, on newsstands Wednesday.
In a special piece for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Mark Oppenheimer (@markopp1), religion columnist for The New York Times, tackles the paradox of big-time football: The sport with the biggest Christian presence, most famous Christian athletes and most religious leaders affiliated with teams features a culture that seemingly goes against the values of Christianity.
“Church and pro football both revolve around Sunday, and 50 years into our national experiment of mixing the two, it is not at all clear that faith has won the day,” writes Oppenheimer (PAGE 40).
Oppenheimer notes what has become customary for many NFL players: They point to heaven, pray on their knees and thank Jesus in post-game interviews. This Sunday at the Super Bowl, Ray Lewis will wear his customary black T-shirt under his uniform that says PSALMS 91 and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, if successful on a big play, will kiss either his tattoo of the words GOD TO GLORY or the one that reads FAITH.
Justin Tuck, New York Giants defensive end and leader of the Giants’ team Bible study says:
“A lot of people rely on the game for their identity. My happiness and joy aren’t based on how well I play or if I get a sack. I should live a life that God is pleased with, not live a life total strangers are pleased with on Sunday.” (PAGE 40)
However, Oppenheimer wonders if the violent nature of the game, not to mention the lifestyle of many wealthy NFL players contradicts what the Christianity stands for. He writes:
“Football brings a level of violence that is deeply at odds with Christ’s message.” (PAGE 41)
He also notes that the Bible is filled with passages that emphasize the weak over the strong and the poor at the expense of the rich, and that it instructs followers to keep the Sabbath holy.
On the contrary, others argue, including many religious leaders, that football builds character and thereby makes a man more of a Christian—a commingling of faith and football now accepted by fans.
“God loves us just the way we are” says Les Steckel, a former NFL head and assistant coach, who now is president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, “but at the same time he does require excellence. And in the NFL, performance is ultimate.” (PAGE 38)
Former Redskins and Cardinals running back Tim Hightower, a devout Christian, understands the dilemma faced by religious football players. Hightower says:
“You have to stop and ask yourself: Am I a football player who is Christian, or a Christian who is a football player?” (PAGE43)
Download a high res image of the cover here
Harbaugh Brothers, Frank Gore, Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco Featured on Special Four-Cover Series of This Week’s Sports IllustratedPosted: January 22, 2013
Brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore; Ravens linebacker and emotional leader Ray Lewis, and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco are featured on a special 4-cover series of the Jan. 28, 2013 Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday.
The first three covers feature the headlines: “There Will Be Blood”, “There Will be Gore”, and “There Will be a Valiant Last Stand”. They lead up to the final cover, which predicts “There Will Be a Parade in Baltimore”. This is the 3rd time that both Lewis and Flacco have appeared on the cover and the 2nd time Gore has appeared on the cover.
This week’s Sports Illustrated includes12 pages of Super Bowl XLVII coverage, featuring “10 Things We Thing we Think”. Highlights include:
Senior writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) says that you must expect the unexpected from the unpredictable 49ers offense, as they have proven they can beat you in multiple ways (PAGE 40). However, King still picks the Ravens to defeat the 49ers, 27-23. King says: “I’ve doubted Flacco one too many times this winter, and I won’t make that mistake a third time (PAGE 49).”
Ray Lewis and the reinvigorated Ravens defense will contest the 49ers explosive offensive attack writes senior writer Austin Murphy (@si_austinmurphy). Murphy says: “Galvanized by hardships earlier in the season and rallying around spiritual leader Lewis, they are headed to the Big Easy brimming with the confidence that comes from confounding the doubters three weeks in a row (PAGE 42).”
They may share the same last name, but Jim and John Harbaugh have taken different journeys and approaches en route to leading their teams to the Super Bowl. Senior writer Michael Rosenberg (@Rosenberg_Mike) writes that while most Super Bowl storylines tend to overwhelm the game itself, this story—the HarBowl—is a worthy one will certainly live up to the hype. Rosenberg writes: “Two brothers, who were born 15 months apart and spent much of their childhoods sharing a room, will be coaching against one another on the biggest stage in American sports (PAGE 47).”
Download a high res image of the covers here
Appearing on a regional cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who led his team to an epic double overtime comeback victory against the favored Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning in last Saturday’s AFC Divisional showdown. This is the 2nd time Flacco has appeared on the cover. He first appeared on the cover on Sept. 19, 2011.
Senior writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) writes that it’s time to make room for Flacco in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Flacco at 61-30, is the winningest quarterback in the league and also the only passer in history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons. Flacco and the Ravens advance to play in their second straight AFC title game at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
“Will people finally buy how good this guy is?” asks coach John Harbaugh. “I mean, we love him (PAGE 49).”
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who rushed for more yards—181—than any other quarterback in any NFL game, threw for another 261 and finished with four TDs in a 45-31 victory over Green Bay in the NFC Divisional playoff last Saturday, is on the cover of the Jan. 21, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. This is the first time Kaepernick has appeared on the cover, and the first time a 49er was featured on the cover since Jan. 23, 2012.
Sports Illustrated staff writer Austin Murphy (@si_austinmurphy) says that after one of the most electrifying playoff debuts in NFL History, Kaepernick has silenced critics (the college coaches who didn’t find him worthy of a scholarship; the NFL teams who picked five quarterbacks before him in the ’11 draft; and the fans who preferred Alex Smith).
”I had a lot to prove,” Kaepernick shouted on the field after the game. “A lot of people doubted me and my ability to lead this team (PAGE 41).”
Perhaps it was fate that the 49er quarterback led his team to a win over the Packers. Kaepernick’s mother Theresa told Murphy about a letter she found that Colin wrote to himself as a fourth grader. It said in part: I hope I go to a good college in football, then go to the pros and play on the niners or the packers even if they aren’t good in seven years (PAGE 39).