Walter Payton on national cover of Sports Illustrated; Phillies and Bills appear on regional covers

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Walter Payton appears on the national cover of this week’s Oct. 3, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now. In addition, Phillies pitchers Cliff Lee and Ryan Madson (available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia) and Bills cornerback Drayton Florence (available in New York and New England) appear on regional covers.

Below is the last time each team appeared on the cover and how many appearances they’ve had overall:

  • Bears: Jan. 24, 2011 (Jay Cutler); 25th appearance
  • Phillies: July 18, 2011 (Carlos Ruiz); 26th appearance
  • Bills: Dec. 17, 2007 (Kevin Everett); 12th appearance

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What Other Celebrities Have Graced the Cover of Sports Illustrated?

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Brad Pitt joined a select fraternity this week by appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Rarely in the 57-year history of SI have its editors granted the honor to a non-athlete or non-coach. When they do, it’s for something or someone that transcends the sports world and crosses over into greater pop culture. So who else is on that list, and what did they do to be so honored? Among them:

  • Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale (12/20/2010) – In its 2010 Year in Media issue, Sports Illustrated named The Fighter the best sports movie of the decade. And with good reason; Bale and Melissa Leo swept the Golden Globes and Oscars for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, for their performances.
  • Stephen Colbert (12/21/09) – The eponymous host of The Colbert Report was recognized for mobilizing his “Nation” and saving the U.S. Olympic speedskating team from a budget shortfall on the eve of the 2010 Winter Games.
  • Steve McQueen (8/23/1971) – In racing across the Mojave Desert on a motorcycle, McQueen proved that his passion for motor sports extended far beyond the big screen.
  • John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy (12/26/1960) – Less than two months after winning the Presidency, JFK penned an essay for SI bemoaning the general physical decline of American youth.
  • Gerald Ford (7/8/1974) – The then Vice-President reflected on his days as a Michigan football star and Yale coach and pondered the state of sport, arguing that winning is a necessary goal; that international athletic victories serve nations well; and that the preoccupation with money may end up alienating fans.

To see more celebrity covers from over the years, click here.

Brad Pitt on the Cover of This Week’s Sports Illustrated

Brad Pitt, the star of the upcoming movie Moneyball, doffs an Oakland A’s hat and graces the cover of this week’s September 26, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. Pitt joins an exclusive group of non-athletes and non-coaches to be so honored — a list that includes Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, Stephen Colbert, Bob Hope, Ed Sullivan, Steve McQueen and Arnold Schwarzenegger in addition to former presidents John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (appearances on the 11/26/84 and 2/16/87 covers) and Bill Clinton.

Commenting on his photo shoot with SI photographer Simon Bruty, Pitt says: “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.”

Senior writer Austin Murphy (@si_austinmurphy) spoke at great length with Pitt about getting Moneyball made. Among the topics they discussed:

  • Pitt’s background (or lack thereof) in baseball: “It’s shameful how little I know about baseball…. I’m amazed they let me do this movie…. Baseball and I didn’t get along that well. I wrestled one year [in high school]. I dove one year. Everything but baseball.”
  • How Pitt acquitted himself to his role as a baseball lifer: “I’m an Oklahoma-Missouri boy, so I’m no stranger to a bit of dip. We start early with that, so really, I was just revisiting my roots.”
  • What Pitt was initially drawn to about the story: “I’m a sucker for the underdog story.”
  • The end goal of the film: “What we were trying to do is tell an unconventional story in the Trojan horse of a conventional baseball movie.”
  • The comparisons Pitt makes to the movie and three of his favorite ’70s films (The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, All the President’s Men): “In scripts today, someone has a big epiphany, learns a lesson, then comes out the other side different. In these older films I’m talking about, the beast at the end of the movie was the same beast in the beginning of the movie. What changed was the world around them, by just a couple of degrees. Nothing monumental. I think that’s true about us. We fine‑tune ourselves, but big change is not real.”

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Jets, Ravens and Tigers (Oh My!) on This Week’s Sports Illustrated Covers

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There are three covers for this week’s Sept. 19, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands tomorrow. The national cover features Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. It is Sanchez’s third appearance with the Jets — he previously appeared on the Jan. 26 and Sept. 6, 2010 covers — and his fourth overall. (He appeared on a regional cover of the 2008 College Football Preview [dated Aug. 15, 2008] while at USC.)

Appearing on the two regional covers are Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice (available in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia) and Tigers ace Justin Verlander (available in Michigan and Ohio). Below is a rundown of the cover history for all three teams featured this week:

  • Jets: Sept. 5, 2011 (regional cover for the 2011 NFL Preview featuring Calvin Pace); 23rd appearance
  • Ravens: Nov. 13, 2006 (“The Gospel According to Ray Lewis”); fifth appearance
  • Tigers: Sept. 28, 2009 (“The Righteous Franchise”); 23rd appearance (Verlander’s second appearance following the Aug. 28, 2006, cover)

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The Bayou Bengals and Boise State Broncos Grace This Week’s Sports Illustrated Cover(s)

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LSU running back Michael Ford graces the national cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated — dated Sept. 12 and on newsstands tomorrow — while Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore appears on a regional cover that will be distributed in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Below is the last time both the Tigers and the Broncos appeared on the cover and how many appearances they’ve had overall:

  • LSU Tigers: Oct. 19, 2009 (Patrick Peterson tackling Tim Tebow); eighth appearance
  • Boise State Broncos: Oct. 4, 2010 (whole team before game vs. Oregon State); third appearance

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