My Top 10 Sports Illustrated Covers

August 10, 2011 | Ryan Chell

It was a spirited discussion on “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider today about our “Top 10 Sports Illustrated Covers”, and while I could have easily thrown in 10 Swimsuit Issue covers or iconic moments from sports throughout the years, I decided to stick close to home with my SI Covers.

Like my choices? Think I missed something? Tweet me @RyanChell87 on Twitter, comment below, or give us a call Friday 410-481-1570! Would love to hear from you…

David Tyree

10. David Tyree catch (Feb 11, 2008)-Not only one of the best-if not the best catch in NFL history, but a heck of a shot by SI’s photographer. And a future Raven-albeit for a short while-on a national cover ain’t bad.

Ben McDonald

9. “Rare Birds”-Mike Mussina/Ben McDonald (July 18, 1994)-Mike Mussina was my favorite Oriole growing up. I copied his wind-up out in the backyard playing baseball when he would check the runner at first-base by leaning over and looking through his legs. And to have the two polar opposites-the stern Mussina and the happy-go-lucky Ben McDonald on the same cover, it was a great pairing of the two on SI.

Cal Ripken

8. Cal Ripken Jr-”Chillin’ with Cal” (Aug 7th 1995)-Another great shot, and Cal showed up on Sports Illustrated several times in his career. On top of getting a good look at a down-to-earth player like Cal, but to see him with hair ( a lot on his chest too), it was great to see Cal in a light-hearted environment of a swimming pool.

Ray Lewis Nov 13 2006

7. Ray Lewis-”God’s Linebacker” (November 13, 2006)-Ravens fans know about Ray’s transgressions and his involvement in the murder trial in Atlanta at the early part of the decade. It was one of the stains on a great career of a Hall of Fame linebacker, and that blemish steered a lot of people and endorsements away from Ray. One example was Disney -who chose quarterback Trent Dilfer to do their iconic “I’m Going to Disneyworld” commercial post-game after Super Bowl XXV as opposed to the Super Bowl MVP in Ray Lewis. But this issue of Sports Illustrated was a big kick  towards putting the past where it belongs…in the past. A very forgiving gesture on the part of SI…

John Unitas

6. Johnny Unitas-”Play Now, Pay Later (May 7, 2001)-This article, and its cover photo-touched me deeply. On top of the fact that we lost Johnny U a year later-on on the one-year anniversary of September 11th, we learned from this article about the pains that Johnny Unitas was going through because of the hits he took during his career fighting to get Baltimore a win. He could barely hold a pen to give an autograph, but that wouldn’t stop Unitas from giving you one if you asked.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

5. -Johnny Unitas-”The Best Game Ever” (April 28, 2008)-Johnny Unitas’ crowning achievement in his career-the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. Enough said-and no better shot of Johnny Unitas. I saved this particular issue of Sports Illustrated and have it in a safe spot in my desk drawer.

Matt Wieters

4. Matt Wieters-”The Catch”-(March 15, 2010)-Another Sports Illustrated cover that I have saved. Not a lot of players from perennial losing teams make the cover of Sports Illustrated. Matt Wieters did. I don’t care what people say-Matt Wieters will be a star. He made the All-Star team this year because he deserved it, not because he was the only Oriole worthy of doing so. Great picture of Wieters, and I can’t wait till his game matures enough that this issue of Sports Illustrated is thought of more seriously not just in Baltimore, but across the nation. Maybe he’ll make another cover issue.

Len Bias

3. Len Bias-”Death of a Dream” (June 30, 1986)-Numerous people said it. If Len Bias would have made it to the Boston Celtics and played in the NBA, he would have been just as good-if not better-than Michael Jordan. That of course would have meant that Bias would have beaten out Jordan for most SI cover appearances, which Jordan has the achievement of doing a record 49 times.

Sadly, that never came to fruition due to Bias’ tragic passing after experimental cocaine use. He certainly left his mark on the University of Maryland and on the sports world, and it was a shame we didn’t get to see Len Bias on more SI covers.

Juan Dixon

2. Juan Dixon-”Mighty Maryland”-(April 8, 2002)-WNST’s own Glenn Clark might say this is worthy of #1, but it doesn’t trump my winner. But, Maryland’s run to its only national title in men’s basketball and to be thrust on the front stage and the front pages of Sports Illustrated is quite the honor. Hopefully Mark Turgeon gets Maryland back to this level yet again.

Ray Lewis

1. Ray Lewis, “Special Commemorative Issue-SB XXXV”-There were a lot of issues that had the Ravens on the front pages of SI during their Super Bowl run in 2000-2001, but I chose this one because it wrapped up and completed the run. And to have the Super Bowl MVP, Ray Lewis, on its cover-the leader of that defense-you can’t go wrong here. And to keep the trend of my future hopes for SI Covers, hopefully the Ravens do it all again and send Ray Lewis out on top with another championship issue.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at RyanChell87 and listen to me on “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider! Check out Rex’s list here and keep tabs on us as we prepare for Ravens season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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