Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is the second former Arizona football player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the past 16 months.
Foles, who has become one of the top headlines of the NFL season, appears on a regional cover this week amid a remarkable emergence and a big U-turn for the Eagles’ season.
Funny how things change. In August 2012, ex-UA tight end Rob Gronkowski was the SI cover boy on its NFL season preview issue. Gronk has been plagued by injuries in the past two seasons, including suffering torn knee ligaments last week that could endanger his 2014 season.
Foles’ fortunes have gone the other way, from raw rookie in 2012 to a guy who couldn’t run Chip Kelly’s offense, to a city’s hero.
Foles graces this week’s cover amid picture-perfect snow flurries against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Writes Michael Bamberger in the story:
“This whole season could easily have gone another way, and the city’s mood with it. More than the cracked bell, the Phillies, Rocky and all the rest, the football team is the thing that binds Philadelphia. This latest potential franchise quarterback, with his blond hair and XXL hands and earnest manner, is doing more for the city than he could possibly know.”
University of Arizona athletes/teams have appeared on the SI cover more than a dozen times. Here are some other notable instances:
–Jennie Finch (July 11, 2005; the summer issue)
–Tedy Bruschi (Jan. 24, 2005; “Defense rules the playoffs”)
–Jennie Finch with Team USA (Aug. 30, 2004; “The Real Dream Team”)
–Luke Walton, Jason Gardner (Nov. 25, 2002; “Arizona No. 1 in college hoops”)
–Trevor Hoffman (May 13, 2002; “The Secret of San Diego)
–Miles Simon (April 7, 1997; “Cool Cat”)
–Tedy Bruschi, Brandon Sanders, Sean Harris, Jim Hoffman and Tony Bouie (Aug. 29, 1994; college football preview issue)
–Chuck Cecil (Oct. 11, 1993; “Too vicious for the NFL?)