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SI Cover Is An Honor, Not A Jinx

Posted Dec 11, 2013

At times like these, when there is no-doubt-about-it proof needed, I go to the money source: Kate Upton. She has been on a roll in life, and nobody talks Sports Illustrated cover jinxes with her ...

If you were, I imagine, in a room with Kate Upton, mentioning jinx and Sports Illustrated cover would likely never enter the conversation. If you were able to get the words out of your mouth, there are plenty of other things to discuss with the lovely Ms. Upton.

And I'm sure that if I am ever in the remarkable position of having a conversation with Michael Jordan, Sports Illustrated cover jinx will not be a topic with the man who has graced the cover of America's leading sports magazine a staggering 50 times.

The news that Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is on this week's regional cover of Sports Illustrated is to be applauded, not feared. For those who are superstitious (I admit, I played Madden every week as the Eagles against that week's opponent every week of the 2004 season), it's understandable. There is some trepidation here. One of the great sports myths is that there is a Sports Illustrated cover jinx, even if the facts don't support the legend.

The magazine itself explored the issue of an "SI jinx" in an article written by Alexander Wolff in 2002 in which he takes a big-picture look at the idea of a hex, if you will, on the magazine's cover subjects from Sports Illustrated's inception in 1954. The story is largely done in fun, but there are some out there who take it very seriously. And the numbers support the truth: There is no jinx.

Wrote Wolff: "Of the 2,456 covers SI had run, 913 featured a person who, or team that, suffered some verifiable misfortune that conformed to our definition -- a Jinx rate of 37.2%. The majority of those instances (52.7%) were bad losses or lousy performances by a team, followed by declines in individual performance (44.6%), bad loss or lousy performance by an individual (25.2%), postseason failure (13.4%), injury or death (11.8%) and blunder or bad play (4.6%)"

How much has changed since 2002? You would have to ask those who have graced the cover the most since that time: Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Tom Brady and Kobe Bryant. It's an impressive group that has, for the most part, been extremely successful.

Now, hey, there is no doubt we can cite some examples of covers one week and flops the next. That's the way it goes in the business. Teams win or lose on game day, with a tie a rare exception to the rule the NFL. Players rise and fall and rise again throughout the course of their careers.

Chip Kelly's press conference ended on Wednesday just as a reporter asked about the so-called jinx, and it's clear that no athlete or coach believes in such a thing. The facts support that notion, so let's celebrate the national recognition of Foles and his remarkable 2013 season rather than talk about anything else.

As for Foles, he's keeping his focus as the national interview requests pour in and the attention increases.

"He's all about the team and what we're trying to accomplish," said Kelly on Wednesday.

That's the key, really. Athletes who gain such enormous acclaim can let the kind words go to their heads, and performance failures generally follow. Foles is a kid who keeps his head down, his ego in check, and his faith in those around him working together to win football games.

What he has done so far this season -- 20 touchdown passes and one interception -- has been remarkable. Foles has been an impressive, mature and humble player and person since the Eagles drafted him in April, 2012.

All Foles needs to do moving forward is to be himself and to handle the attention appreciatively and with proper humility. He will continue to prepare himself for the Vikings on Sunday and not concern himself with anyone reminding him that he is now a cover boy.

I don't subscribe to the jinx theory, anyway. As far as I can tell, Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player of all time, LeBron James dominates the game today and Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings.

Oh, and Kate Upton looks good, and is having herself a terrific year.

Congratulations to Nick Foles and the Eagles for the recognition. Now go out and do what matters: Beat Minnesota on Sunday.

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