Well, Sports Illustrated might have just jinxed the Eagles.
THIS WEEK'S COVER: And then Nick Foles happened again! The Eagles' backup is now a Super Bowl starter. pic.twitter.com/bco0LuwcCR
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 23, 2018
Unfortunately, Foles’ appearance on the cover carries the baggage of a jinx that goes back to the very first issue of Sports Illustrated, which was released on Aug. 16, 1954. After a photo of Eddie Matthews graced the magazine’s first cover, the Milwaukee Braves’ nine-game win streak was broken, and Matthews missed a week of games due to a broken hand.
“I once wrote a cover story on Ickey Woods, the Cincinnati Bengals’ fullback. The next season he blew out a knee and a career,” wrote longtime Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly. “I remember people coming up to me and saying, “Didja see what ya did to Ickey? Ya jinxed him!” Another time a guy showed me an old SI cover shot of O.J. Simpson and said, “See? The jinx!” I wondered, Does a jinx have no statute of limitations?”
Despite the storied history of the jinx, there are many outliers. Notably, Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan appeared on more than 50 covers, and those appearances don’t seem to have adversely affected his basketball career. Steph Curry went on to win not one, but two, NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors after being featured on the cover. And Emmitt Smith appeared on the cover just days before he would run for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 30-13 defeat of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII.
Even Foles himself has survived the jinx, having already appeared on the cover back in December 2013, after the quarterback’s remarkable season replacing Michael Vick as the Eagles’ starting quarterback.
Plus, it’s unclear if Foles will be on the magazine’s national cover, as Sports Illustrated is also promoting another cover featuring Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 23, 2018
Meanwhile, Mayor Kenney isn’t taking any chances. Kenney told reporters Tuesday that he will not put an Eagles jersey on the statue atop City Hall, to avoid potentially jinxing the Eagles.
“No way,” Kenney said after a press conference at the Loews Hotel. “I want to win the Super Bowl.”
Teams have not fared well when the statue rocks a jersey ahead of big games. When the Phillies advanced to the World Series in 1993, Billy Penn got a large red baseball cap. When the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997, it wore a Flyers road jersey. Both teams lost.
More recently, the city has shied from costuming the founder of the commonwealth. We passed when the Sixers went to the NBA Finals in 2001 and when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl in 2005.
The statue was also left untouched when the Phillies went to, and won, the World Series in 2008. That victory snapped the long-held belief that the city was cursed in 1987 for building One Liberty Place higher than Penn’s hat.
But Philly fans aren’t ones to mess around. For good measure, Ironworkers put a tiny statue of Billy Penn atop the new Comcast Tower last year.
Kenney doesn’t have any major superstitions. He wears a Brian Dawkins jersey every time they play. Eleven days out, he’s unsure if he’s headed to Minneapolis.
“I’d like to stay home in the city where I was born and raised and be with Eagles’ fans. I’ll most likely be here because of the celebration,” he said. “Because this is the place where I watched pretty much every Eagles game since 1958.”
While it’s unclear whether Kenney’s caution will pay off, one thing is certain: Foles will be the center of discussion leading up to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Feb. 4. Here a brief round-up of what sports writers across the country think about the Eagles’ back-up quarterback.
Nick Foles silences doubters with a performance for the ages (David Murphy, Philadelphia Inquirer)
“You could’ve predicted a lot of what went down on the final leg of the Eagles’ improbable journey to Super Bowl LII … What you could not have predicted was the performance of the man you saw standing tall in the pocket on that flea-flicker heave and so many other throws. In the biggest game of his life, when the stakes were the highest, Foles was better than he had ever been before.”
Eagles March Past Vikings to Super Bowl, Just as They Predicted (Ben Shpigel, New York Times)
“[Foles] became the only quarterback in franchise history to throw for a least 300 yards and three touchdowns in a postseason game, and no moment was more symbolic than the first of those scoring tosses — a 53-yarder to Alshon Jeffery, who spurned the Vikings last off-season to sign with Philadelphia. Bouncing in the pocket, Foles stayed cool and delivered a perfect ball downfield despite getting smacked in the shoulder by the Vikings’ Everson Griffen.
“Every time he threw the ball,” center Jason Kelce said, “he was on point.”
Why Nick Foles’ success with Eagles is yet another indictment against Cowboys coaches (Matt Mosley, Dallas Morning News)
“[Doug] Pederson didn’t allow his team to be held hostage by one position. The Cowboys seem to be one injury away from imploding at all times. And that’s why the Cowboys have to swallow their pride and take a long look at how they can be more like the Philadelphia Eagles.
I can hear Jerry now: “What would Howie Roseman do?”
Good Nick or Bad Nick: Who shows up for Super Bowl LII? (Bill Barnwell, ESPN)
“Across five games in six weeks, we’ve seen the full gamut of Nick Foles appearances. On Christmas, we saw the Foles who washed out in St. Louis under Jeff Fisher. On Sunday, we saw the guy who had one of the hottest half-seasons in league history under Chip Kelly in 2013. So how did the Eagles turn their quarterback around? And is there an early guess on which Foles we’re likely to see against the Patriots in Super Bowl LII?”
If Nick Foles Is Good Enough to Beat the Vikes, He’s Good Enough to Beat Brady (Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report)
“First, many of us have underestimated Foles (guilty as charged), and many still are. What he did against the Vikings was staggering. That defense is as fast and dangerous as there is in football, and Foles shredded it. Watching him play, it was hard to believe we were seeing real life.
The second point is that he’s also a product of an Eagles team that’s bigger than him. And that’s not contradictory; it’s maybe the biggest point of all.”