MICHAEL JORDAN was on the cover of Sports Illustrated an even 50 times during his decorated NBA career. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali's image was displayed 38 times. Yet, both went on to finish their careers at the top of their respective sports, never once worrying about "the jinx."
With Nick Foles joining the list of SI cover boys this week, the laid-back, calm and collected quarterback believes there really is not much to the jinx, other than the fact that he will be on newsstands around the Northeast, with the Auburn Tigers making SI's national cover.
"I don't," Foles said when asked if he believes in the cover jinx. "I think a lot of times when something happens you start getting complacent and you start thinking you've arrived. Everyday I come to work and I'll work to get better and work on the stuff that I'm not doing well because like I said, I have a lot of flaws in my game and I've got to make those better everyday."
After helping lead the Eagles to their fifth consecutive win last Sunday over the Lions, it might have been only a matter of time until Foles earned his spot on the cover of SI. In 10 games this season including seven starts, Foles has a 61.9 completion percentage while throwing 20 touchdowns and just one interception.
The 24-year-old quarterback has thrown for 1,970 yards this season - 1,348 yards coming since Nov. 3. In addition, Foles is fifth among the league's quarterbacks with a 70.5 total QBR. It should be no surprise that Foles has begun to draw national attention.
"I think its cool," Michael Vick said of Foles' appearance on the cover. "It's awesome for him. That's what it's about in this league, doing what you have to do to get noticed and recognized and Nick deserves that notoriety for what he has been doing."
After appearing on multiple SI covers throughout his 11-year NFL career during his time with Atlanta and the Eagles, Vick added that there really is not much to worry about when it comes to the cover jinx.
"What jinx?" Vick said. "I don't think there is a jinx. It is what it is, however you want to look at it."
Since the so-called jinx saw its first victim 59 years ago, there have been more than 100 instances of injuries, winning streaks ending, losses to an underdog and many more, with all fingers pointing in the direction of the SI cover of the week.
For the last three quarterbacks to appear on the cover, luck has not fallen their way. Oregon's Marcus Mariota appeared on the cover on Nov. 4, just days before the Ducks' 26-20 loss at Stanford. On Nov. 25, Alabama's AJ McCarron was on the cover before the No. 1 Crimson Tide fell to Auburn in one of the craziest endings in college football history. Dallas' Tony Romo was on the cover last week before the Cowboys were beaten in Chicago, 45-28, by Josh McCown and the Bears.
One person familiar with the cover jinx is coach Chip Kelly, who lost, 17-14, in overtime to Stanford on Nov. 17, 2012, while his Oregon Ducks were the No. 2-ranked team in the country. The Ducks' only loss of the season followed SI's feature of Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas on the cover in September 2012.
But Kelly said he does not believe in the jinx and that he will not worry about Foles' appearance on the cover this week.
"Great," Kelly said when asked how Foles was handling the cover. "I mean, I didn't talk to him about the Sports Illustrated thing because I just found out about it. But I don't worry about Nick from any aspect like that. He's a team guy and understands what our focus is on the Vikings and I know Nick's focus is on the Vikings."
While there have been instances of bad luck, poor play and a few injuries along the way, how real is the supposed cover jinx? Oftentimes, if something bad happens following one's appearance on the cover, SI becomes the scapegoat. Other times, we forget that positive things can occur as well.
During his final season with Texas in 2005, quarterback Vince Young appeared on the cover twice, but was able to overcome the obstacles to defeat the unstoppable USC Trojans in the national championship game. Michael Jordan went on to win five MVP awards and six NBA championships. The list goes on and on.
While Foles and the Eagles still have a lot to prove moving forward, the SI cover really is just a way of recognizing success, not only for the former backup quarterback, but for the organization as a whole.
"It's been good the past several weeks and it's a great honor for us as the Philadelphia Eagles organization to be on the cover and at the same time, we can't have room for complacency and thinking we've arrived because we all know we have a lot of work to do and there's a lot of things we can do better as a team," Foles said.
Foles also has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Month twice, tied an NFL record with seven touchdowns in a game, seen his equipment head to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and become a problem for opposing defenses each weekend, all after starting the season as the team's backup. Despite all of the extra attention, accolades and honors, Foles has zoned out the surrounding noise by focusing on football.
"I just zone it out in some ways," Foles said. "It might be something in the offseason you reflect on for a day and then you move forward. I just zone it out because the most important thing is what we do as a team and it's not what an individual does. The reason our team is on that cover is because we are doing well as a team."