SPORTS ILLUSTRATED presents publishing director Matt Barr has a special feeling for the premier edition of SI PRESENTS NFL '95, which on July 20 will appear nationwide with quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman on the cover in many cities. In 1979, as a 6'2" 235-pound sophomore offensive tackle, Barr was a member of the Greenwich (Conn.) High divisional championship team piloted by Young, then a senior. "I guess you could say his football career and mine went in different directions," Barr says. "But with Steve on this cover, our paths have crossed again."
The 192-page NFL issue will be sold on newsstands and will be followed by annuals of similar size and scope for college football (August), pro basketball (October), college basketball (November) and baseball (March). "The appetite for information is enormous when a season begins, and with these annual previews we're providing a new place to satisfy it," SI PRESENTS editor David Bauer says. "With so much transition in sports—players and coaches moving from team to team, and teams moving from city to city—we want to give readers access to as much of this data as we can."
SI PRESENTS was established in January as a division of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. The staff of 10 full-time editorial employees produces our championship commemorative issues as well as the annuals. While SI subscribers will continue to receive the magazine's traditional season-preview issues in the mail, the SI PRESENTS publications will be sold only on newsstands to serve fans who want even more.
Even though SI PRESENTS is a spin-off of SI, it hasn't ventured too far from home. "We still have as a resource the same vast library of SI photographs, the same superb staff of writers, the same access to leagues and locker rooms that the weekly has spent more than 40 years developing," Bauer says.
In this issue, for instance, SI's resident NFL experts weigh in. Senior writer Peter King makes 10 predictions for the upcoming season; staff writer Michael Silver explores the gap between the league's two powerhouses—San Francisco and Dallas—and the rest of the contenders; and senior writer Paul Zimmerman presents his all-time all-bust team, a roster of should-have-beens who never were. SI PRESENTS senior writer Hank Hersch examines the cornerback position and argues that it's the most demanding in football. He also profiles Hall of Fame corner Dick (Night Train) Lane, who set standards at his position in the 1950s and '60s. "Aside from leading an amazing life, Lane set two NFL records that have stood for more than 40 years," Hersch says. "Most interceptions in a season and most-evocative nickname."
"The great thing about this magazine," says Barr, "is that while it is dense in information, the design makes the material extremely accessible."
It's doubtful that SI PRESENTS' upcoming college football preview will evoke the same fond memories for Barr. From 1984 to '86, he lined up at guard for Columbia, which during that stretch went 0-29.