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BREEDEN WAS caught belly-down on his lone SI cover. When the Cincinnati Bengals cornerback dropped too deep in a zone defense during the '82 Super Bowl, 49ers receiver Earl Cooper ran a curl and caught a TD pass in the flat. "It was a good photo," concedes Breeden, 52, a phone-systems salesman in Ohio, "but if I knew it would be my only time on the front of SI, I'd have taken my helmet off and struck a pose."
THE COWBOYS linebacker says he was an innocent bystander to this 1979 Super Bowl snatch by Rocky Bleier of the Steelers. "I was supposed to shove Rocky inside and go after the fullback, Franco Harris," explains Lewis, 60, who now works in customer relations for PotashCorp, a Texas firm that makes plant nutrients. "When I glanced back, Rocky was all alone, wide open. I sprinted over to him, tripped on his foot, and the next thing I know I'm splashed on the cover of SI with my tongue hanging out."
"I WAS TRYING to take a charge on Magic Johnson," says former Indiana State swingman Bob Heaton of SI's cover from the 1979 NCAA title game. "I got to the basket too late." As a child Heaton had wanted to be one of SI's FACES IN THE CROWD. "I never expected my face to be on the cover," says the Terre Haute financial planner, 49. "In fact, it wasn't. But friends say the picture shows my best side: my backside."
IN THIS 2005 cover shot of Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., Miami of Ohio linebacker Burke was along for the ride. "People see this and think I got dragged across the field," says Burke, 22, who graduated in May. He now lives in Houston and works for a global accounting firm. "Actually, I tackled Ted on our five-yard line. We held the Buckeyes on that series, and they settled for a field goal. Of course, we lost 34--14."
THE 6'11" Brigham Young center (number 50) looks like a Lilliputian next to Virginia's 7'4" Ralph Sampson on this March 30, 1981 cover. "The camera angle made it look like Sampson was way off the ground," says Kite, 44, who is developing a real estate company in Orlando. "Come to think of it, he was." Seven years later the two were briefly teammates on the Sacramento Kings. "By then Ralph was burdened with knee problems," says Kite, whose 12-year NBA career was three years longer than Sampson's. "He didn't play much that season."