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11 Sports After 9/11
September 24, 2001
THIS POST-9/11 cover is the favorite of senior writer Tim Layden. He writes, "The illustration with a flag draped over empty seats with the tagline THE WEEK THAT SPORTS STOOD STILL almost could have stood on its own—like a poster—expressing the sentiment of that week." I agree, sometimes a simple image can bring it all home. Even though the tragedy of 9/11 had nothing to do with sports, if you think about it, sports as much as anything else bring people together in America.
10 Steffi Graf
July 15, 1991
THE FAVORITE of ESPN writer Mechelle Voepel, who writes, "You can't help but notice how much more often it seemed women were on the cover the first several years of the magazine. Of course, they were [on it] for the kinds of stories that wouldn't be done now, like how to train your dog at home." As for what makes this one special, Mechelle writes, "Steffi screaming to the sky after winning Wimbledon.... It was that side of her we rarely saw: real, unrestrained joy."
9 Mark Fidrych
June 6, 1977
EVERY SO often a cover can capture something almost ineffable. The Mark Fidrych phenomenon is a difficult thing to explain to people who aren't old enough to have lived through it. He just showed up out of nowhere in 1976, which was something athletes could still do then. Nobody knew his minor league numbers. Nobody had followed him in the amateur draft. He was 21 years old when he made his first start with absolutely no fanfare against Cleveland on May 15. He threw a two-hitter, and the Tigers won the game 2--1. And a magical summer began.
And that's what it was. Magical. It wasn't just that this quirky young pitcher came along, winning game after game (he won nine of his first 10). It wasn't just that he talked to baseballs and smoothed out pitching mounds with his hands and made big league batters hit the ball on the ground time after time after time. No. Every so often someone comes along who reminds us that sports are fun. But how do you capture that? How do you capture childlike joy on a magazine cover?