UH's Oliver adds to Houston's long, glorious history with Sports Illustrated cover shots

Who can forget the 2014 SI Cover? Courtesy photo

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There’s a new cover boy in town.

Yes, Houston Cougar junior defensive tackle Ed Oliver, one of the best players in the game and potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, graces one of the four regional Sports Illustrated College Football Preview issues this week. The Big Boss, as the headline says, is the second Cougar in three years to land on the SI preview cover. Greg Ward, Jr., made it in 2016.

All of which got us to thinking. Not about those dreaded cover jinxes. Just about SI covers period.

Specifically, we started pondering Houstonians who have graced the cover of SI’s wide range of imprints over the years. So we dug a little deeper into the subject, casting a wide #HoustonStrong net across the Internet to encompass players, teams, athletes who trained in Houston and Houston natives. We also counted those athletes when they played in college or when they were with other professional teams.

Plus we counted covers from all the SI publications we could find, including SI for Kids, Where Are They Now and other specialty imprints. We also added those covers where someone shared the cover.

What we found on our probably imperfect search might surprise you. At the very least, it will give you a few interesting tidbits to toss around with your friends.

The first cover that came to mind was a no-brainer. SI predicted back in 2014 – with George Springer on the cover – that our Houston Astros would win the 2017 World Series. They did it and wound up not only with a celebration cover, but also one with Series MVP Springer and likely – at the time – AL MVP Jose Altuve on another cover.

It got better a few months later when Altuve shared a #HoustonStrong Sportsperson of the Year cover with Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

But you knew about those.

What you might not know? Here goes. . .

* The Houstonian with the most combined covers? Vince Young with nine. Eight of those covers of the Madison High grad came in a University of Texas uniform; one as a Tennessee Titan.

* No. 2? Nolan Ryan with eight. None of them came in an Astros uniform.

* Boxer George Foreman and Roger Clemens are tied with seven each (only one of Clemens’ covers was in an Astros uniform) and the legendary A.J. Foyt and Carl Lewis were each on covers six times.

* Earl Campbell and Watt come in with five each, followed by Hakeem Olajuwon, James Harden, Justin Verlander, Deshaun Watson and Yao Ming. Altuve has three; Michael Strahan has two.

* Who could forget Mary Lou Retton’s “Only You, Mary Lou” cover from the 1984 Olympic Games? She shared the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year cover with Edwin Moses later that year. Simone Biles and UH quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware were also on two covers.

* Houston Comets Sheryl Swoopes (three) and Cynthia Cooper (two) were both on covers, too.

* In the summer of 2015, SI did something different, giving each member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team her own cover, including then-Houston Dash stars Carli Lloyd, Meghan Klingenberg and Morgan Brian.

* The first Houston cover we could find was Foyt on June 1, 1964, followed by Oilers QB Don Trull on the August 17, 1964 cover. Yes, Jackie Burke won the Masters in 1956, but the cover that week went to another golfer -- Curtis Cup star Barbara Romack.

* The first Houston Astros cover? Future Hall of Famer/second baseman Joe Morgan and shortstop Sonny Jackson were featured with the headline – “Astros in Orbit” – on the June 5, 1966 cover.

* We can’t forget the January  29, 1968 cover from the Game of the Century where  UH’s Elvin Hayes shoots over UCLA’s Lew Alcindor/ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar  in Houston’s 71-69 win. Headline was “Big EEEE over Big Lew.”

Some other Houston stars with at least one SI cover moment? Clyde Drexler, Fred Couples, Warren Moon, Dan Pastorini (he was being sacked by Pittsburgh’s L.C. Greenwood), Ralph Sampson, Thurman Thomas and David Klingler.

* And, while she’s not a Houston athlete, model Kate Upton is Mrs. Justin Verlander. She has been on three SI swimsuit covers and one regular cover with then-Atlanta Braves B.J. and Justin Upton.

Finally, we leave you with one more tidbit. Just so you know, the top four athletes with the most SI (only) covers are Michael Jordan (50), Muhammad Ali (40), LeBron James (25) and Tiger Woods (24). And if you add the times those four were on the other imprints too? We’ll leave that up to you. We’re out of time – and space.



Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and the sister show Ball Control. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio shows at www.nerdthugradio.com or www.facebook.com/nerdthugradio!

Another week has come and gone in the world of wrestling and there was a lot of changes and waves made this week.

In Raw, Braun Stroman was stripped of his title match for making a rather formidable display of strength by flipping a limousine over onto its side. It was incredibly impressive, even as a bit as Braun has been recovering from elbow surgery and this sort of proves physically he is back and that is bad news for whomever gets in front of him. Rising out of the ashes of that now dead match was a fatal four way where the haircut-needing walking myth himself John Cena passed the torch to one Finn Balor, the first ever WWE Universal Champion who relinquished his title due to injury. The intercontinental title passing to Bobby Lashley was an odd turn considering all three men - Lashley, Rollins and Ambrose - involved in that match now have held the title in the last month. There were still some corny bits, some scripted almost nudity from still injured Alexa Bliss resulting in the best eye roll in history from Renee Young, but they were balanced by the announcement of a women's tag team division, finally.

On Smackdown, the ship keeps feeling like it's listing, like the show is moving in the wrong direction somehow. The opening with Becky Lynch was amazing, the building of her character into this massive star has been incredible and more of this is what Smackdown needs. She opened her match with a massive throat punch that shows a kind of cocky dominance Smackdown as a whole is lacking, a feeling that some of these guys are truly legendary badasses. The Mandy Rose wants to ruin a marriage storyline continues for some reason and yet again Naomi and Mandy came to blows with no resolution. When will it end? The show overall was flat but it did end with a Shane McMahon coast to coast, leaping cake in the face on Shamus.

The WWE has started the process of introducing some new talent, with Nicki Cross involved in a three on three women's tag team match on Raw and with Heavy Machinery -a tag team- playing comic relief and Lacey Evans standing around sipping tea, not an exaggeration at all. Hopefully these three can do more than reorganize the deck chairs on what is starting to feel like The USS Smackdown post iceberg, but only time will tell.

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