I've got bad news for Eagles fans who see Tom Brady on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week and think "Hell yeah... They're jinxed!" I did a little research, and I found out that the Super Bowl preview issue doesn't really have that much of a bad history. In fact, there have been 19 preview issues featuring one team or the other, and ten times, that team has gone on to win. Nine times they went on to lose. That's a "success rate" of 52.6%. Doesn't sound like a jinx to me.
Up until 1982, (Super Bowl 16) there was no preview issue. In that year's preview, they featured Joe Montana. Giants won 26-21. In 1983, the Redskins graced the cover, then won the big game 27-17. 1984 featured Joe Theismann, whose team went on to get crushed by the Raiders 38-9. 1985 featured a split cover. '86 featured the Bears D, who helped their team win 46-10. LT graced the 1987 cover, then his Giants beat the Broncos 39-20. The following year, John Elway was on the cover, but the Broncos were losers again to the Redskins 42-10. 1989, the Bengals' Ickey Woods was on the cover, but the Bengals fell to the Niners 20-16. The next year, SI got it wrong for the third straight year as they featured Elway again. Broncos were crushed by the Niners 55-10.
In 1991, SI got back on track as they featured Otis Anderson and the Giants, who beat the Bills 20-19. The following year, they chose the Bills, who fell to the Skins 37-24. In 1993, the cover proudly proclaimed that SI's Dr. Z predicted the Bills to win. They didn't. In 1994, SI resisted the urge to feature the Bills again. Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys were featured, then went on to give the Bills their fourth straight loss 30-13. Steve Young, whose 49'ers went on to beat the Bolts 49-26 was on the cover in 1995. Then in 1996, Emmitt Smith graced his second Super Bowl preview issue, and again his Cowboys won, beating the Steelers 27-17. The next year, Favre and Holmgren were on the cover before they beat the Pats 35-21. SI ended their streak as their cover featured the eventual loser in 1998. Antonio Freeman and the Packers weren't good enough as the Broncos won 31-24. The next year, SI was right as they featured the Broncos' Shannon Sharpe. They went on to win over the Falcons 34-19. In the year 2000, SI's cover featured Jevon Kearse, whose Titans were just inches short as they fell to the Rams 23-16.
The cover of the 2001 preview issue was split by the Ravens and Giants. The Ravens got away with murder against the Giants 34-7. In 2002, SI ran a story about the "SI Jinx", and had no team on the cover. Pats won anyway. In 2003, for the third year in a row, neither team was featured. After a split cover, the Bucs went on to beat the Raiders in the "Pirate Bowl" 48-21. In 2004, the Panthers clawed their way into the Super Bowl, and the cover of the preview issue, but they lost to the Pats 32-29.
This week's issue features Tom Brady. There's a lot of talk about a jinx, but look for yourself, and you'll see that there really isn't any data to prove that. Below, you'll see thumbs of the Super Bowl preview issue covers for every one since XVI. Mouse-over the thumbs for details.