Just like any aspect of popular culture, sports and athletes don’t always trend the way we think they will. Teams fall apart. Players don’t work out. Scandals derail everything. It’s the way of the world.
That’s why we cherish Sports Illustrated covers so much, because they are snapshots of a time in sports that has likely faded from memory, or existed only for a brief instant before our illusions were shattered. They preserve a moment in history that we’ve often otherwise forgotten, or retold so many times that the story itself has been reshaped entirely.
The Sports Illustrated cover allows us to see beyond the actually printed words and headlines and remember the feelings we felt at the time. They also remind us just how very wrong we had it sometimes.
Here are nine SI covers in the new millennium that have not aged well over the years:
Jason Giambi – March 25, 2002
Giambi headlining a who’s who of steroid users actually does kind of make him the perfect modern hitter.
Joe Paterno – Nov. 26, 2005
Waited for the ‘Out The Door at 84’ cover in 2011 but they missed that opportunity.
Derek Jeter & Johnny Damon – April 4, 2005
Eight months later they were teammates. I guess it was Jeter who had what Damon wanted.
Los Angeles Lakers – May 17, 2004
The answer to every single one of those questions was “no” and it was most definitely not their last stand.
Lance Armstrong – Aug. 5, 2002
It’s a bird!… It’s a plane!… It’s a self-righteous blood-doper who was banned from the sport forever!
Sam Bradford – April 26, 2010
Yeah they were there for the taking alright… Six years later the Rams used another No. 1 pick on another QB and it turns out not one franchise passer came out of that draft. Not. One.
Steve Nash & Dwight Howard – Oct. 29, 2012
Spoiler alert: It was not fun.
Tim Tebow – Dec. 19, 2011
Tim Tebow had a one month stretch in the NFL during which he didn’t completely and totally suck, and he received the most glowing, fawning SI cover I’ve seen before or since. What words could I use to describe how I feel about that? Incomprehensible, mind-blowing and unbelievable all come to mind, just off the top of my head…
Tiger Woods – Dec. 18, 2000
Very good at golf? Yes. A cool cat? A decade of legitimately all of the worst life choices might say otherwise.