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Covers: Celebrating Football

Published: February 2, 2012

Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint

Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint From November 1, 1974


Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint
From November 1, 1974

This cover was designed by a needlepoint expert—Rosey (Roosevelt) Grier, a former pro for the L.A. Rams and the New York Giants.

According to this issue, Grier appeared on a talk show in the 1970s and “one of the guests brought her work and Rosey was so taken he spent—after she taught him—the entire program pulling yarn through canvas. Later, Rosey would haul his sewing to card games. If he had a good hand, out would come the needlework from under the table, an unusual alternative to the poker face.”

Grier at the 2008 Movieguide Faith and Value Awards Gala. Photo from lukeford.net


Grier at the 2008 Movieguide Faith and Value Awards Gala.
Photo from lukeford.net

Johnny Unitas by Leifer Neil

Johnny Unitas by Leifer Neil From December 12, 1964


Johnny Unitas
by Leifer Neil
From December 12, 1964

Widely considered one of the NFL all time greats, Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts appeared on the cover in December 1964. By this time, photographs had replaced work by artists that the Saturday Evening Post was so known for. Not that photographers aren’t artists, as this great shot by Leifer Neil shows.

The article in this issue was ironically called, “The Runaway Colts.” This referred to an outstanding season in 1964, one of Unitas’ (and the Colts’) best. The title has no bearing on “Bob Irsay’s Midnight Ride,” abandoning Baltimore for Indianapolis, which didn’t occur until 1984. Although he had been retired for a decade by then, Unitas and fellow players were outraged by the move. Unitas passed away in 2002.

“Quarterback Pass” by Maurice Bower

"Quarterback Pass" by Maurice Bower From October 12, 1935


"Quarterback Pass"
by Maurice Bower
From October 12, 1935

Artist Maurice Bower was brilliant at capturing moments of high-energy action, as this 1935 cover will attest to. Other great examples of this were Bower’s many covers of another kind of athlete: horses. Galloping, muscles straining, nostrils flaring and manes flying—see “Maurice Bower’s Horse Power” from 2009.

“Inflating Football” by Harrison McCreary

"Inflating Football" by Harrison McCreary From October 16, 1926


"Inflating Football"
by Harrison McCreary
From October 16, 1926

Equipment sure has changed since the Roaring Twenties. For one thing, you needed a good set of lungs just to keep the ball inflated. Secondly, it is hard to imagine the helmet provided much protection. A really cute touch to this illustration by artist Harrison McCreary is the 4-leafed-clover pinned to the boy’s sweater for luck. Apparently, the need for a good set of lungs continued into the 1940s—see below.

“Grandma and Football” by Russell Sambrook

"Grandma and Football" by Russell Sambrook From October 26, 1940


"Grandma and Football"
by Russell Sambrook
From October 26, 1940

In this 1940 cover, the helmet looks a bit more sophisticated, but that ball still needs to be inflated the hard way. If I were this young man, I would do it myself and let grandma get on with her apple peeling. I don’t know how the game will turn out, but something tells me a rockin’ apple pie is in his future.

“College Man’s Number” by George Gibbs

"College Man’s Number, 1900" by George Gibbs From October 27, 1900


"College Man’s Number, 1900"
by George Gibbs
From October 27, 1900

The Saturday Evening Post started out as a newspaper. It didn’t sport a cover and start looking like a magazine until 1899. So, with a virtually new format, artist George Gibbs paints a football cover. Gibbs did several early Post covers as well as inside illustrations and covers for other prominent magazines of the time such as The Ladies Home Journal and Redbook.

We hope you enjoyed our multi-decade gridiron salute and have a great time watching the Super Bowl!

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