Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint
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.”
Johnny Unitas by Leifer Neil
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
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
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
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
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!