Covers: Celebrating Football

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

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


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!

Classic Covers: Maurice Bower’s Horse Power

In honor of the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, the Post salutes the equine art of Maurice L. Bower (1889-1980). Several of Bower’s Post covers depicted horses doing everything from urgently pulling the fire engine to a blaze (January 12, 1935) or performing at a circus complete with pretty lady on top (April 6, 1935) to pulling the getaway stagecoach for fellows clearly up to no good (February 6, 1937). Quite striking is the cover of thoroughbred racing from August 8, 1934; the muscles of the powerful animals straining for one more ounce of speed.

The energy Bower brought to his art began at an early age when he attended the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia. Magazine work quickly followed, and his art was published while he was still a student there. Later he became a medical illustrator in the U.S. Army during World War I.

Jane Garrabrant kindly sent us some biographical information on her substitute grandfather, “Morry,” as she called him. Bower, she noted, moved to Paris around 1926, although he still worked for The Saturday Evening Post. And he periodically returned to the States to fulfill illustration obligations for the Post while living a “glorious life” on the Left Bank of Paris with many artistic types, from choreographers to writers to artists like himself. Sadly, this charmed lifestyle ended with the stock market crash of 1929.

It became difficult for Bowers to find work at a time when photography was outpacing the demand for illustrators, and jobs turned to the not-as-lucrative world of portrait painting and illustrations for minor publications.

Garrabrant’s notes also detail the caring relationship he and his sister shared. Bower moved back to Collingswood, New Jersey in the early 1960s, and at age 87 he decided to buy a new lawn mower because he didn’t care for the way the neighborhood boys were cutting the grass. But he wasn’t strong enough to pull the cord. His sister, Trudi, “a youngster” at 75, would start the mower, and Morry would cut a little bit of grass each day, stretching it out so he would have something to do the next day. Maurice Lincoln Bower died at the age of 91 on October 4, 1980, one month to the day after the death of his beloved sister, Trudi.

Title: "Speeding Stagecoach"; Published: February 6, 1937; © 1937 SEPS;
Maurice Bower “Speeding Stagecoach” 1937
Title: "Harness Race" Published: August 8, 1935; © 1935 SEPS;
Maurice Bower “Harness Race” 1935
Title: "Racing to the Fire" Published: January 12, 1935; © 1935 SEPS;
Maurice Bower “Racing to the Fire” 1935
Title: "Polo Match" Published: April 6, 1935 © 1935 SEPS;
Maurice Bower “Circus Bareback Riders” 1935
Title: "Polo Match"; Published: June 9, 1934; © 1934 SEPS;
Maurice Bower “Polo Match” 1934
Title: "Thoroughbred Race "; Published: April 4, 1934; © 1934 SEPS;
Maurice Bower “Thoroughbred Race” 1934