That's Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, and tomorrow this issue of Sports Illustrated will hit the stands and mailboxes as it serves as the magazine's NFL playoff preview.
It is the 23d time the Patriots have been on the cover, which is the sixth most among NFL teams. In this issue, NFL writer Peter King says the Patriots look "like a better team than the 2007 team that entered the Super Bowl 18–0.” He goes on to predict the Patriots will beat the Green Bay Packers 30-24 in the Super Bowl.
This is either good news or bad news, depending on how much you believe in the SI cover jinx, which holds that teams or athletes featured on Sports Illustrated's cover are destined to fail. It gets refuted more often than not, but it'll be a conversation starter nonetheless.
Wilfork is the first defensive tackle to be on the cover by himself since 2008. Wilfork's presence on the cover may be fitting, considering the challenges facing the Patriots defensive line.
There was plenty of news involving the Patriots last night, including rookie defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick being placed on the reserve/suspended list by the team.
Any detailed reaction to the news will have to wait as the Patriots are off today and coach Bill Belichick is not scheduled to address the media. The team will return to Gillette Stadium tomorrow.