Quick, when’s the last time the Boston Bruins made the cover of Sports Illustrated?
Believe it or not, it was 1978, and even then it’s all the matter of a shirt sleeve tucked behind the mask of Montreal goalie Ken Dryden. Thirty years later, and the Bruins are still being overshadowed by their Montreal rivals, providing Bruins fans with little hope that they’ll surprise anyone in a first-round matchup. Neat.
Of course, the Celtics’ new Big Three graced the cover of SI’s NBA preview issue last fall, but before that? Antoine? Nope. Pitino? Nope. Greg Minor? No…well, yeah, kind of.
This is the kind of trouble that Sports Illustrated’s new free archive service is going to get me into. Every cover, every issue, all related videos and photo galleries, have been put online for…yes, free. There’s a nifty, comprehensive search tool that points you in every which way possible. A Carlos Quintana search reveals 12 article mentions over the years. Marion Butts' name only reveals one video, but when it's the following, who cares?
I hadn't realized how much of a cover drought the Celtics had been in. Red Auerbach’s death got a banner mention in the left-hand corner of the cover in 2006, as David Eckstein celebrated St. Louis’ World Series victory, and Bill Russell made the front in a cover story on dynasties. But as far as then-active Celtics? If you don’t want to count Minor’s son in 1998 in a story entitled, “Where’s Daddy?” you need to go back to Reggie Lewis’ death in 1993.
Only four Celtics-related covers separated the last Larry-Magic front and the most recent NBA preview issue.
The Red Sox made the cover five times last year alone, and 21 times since 2002. For no real particular reason, this 1995 cover remains one of my favorites....
...while this is the one that was probably taped to more than a few bedroom walls:
The Patriots though are the clear winners when it comes to being on the cover, 24 times since 2002. Yet remarkably the first time they made the cover during the 2001-02 season was after the Super Bowl, which happened to be their first since 1997 after losing to the Packers. Again, kind of. Whose jersey is that making a cameo behind Desmond Howard?
A search for “Boston College” provided three covers, but none were the famous Bill Curley pose in 1994 after taking down North Carolina in the NCAA tournament. A “Curley” search brings it up. Odd in that the text on the cover doesn't mention "Bill Curley" but does "Boston College."
That’s not the only glitch either, as the search function can tend to run really slow, timing out at various points along the way, which might point to a bandwith issue. But while it’s easily the most frustrating aspect of using the vault, the opportunities are so endless it’s worth the grief.
Let’s break down the numbers of what’s available from a local standpoint:
Red Sox: 3,873 articles, 1,821 photos, 58 covers
Patriots: 1,709 articles, 3,712 photos, 32 covers
Celtics: 1,908 articles, 1,190 photos, 42 covers
Bruins: 366 articles, 48 photos, 10 covers
Free. I am officially getting nothing else done today.