Football Urban Legends Revealed #4

This is the fourth in a series of examinations of football-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous football legends.

This installment is a re-format edition, so these legends have already been posted on this site, just not in this format.

Let’s begin!

FOOTBALL LEGEND: Kurt Warner refused to appear on the cover of an issue of Sports Illustrated about the supposed “Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx.”

STATUS: True

The Sports Illustrated “Jinx” supposedly began in 1954, with the very first cover of Sports Illustrated, which featured the Milwaukee Braves’ Eddie Mathews on the cover

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The Braves were on a nine-game winning streak at the time this August 16, 1954 cover went up. The Braves lost their next game on August 17 and then a week later, Mathews was hit by a pitch on his hand and missed seven games.

Some other random “examples” of the Jinx include…

Wilbur Wood, on the cover after going 13-3, proceeded to lose 8 of his next 9.

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Carin Cone, unbeaten in the 100-meter backstroke leading up to the 1960 Olympic trials, failed to even qualify for the Olympics!

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So back in 2002, Alexander Wolff did a feature story on the topic of the Jinx, and he basically showed that while, come on, obviously it did not seriously exist, did at least note that a sports psychologist named Jim Loehr does think that there is something to the theory that athletes DO deal with “a failure to efficiently metabolize heightened expectations,” and that appears to PERHAPS bear out in noting that the Jinx seems to apply to solo athletes, like golfers, more than athletes on teams.

But yeah, come on, jinxes don’t exist.

That said, Wolff and Sports Illustrated had a funny reaction when they had Kurt Warner agree to appear on the cover about the jinx. The idea was that he would appear with a black cat. I believe the notion was that Warner wore #13, and that did not keep him from winning a Super Bowl and two MVPs (plus one of the more dramatic career turnarounds, going from stocking shelves in Cedar Falls to winning a Super Bowl within five year’s time).

However, Warner decided to back out, so the cover of the issue in question, in January of 2002, had the following cover…

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FOOTBALL LEGEND: In back-to-back years, two separate Canadian football teams drafted dead players.

STATUS: True

In 1993, the Canadian Football League tried out something that had been relatively successful for Major League Baseball in the past, expanding past their own country. In 1993, the CFL added an expansion team from the United States, the Sacramento Gold Miners. The next year, the CFL added the Las Vegas Posse, the Shreveport Pirates, and the Baltimore Colts (later Baltimore Stallions).

However, after just one disappointing season, the Las Vegas Posse folded.

Their players were then entered into a dispersal draft in April 1995.

The Ottawa Rough Riders (a team founded in 1876) drafted Posse defensive end Derrell Robertson.

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The only problem was that Robertson had died in a car accident in December of 1994.

Ottawa’s head coach Jim Gilstrap remarked at the time of the discovery of Robertson’s death “the league didn’t know he was dead until we told them, and we didn’t know until we couldn’t find him.”

Ottawa ended up folding after 121 seasons in 1996.

By the end of the 1995 season, the CFL USA experiment had come to a close, and while most of the teams folded, the Baltimore Stallions owner, irked at the idea of competing with the Baltimore Ravens (who had moved there that season) moved the team to Montreal and re-named them the Montreal Alouettes.

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In the March 1996 Canadian college draft, the Alouettes drafted defensive end James Eggink of Northern Illinois in the fifth round.

Again, the only problem was that Eggink had died of cancer in December of 1995. Lightning had somehow struck twice! Speros was quoted as saying, “I’m upset and embarrassed as an owner. The research process can be very difficult.” John Tory, then Chairman of the CFL, said of his teams, “I would think the first qualification they might want to come up with is that the person’s alive.”

Speros sold the team in 1996.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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