A pair of preview issues square off in the Alabama SI Cover Tournament.
In 1967, Bart Starr was on the cover of Sports Illustrated after winning the NFL championship, and the Green Bay Packers prepared to play in the first Super Bowl.
In 2014, Blake Sims was getting ready to lead Alabama into the inaugural College Football Playoff, wit Sports Illustrated getting readers ready with a special double issue.
BamaCentral is holding a 48-field single-elimination tournament to determine the best Alabama Sports Illustrated cover.
All Things Bama Regional
Game 14: The Champs (Bart Starr) vs. The Case For Blake Sims
The Champs (Bart Starr)
Story headline: Green Bay Rolls High
Subhead: Cowboy Don Meredith harassed the Packers' defense all day, but a rambling, gambling Bart Starr passed Green Bay to another NFL championship and into the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs
Excerpt (by Tex Maule): Where Landry used an understated approach in order to settle the nerves of his young Cowboys, Lombardi did just the opposite in order to nettle his veterans into the ferocity he expects from his teams.
He snapped and snarled at them all week long. The last note of levity came in Green Bay just before the departure for Tulsa, when Paul Hornung (who was to spend the entire game Sunday on the bench) broke up the team with a story about Lombardi that reflects the respect and awe with which his players regard him. According to Hornung, when the team returned to Green Bay at 2 o'clock in the morning after their season-ending Los Angeles victory, Lombardi was delayed for an hour or so at the airport in zero weather, signing autographs and talking to well-wishers. By the time he got home he was almost frozen. When he finally got into bed his wife, Marie, shivered and said, "God, your feet are cold." Said Lombardi, sleepily, "In bed you may call me Vincent, dear."
Lombardi laughed as hard as the players at the joke, but once the team arrived at the Camelot Inn in Tulsa he worked them mercilessly.
Fuzzy Thurston, the fine Green Bay guard, said in his oratorical style, "This game will prove for all time, for all history, the greatness of my teammates. This is the big one for all of us. There are players on this team who are near retirement, and none of us wants to retire with a bad taste in his mouth. As the great Johnny Blood once said, 'We professional athletes are very lucky. Unlike most mortals, we are given the privilege of dying twice—once when we retire and again when death takes us.' " Now Thurston, a blocky, square, very tough-looking man, lowered his voice to a sentimental organ tone. "I would like to die happy," he said.
The Case for Blake Sims
Story headline: The Case for Blake Sims
Subhead: After waiting four years to get a shot to start, Blake Sims caught on instantly to the hurry-up attack, guiding the Tide to a record-breaking season
Excerpt (by Brian Hamilton): Before Blake Sims there is a quadratic equation. Taken as a whole, the string of letters and numbers and exponents might as well be extraterrestrial launch codes. So Sims and his math teacher at Gainesville (Ga.) High, Allison Worley, break the problem into smaller parts. They identify it as a quadratic equation because one of the variables is squared. They look at each term separately. Every one is taken as a clue, every clue is followed to an answer. It is through this system, bit by bit, that the solution becomes clear.
Before Blake Sims there is an Alabama play call. The cascade of code words and numbers might as well be a quadratic equation. So the Crimson Tide quarterback and his offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, break each play into smaller parts. Sims has one call for the line, one for the receivers to his right and another for those to his left. Every piece is a distinct command, every command linked to a specific effect. It is through this system, bit by bit, that the entire field opens up.
Painstakingly, Sims has arrived as the leader of the No. 1 team in the country, his destination achieved, step by step, through critical choices at decisive intervals. He transferred high schools, rehabilitated his academic record and patiently waited until his final autumn for the chance to take over at Alabama. And the 6-foot, 208-pound senior has seized that opportunity to become one of the nation's most efficient passers, throwing for 3,250 yards and 26 touchdowns and guiding a breakneck attack into the national semifinals, a Sugar Bowl showdown with Ohio State.
"I'm going to write Kiffin and [coach Nick] Saban a thank-you note," says Worley. "I'm serious. Each child is an individual, and each one learns differently. Same thing on the football field. You have to figure out what works with what player."
Quarterback Bart Starr d. 2014 playoff preview (Blake Sims), 60.2-39.8 percent