For 24-year-old Jonas Gray, most of the football watching nation had never heard of him until he let loose on Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts, carrying the ball 37 times for a career-high 201 yards and a New England Patriots franchise record four touchdowns in a 42-20 rout.
Gray, who is on the national cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, had just 131 career rushing yards before the game.
But this seems to be the Patriots way for most of the past decade and a half: Finding players to fit the system, whether you know their names or not.
Gray played his ball at Notre Dame and tried his hand at comedy, once opening for actor Dustin Diamond, best known as Screech from Saved by the Bell.
It’s the Patriots who are laughing now at the rest of the league because of their latest find, a 5-foot-10 inch, 225-pound bruiser from Pontiac, Mich. Gray's effort Monday has helped the Patriots to a 8-2 record and a two-game cushion in the AFC East.
Gray says he knows that New England does things differently that most teams in the NFL.
“I’ve been on two other teams, but [nothing] compares to here,” Gray said. “Everybody comes to work. They know what the schedule is. They stay late. They put in extra time. It’s about winning and it’s not about winning. It’s about the process.
For more on Gray and the Patriots, check out Greg Bishop's story in this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).
Also in this issue: features on the Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, Baltimore Ravens receiver Steve Smith, the revival of the Phoenix Suns, and Thomas Lake's story on the heartbreak of the 2013 Iron Bowl.
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2014 Sports Illustrated Covers
December 29, 2014 | The Buckeyes are down to their third-string quarterback for coach Urban Meyer, who is two victories away from claiming his third national title. *This is a double issue: Dec. 29, 2014 0 Jan. 5, 2015.
December 29, 2014 | Oregon’s high-powered offense led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota looks to lead the Ducks to their first national championship.
December 29, 2014 | Florida State, winners of 29 straight games, are led last year’s Heisman winner Jameis Winston and a resiliency unmatched in college football.
December 29, 2014 | The Crimson Tide are back in the title hunt, seeking their fourth national championship in the last six seasons.
December 22, 2014 | Jon Lester’s arrival in Chicago, along with a six-year $155 million contract, has expectations high for the "lovable losers," who are now 12-1 favorites to win the 2015 World Series.
December 22, 2014 | The San Francisco 49ers three-year NFC Championship game appearance run is coming to end and head coach Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the team could soon be coming to an end as well.
December 15, 2014 | San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner had a postseason for the ages, giving up only six earned runs while pitching a record 52 2/3 innings helping the Giants to their third World Series title in the past five seasons. He is seventh MLB pitcher to be awarded Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.
December 8, 2014 | The Pelicans do-it-all forward Anthony Davis is headed for superstardom, complete with an offensive game that’s hard to defend and a fearless defensive presence around the basket.
December 8, 2014 | Wisconsin’s record-setting running back Melvin Gordon has his sights on the FBS single-season rushing record and the Heisman Trophy.
December 1, 2014 | Big, strong and fast, Jordy Nelson is perhaps the NFL's best deep threat and undoubtedly one of the league's best receivers, even though he hasn't always been recognized as such. On pace to finish atop the franchise's all-time leaders in receptions and receiving yards, Nelson, who's on this week's SI cover, is a solid bet to make his first Pro Bowl this season, and he's helped the Packers (8-3) become a Super Bowl contender once again.
November 24, 2014 | The Patriots may have a found another diamond in the rough, this time with undrafted running back Jonas Gray, who ran for 199 yards and 4 touchdowns in a Monday night victory over the Colts.
November 24, 2014 | One of the NHL’s best defensemen, P.K. Subban of the Canadiens. hopes to help bring the Stanley Cup to Montreal for the first time since 1993.
November 17, 2014 | The NFL’s most dominate defensive player, Texans All-Pro J.J. Watt, wants to focus on nothing else but the next play and piling up victories.
November 17, 2014 | The Arizona Cardinals are sporting the league’s best record, despite injuries across the board, including to their starting quarterback.
College Basketball preview: Duke
November 10, 2014 | Freshman Jahlil Okafor and the Blue Devils have the nation’s No. 1 recruit class and will look to avoid last season’s disappointment after losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Mercer.
College Basketball preview: Kentucky
November 10, 2014 | With nine talented McDonald's All-Americans on the roster and sky-high expectations, preseason No. 1 Kentucky leads a pack of teams looking to reach the Final Four in Indianapolis.
College Basketball preview: Wisconsin
November 10, 2014 | Paced by the nation’s most efficient offense, Wisconsin and Wooden award candidate Frank Kaminsky look to dethrone Michigan State as the Big Ten’s top team.
College Basketball preview: Texas
November 10, 2014 | With five returning starters plus freshman Myles Turner, Texas may just have enough to end Kansas and its 10-year stranglehold on the Big 12.
College Basketball preview: Arizona
November 10, 2014 | The Wildcats are paced by a ferocious defense and another stellar recruiting class but can they break through to get to the Final Four?
The World Series
November 10, 2014 | San Francisco’s third World Series victory in five seasons can be credited by a dominate pitching performance by Madison Bumgarner and a shrewd front office that is built to win.
The World Series special issue
November 3, 2014 | SI's special digital edition on the heels of the San Francisco Giants winning Game 7 of the World Series over the Kansas City Royals.
The World Series, Royals and Giants
November 3, 2014 | As the World Series comes to a close, the Giants and Royals try to play the kind of baseball that got them this far: playing stingy defense to go along with outstanding pitching.
November 3, 2014 | Admit reports of locker room turmoil, the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks win over the Panthers on Sunday have quieted their critics…..for now.
October 27, 2014 | The Cleveland Cavaliers squarely have a target on their backs after LeBron James and Kevin Love joined the team. But does that make them the favorites for the championship?
Kansas City Royals
October 27, 2014 | The World Series between the Royals and Giants may lack power hitting prowess, but will feature plenty of running, timely hitting and outstanding pitching.
October 20, 2014 | Mississippi State quarterback and Heisman candidate Dak Prescott has the Bulldogs sitting on top of the polls after a shocking run through some of the top teams in the SEC.
October 20, 2014 | There are thousands of homeless athletes around the United States and an SI investigation found that most of them thrive and survive with the help of sports.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State
October 13, 2014 | The Magnolia State was front and center of the college football universe last Saturday, with Ole Miss and Mississippi State scoring historic victories and throwing the college football playoff into complete chaos.
Kansas City Royals
October 13, 2014 | Lacking power, but plenty of speed, the Kansas City Royals are four victories from their first World Series appearance since 1985.
Adam Jones and Alex Ovechkin
October 6, 2014 | Hoping to avoid early playoff exits, fans of the Beltway teams pins its championship hopes on Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and Capitals center Alex Ovechkin.
Adam Wainwright and T. J Oshie
October 6, 2014 | The St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues, led by Adam Wainwright and T. J Oshie, look to get past last year’s disappointing playoff exits.
Clayton Kershaw and Anze Kopitar
October 6, 2014 | Although Los Angeles has no NFL team, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Kings forward Anze Kopitar are making sure that fans in the area don't miss America's most popular sport.
September 29, 2014 | As New York Yankees shortshop Derek Jeter closes the book on a 20-year career, he reflects on what has changed in the time that he has been in pinstripes.
September 22, 2014 | Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is almost certainly going to be a first-round NFL draft pick next year, but why are scouts so high on him?
September 15, 2014 | The focus is now on the National Football League and how they handled the situation involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
September 8, 2014 | The case can be made that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is already one of the NFL’s best at his position. Just don’t tell him that.
September 8, 2014 | The National League’s reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen is leading the Pirates back to another possible playoff berth.
Tony Romo and Nick Foles
September 1, 2014 | The NFC East features two of the most talented signal callers in the league in Tony Romo and Nick Foles. But if neither team’s defense shows up, both might be sitting at home watching the playoffs this season.
Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick
September 1, 2014 | The NFC West title goes through Seattle, but the 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick will try to reach the NFC Championship for a fourth straight year.
Drew Brees and Matt Ryan
September 1, 2014 | Atlanta and New Orleans both have enough offensive firepower to outscore anyone. And outscoring, and not stopping opponents might be enough to win the NFC South.
Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford
September 1, 2014 | Two quarterbacks, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, look to detrone the Packers in the NFC North and lead their teams to a division title.
August 25, 2014 | Mo'ne Davis, a 5-foot-4 inch, 111-pound eighth grader is not only taking the Little League World Series by storm, but the rest of the nation is starting to take notice as well.
August 25, 2014 | Lakers star Kobe Bryant knows the end of his career is near, but is doing to things to prolong a Hall of Fame legacy and to set up for his future.
Kansas City Royals
August 25, 2014 | After nearly 30 years of missing the playoffs, the AL Central leading Kansas City Royals are on the brink of joining the postseason party.
August 18, 2014 | Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston seeks to become the first back-to-back winner in almost 40 years. The Seminoles are also big favorites to repeat as national champions.
August 18, 2014 | Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper hopes to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 season, by leading the Crimson Tide back to the title game.
August 18, 2014 | Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight looks for a repeat performance after bursting on the scene by shredding Alabama’s defense in the Sugar Bowl.
August 18, 2014 | UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley passed up NFL riches to try to lead UCLA back into the national spotlight.
August 18, 2014 | Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller looks for a better end of the season, after two consecutive losses knocked the Buckeyes out of the championship picture.
The 60th Anniversary Issue
August 11, 2014 | With over 3,000 covers spanning the last seven decades, Sports Illustrated's 60th anniversary issue pays tribute to the readers as the cover features a mosaic with thousands of reader submitted photos.
August 4, 2014 | UCLA quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Brett Hundley passed up NFL riches to try to lead the Bruins back to national prominence.
August 4, 2014 | The NFL’s leading rusher in 2013, LeSean McCoy credits offseason workouts for the reason he has been able to stay healthy.
August 4, 2014 | Jamaal Charles, SI’s No. 1 fantasy running back, accounted for 35 percent of the Kansas City Chiefs offense, while leading the team in rushing and receiving.
August 4, 2014 | The NFL’s offensive rookie of the year looks to improve on an 1,100 yard rushing season.
July 28, 2014 | Rory McIlroy keeps things in perspective as he is shooting to complete the career Grand Slam at next year’s Masters.
July 28, 2014 | As Saints quarterback Drew Brees enters his 14th NFL season, he relies on flexibility, core stability and rotational strength to keep in shape.
July 21, 2014 | Cleveland has reason to believe again after LeBron James decided to rejoin the Cavaliers. SI takes a closer look at how James' return came together and what it means for Northern Ohio.
July 7-14 | When you think of the Chicago Cubs, the first name that usually comes to mind is Ernie Banks. Banks, along with former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton, are featured in SI's "Where are they now?" double issue. In the issue, Banks explains why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. "First of all, Wrigley Field. It's a different place to play," Banks tells SI's Rich Cohen. "I mean, the wind blows all kinds of ways. Foul lines are very close to the wall."
July 7-14 | Nate Newton and his fellow Dallas Cowboys linemen helped running back Emmitt Smith win four rushing titles.
June 30, 2014 | This week's Sports Illustrated cover features Houston Astros rookie right fielder George Springer, who is trying to help the team climb out of baseball's cellar. Springer, who has 14 home runs and 39 RBI in only 59 games this season, along with major league hits leader Jose Altuve, still have some work to do as Houston sits at 33-45, good for last place in the American League West as of June 25. Check out the Sports Illustrated print edition this week (subscribe here) for SI.com writer Ben Reiter’s piece on how scouting and modern-day metrics are potentially building the Astros toward championship contention in the future.
June 23, 2014 | Chuck Noll, the coach behind the Pittsburgh Steelers' famed "Steel Curtain" defense, was undoubtedly one of the greatest coaches ever to man an NFL sideline. In 23 seasons, Noll compiled a 209-156-1 record, but the Hall of Fame coach will be remembered most for leading the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories in six years. Noll died in his sleep at his Pittsburgh-area home last week at the age of 82. This week's Sports Illustrated features remembrances from SI senior writer Tim Layden and former Pittsburgh running back Rocky Bleier, who anchored the backfield of those championship Steeler teams.
June 23, 2014 | The goal by defenseman Alec Martinez at 14:43 of double overtime in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final capped one of the most remarkable championship runs in NHL history. En route to winning their second Cup since 2012, the gritty, resilient Los Angeles Kings became the league's first team to win three Game 7s on the road during the same postseason, and the first to play as many as 26 games before securing the coveted chalice. They also survived seven playoff games in which they could have been eliminated, and rallied from two-goal deficits four times, including the first two matches of their final series against the New York Rangers. In this week's issue of Sports Illustrated, Brian Cazeneuve explores how General Manager Dean Lombardi has built a model franchise and budding dynasty with a shrewd philosophy.
June 23, 2014 | San Antonio demolished Miami so quickly in the NBA Finals that it required real effort to catalog all of the ways the Spurs had distinguished themselves from their previous title teams, from past NBA champions, and from the other 29 teams that competed for a title this season. Boiling down the Spurs' standout characteristics into a laundry list of adjectives might look something like this: dominant, international, systematic, deep, explosive, fluid, unselfish, balanced, disciplined, focused, redemptive and fun. In a cover story for the June 23 issue of Sports Illustrated, Lee Jenkins touches on many of these attributes as he traces San Antonio's return from a devastating 2013 Finals loss to Miami.
NHL and NBA
June 16, 2014 | The cover of Sports Illustrated this week announces the NHL's return to that most coveted of all states: hotness. The league has reached this scorching status for, presumably, the first time since 1994, when the cover on which this week's issue riffs ? WHY THE NHL'S HOT AND THE NBA'S NOT ? originally ran as an SI cover.
June 9, 2014 | There is no small effort involved in getting the three best soccer players in the world (Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suárez) and the captain of the U.S. national team (Clint Dempsey) on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in the same week. But that's exactly what SI did for our World Cup 2014 preview issue, which features four different covers, all of which are mixed evenly in the distribution of magazines to subscribers and newsstands this week. It's a historic moment for soccer in SI, the 19th time the sport has appeared on the cover of the magazine since it started being published weekly in 1954. Messi, Ronaldo and Suárez are making their first appearances on the cover, while Dempsey is on the front for the second time.
June 9, 2014
June 9, 2014