The Curse of the “GQ” Cover Strikes Again
Forget the covers of Madden or Sports Illustrated. GQ+QB = a match made in hell.
Almost a year ago last year, ESPN writer LZ Granderson noticed something peculiar: the “honor” of gracing the cover of GQ magazine was, if not a death knell, then certainly a harbinger of bad things to come. As Granderson noted, this curse goes way back, striking Joe Theismann and Dan Marino in the ’80s to Jim Everett and Steve Young in the ’90s. But it’s really in the last decade, when six different quarterbacks have been cover-boys, that the curse has taken its toll. Let’s examine the evidence:
Covers: September, 2005; October, 2007; December, 2009; February, 2011
Now, this isn’t exactly fair, because Brady (a GQ poster-boy if there ever was one) first appeared on the cover way back in 2002, when he was at the start of a historic streak in which he led the Patriots to victories in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and, finally, in February 2005, Super Bowl XXXIX. So the magazine could be forgiven for putting him on the cover the following September. And then another three times thereafter.
That Super Bowl win in 2005? That was the last time Brady held the trophy aloft – not that that’s stopped GQ from turning again and again to the Uggs spokesman. Following the ’05 season, he lost his first-ever playoff game. His ’07 run was one for the ages, with the Pats going undefeated in the regular season, and Brady putting up head-spinning stats…and then they got smacked-down by the underdog Giants in the Super Bowl. In ’08, he blew out his knee on the first series of the season, returned in ’09 to lead the Pats to the playoffs, appeared on the December ’09 cover of GQ…and then threw three interceptions in a wild card playoff loss later that month. By February, 2011, he was back on GQ‘s cover, and back in the Super Bowl! And back to losing to the Giants. He hasn’t been back on the cover since, and we can’t blame him.
Coming into the NFL in 2009, life was looking pretty damn sweet for the former USC quarterback. He was hailed as the the second coming of Broadway Joe, leading the Jets on the field, and enjoying a jet-setting, playboy lifestyle off of it. He signed a $50 million contract, dated starlets like Eva Longoria and Kate Upton, and led the Jets to the AFC Championship game in his first two years in the league. His future was bright!
Sanchez’s post-cover career has been as ugly as his mug is pretty. GQ’s NFL-preview cover-boy was named Jets team captain, and led the team to the…well, not the playoffs, because they didn’t make the postseason. The following year, he racked up a God-awful 66.9 QB-rating as the team went 6-10, and as his job security was dwindling. And then this happened. 2013 hasn’t been much better, as a partially torn labrum in his shoulder may see his season — if not his whole career — cut short.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, and number one pick in the 2011 NFL draft, looked like the gridiron’s next can’t-miss superstar – a 6’5, 250 lb. hulk, with a cannon for an arm and wheels like a tailback. And he delivered, winning the 2011 Rookie of the Year, and making countless fantasy footballers very happy. Add a million-watt smile, and it’s no wonder GQ tapped him for their NFL preview the next year.
Can you say sophomore slump? To be fair, Newton’s statistics last year were pretty comparable to his rookie year, even if he was no longer quite the fantasy monster who rushed for a crazy 14 touchdowns the year before. But damned if he didn’t display the worst body-languagesince Jay Cutler in the playoffs. Maybe the curse is starting to fade, though. He did throw for three TDs in yesterday’s 38-0 throttling of the New York Giants.
Where to begin? Newton’s former teammate on the Florida Gators won two BCS National Championships and a Heisman Trophy in one of the most impressive college careers in history. Drafted in the first-round of the 2010 draft by the Denver Broncos, he, well, frankly he didn’t do much his rookie year. But 2011? That’s went shit got cray. Despite an apparently limited ability in impersonating an NFL quarterback (he finished the season with the league’s lowest completion percentage), Tebow improbably led the Broncos to the playoffs with a series of logic-defying comebacks. Tebow-mania was born. Tebowing, too. Still, when the Broncos had a chance to sign Peyton Manning, the Tebow era in Colorado came to a premature end, as Tebow left to join Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets.
While his cover shot was relatively benign, the image of Tebow in a Christ-like pose within the pages of GQmay have been an act of hubris even the good Lord couldn’t forgive. On the year, he threw a grand-total of 8 passes and 32 rushes. Total. No real surprise, then, that he was cut. He did make to the New England Patriots mini-camp, where he got to rub elbows with Tom Brady and his former Gators target Aaron Hernandez, but was cut once again. Currently the one-time savior is looking for a job.
Robert Griffin III
Yet another Heisman Trophy winner, RGIII was drafted with the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft, and then burned up the league — and resurrected the hopes of Washington fans — on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year and leading the Redskins to the team’s first post-season in years. The trouble is that once he made the playoffs, he blew out his knee, tearing both his LCL and ACL.
That devastating injury, however, wasn’t enough to keep RGIII off of the cover of GQ‘s 2013 NFL preview. How’s he faired in the month since? Well, the Redskins are 0-3, not that it’s all Griffin’s fault; he’s thrown for almost 1,000 yards already, and the Skins D has been truly atrocious. But it all comes down to wins, and until he gets Washington into the “W” column, the curse remains in full effect.
RGIII’s fellow September ’13 cover-boy has been similarly plagued. After leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in only his second year, torching opponents with both his arm and legs, the former backup seemed poised to take the league by storm with a full season ahead of him. In fact, with Kaepernick under center, many predicted the Niners would go all the way this year.
As with RGIII, it’s a small sample size. It’s also a pretty shitty sample, regardless of size. In three games, Kaepernick has completed 56.4% of his throws, he’s tossed 3 touchdowns against 4 interceptions, he’s fumbled twice, and he has a 72.5 quarterback rating. And the team? They’re 1-2 in an extremely competitive NFC West division. Russell Wilson, meanwhile, appeared in GQ‘s NFL preview as well, albeit in a photo spread and not on the cover. His Seahawks are 3-0, his rating is 109.6 and he’s completing 64.4% of his passes. We’re guessing he’s glad he didn’t get offered that cover slot.