Monday, October 13, 2014

Drop Dead, Date

Wrong. So, so wrong. Almost seven years wrong, to be exact.

In Sports Illustrated’s 60th anniversary issue, the date (April 26, 1982) listed for an old Tony Mandarich issue wasn’t even close. Sports Illustrated overinflated the day and underinflated the year.

You can’t judge a book by its cover. Mandarich’s career provides marrow to that idiom’s backbone. Back in the late ‘80s, the colossal man looked like the perfect offensive lineman specimen, so the Green Bay Packers took him second overall in the 1989 NFL draft. Mandarich started 63 games over six nondescript seasons before his career fizzled. For comparison’s sake, the other four players drafted in the top five that year (Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders) are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You can, however, judge an old magazine by its cover date. The date of the Mandarich Sports Illustrated issue, shown below, is April 24, 1989. It’s in the upper right. You can’t miss it.

And yet SI did miss it — by this* much. The magazine, like “the best offensive line prospect ever,” fell far short of expectations.

On April 26, 1982, Mandarich was 15. It’s rare to come across a 6-foot-6-inch, 315-pound 15-year-old. Give a green boy nearly seven years to grow (and take steroids), however, and he can blossom into an incredible bulk.

* 6 years, 11 months, 29 days

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