It makes sense that Montana and Brady are tied at the top: They've won multiple Super Bowl MVP awards, played the glamour position for the best teams in the sport and have recognizable faces that sell magazines. That the most NFL appearances is 12 is a bit jarring seeing as how Michael Jordan was on the cover 56 times (Muhammad Ali and Tiger Woods are the next most frequent cover subjects with 38 and 30 covers, respectively), but football is the most team-oriented of all the major sports. That, combined with a compressed playoff schedule, leaves fewer opportunities to land a cover.
Brady's mug on the cover must sell well, because the Patriots weren't even the most compelling NFL story in their own division this week. He gets on covers because he's great, but the fact that his presence probably leads to more women buying newsstand copies doesn't hurt either. (Nor does the fact that there's no green in the New England jerseys.)
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- Joe Montana