Brown's massive hit on Bush graces SI cover

COLUMBIA -- Sheldon Brown is not worried about the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.

In fact, the former South Carolina defensive back from Lewisville High School had never heard of it before Wednesday.

But Brown will learn all about the supposed SI curse now that his picture is plastered on this week's cover. Brown, a starting cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles, is shown leveling New Orleans Saints tailback Reggie Bush in a game last season in New Orleans.

The cover story examines the public's fascination with big hits in the NFL and the physical dangers they bring.

Brown said the hit on the "defenseless" Bush was memorable, but not the biggest blow he's delivered. As a rookie special teams player in 2002, Brown crushed Dallas Cowboys kick returner Reggie Swinton.

"He didn't get up at all. I just remember hitting him and the back of his helmet hitting the ground, and he just laid in that position. No movement," Brown said. "I think that hit was the cleanest hit I ever got."

Brown, a six-year NFL veteran, was incredulous when told he is the first USC football player to be featured on an SI cover.

"How can George Rogers win the (1980) Heisman and not make the cover?" Brown said. "I'll take that honor proudly and I'll respect it even more if that's the case."

The 28-year-old Brown is the third current or former USC athlete to grace the SI cover. Gamecocks basketball great John Roche was on the front of the Jan. 4, 1971, edition, while soccer player Clint Mathis appeared on the cover of the May 27, 2002, issue previewing the World Cup.

As for the alleged SI jinx, Brown said he would have been more concerned had he shown up on the box for the new EA Sports' John Madden NFL video game. Several past Madden coverboys have sustained injuries or struggled through sub-par seasons.

"I thought that was just a video game thing," Brown said. "I'm not on the cover of Madden."