The Cover Story: Carmelo Anthony, The Sign and the Preps Mascots & Peyton Manning

This Wide Wide Sports-less World is something else, eh? It only took about one week of sans-sports-living to realize just exactly how much we watch, consume, enjoy, discuss…need sports.

It’s been rough.

If there’s been a silver lining (outside of Tiger King), it’s that plenty of sports outlets have become very creative in their efforts to deliver us sports. One of my favorite ways of doing this has been the repurposing of “retro” content – classic games, moments, performances.

And there’s no reason Mile High Sports can’t get in on the fun. In an attempt to take a trip down memory lane, we’re proudly presenting “The Cover Story” – the tale of Mile High Sports Magazine as told through each and every cover.

Now, we’re going to shake things up and present them in a somewhat random order, but at the end, we’ll give you, the reader, a chance to vote for your favorites. So, for the next several weeks, while we’re all cooped up inside, check in in often at milehighsports.com and check out our Cover Story.

We’ll post every cover and perhaps some behind-the-scenes tales behind a few.

Click here for the entire series.

Enjoy.

Issue: November 2005, Carmelo Anthony

If there was one figure that Mile High Sports hung its hat on early, it had to be Carmelo Anthony. In the short amount of time he’d been in Denver, he’d established himself as the city’s most compelling athlete. For the November 2005 cover, he was the one and only choice – it was already his fifth appearance on an MHSM cover.

The Broncos were, and always will be, the Broncos, but heading into 2005, the orange and blue had yet to find replacements for stars like John Elway and Terrell Davis. The team was good – very good – but it lacked that signature personality that previous teams possessed. The shine that surrounded the Colorado Avalanche was slowly beginning to dull, too, as the team’s stars were getting old. Furthermore, the franchise couldn’t outspend everyone else in the NHL under the league’s new salary cap rules. At Coors Field, the Rockies were toiling in mediocrity (at best), as the Local 9 had just wrapped up a fifth-straight losing season.

But there was an excitement surrounding the Nuggets, as Melo was easily the most identifiable star in Denver.  Behind the youngster from Syracuse, the Nuggets had already reached the postseason twice. They’d lost in the first round both times, but the losses came at the hands of the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively. In addition to Melo, the Nuggets also headed into the 2005-06 season knowing that George Karl would be the head coach for the entire season – there was reason to believe that this year could be different.

The Nuggets fate in the playoffs that season was the same, as they were bounced somewhat unexpectedly by the Clippers. But Melo turned in an impressive season, averaging 26.5 points on 80 starts. The design of this cover is particular good (a shout out to then-art director Jason Hines is in order), and that wasn’t just our opinion. Once the issue came out, word was sent that Melo himself wanted a poster-sized replica, which we gladly provided in exchange for an autographed one for the MHS offices.


Issue: September 2010, The Sign

This particular cover is significant because it was the only the second time the magazine cover didn’t feature an “being” (the first one occurred in 2004, when a “tattered and torn” baseball represented the Rockies season preview). This decision did not come without controversy, but in retrospect, the cover proved to be prophetic.

But still, this was the Broncos issue. Surely there was someone who deserved to grace the cover. Or was there?

The coach? An unpopular Josh McDaniels.

The quarterback? A bearded and bland Kyle Orton.

Some of the bigger names – Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins, Eddie Royal – seemed like they didn’t quite tell the story of the 2010 team. A look at the roster did show some very notable names – Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno and Tim Tebow – but most of them had yet to come into the spotlight or even their personal prime.

Plus, the team was bad. Very bad. McDaniels had concluded the 2009 season by losing 8-of-10, and the roster didn’t seem to be improved in the offseason. Nobody was predicting much of anything for the 2010 team. As such, the question was adequately raised: “Where are the Broncos going?”

Turns out, they weren’t going anywhere fast. In fact, after McDaniels began the season 3-9, he was fired, making way for interim head coach Eric Studesville, who finished 1-3. Perhaps the most definitive direction in which the Broncos traveled in 2010 was away from Kyle Orton. Following a 19-for-41 / 166-passing yard performance in a loss against Arizona, Studesville named Tebow the starter for week 15 – and Orton, quite literally, was never heard from again.

Where were the Broncos going? Turns out, nowhere in 2010.


Issue: February 2014, The Preps Mascots and Peyton Manning

What does a magazine do when it’s annual preps issue comes out the same month as the Broncos are playing in the Super Bowl? No sweat – two covers.

It hasn’t happened many times, but this was one of them. And the timing could not have been trickier.

The sure thing: That would be the cover for the annual preps issue. And this particular one was probably photographed and designed in late December or early January. And it was incredible. The concept was entirely the vision of art director Nick Heckman, who called for actual high school mascots to be photographed as if they were playing around on a virtual “set” he would later create in design. To this day, it’s arguably the most creative cover the magazine has ever produced (Fun Fact: Editor Doug Ottewill appears on this cover, not that anyone can tell, but he is indeed wearing one of the mascot uniforms).

The gamble: That would be the Broncos. A magazine that comes out on the first Tuesday of February must go to press right around the time of the AFC Championship Game. And it’s difficult to produce an entire Super Bowl preview in a single day, but Publication Printers, the magazine’s longtime partner, would have to hit “print” on the presses not long after Peyton Manning and the Broncos beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in order for the magazine to arrive on shelves and in mailboxes before Super Bowl 48. And therein lies the gamble. In truth, about 85 percent of the Super Bowl preview was complete before anyone knew the outcome of the AFC Championship. And once that game was over, it was a matter of cranking out one last article and sliding it into design. Had the Broncos lost? Well, all of that content would have been tossed, and we would have reverted to a “non-Super Bowl” layout.

Sadly, the “commemorative” Broncos cover became the “B-Side” relatively quickly once the Broncos lost to the Seahawks. Luckily, the “A-Side” became a preps classic.

 

You can help Mile High Sports:

Enjoying our trip down memory lane with Mile High Sports Magazine? For over 17 years, Mile High Sports has been the local, independent voice covering everything from the Preps to the Pros in Denver and across Colorado. One way you can help us continue our coverage is to click here to subscribe to Mile High Sports Magazine. Whether for yourself, your business, or friends and family, we appreciate the support. THANK YOU!

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