In January 2010, Kentucky point guard John Wall appeared on the cover under the headline "The Great Wall." The next week undefeated Kentucky was upset on the road by 11-8 South Carolina in a game where Wall was outplayed by Gamecocks' point guard Devan Downey.
In February 2010, American alpine skier and Olympic gold medal hopeful Lindsey Vonn injured her leg the same week as she appeared on the cover. Vonn suffered a severe bruise on her right shin following a crash during training February 2. She caught a break when poor weather caused the alpine events at the Olympics to be delayed, enabling her to recover enough to win gold in her first event, the downhill. However, the "jinx" would apparently catch up with her in her other four events. First, she crashed out in the slalom portion of the super-combined after finishing first in the downhill portion. In the super-G, she admittedly skied the last part of the course too conservatively, ending up with a bronze medal. Vonn then crashed out of the giant slalom, and was disqualified for straddling a gate in the slalom.
Also in February 2010, Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic posed for the magazine, in the middle of a period in which she won just twelve professional matches between January and July 2010 inclusive. Shortly after her appearance in the magazine, the Serb dropped out of the WTA's Top 50 as her on-court form and confidence got worse. However, she has since climbed back into the World's Top 20 and regained her old form.
In March 2010, Gonzaga Bulldogs star Matt Bouldin, who appeared on the cover of the SI issue on March Madness that month, suffered a poor performance in a heavy loss to the Syracuse Orange in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The next week, Ali Farokhmanesh, whose three-pointer in the last minute clinched Northern Iowa's epic upset of #1 Kansas and placed him on the cover, had a poor performance of his own after being featured. He went 2-9 and missed 3 free throws as the Panthers fell 59–52 to Michigan State.
In April 2010, the "Core Four" of the New York Yankees (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada) appeared on the cover, and within one week, all but Jeter suffered injuries. However, Jeter went on to have the worst offensive season of his career.
In June 2010, Stephen Strasburg was featured and later that week earned his first MLB loss, and then was injured and was put on the disabled list. On August 28, 2010 it was confirmed that Strasburg would need Tommy John surgery and will likely be out for 12 to 18 months.
On July 19, 2010, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all appeared on the cover introduced as the Miami Heat's Big Three. At the time Bosh and James signed with the Heat during free agency, and the team was heavily favored as a championship contender. The Heat would represent the Eastern Conference in the 2011 NBA Finals, but ultimately lost to the Dallas Mavericks. LeBron also saw a significant drop in stats during the six games in the Finals, and was heavily criticized and questioned for his performance in late-season and clutch situations.
In August 2010, three University of Texas football players were featured on a regional cover of SI noting a defense worthy of "winning it all." Starting the season ranked fifth, the Longhorns would finish the season 5-7, making them ineligible for the college football postseason. Five of those losses came at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, their home field.
October 11, 2010: David Price was shown blowing a bubble on the cover of the magazine's Major League Baseball playoff issue, the Tampa Bay Rays pitcher had a poor outing in the first game of the 2010 American League Division Series, allowing 4 earned runs on nine hits, including two homeruns, in a 5-1 loss to the Texas Rangers. Price would go on to pitch in Game 5 of the series and lose by the same score of 5-1 to end the Rays playoff run and season.
November 29, 2010: Michael Vick appeared on the cover after a comeback win over the New York Giants. The next week against Chicago, he threw an interception and the Eagles go on to lose to the Bears.
January 10, 2011 Vince Wilfork appeared on the cover after the win versus Miami in Week 17. In his next game, his team (Patriots) lost to the Jets in the divisional playoff game.
January 19, 2011: Jay Cutler appeared on the cover. He injured his knee as the Bears went on to lose to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.
January 19, 2011: Calvin Pace appeared on the cover after a win vs New England in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. In the next game, the Jets lost to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.
March 24, 2011: The BYU Cougars player Jimmer Fredette appeared on the cover after the Cougars beat Gonzaga to take them to their first Sweet 16 since 1981. In the next game, Jimmer only hit 11 of 29 shots in a loss to the Florida Gators .
On April 19, 2011, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls appears on the cover prior to the NBA Playoffs. The Bulls had a good stretch in the postseason, but eventually lost in the Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. The Heat would go on to the Finals but then lose to the Mavericks.
September 29, 2011: The Buffalo Bills (specifically, cornerback Drayton Florence returning an interception for a touchdown) were featured on a regional cover after breaking their 15-game losing streak to the New England Patriots, their first appearance on an SI cover since the last time they defeated New England (see above). They went on to lose the next week to the Cincinnati Bengals, breaking a winning streak the Bills had against the Bengals that dated to the 1980s. Florence, in turn, would be cut from the roster during the offseason.
August 21, 2011 - Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick was featured front and center on the college preview cover. He did not finish his senior year because of a torn pectoral muscle.
October 15, 2011 - Jimmie Johnson had an accident at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Bank of America 500, jeopardizing his chance of a sixth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Johnson would finish 6th in the points, his worst finish since joning the Sprint Cup series full time.
October 24, 2011 - Outfielder Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the 2011 World Series began. The Rangers would go on to lose the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games despite being one strike away from winning the Series twice during Game 6.
December 14, 2011: The Denver Broncos (specifically Tim Tebow) appear on the cover after a six game win streak. They would go on to lose the next three games of the regular season and ultimately the playoffs.
January 8, 2012: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared on the Sports Illustrated cover as the 2011-2012 NFL playoffs began. The Packers lost at home to the New York Giants 37-20 and became the first NFL team with a 15-1 regular season record to lose their opening playoff game.
January 22, 2012 - The San Francisco 49ers were featured on the January 23, 2012 Sports Illustrated cover just prior to the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers subsequently lost the game in overtime to the New York Giants 20-17.
February 5, 2012 - Following the AFC and NFC Championship Games on January 22, 2012, won by the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, the Patriots appeared on both Sports Illustrated covers leading up to Super Bowl XLVI. The January 30 cover featured quarterback Tom Brady and the February 6 cover featured team owner Robert Kraft. The Patriots went on to lose the Super Bowl to the Giants 21-17. The Giants became the first team with a 9-7 regular season record to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots, who had an AFC-best 13-3 regular season record, had already lost to the Giants in week 9 of the regular season and in week 4 of the preseason. The Patriots had also lost to the Giants in their one previous Super Bowl match-up in Super Bowl XLII.
On February 17, 2012, with point guard Jeremy Lin featured on the Sports Illustrated cover, the New York Knicks snapped a seven-game winning streak by losing at home 89-85 to the New Orleans Hornets, the team with the second-worst record in the NBA.
On February 23, 2012, when featured on a second consecutive Sports Illustrated cover, New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin went 1 for 11 as the Knicks lost to the Miami Heat 102-88. In March, Lin tore a meniscus in his left knee and subsequently underwent season-ending knee surgery.
March 26, 2012: Albert Pujols was featured on the Sports Illustrated baseball preview cover. Next to the cover photo was the caption, "The game's greatest slugger starts over with the Angels". Pujols did not hit a home run with the Angels until May 6, 2012, in his 28th game and 111th at-bat of the season. Dating back to 2011, his regular season homerless streak lasted 33 games and 139 at-bats. Prior to 2012, Pujols had hit 445 career home runs, 32+ home runs in each of his 11 MLB seasons (including 37 in 2011), and 3 home runs off 3 different Texas Rangers pitchers in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, tying Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson for the most home runs in a World Series game.
April 16, 2012: New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was pictured on the Sports Illustrated NHL playoff preview cover. The top-seeded Rangers lost to the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils ended up losing to the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals.
May 23, 2012: The Los Angeles Dodgers (specifically Matt Kemp and Magic Johnson) appear on the cover. They held the best record in baseball (30-13) at the time and looked poised to sweep the 19-25 Arizona Diamondbacks who had been struck by injuries. They went on to lose to the Diamondbacks the same night in an 11-4 blowout. Ted Lilly received his first loss of the season. Clayton Kershaw lost to the Astros the following night. The Dodgers were then swept by the Milwaukee Brewers and then lost a series with the Rockies. They lost 8 of the next 11 games. Matt Kemp's seemingly minor injury became much more serious and the team is expected to be without him for at least four weeks.
June 11, 2012: Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was featured on the Sports Illustrated cover. On June 15, Hamilton is hospitalized because of an intestinal virus.
August 20, 2012: Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson is featured on the cover. The Wolverines lose their first game of the 2012 season with a 41-14 loss against Alabama.
September 24, 2012: Oregon Ducks running back DeAnthony Thomas is featured on the cover. The top-ranked Ducks lose their first game of the season to PAC-12 rival Stanford 17-14 in overtime on November 17, 2012.
October 29, 2012: Detroit Tigers hitter Miguel Cabrera was featured on the cover and subsequently got swept in the world series while going 3 for 13.
November 13, 2012: Kansas State University quarterback Collin Klein is featured on the cover, the week after Kansas State reached #1 in the BCS standings for the first time in school history. At the time, the team was a serious contender to play in the national title game, and Klein himself was a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. The following Saturday, Kansas State put up its worst game of the year, getting blown out at Baylor, 52-24.