The wordbest gets thrown around a lot here at SI. Who's the best player. What's the best team. When's the best game. To paraphrase a coaching cliché: To be the best, you have to cover the best. And you have to tell the best stories. Which brings us to this magazine: The Best Issue. Our goal was to create a real-time hall of fame of the best, most interesting stories in sports right now.
The Best Issue is not about picking the NFL's top quarterback, an unsolvable riddle that depends on your preference for passer rating (Alex Smith), TDs (Carson Wentz) or Super Bowl rings (Tom Brady). It is about exploring how Matthew Stafford (page 38) turned himself into an elite QB by harnessing one of the NFL's best tools, his howitzer right arm. The Best Issue isn't about anointing the best team in college football, a designation upended with each blissfully chaotic Saturday. It is about Shaquem Griffin (page 66), the one-handed Central Florida linebacker who reminds us that sports' power to inspire has little to do with who wins and loses.
The Best Issue is for the best raconteurs, and we brought together two NBA Hall of Famers—SI senior contributing writer Jack McCallum (writers wing) and Shaquille O'Neal (players' wing)—to revisit Shaq's Madison Square Garden debut as a rookie, 25 years ago this month (page 94). It is also the first installment of the SI Vault series, a pillar of our most ambitious launch since perhaps the dawn of this magazine itself. On Nov. 16, at noon ET, we're unveiling SI TV, a new streaming network in which we'll do in video form what we've long done with words and pictures: bring you the best journalism and storytelling in sports—along with a heavy dose of fun. You can watch SI TV on your phone, television or tablet through Amazon Channels; you'll find an ever-growing library of SI original midform documentaries and studio shows as well as classic movies, docs and TV series. "SI TV is a one-stop shop," says Josh Oshinsky, VP of Programming for Time Inc. Sports."Storytelling is this brand's DNA, and now it's available through print, online and on television."
The goal of SI TV is to cut through the hot takes and shoutfests and remind you why you love sports. For the stories. For the drama. For the passion that has always been the core of SI at its best. In the launch episode of SI Under the Cover, Ben Baskin's piece on Julio Jones's X-Man-like origin story (page 48) comes to life. The first wave of SI TV also features a tour through LSU's peerless tailgate scene (page 82). And as moving as you'll find the Griffin story in print, the video version is even more inspiring.
Speaking of must-see TV, we invite you to tune into another project we're extremely proud of. In 2016 we sent a crew to follow the football team at East St. Louis (Ill.) High for an entire season. The result is 89 Blocks, a powerful look at life, death and football in one of the country's most dangerous and depressed communities (page 22). We won't spoil the ending, but the Flyers were really good—and their star receiver, Jeff Thomas, is now a freshman at unbeaten Miami. 89 Blocks will air on Fox on Nov. 26. It's one more example of SI finding new ways to bring you the best.
BEST IN SHOWS
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BEST ORIGIN STORY: FREAKISH RECEIVER JULIO JONES
BEST INSPIRATION: UCF LINEBACKER SHAQUEM GRIFFIN
BEST PARTY: TAILGATING IN BATON ROUGE