Covert was born in Conway, Pennsylvania. He excelled in both football and wrestling at Freedom Area High School in Beaver County, west of Pittsburgh. In football, Covert led the 1977 Freedom Bulldogs, with an undefeated 11-0 record, to the Midwestern Athletic Conference (MAC) Championship as a senior. Although the Bulldogs eventually lost to Laurel High School in the second round of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) playoffs, Covert earned UPI First-Team All-State honors and became a highly recruited player.
Covert entered the University of Pittsburgh as a defensive lineman. He played in every game his freshman season, primarily in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Covert received a medical red-shirt in 1979 due to an ankle injury that required surgery. In the spring of 1980, Covert was switched to offensive left tackle where he started for the next three seasons.
Coached by legendary offensive line coach Joe Moore, the 1980 Panthers offensive line featured Covert, Rob Fada, and Paul Dunn sharing the left guard duties; Russ Grimm at center; Emil Boures at right guard; and Mark May at right tackle. The Panthers finished the 1980 season with a record of 10-1 and ended the season with a Gator Bowl victory over South Carolina. The 1980 team also featured four future College Football Hall of Fame inductees—Covert, Dan Marino, Hugh Green, and May—as well as a number of other players who eventually went on to play football professionally. The following year, 1981 Pitt Panthers finished 10-1 again and beat Georgia in a last-minute victory in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The Panthers finished the season ranked number 2 in the AP and UPI Coaches polls in 1980 and ranked number 4 and 2 in the same polls respectively in 1981.
In 1982, Pitt was ranked number 1 by the AP in their preseason poll, but finished a disappointing 9-2. The Panthers eventually lost to Southern Methodist University in the Cotton Bowl 7-3. An Outland Trophy candidate in 1982, Covert earned first team All-America honors in both his junior and senior campaigns, achieving consensus All-America as a senior. Covert played in both the Hula Bowl and Senior Bowl, which capped his college career. Covert was named to the University of Pittsburgh All-Time Team.
Covert was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the sixth selection of the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft. He became the starter at the left tackle position and was named to the UPI's 1983 NFL All-Rookie team.
Although the Bears were 22nd in total offense in 1982, the team steadily improved with Covert as a starter over the next few season peaking at second in the league in 1985. In addition, the team went from 18th in rushing in 1982 to lead the league for four consecutive seasons from 1983–1986. The Bears also finished second in rushing twice, 1989 and 1990, and third once, 1988, during Covert's career.
In Covert’s second year in the league, he was elected by his teammates to be one of the Bears' captains. That year, he was named All-Pro by Sports Illustrated and was ranked by many as one of the best tackles in professional football. In Covert’s third year, he was named consensus All-Pro, made first-team All-NFL, was selected to the Pro Bowl, and was named 1985 National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year. The 1985 Chicago Bears also won Super Bowl XX.
During Covert's career, he was named to an All-Pro team four straight years (1984–1987), a first- or second-team All-NFC selection four times (1985–1987, 1990), and a first- or second-team All-NFL selection three times. Covert was a consensus All-NFL and All-Pro pick in 1985 and 1986. He was selected to two Pro Bowls, in 1985 and 1986. In 1986, he was selected as the Miller Lite NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year.
In 1990, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors selected Covert to the NFL All-Decade Team. With Covert on the team, the Bears won six NFL Central Division titles and played in three NFC Championship games, along with the Super Bowl win.
Covert's last season was 1990. In 1991, he was placed on injured reserve for the entire season following back surgery, and he retired from the NFL in March 1992.
In 1986, Covert appeared in a 20-man battle royal at WrestleMania 2 along with other NFL stars.
Covert's career after retiring from the NFL has been focused on healthcare sales, marketing, and acquisition initiatives.
His healthcare career began at Baxter International in their Physical Therapy Division, where he served as Director of Sales and Development. In November 1992, Baxter spun out the alternate site business called Caremark into an independent publicly traded company, and Covert served as Vice President of Development for Caremark Physical Therapy from 1992–1995. Covert expanded Caremark’s Physical Therapy presence from 50 to 127 sites in 14 states increasing revenue to more than $120 million.
Caremark Physical Therapy was acquired by HealthSouth Corporation in 1995. Covert was Senior Vice President of Development for Horizon/CMS Healthcare Corporation from 1995–1998. In that position, he was responsible for the merger and acquisition effort as well as all sales and marketing related initiatives. Covert led the growth effort for the Physical Therapy Division as they rapidly grew from 20 to more than 200 sites in a 16-month time frame. Horizon/CMS was ultimately sold to HealthSouth in February 1997.
In 2000, Covert started Keystone Strategies, LLC, a healthcare consulting group focused on assisting emerging healthcare companies with their sales and marketing strategies. In June 2004, Covert joined the turnaround team at HealthSouth Corporation at its corporate headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. As Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing, and Development, Covert had responsibility for all sales, marketing, public relations, sports sponsorship, sports medicine, and acquisition initiatives for the outpatient therapy division. HealthSouth’s Outpatient Division was acquired by Select Medical Corporation in April 2007.
In May 2007, Covert was named President and Chief Executive Officer of The Institute for Transfusion Medicine, one of the nation’s foremost non-profit organizations specializing in transfusion medicine and related services, and the leader in transfusion medicine in both the Pittsburgh and Chicago regions. Its two blood centers, Central Blood Bank in Pittsburgh and LifeSource in Chicago, provide nearly a million units of lifesaving blood products annually. ITxM Diagnostics is a leading source of therapeutic and coagulation reference testing services while ITxM Clinical Services focuses on the pre-transfusion testing and delivery of vital blood products to patients.
Covert was inducted into the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003, the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League Hall of Fame in 2009, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. Covert has also been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on numerous occasions, but has yet to be selected.
Covert's wife Penny is a former cheerleader for the University of Pittsburgh. The couple have three children.