Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five favorite athletes

I recently posted my "five favorite athletes" in another of the many "five favorite" lists offered up on Facebook. The five, in no particular order, are: Danny Manning, University of Kansas; Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers; Gale Sayers, University of Kansas and Chicago Bears; George Brett, Kansas City Royals; and Tom Watson, professional golfer from Kansas City.

Manning: In addition to the fact that he's one of two Jayhawks on the list, Manning was one of the very first big men who could do it all--score, pass, handle the ball, block shots and rebound. And, in the ultimate compliment, he made his teammates better players--he was the ultimate team player on the ultimate team game and led "Danny and the Miracles" to the NCAA Championship in 1988.

Favre: I loved Favre's reckless style coupled with a young boy's enthusiasm for the game. To see Favre play football was to watch a sandlot game unfolding in an NFL stadium. He was the perfect poster child for the most tradition-rich franchise in the National Football League.

Sayers: The other Jayhawk on the list, Sayers was simply the most exciting runner I've ever seen carry a ball. Under-utilized at Kansas, Sayers went on to a Hall of Fame career at Chicago. His career was far too short, given two knee injuries, but he did enough in his six years with the Bears to be voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Brett: Like Favre, Brett played with a passion and enthusiasm which was so fun to watch. He was the best clutch hitter that I've seen and was the ringleader for the glory years of Royals baseball.

Watson: The other "Kansas City guy" on the list, Watson played golf kind of like Brett played baseball--you always wanted to watch him because you weren't sure what you'd see him do. A "Watson par" came to be known as the shot into the trees off the tee, a circus shot to get near the green and then the up-and-down for a crucial par. His victories in 1977 versus Jack Nicklaus at The Masters and British Open cemented his status as an all-time great but it was the U.S. Open win at Pebble Beach, in 1982, which is remembered for "the shot"--the chip at 17 which again propelled him to victory over Nicklaus in a major tournament.

Others who came close but did not make the cut for this "top five" list include: Jim Ryun, world record holder in the mile, 1500 meter and 800 meter at Kansas; Michael Jordan; Tiger Woods; Andre Agassi; and Peyton Manning.

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