My All-Time Undrafted NFL Team: Offense

Just because the 2013 NFL Draft has concluded, that does not mean that NFL teams are done trying to find rookie players.  Immediately following the draft we saw storylines emerge about Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray signing with the Chiefs and Cris Carter’s son Duron Carter going to the Vikings.  The best NFL teams not only find exceptional value in the draft but the best also find value outside of it.  Recently Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo received a 6 year $108 million extension from the Dallas Cowboys.  He was an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois University.  The New York Giants hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in 2012 thanks largely to the efforts of undrafted Victor Cruz out of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.  Who knows what future superstar teams may discover in the coming days but it has prompted me to throw together my all-time undrafted NFL team.

Below you will find my all-time undrafted offense.   Defense and Special Teams will be released later this week.

Quarterback

Kurt Warner, University of Northern Iowa
St. Louis Rams (1998 – 2003); New York Giants (2004); Arizona Cardinals (2005 – 2009)
Super Bowl XXXIV Champion; Super Bowl XXXIV MVP;  2x NFL MVP; 2x All-Pro; 4x Pro-Bowl
Fun Fact: Holds the record for the most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XXXIV), 2nd most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XLIII), and you guessed it – third most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XXXVI)

Runner-Up: Warren Moon, Washington
Houston Oilers (1984-1993); Minnesota Vikings (1994-1996); Seattle Seahawks (1997-1998); Kansas City Chiefs (1999-2000)

Running Backs

Joe Perry, Compton College
San Francisco 49ers (1948 – 1960; 1963); Baltimore Colts (1961 – 1962)
3x Pro-Bowl Selection; 2x First Team All-Pro; 2x Rushing Champion; NFL 1950’s All-Decade Team; San Francisco 49ers #34 retired; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: In 1954 Joe Perry rushed for over 1,000 yards becoming the first NFL player to every rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons

Priest Holmes, Texas
Baltimore Ravens (1997 – 2000); Priest Holmes (2001 – 2007)
Super Bowl XXXV Champion; 3x Pro Bowl; 3x All-Pro; 2001 Rushing Title; 2002 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Fun Fact: In 2001, Priest Holmes became the first undrafted player to ever win a rushing title.  Arian Foster duplicated this feat 2010.

Runner-Up: Arian Foster, Tennessee
Houston Texans (2009 – Present)

Fullback

Marion Motley, Nevada
Cleveland Browns (1946 – 1953); Pittsburgh Steelers (1955)V
4x AAFC Champion; 1948 AAFC Rushing Champion; 1950 NFL Rushing Champion; 1950 Pro-Bowl Selection; 1950 NFL Champion; NFL 1940’s All-Decade Team; NFL 75th Anniversary Team; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: Motley holds the best career average for yard per rushing attempt at 5.7.  He was also the Browns starting linebacker when he played.

Runner-Up: Vonta Leach, ECU
Green Bay Packers (2004 – 2006); New Orleans Saints (2006); Houston Texans (2006 – 2010); Baltimore Ravens (2011 – Present)

Offensive Guards

Larry Little, Bethune-Cookman
San Diego Chargers (1967 – 1968); Miami Dolphins (1969 – 1980)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 5x Pro Bowl selection; 5x First team All-Pro; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: In 1969, Little was upset with a trade that sent him from the Chargers to the Dolphins because he wanted to go somewhere he could win a championship.  Little went on to win two Super Bowls including being an integral part of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team.

Brian Waters, North Texas
Kansas City Chiefs (2000 – 2010); New England Patriots (2011 – 2012)
6x Pro Bowl Selection; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: Waters played tight end and defensive end at North Texas before the Chiefs converted him into an offensive lineman.

Runner-Up:  Kris Dielman, Indiana
San Diego Chargers (2003 – 2011)

Center

Jim Langer, South Dakota State
Miami Dolphins (1970 – 1979); Minnesota Vikings (1980 – 1981)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 6x Pro Bowl Selection; 6x All-Pro; NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: The award for the top offensive lineman in Division II is the Jim Langer Award.  Interestingly, he was a middle linebacker in college and became a lineman once he joined the Dolphins.

Runner-Up: Jeff Saturday, North Carolina
Indianapolis Colts (1999 – 2011); Green Bay Packers (2012)

Offensive Tackles

Lou Groza, Ohio State
Cleveland Browns (1946 – 1959; 1961 – 1967)
4x AAFC Champion; 4x NFL Champion; 9x Pro Bowl Selection; 4x All-Pro; NFL 1950’s All-Decade Team; Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor; Cleveland Browns #76 retired; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: Nicknamed “The Toe”, Lou Groza was also the placekicker for the Browns, leading the league in field goals on five occasions and retired as the all-time points leader in the NFL.

Nate Newton, Florida A&M
Dallas Cowboys (1986 – 1998); Carolina Panthers (1999)
3x Super Bowl Champion; 6x Pro Bowl Selection; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: While in Dallas he was nicknamed “The Kitchen”, the reason being he was larger than the Bears’ William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

Runner-Up: Jason Peters, Arkansas
Buffalo Bills (2004 – 2008); Philadelphia Eagles (2009 – Present)

Wide Receivers

Rod Smith, Missouri Southern State University
Denver Broncos (1994 – 2006)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 3x Pro Bowl; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: Rod Smith is the only undrafted player to ever eclipse the 10,000 career receiving yards mark.

Wes Welker, Texas Tech
San Diego Chargers (2004); Miami Dolphins (2004 – 2006); New England Patriots (2007 – 2012); Denver Broncos (2013 – Present)
5x Pro Bowl; 2x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 3x NFL Receptions Leader
Fun Fact: Wes Welker was widely considered “too small” to be successful at the college level.  Only 1 Division I school offered him a scholarship (Texas Tech) and it was only offered to him after another recruit backed out of the offer right before Welker’s freshman year.  That same disrespect apparently followed him to the NFL Draft.

Drew Pearson, Tulsa
Dallas Cowboys (1973 – 1983)
Super Bowl XII Champion; 3x First Team All-Pro; 1x Second Team All-Pro; 3x Pro Bowl Selection;  Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor; Pearson’s #88 reserved for Best Cowboy’s Receivers (worn by Michael Irvin & Dez Bryant)
Fun Fact: In the 1975 Playoffs in a game against the Minnesota Vikings, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach threw a 50 yard game winning touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with seconds left on the clock.  Afterwards he said of the pass, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary” and the Hail Mary pass was born.

Wayne Chrebet, Hofstra
New York Jets (1995 – 2005)
New York Jets #80 Discontinued
Fun Fact: In 1995, Wayne Chrebet became the first player from Hofstra University to make an NFL roster since 1964

Runner-Up: Victor Cruz, University of Massachusetts
New York Giants (2010 – Present)

Tight Ends

Antonio Gates, Kent State
San Diego Chargers (2003 – Present)
8x Pro Bowl Selection; 5x All-Pro; NFL 2000s All-Decade Team; San Diego Chargers 50th Anniversary Team
Fun Fact: Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State but after his agent told him he wouldn’t make the NBA he arranged private NFL workouts with as many as 19 NFL teams.  His first was with the Chargers, they signed him on the spot.

Zeke Mowatt, Florida State
New York Giants (1983 – 1989; 1991); New England Patriots (1990)
Super Bowl XXI Champion
Fun Fact: Upon his retirement, Zeke Mowatt founded Mowatt, Inc. – a janitorial service in the New Jersey area.

Runner-Up: None.

Well there you have it, my all-time great NFL undrafted offense.  For some positions the options available is astounding (quarterback), while there are other locations where there is a surprising lack of choices (tight end and offensive tackle) but that does not change the fact that in hindsight every one of these players deserved to be drafted (and would’ve been high draft picks) but have succeeded in spite of it.   We often hear about the first round guys that don’t pan out but these are the undrafted guys who did.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!
Remember to follow us on Twitter @can_of_corn!

Cafe 101: The 7th Course

Sports Heaven’s most exclusive restaurant is the Cafe 101. As the name suggests there are only 101 tables, each reserved for the greatest to don that number.

Imagine there’s a sports heaven;
It’s easy if you try.
Where sports’ greatest legends

Depart to when they die.

Imagine all the athletes, of past and present day.

Now imagine a Cafe;
It’s not that hard to do.
There’s only 101 tables;
It’s open to a select few.

Imagine all the athletes, hoping to get a seat.

You may say I’m a dreamer;
But I’m not the only one.
Deciding the greatest athletes by number;
Who get to enter the Cafe 101.

<< 6th COURSE

Well after a long absence highlighted by the postseason push of the NBA and NBA D-League seasons combined with the need to get mock NFL drafts in the hands of all the football fans who read this blog, Cafe 101 is back!  And back in glaring fashion!  Since it’s been awhile you may recall that the premise is that in sports heaven, the Cafe 101 is the most exclusive restaurant with only 101 tables, each table numbered 00 – 99 and reserved for the best athlete to have ever worn that number.  When I went to the random number generator I knew this would be a great article when it gave me #12 but then when the next number I was given was #33?  I knew this post may have the most firepower and debate of any Cafe 101 yet.   Of course these are two numbers that are pretty popular across all of sport and have been worn by the best of the best of the best.  Getting either table will be no easy feat.  Additionally we have some good debate at #63 and #85 so let’s get right to it and see who deserves each table.

TABLE

TOM BRADY

Quarterback, New England Patriots (2000 – Present)

3x Super Bowl Champion, 2x Super Bowl MVP, 5x AFC Champion, 2x NFL MVP, 3x AFC Offensive Player of the Year, 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 7x Pro-Bowler, 2x 1st Team All-Pro, 2nd Team All-Pro (2005), 2009 Comeback Player of the Year, NFL All-Decade Team (2000′s)

Being a fan of Midwestern sports teams (for the most part) and living just two hours from Boston and 30 minutes from Boston’s greatest propaganda machine ESPN I have grown tired of the hype that surrounds Boston sports teams and athletes.  If Boston has a king though, that man is Tom Brady.  Others may argue with my giving him the honor of being the greatest to ever wear #12 and yes you can argue for others like Terry Bradshaw, Thierry Henry, Jim Kelly, Roger Staubach, etc. but let’s just take a moment to look at what Tom Brady has accomplished.

When I was a child (though they lost the Super Bowl when I was 1 and again when I was 11) the New England Patriots were a joke of an NFL franchise.  Even though they had a championship drought unlike any other, the Boston Red Sox instilled more hope in Boston fans than the Patriots ever would.  Then comes along Tom Brady, a 6th round draft pick out of Michigan who nobody ever expected to start but now we all know the story.  It only took him 131 starts to win 100 games (the fastest to 100 of any QB in NFL history).  His .780 winning percentage over the past 13 seasons is the best all time.  He started off his career with 10 consecutive postseason wins (best all-time).  He has gone undefeated at his home field 5 times in his career.  He threw for 50 touchdowns in 2007 which is an NFL record and his regular season records are unreal.

He is tied for the most postseason wins of all time with Joe Montana.  He is tied for most Super Bowl appearances by a starting quarterback with John Elway (5).  And he is just 1 Super Bowl win away from tying Joe Montana & Terry Bradshaw’s record of 4.   In my opinion, with just one more AFC Championship (although a Super Bowl win would cement this) we might have to consider Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all-time.  There’s no doubt he is already in the top 5.   While I am not a Tom Brady fan, this table is all about the best and Tom Brady is the greatest athlete to ever wear #12 and he deserves this table.

RUNNER-UP: TERRY BRADSHAW, Pittsburgh Steelers (1970-1983)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Jim Kelly, Thierry Henry, Dwight Howard, Roger Staubach, Kenny Stabler, Bob Griese, Joe Namath, George Yardley, Dick Barnett, John Stockton, Jarome Iginla, Stan Smyl, Simon Gagne, Colt McCoy (College), Aaron Rodgers, Wade Boggs, Steve Alford (College), Oscar Robertson (College), Roberto Alomar, Randall Cunningham, & Andrew Luck (College)

TOO SOON TO TELL: Andrew Luck (NFL), Colt McCoy (NFL), Percy Harvin, Lamarcus Aldridge, Marques Colston, A.J. Pierzynski, Eric Staal, & Darrius Heyward-Bey

TABLE

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR

Center, Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1975) & Los Angeles Lakers (1975-1989)

6x NBA Champion, 6x NBA MVP, 19x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 10x All-NBA 1st Team, 5x All-NBA 2nd Team, 5x NBA All-Defensive 1st Team, 6x NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team, 1970 NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, 3x NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion at UCLA, 3x NCAA Tournament MVP, Naismith College Player of the Year – 1969, No 33. retired by the Bucks and the Lakers, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee

Like the #12 there is a lot of debate as to who the best to ever wear the #33 is.  And as with #12, where the debate primarily came down to one sport (football), the debate with #33 mainly comes down to basketball.  While for some this would be a difficult decision for me it was pretty easy to give the go ahead to Kareem for Table #33.  After all I believe that, wait a minute let me make this it’s own line.

In my opinion, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest basketball player in history.

There, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way you can understand why I had to go with Kareem.  When someone is the greatest to ever play their respective sport, you have to give them the nod for the table.   Let’s take a look at what Kareem accomplished.  First off, he won an astonishing 3 NCAA Championships in his 4 years at UCLA and on all three occasions was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.  He was the first ever winner of the Naismith College Player of the Year award in 1969.   Abdul-Jabbar was so dominant in college that the NCAA banned the slam dunk after 1967 and did not bring it back for nearly a decade.  He led the Lakers to 5 NBA Championships (and the Bucks to 1) and was twice named the MVP of the NBA Finals.  He was named NBA MVP a record 6 times and to this day is the NBA’s all-time points leader.  And of course who could forget his trademark “Sky hook” that he could shoot with either hand and was virtually impossible to defend.  While many basketball greats have worn #33, I must tip my hat to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

RUNNER-UP (TIE): HONUS WAGNER, Louisville Colonels/Pittsburgh Pirates (1897- 1917) & LARRY BIRD, Boston Celtics (1979-1992)

WAITING LIST: Patrick Ewing, Tony Dorsett, Scottie Pippen, Sammy Baugh, Patrick Roy, Roger Craig, Brian Jordan, Stacey Nuveman, Alonzo Mourning, Henrik Sedin, Grant Hill & Shaquille O’Neal (College)

TO SOON TO TELL: Cliff Lee, Michael Turner, Nick Swisher, & Justin Morneau

TABLE

GENE UPSHAW

Guard, Oakland Raiders (1967-1981)

2x Super Bowl Champion, 1967 AFL Champion,  6x NFL Pro Bowl Selection, 3x All-AFL, 3x First team All-Pro, 1970s NFL All-Decade Team, Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee

Gene Upshaw is one of the greatest guards of all-time and he is the only player in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl with the same team in three different decades.  Upshaw was one of the greatest guards to ever play the game and for 14 years was the cornerstone of a great Raiders offensive line.   It was his domination of Hall of Famer (and owner of Table #88 at the Cafe 101) Alan Page in Super Bowl XI that allowed the Raiders to rush for over 260 yards and win their first title.    He shut down the Eagles’ vaunted defensive line in Super Bowl XV to help the Raiders win another championship.  Upshaw was one of the greatest Division II players of all time and the annual lineman of the year award in Division II is named for him.

RUNNER-UP: WILLIE LANIER, Kansas City Chiefs (1967 – 1977)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Dermontti Dawson, Y.A. Tittle, Mike Munchak, Lee Roy Selmon, and Jeff Saturday

TOO SOON TO TELL: Mike Pouncey

TABLE

JACK YOUNGBLOOD

Defensive End, Los Angeles Rams (1971 – 1984)

7x Pro-Bowl Selection, 5x 1st team All-Pro, 3x 2nd team All-Pro, 7x 1st team All-NFC, 2x 2nd Team All-NFC, 1975 NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2x NFC Defensive Player of the Year, 1971 All-Rookie Team, NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team, St. Louis Rams #85 retired, NFL Hall of Fame inductee, College Football Hall of Fame

When it came to table #85, I knew I had to give it to Jack Youngblood.  There are a lot of great receivers in the game today who wear #85, but Youngblood is one of the greatest pass rushers of all time.  In 202 career games, he had 151.5 sacks.  Not only was he a great pro but he was also one of the best players in the history of Florida Gators football.  In his first full season as a starter with the Rams, he amassed 70 tackles in 11 games played.  In 1973, the Rams were the best defense in the NFL and Youngblood led the way with 16.5 sacks.  The following season the Rams still had the best defense in the NFL.  Few recall that in the 1970’s, the NFL championships were almost always between a combination of the Rams, Cowboys, and Vikings.   Youngblood’s stellar play is what allowed the Rams to have the success they did.  What Youngblood will always be remembered though is his toughness.  During the 1979 postseason, Jack Youngblood played the entire playoffs and Super Bowl with a broken left leg.  No doubt that Youngblood is the best to ever wear #85.

RUNNER-UP: NICK BUONICONTI, Boston Patriots & Miami Dolphins (1962 – 1976)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Mark Duper, Chuck Hughes, Chad Ochocinco, & Derrick Mason

TOO SOON TO TELL: Greg Jennings, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Vernon Davis, & Antonio Gates

Agree? Disagree? Tweet us @can_of_corn using the hashtag #Cafe101 to tell us your picks!

Click to enlarge the seating chart for sports heaven’s most exclusive restaurant

Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101?  Please post below or tweet any questions, comments, or snide remarks to @can_of_corn! Thanks for reading!


 

Cafe 101: The 6th Course

Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant is the Cafe 101. As the name suggests there are only 101 tables, each reserved for the greatest to don that number.

Imagine there’s a sports heaven;
It’s easy if you try.
Where sports’ greatest legends

Depart to when they die.

Imagine all the athletes, of past and present day.

Now imagine a Cafe;
It’s not that hard to do.
There’s only 101 tables;
It’s open to a select few.

Imagine all the athletes, hoping to get a seat.

You may say I’m a dreamer;
But I’m not the only one.
Deciding the greatest athletes by number;
Who get to enter the Cafe 101.

<< 5th COURSE

This week I got an interesting group of numbers and had to spend quite a bit of time debating where I was going to go with my first two numbers of the day.  I know there will be complaints about my #29 pick but it’s important to remember that some athletes had more than one jersey number and while they did not get in at one number, they may still make it in another.  Without further ado, the greatest athletes to ever wear 11, 29, 60, & 79.

TABLE

MARK MESSIER

Centre, Indianapolis Racers, Cincinnati Stingers, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, & Vancouver Canucks (1978 – 2004)
6x Stanley Cup Champion, 15x All-Star, 2x Hart Memorial Trophy Winner, 2x Lester B. Pearson Award Winner, 1983-84 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner, Edmonton Oilers Team Captain, New York Rangers Team Captain,  NHL Hall of Fame – 2007

While I did spend some time thinking about #11 my thoughts always came back to Mark Messier – one of the greatest hockey players of all time.  Mark Messier was a 6x NHL Champion and a 15x All-Star.  Over the course of his 26 year long career that started in the now-defunct WHA Messier scored 1,887 points (2nd most all-time behind Wayne Gretzky) and played 1,756 regular season games (2nd most all-time behind Gordie Howe).  Messier is the only person in North American sports to have captained two separate teams to a championship in their respective sport (Oilers and Rangers).  Not just one of the greatest hockey players of all time, many consider Messier among the best leaders (in any sport) of all-time for what he brought to the ice and his team.  He was the type of player that made everyone around him better and it was obvious that he should get Table #11.

RUNNER-UP: ISIAH THOMAS, Detroit Pistons (1981 – 1994)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Sparky Anderson, Drew Bledsoe, Carl Hubbell, Elvin Hayes, Luis Aparicio, Yao Ming, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart (College), Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Norm VanBrocklin, Barry Larkin,  Jerry Lucas (College), Phil Simms, Edgar Martinez, Gilbert Perreault, Paul Waner, “Lefty” Gomez, & Bob McAdoo

TOO SOON TO TELL: Alex Smith, Jimmy Rollins, Anthony Gonzalez, C.J. Sapong, & Carlos Tevez

TABLE

ROD CAREW

1st Baseman/2nd Baseman, Minnesota Twins & California Angels (1967-1985)
18x All-Star, 1977 AL MVP, 1967 AL Rookie of the Year, 1972 AL Batting Champion, 1977 Roberto Clemente Award, Hall of Fame – 1991

#29 was a toughie because there were so many ways I could’ve gone with this.   I could’ve chosen one of the greatest goalies of all time, two of the best pitchers to ever throw in the major leagues, or one of the greatest running backs ever.  Instead I chose a player who is one of the all-time great second basemen, a member of the 3,000 hit club and possibly the greatest player in the history of two different Major League franchises.  I know that there will be a lot of debate with this choice (do yourself kindly to remember there are some athletes eligible for multiple jersey numbers) but in my mind Table #29 belongs to Rod Carew.

One of the biggest factors that leads to Rod Carew’s astounding career is his longevity and how long he played at a high level.  His careers with the Twins and Angels were both so impressive that his #29 has been retired by both ball clubs.   Carew burst on to the scene in 1967 wrapping up the Rookie of the Year award and 10 years later he was the AL MVP.  Between his two different teams, he appeared in a staggering 18 MLB All-Star games.   One of my favorite Rod Carew statistics is that in 1972 he batted .318 which was good enough to win him the batting title.  Oddly enough, that was the only year of his career where he did not have a home run.  To this day, Carew is the only player to win a batting title without having hit a homerun.   Carew finished his career with over 3,000 hits, over 1,000 RBIs, and a .328 batting average and was only the 22nd player to be elected into the MLB Hall of Fame on the first ballot.  He holds both the Twins’ and Angels’ records for on-base percentage, holds the Twins’ record for career batting average (and is 2nd in this category for the Angels’).  What I find amazing about all of these things is that Carew’s career could’ve started 3-4 years earlier if not for a commitment to the Marine Corps and probably would have lasted 2-3 years longer if Major League owners had not conspired to force him into retirement in 1985 (not conspiracy theory – it’s been proven and a judge awarded Carew nearly $800,000 in 1995 as a result) and then his numbers may have just been ridiculous – can you say potential 4,000 hit club member?  I gave a lot of thought into who deserved this table but for me, it kept coming back to Rod Carew.

RUNNER-UP: KEN DRYDEN, Goaltender, Montreal Canadiens (1970 – 1979)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Eric Dickerson, Satchel Paige, John Smoltz, & Paul Silas

TOO SOON TO TELL: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DeMarco Murray, Eric Berry, Roy Helu, LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, Ryan Clowe, Michael Bush, & Andre Fleury

TABLE

OTTO GRAHAM

Quarterback, Cleveland Browns (1946-1955)
3x NFL Champion, 4x AAFC Champion, 5x Pro Bowl Selection, 9x All-Pro Selection, 1x Second Team All-Pro Selection, NFL 75th Anniversary Team, NFL 1950’s All-Decade Team, 3x NFL MVP, 1950 Pro Bowl MVP, 2x AAFC MVP, 1955 Hickok Belt Winner, Hall of Fame – 1965.
1946 National Basketball League Champion

While there are not many athletes across sports who wore the #60 this was no easy task.  It came down to Otto Graham, who some NFL historians consider the greatest quarterback of all time, and Chuck Bednarik, the last true two-way player in the NFL.  Both are great but I had to take Otto Graham.  In the AAFC and later in the NFL, Otto Graham took the Browns to the title game in 10 straight seasons, he won 7 of those.   He won every championship in the brief history of the AAFC and then when the Browns joined the NFL, they won it all in the very first season.  His 86.6 QB Rating is among the best all-time.  He finished his career (when football was a running game) with 23, 584 yards passing and 174 passing touchdowns.  His 57-13-1 record as an NFL starter over 6 NFL seasons represents the highest winning percentage (.810) of any quarterback in NFL history.  In addition to his Hall of Fame football career, he also briefly played for the Rochester Royals in the National Basketball League and helped them win the 1946 Championship.   There’s not a doubt in my mind that Graham was the best athlete to ever don #60.

RUNNER-UP: CHUCK BEDNARIK, Linebacker/Center, Philadelphia Eagles (1949-1962)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Bill Willis, Walt Kirk, Scott Schoneweis, & Jose Theodore.

TOO SOON TO TELL: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Jason Demers, & Kevin Poulin

TABLE

HARVEY MARTIN

Defensive End, Dallas Cowboys (1973 – 1983)
Super Bowl XII Champion, Super Bowl XII MVP, 4x Pro Bowler, 1x 1st Team All-Pro, 3x 2nd Team All-Pro, NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, NFL Defensive Player of the Year – 1977

Like #60, not a whole lot of athletes have worn #79 but it has been worn by some great NFL players.  While Bob St. Claire and Roosevelt Brown deserve some consideration – I had to go with Harvey Martin who was perhaps, the best pass rusher of the 1970s.  He was a very large factor in the first Super Bowl Win in Dallas Cowboys history which led to him being the co-MVP of that Super Bowl.   As the cornerstone of the vaunted Doomsday Defense he had 114 sacks in his 11 season career.  He led the Cowboys in sacks in 7 of those seasons.  Table #79 has to go to Harvey Martin in my eyes.

RUNNER-UP: ROOSEVELT BROWN, Offensive Tackle, New York Giants (1953 – 1965)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Bob St. Claire

TOO SOON TO TELL: Andrei Markov

Agree? Disagree? Tweet @can_of_corn with hashtag #Cafe101 to tell us your picks!

Click to enlarge the seating chart for Sports Heaven’s most exclusive restaurant.

 Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101? Keep reading to find out!  If you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks please comment below or tweet them to @can_of_corn! Courtesy of Devan Dignan+


Cafe 101: The 5th Course

Imagine there’s a sports heaven;
It’s easy if you try.
Where sports’ greatest legends

Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant is the Cafe 101. As the name suggests there are only 101 tables, each reserved for the greatest to don that number.

Depart to when they die.

Imagine all the athletes, of past and present day.

Now imagine a Cafe;
It’s not that hard to do.
There’s only 101 tables;
It’s open to a select few.

Imagine all the athletes, hoping to get a seat.

You may say I’m a dreamer;
But I’m not the only one.
Deciding the greatest athletes by number;
Who get to enter the Cafe 101.

<< PREVIOUS

When I started on my quest to determine the greatest athlete to ever represent each jersey number from 00 to 99, I looked across the world of sports and knew some numbers would be challenging (every number 35 and under), some would be extremely difficult – 1, 7, 10, 12, 21, 32, 33, etc. but when I looked at the field of numbers there was 1 number I thought would be the most difficult of all, and it’s probably not one you would expect – #4.  I saw #4 and I immediately thought of Brett Favre, Lou Gehrig, and Bobby Orr.  It wasn’t the greatness that was going to make this difficult, well at least not just the greatness, it was that this is personal.  I’ve long been a fan of Lou Gehrig and he is one of my favorite baseball players (definitely my favorite Yankee) of all-time.  As a Vikings fan, I am a big Brett Favre fan and of course I live and work in Massachusetts so the influence of Orr is overwhelming.  Of course last week my Random Number Generator determined I would write about 4 this week and so I spent the last few days thinking long and hard on one question –

Favre Orr Gehrig?

Without further ado, this was my decision:

TABLE

LOU GEHRIG

First Baseman, New York Yankees (1923-1939)
6x World Series Champion, 7x All-Star, 2x AL MVP, Yankees Team Captain (1935-1939),  Major League Baseball All-Century Team, Hall of Fame – 1939

In a great battle between Iron Men (Favre and Gehrig) and one of the greatest hockey players of all time (Orr), I had to take Lou Gehrig.  For the longest time I thought I would take Brett Favre, one of the greatest Quarterbacks of all time, but then I began to realize that Gehrig is probably the greatest first basemen of all time and not just that, I think he is one of the top 5 baseball players of all time.  About 10 months ago I wrote that, “If I could build an all-time team around one player – no doubt in my mind that that player would be the Iron Horse” and I don’t plan to detract from that now.  He started and played in 2,130 straight games (a record until Cal Ripken, Jr. broke it in 1995), he has 23 career grand slams, scored the winning run in 8 World Series games, has the most extra base hits of a first baseman, had a .765 slugging percentage in 1927, and was so good that the Hall of Fame waived the waiting period rule so they could vote him in a few months after he retired.   Had Gehrig not come down with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), he would have likely finished his career with around 3,700 hits and 650 homeruns.  In my mind, Lou Gehrig, not Babe Ruth, is the greatest Yankee of all-time.

More than that, he was a great all around person and his famed “Luckiest Man” speech, in my opinion, is the single most moving moment in the history of sport.

RUNNER-UP (TIE): BRETT FAVRE, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, & Minnesota Vikings (1991 – 2010) & BOBBY ORR, Chicago Blackhawks & Boston Bruins (1966-1978)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Mel Ott, Paul Molitor, Adam Viniatieri, Jean Beliveau, Chauncey Billups, Duke Snider, & Teresa Edwards

TOO SOON TO TELL: Taylor Hall, Brandon Phillips, Vincent Lecavalier, Antawn Jamison, & Kevin Kolb

TABLE

RICHARD PETTY

NASCAR Driver (1959 – 1992)
7x NASCAR Champion, NASCAR Rookie of the Year – 1959, 7x Daytona 500 winner, NASCAR Hall of Fame – 2010 (Inaugural Class)

There’s a reason that Richard Petty is known simply as “The King”.  He is without a doubt one of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all-time and his 7 NASCAR titles are a record (tied with Dale Earnhardt).  He is also the only driver to have won the Daytona 500 7 times.  His 127 poles and 700 top 10 finishes in 1,185 races are also unbelievable feats.   Even sports fans like myself that really do not follow NASCAR are aware of the accomplishments of Richard Petty and have heard of the Richard Petty School of Driving.  This was a pretty simple decision for me to give Table #43 to Petty.

RUNNER-UP: DENNIS ECKERSLEY, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Oakland A’s, & St. Louis Cardinals (1975-1998)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Jack Sikma & Troy Polamalu

TOO SOON TO TELL: R.A Dickey, Darren Sproles, & Nazem Kadri

TABLE

DERRICK THOMAS

Linebacker/Defensive End, Kansas City Chiefs (1989 – 1999)
9x Pro-Bowl Selection, 3x 1st Team All-Pro, 3x 2nd Team All-Pro, 7x 1st Team All-AFC, 1x 2nd Team All-AFC, NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year – 1989, UPI AFL-AFC Rookie of the Year – 1989, Dick Butkus Award (1988), All-American (1988), NFL Hall of Fame – 2009

58 was one of the easiest decisions I had to make.  You could make an argument for Jack Lambert here but Derrick Thomas is one of the greatest pass-rushers of all time.  I’m amazed to this day how long it took him to get in the Hall of Fame because the guy was an absolute beast.  He hold Chiefs franchise records with 41 career forced fumbles, 8 forced fumbles in a season, 19 fumble recoveries, 126.5 career sacks, 20 sacks in a season, and 3 career safeties.  Additionally the guy holds the NFL record for most sacks in a game with 7.  That mark broke the previous record of 6 in a game, which had also been set by Thomas. John Elway always said he could’ve played a few more years in a warmer climate like Miami.  I think Elway could’ve played a few more years if he didn’t have to face Derrick Thomas twice a year.  As a collegiate player, he set an NCAA record with 27 sacks in a single season while at Alabama.  His 52 career sacks at Alabama were also an NCAA record at the time.  It’s unbelievable to think of what Thomas could’ve accomplished if his career and life had not been cut short due to paralysis.  No doubt in my mind that Table #58 belongs to Derrick Thomas.

RUNNER-UP: JACK LAMBERT, Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-1984)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Johnathan Papelbohn & Carl Banks

TOO SOON TO TELL: Von Miller, Rey Maualuga, Karlos Dansby, & Kris Letang


TABLE

BUCK BUCHANAN

Defensive Tackle, Kansas City Chiefs (1963-1975)
Super Bowl IV Champion, 2x AFL Champion, 6x AFL All-Star, 2x Pro Bowl Selection, 6x All-AFL, 1x 2nd Team All-Pro, AFL All-Time Second Team, NFL Hall of Fame – 1990, College Football Hall of Fame – 1996

On back to back numbers we have famous Kansas City Chiefs defenders getting themselves a table at thea Cafe 101.  Buck Buchanan was an absolute monster from the time he played at Grambling under the legendary Eddie Robinson to the time he was the first draft pick in AFL history and had an amazing career with the Chiefs.  He was also the first black player to be drafted #1 overall in professional football history.  His defense and ability to penetrate the Minnesota Vikings’ vaunted offensive line helped the Chiefs hold the Vikings to only 67 yards giving the Chiefs their only Super Bowl win and one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets in history.  At 6’7″ 287 lbs, Buchanan was a force to be reckoned with.  Despite his size he was very quick and could run a 4.9 40 which allowed him to make tackles from sideline to sideline.  He started 166 straight games and is one of the greatest players in the proud history of the Kansas City Chiefs.

RUNNER-UP: HINES WARD, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers (1998 – Present)

ON THE WAITING LIST: James Lofton & Todd Heap

TOO SOON TO TELL: David Nelson, Fred Davis, & Daniel Fells

Agree? Disagree? Tweet @can_of_corn with hashtag #Cafe101 to tell us your picks!

Click to enlarge the seating chart for Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant.

 Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101? Keep reading to find out!  If you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks please comment below or tweet them to @can_of_corn! Courtesy of Devan Dignan+


Cafe 101: The 4th Course

Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant is the Cafe 101. As the name suggests there are only 101 tables, each reserved for the greatest to don that number.

Imagine there’s a sports heaven;
It’s easy if you try.
Where sports’ greatest legends
Depart to when they die.

Imagine all the athletes, of past and present day.

Now imagine a Cafe;
It’s not that hard to do.
There’s only 101 tables;
It’s open to a select few.

Imagine all the athletes, hoping to get a seat.

You may say I’m a dreamer;
But I’m not the only one.
Deciding the greatest athletes by number;
Who get to enter the Cafe 101.

<< PREVIOUS

So far 12 tables at the Cafe 101 have been spoken for.  There are some athletes left wondering why they’ll never get into the Cafe 101 while many still remain hopeful that the hostess will call their name and that they will gain entrance to the most exclusive restaurant in Sports Heaven.  Today 4 more will get the call as I dive into exploring the greatest athletes to ever wear the numbers 19, 26, 62, & 98.

TABLE

JOHNNY UNITAS

Quarterback, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Colts & San Diego Chargers (1956-1973)
Super Bowl V Champion, 2x NFL Champion, 10x Pro Bowl Selection, 3x NFL MVP, 3x Pro Bowl MVP, 3x Bert Bell Award, 6x 1st Team All-Pro, 1x 2nd Team All-Pro, 1x 2nd Team All-Conference, NFL 75th Anniversary Team, NFL 1960’s All-Decade Team, Hall of Fame – 1979

19 is a number that has been worn by two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, one of the greatest hockey players of all time, one of the greatest pitchers, one of the greatest outfielders,  and one of the all-time greatest shortstops, among several other athletes.  This was definitely the toughest decision of this installment because there are easily 5 or 6 players you could argue as the greatest 19 but for me it kept coming back to “The Golden Arm”, Johnny Unitas.

There are many who still consider Johnny Unitas the greatest QB to ever play the game. Originally drafted by Pittsburgh in 1956, the Steelers thought he was too dumb to play quarterback and cut him before the season even began.  The rest as they say, is history.  Johnny Unitas was the 1st Quarterback in NFL history to pass over 40,000 yards and his 10 Pro Bowl selections as a QB were a record until Brett Favre got his 11th in 2009.  At the time of his retirement, his 118 regular season wins were an NFL record.  Along with Kurt Warner, he is one of only 2 quarterbacks to have attained a QB Rating of 120 in 4 consecutive games. His 3 NFL MVP awards were also a record that was later tied by Brett Favre and broken by Peyton Manning.  It is a good thing that Unitas did not live long enough to see Peyton break his record as he severed all ties with the Colts once they left Baltimore and in his final years embraced the Ravens.  There is no doubt in my mind that Johnny U is the greatest to ever wear 19.

RUNNER-UP: STEVE YZERMAN, Detroit Red Wings (1983 – 2006)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Bob Feller, Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount, Lance Alworth, Joe Sakic, Tommie Frazier (College), Bernie Kosar, Jose Bautista, Greg Luzinski, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, & Joe Montana

TOO SOON TO TELL: Jonathan Toews, Miles Austin, Scott Kazmir, Eddie Royal, Ted Ginn, Jr., Brandon Marshall,  & Joe Thornton

TABLE

WADE BOGGS

Third Baseman, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, & Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1982-1999)

1996 World Series Champion, 2x AL Pennant Winner, 12x MLB All-Star, 8x Silver Slugger Award, 2x Gold Glove Award, 5x AL Batting Champion, 3,000 Club, Hall of Fame – 2005

At #26, sit two of the greatest shutdown corners to ever play in the NFL but for me #26 is Wade Boggs.  Wade Boggs was one of the greatest MLB players of all time and one of the best to ever play the hot corner.  His 12 consecutive appearances in the All-Star as a third baseman is third best all-time behind George Brett and Brooks Robinson.  Between 1982 and 1988 he had only one season where he batted below .349 (he batted .325 in 1983) and had 7 consecutive seasons in the 80’s where he collected 200 hits and 100 runs.  In his 18 year career he had only 3 sub-.300 batting seasons.  In 1996, Wade Boggs helped the Yankees win their first World Series in 18 years. The most noted achievement of Wade Boggs’ is that he was the first player in MLB history whose 3,000th hit was a Home Run.  While there are several athletes you can make an argument for – to me Wade Boggs is the most deserving of Table #26.

RUNNER-UP:  ROD WOODSON, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, & Oakland Raiders (1987-2003)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Antoine Winfield, Billy Williams, Gene Autry, Herb Adderly, Johnny Oates, Sean Taylor (College) & Clinton Portis

TOO SOON TO TELL: Dan Uggla, Chase Utley, Antrel Rolle, Beanie Wells, & Taylor Mays

TABLE

JIM LANGER

Center/Guard, Miami Dolphins & Minnesota Vikings (1970 – 1981)

2x Super Bowl Champion, 3x AFC Champion, 6x Pro Bowl Selection, 4x 1st Team All-Pro, 2x 2nd Team All-Pro, NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team, Hall of Fame – 1987

When it came down to #62, I knew I was going with Jim Langer.  He is one of the greatest centers of all time.  Only one team in NFL history has pulled off the perfect season (the 1972 Dolphins) and the line that led to that success was anchored by Jim Langer.  He is remembered primarily as a quick blocker.  What made Langer so unusual and so good is that he was a converted middle linebacker.  He had the strength and speed of a linebacker combined with the size of lineman which made him an incredibly productive pass protector.  Yes, #62 belongs to Langer.

RUNNER-UP: CHARLEY TRIPPI, Chicago Cardinals (1947 – 1955)

ON THE WAITING LIST:Guy McIntyre & Casey Wiegmann

TOO SOON TO TELL: Terrence Cody & Joba Chamberlain

TABLE

TOM HARMON

Halfback, University of Michigan (1938-1940)

1940 Heisman Trophy Winner, 1940 Maxwell Award, 1940 AP Male Athlete of the Year, College Football Hall of Fame – 1954

There are few college football programs that are more storied than the University of Michigan Wolverines.  Many greats such as Desmond Howard, Ron Kramer, and Tom Brady played their ball there but if you ask most Michigan fans the greatest Wolverine of all time they will tell you it was “Old 98”, Tom Harmon – the first Michigan Wolverine to win the Heisman.  Tom Harmon was the original dual threat player.  He finished his time at Michigan with 2,134 yards rushing, completed 100 passes for 1,304 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He led the nation in scoring in 1939 and 1940 (a feat that has never been matched). To understand how good Harmon was, all you need to do is take a look at his last collegiate game which came in Columbus against Ohio State.

In that game, he scored 3 rushing touchdowns, 2 passing touchdowns, 4 extra points, intercepted three passes, and punted 3 times with an average of 50 yards per punt.  Due to his love of broadcasting, Harmon only spent one season playing professionally and then pursued a career in acting and broadcasting.  He could have been just as legendary as a pro as he is as a collegiate athlete.   Table 98 has to be given to “Old 98”.

RUNNER-UP: TONY SIRAGUSA, Indianapolis Colts & Baltimore Ravens (1990 – 2001)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Robert Mathis

TOO SOON TO TELL: Brian Orakpo, Nick Fairley, Phil Taylor, & Sedrick Ellis

Agree? Disagree? Tweet @can_of_corn with hashtag #Cafe101 to tell us your picks!

Click to enlarge the seating chart for Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant

 Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101? Keep reading to find out!  If you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks please comment below or tweet them to @can_of_corn! Courtesy of Devan Dignan+


Cafe 101: The 3rd Course

Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant is the Cafe 101. As the name suggests there are only 101 tables, each reserved for the greatest to don that number.

Imagine there’s a sports heaven;
It’s easy if you try.
Where sports’ greatest legends
Depart to when they die.

Imagine all the athletes, of past and present day.

Now imagine a Cafe;
It’s not that hard to do.
There’s only 101 tables;
It’s open to a select few.

Imagine all the athletes, hoping to get a seat.

You may say I’m a dreamer;
But I’m not the only one.
Deciding the greatest athletes by number;
Who get to enter the Cafe 101.

<< PREVIOUS POST

As a sports fan, I love the idea of a paradise where all athletes are in their prime.  A place where we can watch Sandy Koufax and Roy Halladay pitch to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  A place where Terry Bradshaw can throw the deep ball to Randy Moss and Jerry Rice.  Where Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, and Shaq can all play on the same court.  Where Pele and Lionel Messi can go head to head on the pitch.  So far, Sports Heaven’s most exclusive restaurant has seated 8 (Tables 7, 10, 27, 30, 53, 59, 80, & 88) and today we seat an additional 4.  So without further ado we dive into today’s 4.  Please click the corresponding links above to read previous Cafe 101 posts.

TABLE

AL OLIVER

Outfielder/First Baseman, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, & Toronto Blue Jays (1968-1985)
1971 World Series Champion, 7x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger Award Winner, 1982 NL Batting Title

With there being so few athletes who have worn the number 0 (let alone GREAT athletes), this was one of the easiest tables to snare at the Cafe 101.  Of course most people think of Agent Zero, Gilbert Arenas, himself when they see this number and while Arenas has had a solid career I had to take MLB journeyman Al Oliver.

Al Oliver had a great career.  He was the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year award, was a big part of the 1971 world champion Pittsburgh Pirates, and his 1982 batting title shows that he performed over a long period of time.   In 1980, as a member of the Texas Rangers, he set an MLB record with 21 total bases in a doubleheader.  Al Oliver ranks in the top 50 in several MLB categories including hits (2,743), games played (2,368), total bases (4,083), RBIs (1,326), & Extra base hits (825).  Additionally he had a career batting average of .303 and hit 219 home runs in his 18 year career.  There are many who believe he is deserving of induction into the MLB Hall of Fame.  I don’t know about all that but I do believe he is clearly the most deserving of Table #0.

RUNNER-UP: SHAWN MARION, Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, & Dallas Mavericks (1999-Present)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Orlando Woolridge & Gilbert Arenas

TOO SOON TO TELL:  Russell Westbrook, Bismack Biyombo, Mike Bibby, & Enes Kanter

TABLE

MAGIC JOHNSON

Point Guard, Los Angeles Lakers (1979-1991, 1996)
5x NBA Champion, 1979 NCAA Champion, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist, 3x NBA MVP, 12x NBA All-Star, 3x NBA Finals MVP, 9x All-NBA First Team, 2x NBA All-Star Game MVP, Basketball Hall of Fame  – 2002

There are many, many, many great athletes who have worn the #32 and I knew this number would be tough and spark a lot of debate; but this table has to go to Magic Johnson – in my opinion, the greatest point guard of all time.   You could even make an argument that he’s the greatest player of all time.  From his college career at Michigan State to his HIV-shortened NBA career with the Lakers, Magic Johnson was always the consummate professional and a winner at every point of his career.  His 11.2 assists per game average is still an NBA record and his rivalry with Larry Bird that started in college is the stuff of legend.  Some of the greatest athletes of all time have worn 32 and in my eyes, Magic was the greatest of the great.

RUNNER-UP: JIM BROWN, Cleveland Browns (1957 – 1965)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Sandy Koufax, Bill Walton, Elston Howard, Shaquille O’Neal, Julius Erving, Karl Malone, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, David Beckham, O.J. Simpson, Christian Laettner (College), Edgerrin James, Kevin McHale, & Jimmer Freddette (College)

TOO SOON TO TELL:  Blake Griffin, Maurice Jones-Drew, Josh Hamilton, & Toby Gerhart

TABLE

JERRY KRAMER

Guard/Kicker, Green Bay Packers (1958-1968)
2x Super Bowl Champion, 5x NFL Champion, 5x 1st Team All-Pro, 1x 2nd Team All-Pro, 3x Pro Bowler, 1960’s All-Decade Team, NFL 50th Anniversary Team

It is absolutely shocking to me that Jerry Kramer is not in the Hall of Fame.  In fact, he is the only member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team not in the Hall of Fame.   When we’re talking about the #64, for me, it came down to two of the greatest guards in the history of the NFL.  It came down to Jerry Kramer and Randall McDaniel.  For me this was tough because it was about a Viking vs. a Packer and while Randall McDaniel is a Hall of Famer and widely regarded as the most versatile offensive lineman of all time, but I have to admit that Kramer is the better guard.   Jerry Kramer was an integral part of the famed “Packer Sweep” that helped lead the Pack to 5 NFL Championships.   His ability to get around the corner helped win the Packers the first two Super Bowls and is a big part of the reason that Jim Taylor is in the Hall of Fame.  His most notable achievement as a blocker is probably leading the way for Bart Starr to score the winning touchdown in the “Ice Bowl”.

Additionally he spent three years as a kicker for the Packers amassing 117 points.  In the 1962 NFL Title Game against the New York Giants, his three field goals and PAT were the difference in a 16-7 Packers victory.  Kramer has been snubbed by the Hall of Fame but he wasn’t about to get snubbed by me.  Table #64 belongs to him.

RUNNER-UP: RANDALL MCDANIEL, Minnesota Vikings/Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1988-2001)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  George Blanda, Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds, & Y.A. Tittle

TOO SOON TO TELL: David Baas & Anthony Herrera

TABLE

SERGEI FEDOROV

Centre, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets,  Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, CSKA Moscow, Dinamo Minsk, & Metallurg Magnitogorsk (1986 – Present)
3x Stanley Cup Winner, 3x President’s Trophy Winner, 2x Olympic Medalist, 3x Gold Medalist in World Championships,  6x NHL All-Star, NHL All-Rookie Team – 1991, Hart Memorial Trophy – 1994, 2x Frank J. Selke Trophy Winner, Kharlamov Trophy – 2003, Lester B. Pearson Award – 1994

The #91 debate really came down to some great defensive players in their respective sports.  On one hand we had Pistons & Bulls great Dennis Rodman who is one of the greatest defensive players the NBA has ever seen.  On the other we had Sergei Fedorov one of the best defenders and playoff performers to ever grace the ice.  In the end, I had to give the nod to Feds.  Fedorov is a proven winner who proved to be among the best in the world at every stage of his career.  His 1993-94 season is one of the best seasons anyone has ever put together.  He won the Hart, Selke, and Pearson Trophy all in one season.  That would be the equivalent of winning the MVP Award, Defensive Player of the Year Award, and being voted All-Pro unanimously all in one season in the NFL.  It’s absolutely unbelievable. In 1998 he won the Stanley Cup and the Olympic Silver Medal in the same year.

As great as Feds was during the NHL regular season, he was phenomenal during the playoffs.  He is considered by many the greatest playoff performer of all time.  He holds the record for most points in overtime (27).  He is ranked 13th in playoff points, 12th in playoff shorthanded goals, and 8th in playoff assists, and he was the 3rd player to have 4 consecutive 20+ point Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Yep, the Russian Rocket is more than worthy of Table #91.

RUNNER-UP: DENNIS RODMAN, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, & Dallas Mavericks (1986-2000)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Kevin Greene

TOO SOON TO TELL: Tamba Hali, Magnus Paajarvi, John Taveres, Justin Tuck, Marc Savard, Cameron Wake,  & Ryan Kerrigan

Agree? Disagree? Tweet @can_of_corn with hashtag #Cafe101 to tell us your picks!

Click photo to enlarge the seating chart for Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant

Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101? Keep reading to find out!  If you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks please comment below or tweet them to @can_of_corn!

The Cafe 101: The 2nd Course

Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant is the Cafe 101. As the name suggests there are only 101 tables, each reserved for the greatest to don that number.

Imagine there’s a sports heaven;
It’s easy if you try.
Where sports’ greatest legends
Depart to when they die.

Imagine all the athletes, of past and present day.

Now imagine a Cafe;
It’s not that hard to do.
There’s only 101 tables;
It’s open to a select few.

Imagine all the athletes, hoping to get a seat.

You may say I’m a dreamer;
But I’m not the only one.
Deciding the greatest athletes by number;
Who get to enter the Cafe 101.

<< PREVIOUS

In our first course I took on the challenge of seating tables 7, 30, 59, and 88.  This week I take on two pretty difficult tasks as I have to take on Table #10, a number that is sacred to soccer and #80, a number donned by some of the greatest wide receivers of all time.  If you would like to read my previous Cafe 101 post please use the link above.  So without further ado, let’s look at four more tables at the Cafe 101.

TABLE

PELE

Forward, Brazil National Team, Santos, & New York Cosmos (1956-1977)
3x World Cup Champion, 2x Roca Cup Winner, 1958 FIFA Silver Boot, 1958 FIFA Silver Ball, 1970 FIFA Golden Ball,  FIFA Player of the Century – 1999, UNICEF Football Player of the Century – 1999

I was told that when I went with #10 I was going to have to choose a soccer player.  The #10 is sacred in the sport of soccer but the reason it’s so sacred is the only player to have 3 World Cup medals – Pele.  While my favorite #10 is Fran Tarkenton and a lot of great athletes have worn this number, Table #10 is about “Who is the greatest soccer player of all time?” and in my opinion that is Pele.   Aside from his championship pedigree, his 1281 goals in 1363 games is still a record for most all-time.  In baseball we often talk about the 5-tool baseball player as that rare guy who can do “EVERYTHING”, well Pele was a 5-tool soccer star.  He could dribble, he could pass, he could shoot, he could head, and he could score.  Not only was he named the soccer player of the century; he was named by the Athlete of the Century by Reuters and the International Olympic Committee.  While I thought for awhile about this table, when I think #10 I think Pele and I think most other sports fans do as well.   He is so well-respected that multiple countries around the world have depicted him on their postage stamps.  I’m no expert on the game of soccer and while some may consider Maradona, Zidane, or one day in the future Lionel Messi – I still believe Pele to be the greatest soccer player of all time.

RUNNER-UP: ZINEDINE ZIDANE, Midfielder, Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus, Real Madrid, & French National Team (1988-2006)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Ron Santo, Phil Rizzuto, Mookie Blaylock (College), Andre Dawson, Michele Platini, Diego Maradona, Walt Frazier, Guy LaFleur, Wayne Rooney, Zico, Vince Young (College), Dennis Rodman, Maurice Cheeks, Fran Tarkenton, Michelle Akers, Tim Hardaway, Nancy Lieberman, Eli Manning, & Marti Vieria de Silva

TOO SOON TO TELL:  DeSean Jackson, Adam Jones, Santonio Holmes, Vernon Wells, Matt Flynn, Landon Donovan & Lionel Messi

TABLE

JENNIE FINCH

Starting Pitcher, Arizona Wildcats, USA National Team, & Chicago Bandits (1999-2010)
2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist, Most Outstanding Player – 2001 College World Series,  2001 National Player of the Year, 3x All-American,  2001 College World Series National Champion, 2x World Cup Champion, National Pro-Fastpitch Co-Pitcher of the Year – 2005

There are many great athletes who have worn the #27.  Many immediately think of Carlton Fisk or Juan Marichal in baseball.  They think of Scott Niedermayer in hockey and Eddie George or Steve Atwater in football.  There are a lot of current stars in sports who don 27 but I feel like the greatest athlete to have worn 27 is Jennie Finch.  I understand that my knowledge of the sport of softball is limited and she is from my generation but the more I talk to those who follow the sport, watch highlights, and read, I am convinced that Jennie Finch is the greatest all-around softball player in the history of the game.   She’s always been a winner – she won one national championship in college, has two Olympic medals, and won two World Cups.

As a college pitcher she set an NCAA record with 60 straight wins shattering the previous mark of 50.   Over a four year college career she won 119 games and struck out 1,028 batters including going 32-0 in her junior year.    She had a 1.07 career ERA in college, and a 0.42 career ERA as a member of the USA National Team.  Her pitch was 71 mph (the equivalent of a 98 mph pitch in baseball) and she threw it consistently.  While I could not find an exact number of no-hitters and perfect games she pitched, I do still remember when she threw back-to-back-to-back no-hitters in the 2000 College World Series.   On top of her pitching prowess she was also great hitter,  batting over .300 each year of college and for the Chicago Bandits in 2005.    She even put together a 14-game hitting streak her sophomore year of college.  Yes, I feel pretty confident that Jennie deserves Table #27.

RUNNER-UP (TIE): CARLTON FISK, Catcher, Boston Red Sox & Chicago White Sox (1969, 1971 – 1993) & SCOTT NIEDERMAYER, Defenceman, New Jersey Devils & Anaheim Ducks (1991-2010)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Scott Niedermayer, Juan Marichal, “Catfish” Hunter, Jeremy Roenick, Vladimir Guerrero, Eddie George, Jack Twyman, Fred McGriff, & Steve Atwater

TOO SOON TO TELL: Ray Rice, Lagarette Blount, Placido Polanco, & Brandon Jacobs

TABLE

JACK HAM

Outside Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers (1971-1982)
4x Super Bowl Champion, 8x Pro Bowler, 6x 1st Team All-Pro, 2x 2nd team All-Pro, NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, Hall of Fame – 1988

I’ve had a number of my readers ask how I decide what four numbers I am going to do for each article.  It’s simple really, I use a Random Number Generator to select one number between 00 and 23, 24 and 48, 49 and 74, and 75 and 99.  When I was given these four numbers I didn’t realize that #59 would be so tough.  I immediately thought of Jack Ham but then I was reminded of London Fletcher – a largely underrated linebacker who has better stats than the much-heralded Ray Lewis with more Super Bowl appearances meanwhile collecting more tackles than any other player between 2000 and 2009.  But when I compared the two, I had to go with Jack Ham who is considered by many to be the greatest outside linebacker the NFL has ever seen.

During his career, Ham had 25 career sacks (unofficially), 32 interceptions, and 21 fumble recoveries.  He was a leader of the famed “Steel Curtain” defense and was known for his speed and ferocious tackling ability.  What he’s most remembered for though is being a highly intelligent football player who rarely missed an assignment or was out of place.  Many players in his time often noted how “you couldn’t trick Jack [Ham]”.  He is one of the greatest defensive players the NFL has ever seen and deserves Table #59.

RUNNER-UP: LONDON FLETCHER, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, & Washington Redskins (1998 – Present)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Seth Joyner, Alex Agase, Chad LaRose, & Todd Jones

TOO SOON TO TELL: John Axford, DeMeco Ryans, Aaron Curry, & Felix Hernandez

TABLE

JERRY RICE

Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, & Seattle Seahawks (1985 – 2004)
3x Super Bowl Champion, 13x Pro-Bowl Selection, 12x All-Pro Selection, 2x AP Offensive Player of the Year, 3x NFC Offensive Player of the Year, NFL 1980’s All-Decade Team, NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team, Hall of Fame – 2010

There have been a number of great athletes who have worn #80 but this was without a doubt going to Jerry Rice, not only the greatest wide receiver of all-time but to many – he’s the greatest football player of all time.   He holds the record for career receptions with 1,549 (445 ahead of Tony Gonzalez), as well as receiving yards with 22,895 and total non-passing touchdowns with 208.  From 1985 – 1999 he had 1000 yards receiving each season and holds nearly every receiving record of significance.  Jerry Rice is such an obvious choice for this number that there really isn’t much to say here.

RUNNER-UP: CRIS CARTER, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, & Miami Dolphins (1987-2002)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Steve Largent, Henry Ellard, Kellen Winslow, Rick Bryan, Andre Johnson, Isaac Bruce, Nik Antropov, Ronaldinho, & Donald Driver

TOO SOON TO TELL: Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow, Jr., Jimmy Graham, & Victor Cruz

Click photo to enlarge the seating chart for Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant

Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101? Keep reading to find out!  If you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks please comment below or tweet them to @can_of_corn!