Here's a comprehensive list of my 10 favorite sports figures of all time and why:
For a long time I thought no one could top Reggie (more on him next), but #18 did it. He transformed football in central Indiana forever. Before him, we were a perennial loser franchise that many had tagged for relocation. Now 'it would take the Indiana National Guard to drag them out of there', to paraphrase Norman Dale. I'm not going to go on and on about all the great moments and the Super Bowl that was so long in coming. I most appriciate the discipline it takes to be so naturally gifted and yet work so hard. That's what I really enjoy. He's the best ever. 5 to 10 years from now, no one in the NFL will even debate whether or not #18 is the greatest of all time. No one will ever wear #18 in Colts blue again. No one, other than generation of fans celebrating his career.
2. Reggie Miller-
What can I say about Reggie? He did the impossible so many times. He was fearless and badass. He was the perfect Indiana hero-the long distance jump shooter. For the Knicks games, for the Nets game, for the Bulls game and for being part of the fabric of my youth, I salute you Reggie. If you had only hit that 3 against the Lakers in OT of game 4 (with Demond and I in the stands), you could have never been replaced. It's ok, we forgive you.
3. Barry Larkin-
Larkin's career almost perfectly coincided with my becoming a baseball fan. I started following the Reds as a kid in 1987, and was a real fan by 88 when Larkin made his first All Star game. Barry was great on D, dominant on the bases, could hit and hit for power. I was listening when he hit 5 home runs in 2 days. I saw him do the back flip after the NLCS in 1990. I listened to almost every game as he pulled down an MVP award and became the first SS to go 30-30. I witnessed games in person that he DOMINATED without getting a hit. He was a great player and when the Reds were bad, I could still follow him. Can't wait for him to make the HoF.
4. Johnny Bench-
Best player at his position of all time. Never saw John play until the 1975 WS was available on DVD, but I knew of him. I read books about him. I listened as people called him one of the greatest of all time. When my grandmother gave me for Christmas one year a baseball he had personalized to her, it was sealed. I'm a HUGE Bench fan.
After one particularly amazing Marvin game, I turned to Demond as we filed out of the Dome and said, "Can you believe we get to watch him every week?" With Marvin, that summs it up. He may not be as prolific as Rice (although in today's game, you never know), but as Chris Carter noted, he has amazing hands and makes catches Jerry never could. My all time favorite Marvin moment is the Tampa game where Keyshawn ripped him in the first half when the Bucs were up big. At games end, Keyshawn was out with an injury, the Colts had won and Marvin had 180 yards and a touch. He is amazing to watch.
6. Joe Morgan-
another classic Red that I never got to witness live. Amazing D, blazing speed, incredible power, and a brilliant mind. Maybe the greatest second baseman ever.
7. Steve Alford-
My first sports hero. I'll never forget him saying, "it's all worth it! It's all worth it!"
8. Chris Sabo-
one of my first baseball heroes. I loved the goggles and the speed. His 2 HR in game 3 of the 1990 sealed the deal.
9. Calbert Chaeney-
Absolutely unstoppable when he was on at IU. The Big 10s all time leading scorer, I'll never forget after they beat Louisville in St. Louis in the tourney, one of the Cardinals said, "All I could think was, 'Please God, someone stop him"
10. Demond "Bob the Zombie" Sanders-
His performance may have been illegally enhanced due to his ingestion of human brain, but no true Colts fan will ever forget him being the baddest man alive for four weeks when it counted.
Pete Rose-You broke my heart man
Marshal Faulk-he was crazy good
Jim Harbaugh-the Dallas win was hard core
Dale Davis/Rik Smits
Eric Davis-an absolute god in 1987