Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Eight Percent of the SportsNation Loves Bowling

Ok, so it's obvious that ESPN has decided that they're going to latch on to Jerome Bettis as the central figure for Super Bowl 40, and I can understand why. He's likely retiring after the SB. He can be counted on for an entertaining interview and usually has a smile on his face. His fumble and Roethlisberger's tackle are, to this point, the lasting images of the playoffs. So ok, I can see why he's on the front page of espn.com this week. However, to have him as a finalist for this survey is a bit of a stretch:

Even crazier is that he managed to get 8% of the votes! The question is poorly phrased, but since the list includes both retired and deceased players, I can assume they mean greatest pro player to wear a Pit uniform of all-time. Now, I'm not piling on Jerome Bettis- I'm sure that if he played for the Carolina Panthers, and they were in the Super Bowl, he would be a finalist for Charlotte's greatest pro athlete. I also know that ESPN probably wanted to include an active Steeler to make the list topical. But Pittsburgh has a very rich history of professional sports, and to include Bettis for the voting is a slight to that tradition and history. Just off the top of my head, here are a few pros who wore a Pit jersey that are more deserving:

Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell, Barry Bonds, Mean Joe Greene, Swann/Stallworth

(Truth be told, Troy Polamalu is probably the greatest pure athlete on this Steelers team. But since he's only in his second year, I can see why he wouldn't make the cut.)

I suppose it's possible that 2,000 of the people that have logged on thus far are 12 and under, and have neither a sense of history nor an appreciation for hockey. It's possible that if instead of putting Bettis in the survey, they'd put Hines Ward or Ben Roethlisberger, 8% of the SportsNation would have clicked their radio button as the best Pit athlete.

(full disclosure: my original posting actually included two hockey players that were Boston, not Pitt legends...sorry, sometimes I'm an even bigger fool than usual.)


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