With Selection Sunday officially behind us and the NCAA tournament awaiting, we here at The 700 Level have decided it's time to have a little March Madness of our own. Over the next three weeks, we'll be holding playoffs to conclusively decide who, among 64 prime candidates selected, is the greatest Philly athlete of modern times. One by one, we'll be holding seeded match-ups, for which we ask you to cast your vote to help decide who should advance, until just one lucky soul remains, standing in adulation with "One Shining Moment" blaring in the background.
And how did we decide on the field of 64? Well, we took a nice cross-section of the statistically-accomplished, the post-season proven, and the fan-favorite Philly-based jocks of recent years. Here were our selection qualifications:
- Only athletes from the four major Philadelphia professional sports teams. Extending to college and individual sport-based athletes blurs the line too much between Philly vs. not Philly, and we're more comfortable dealing with the Big Four types anwyay.
- Only athletes who played more than half their Philly career after the year 1980. Not too many of us were around for the years before that, and you gotta draw the line somewhere before you start trying to compare Cole Hamels and Brian Dawkins with Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chuck Bednarik.
- Only athletes who played at least four full years in the City of Brotherly Love. It hurts to exclude recent sensations like Roy Halladay and Michael Vick, as well as one-or-two-season wonders like Terrell Owens and Dikembe Mutombo, but we wanted this to be a contest for those athletes who had really put in the time to become permanently associated with Philadelphia, and figured that a full presidential term was a good minimum amount of service.
As for how you should be voting, you can use whatever criteria you like (and undoubtedly will), but we'll be casting our votes for the athletes that did the most for their respective squads during their tours of duty, that accomplished the most on a team and individual level, and that best defined what Philly Sports were essentially about for the last three-plus decades.
We hope you enjoy voting for your athletes of choice, and encourage you to have it out in the comments section below to make a case for your particular selections. Of course there will be no right answer to many of these, and one man's obvious chalk selection will be another's likely upset pick. But rather than getting too hung up on the solitary matchups, we also hope that you take this entire project as a larger tribute to the last 31 years of Philly sports, and the standard-bearers that made those years so memorable.
Enjoy, and let us know how you do in your office pool.