Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The All-Presidential Namesakes Sports List

As you may have heard once or twice, we’re in a presidential election year in the USA. With that in mind, and because sports fans love lists, I bring you the All-Presidential Namesakes Sports List.

In the order in which they served, I’ll list the surnames of every single U.S. president. For each entry, I’ll choose the all-time top sports figure who shares that name – whether it’s their first or last name. Middle names are acceptable only if they’re commonly mentioned when referring to that person. For example, Grover Cleveland Alexander qualifies, but Jack Roosevelt Robinson does not. Also, this list is targeted to American sports fans, so it’s entirely possible I omitted some amazing soccer player somewhere. Not that anyone here would notice.

Since there were two presidents named Adams, Harrison, Johnson, Roosevelt, and Bush, those names are each represented twice. Still, there were numerous legends named Johnson who didn’t make the cut, while names like Fillmore provided slim pickings. Projections were not made for this November, so there’s no Obama or McCain on the list. There is a Clinton, but just one. As with all political discussions, the list is sure to spark debate. So here we go!

1. Washington: Ted Washington. Maybe he’s not at “Father of Our Country” level, but the longtime defensive tackle has been to four Pro Bowls.

2. Adams: Flozell Adams. Another four-time Pro Bowler, the Cowboys offensive tackle will someday be portrayed by Paul Giamatti.

3. Jefferson: Richard Jefferson. President Jefferson was third in serving our country. Hoopster Jefferson served our country while finishing third at the 2004 Olympics.

4. Madison: Sam Madison. This Sam defends against wide receivers, like his Presidential namesake defended Uncle Sam against England in the War of 1812.

5. Monroe: Earl Monroe. Like the basketball Hall of Famer, James Monroe was called “The Pearl” by his Cabinet members.

6. Adams: Sam Adams. The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle is the son of a former NFL player. John Quincy Adams also took the same job as his dad.

7. Jackson: Phil Jackson. His 9 rings (maybe 10 soon) as head coach give him the edge over Reggie. Besides, Mr. October, presidential elections are won in November!

8. Van Buren: Steve Van Buren. The Eagles Hall of Fame running back was on the 1948 and 1949 NFL champs. However, the president failed to repeat, losing to William Henry Harrison in 1840.

9. Harrison: Marvin Harrison. William Henry Harrison died after a month in office. His death had nothing to do with gunfire outside a Philadelphia bar.

10. Tyler: Tyler Hansbrough. President Tyler’s political opponents often complained that he shot too many free throws.

11. Polk: DaShon Polk. No offense to the Texans linebacker, but I told you the pickings would be slim for some names.

12. Taylor: Lawrence Taylor. Conspiracy theorists will note that I’ve chosen two Tar Heels in the last three picks. But can you really complain about LT? It’s not like I picked James Taylor.

13. Fillmore: Greg Fillmore. He played in 49 games for the Knicks in the early 70’s. Yeah, I wish this president had been named Millard Gretzky.

14. Pierce: Paul Pierce. The Franklin Pierce administration is rated poorly by historians, because Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen never joined him.

15. Buchanan: Buck Buchanan. Unlike the only president never to marry, Buck had no fear of commitment, spending his entire Hall of Fame career with the Kansas City Chiefs.

16. Lincoln: Lincoln Kennedy. The former offensive lineman could fit the bill for two presidents.

17. Johnson: Magic Johnson. Even with all the Johnsons to choose from (that’s not meant to be dirty), this one is easy.

18. Grant: Grant Fuhr. In Edmonton, Grant’s Tomb was where potential goals went to die.

19. Hayes: Woody Hayes. This was a tough call over Elvin Hayes. But Rutherford B. Hayes was from Ohio, and he was nearly removed from office after punching a guy from Clemson.

20. Garfield: Garfield Heard. He’s best remembered for his shot against the Celtics. President Garfield is best remembered for getting shot.

21. Arthur: Arthur Ashe. Chester A. Arthur came to prominence in New York. By winning the 1968 U.S. Open, so did Ashe.

22 & 24. Cleveland: Grover Cleveland Alexander. He only struck out batters on non-consecutive occasions.

23. Harrison: Harrison Dillard. He’s the only male to win Olympic gold medals in both sprinting and hurdling events. For President Harrison, re-election was too big of a hurdle.

25. McKinley: Alvin McKinley. Outside the White House, President McKinley’s primary residence was Canton, Ohio. Alvin may be an NFL defensive tackle, but he’s not Canton-bound.

26. Roosevelt: Roosevelt Brown. Theodore is a giant on Mount Rushmore. A nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle, Brown enabled the Giants to rush more.

27. Taft: Chris Taft. William Taft is the only man to serve as both President of the U.S. and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Equally impressive, Chris Taft, uh… Well, he played 17 games for Golden State.

28. Wilson: Hack Wilson. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is nice, but President Wilson never drove in 191 runs during a season.

29. Harding: Tonya Harding. Fittingly, she’s listed right after a guy named Hack.

30. Coolidge: Warren Coolidge. Sure, he’s a fictional character, but Warren Coolidge dominated for Carver High School on The White Shadow.

31. Hoover: Brad Hoover. The Panthers fullback deals with defenders much better than the president handled the Great Depression.

32. Roosevelt: Roosevelt (“Rosey”) Grier. FDR won four elections, and Grier was part of the Fearsome Foursome.

33. Truman: Christine Truman. She was the 1959 French Open champion. If Zsuzsi Kormoczi had won that finals match, I REALLY would have scrambled here.

34. Eisenhower: Eisenhower Tree. It’s a pine tree on the 17th hole at Augusta National. Hey, it’s not like I had lots of human options!

35. Kennedy: Walter Kennedy. He was the NBA commissioner during the 60’s and 70’s. These days, while the president does not have unlimited power, the NBA commissioner does.

36. Johnson: Jack Johnson. Magic has already been taken, so this one was brutal. With apologies to fans of great pitching, the legendary heavyweight champ gets the nod over Walter and Randy.

37. Nixon: Norm Nixon. Richard won two elections before the humiliation of the Watergate scandal. Norm won two NBA titles before the humiliation of being traded to the Clippers.

38. Ford: Whitey Ford. Still miffed about my snub of Walter and Randy Johnson? Okay, here’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. Are you happy now?

39. Carter: Gary Carter. His Cooperstown enshrinement gives him the nod over Joe. And not because I’m a Phillies fan. Well, maybe a little.

40. Reagan: Frank Reagan. He led the NFL in interceptions in 1947 – an effort worthy of The Gipper.

41. Bush: Reggie Bush. This one could have been tougher, since no one named Dukakis has won the Heisman.

42. Clinton: Clinton Portis. Both of them have been wacky at press conferences – Portis by wearing outlandish costumes and Bill by saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

43. Bush: Joe Bush. He went 26-7 for the Yankees in 1922. Particularly partisan Democrats will insist that Frank Gore belongs here.

I’m Jack Archey, and I approved this message.