CGB Hall of Fame: Hardy Nickerson vs The Play Players

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via graphics.fansonly.com

and

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via berkeley.edu

square off in a battle of 80s Golden Bear football. Do you go with the better player, or players that provided the seminal Cal football moment? It's up to you to vote. The winner will take on Jerome Randle in the second round.

Voting ends at noon PST on Friday. Examine the case for either side and vote in the poll!

Last week's winners: Deltha O'Neal (157 votes to Kevin Parker's 23), Desean Jackson (170 votes to Milica Vukadinovic's 57).

Scootie lays down the case for one of Cal's finest:


Hardy Nickerson was a badass linebacker from 1983-1986.

From the Cal Hall of Fame writeup:

For three straight seasons from 1983-85, Nickerson led the Golden Bears in tackles and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player. A first team All-Pac-10 selection as a senior, he reeled off tackle totals of 141 in 1984, 167 in 1985 and 132 in 1986. His 167 stops as a junior remains a Cal single season record, while his 501 career tackles rank second behind David Ortega’s 525 in school history.

He went on to play in the NFL for 16 years (primarily for the Steelers and Bucs), where he was a five-time pro bowler, and was named to the 1990s all-decade second team. He is now a coach at Bishop O’Dowd, where his twins (boy/girl) go to school. I am hoping to see him on the Cal staff sometime soon.

 

Norcalnick talks about The Play.

Moen to Rodgers to Garner to Rodgers to Ford to Moen.  Like pi to math majors, every Cal fan should know the sequence.  But how exactly did a last second victory in a game with no real national significance become so legendary, so mythical?

When I was 9 I went to my first Big Game and watched Cal win.  Having been hooked on Cal football, I then saw Cal lose 7 straight times.  My Mom, the consummate pessimistic yet loyal Cal fan, would hold up The Play as our desperate Cal fan trump card.  Lose 7 in a row to the ‘furd?  So what, we have The Play.  Go a decade without a bowl?  Whatevs, we have The Play.  No Rose Bowl berths in either of our lifetimes?  No worries, we have The Play. 

For 20 years between The Play and Tedford, it was our one shining moment in a sea of football pain and misery.  Whenever the Big Game was in Palo Alto my mom would play a tape that analyzed The Play, including an introduction, the CALX call of the game (which is significantly more confusing even than Starkey’s call) and player interviews.  We played it to piss off the Stanford fans, because THEY LOST ON THE PLAY! 

Every once in a while ESPN or Sports Illustrated will have some silly internet voting for the greatest play in college (or sports) history.  Despite a biased voting public, The Play almost always wins.  Nothing can match 6 laterals against your biggest rival with the most insane band in America on the field. 

It is here that we must mention the unfortunate part of our story:  Mariet Ford, he of the psychic blind lateral, is currently behind bars for the murder of his wife and 35 month old son. The Chronicle has a long profile on Ford, detailing the glory of The Play and his fall from grace.

Now, in 2009, with 6 straight bowl games and perennial conference title contention, maybe The Play isn’t as important as it used to be.  We don’t need to hang our hat on one moment.  Or, maybe The Play will remain as a moment that defines Cal athletes and fans alike with the attitude that the Bear will not quit, the Bear will not die. 

And if you ever wondered if The Play was ‘the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending... exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football,’ I’ll leave you with this: 

Via Wikipedia: 

 

For many years, John Elway was bitter, on both a personal level and on behalf of his team, about the touchdown being allowed: "This was an insult to college football... They [the officials] ruined my last game as a college football player."

 

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