CGB Hall of Fame: Deltha O'Neal vs. Jahvid Best

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The premier matchup of the second round is here. Two of Cal's greatest on the gridiron battle it out for the rights to face Desean Jackson in the Sweet 16! Cast your vote by noon PDT Friday. Click here to view the full bracket.

O'Neal's NFL career is well known, but it might surprise some of you young ones how much of an impact he had with the Bears.

Tony Macaroni: What some may not know is that Deltha entered the program as a reserve tailback and got pushed into duty as a freshman when the other backs went down with injuries. He had a serious fumbling problem (I heard that Bobby Shaw encouraged him to carry a football around with him as he went to class). He fumbled the opening kickoff in the ‘96 Big Game, setting up the first of what seemed like 20 Stanfurd TD’s. But Holmoe eventually moved him to CB, and he was instantly a force to be reckoned with. He had eight (!) interceptions his senior year, four of which he returned for touchdowns. He was also a rediculous return man, his two return TDs accounting for Cal’s only points in the 1999 Big Game.

dballisloose: And in that 1999 Big Game, it should be noted that Stanford was trying to kick AWAY from Deltha, absurdely so to the point where they would kick all but 2 out of bounds….the 2 that he fielded (and maybe the years are making me exagerate that he only fielded the 2) he took all the way, and those of us in the stands would prepare for the kicks with our thumbs and index fingers together in a triangle, cheering "Deltha, Deltha, Deltha".

I think Deltha may be the most impactful Cal player ever. Ever.

There's not much need to introduce Jahvid to you, but we'll do it anyway. Here's what some random dope wrote about him.

Best seems to always have one mode: Fast. He ran fast. He cut fast. He caught fast. He leapt fast. He even interviewed fast. He's the prototypical Internet-generation athlete!

He was a one man instrument of warfare, like that sniper in Saving Private Ryan. In a blink of an eye, he took teams out of games. We can count the games, the names, the teams he left burning on the turf in his wake. CSU '08. Wazzu '08. Furd '08. Washington '08. Miami '08. Maryland '09. Minnesota '09. UCLA '09. Opposing fans probably felt a little helpless once the Jet found the seams and broke loose--it was hardly a fair fight once Xs and Os crumbled into the 100 m dash.

I don't think I've ever seen a football player take over a football game by himself the way Jahvid did with the liabilities he had to nurse from everyone. He was hampered with a generally weak offensive line (especially in the interior) and a terribly hamstrung quarterback situation. Even Desean had a fairly accurate Longshore throwing to him much of his career. Best had to win many games on his own (and when I say on his own, he generated around 70 to 80% of their meaningful offense, sometimes even more). The only Bear who had to burden that much of the load in modern times was probably Deltha, and those teams still stunk. One player can't make a team great; it's to Jahvid's credit that he kept the offense running alright  with minimal help (Ta'ufo'ou, Mack and Malele in '08, and mmmaybe Summers-Gavin in '09).

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