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Hall of Fame Round of 64: Brick Muller Bracket, Part I

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Check out the full bracket here.

To check out the original nomination thread, click here. 

For those who love the Hall of Fame and want to track all these posts, click here or right next to the timestamp where it says "Hall of Fame".

This post's matchups: Tony Gonzalez vs Hardy Nickerson, Rod Benson vs Ryan Anderson


We kick things off with the top half of the Brick Muller bracket; top two matchups get posted this morning, bottom two this afternoon. Polls for these matchups close next Thursday, June 18 at midnight. The athlete matchups are above, the athlete descriptions and polls are after the jump. Please read, vote, and debate in the comments!


#1 Tony Gonzalez vs #16 Hardy Nickerson


Tony Gonzalez, perhaps the greatest tight end in NFL history (although John Mackey and Mike Ditka might have something to say about that) starts off our list. Let's take a look at a brief sampling of his career.

Since we can talk about Gonzalez's accomplishments, people might be interested to know that Gonzalez toyed with veganism for awhile, at his peak, as a pro, in his contract year (it's crazier because all these things happens at once).

For those who forget who Hardy Nickerson is,  California Pete's here to give you a refresher.

No, he doesn’t beat out Tony Gonzalez. But 167 tackles in 11 games as a junior in 1985, to go along with sophomore and senior seasons that were only slightly less prolific. 167 tackles. In just 11 games! His 16-year NFL career was no less productive, and he recently appeared on ESPN’s list of all-time NFL "Draft Steals". His game in 1985 against USC—a glorious 14-6 upset victory—still ranks as the best game I’ve ever seen a linebacker play. As recalled here, his 17 tackles that afternoon pushed him past Ron Rivera as Cal’s all-time leading tackler (as a junior!) and earned him Sports Illustrated’s defensive player of the week. That game was also cause for much optimism headed into 1986, but super-freshman from 1985—running back Marc Hicks—had a sophomore slump for the ages; he transferred after ’86 and was never heard from again.

Well said.

For those of you youngins who didn't watch football in the 90s, here's a flash of his greatness and madness (as an added bonus, in those horrid creamsicle Tampa unis). Not to mention he mentored the players on one of the greatest NFL defensive units ever.

Nickerson's Steelers career came to a conclusion when the team refused to adequately compensate him and he was a cornerstone in the landmark class action lawsuit that led to free agency in the NFL.

During his final year with the Steelers he was the lowest paid linebacker in the NFL with a paltry salary of $200,000, but in 1993 as the primary plaintiff in the case against the NFL he was freed and signed a lucrative free agent contract with Tampa bay for $5.2 million.

"I was determined to help turn the [Tampa Bay] franchise around," Nickerson stated.

Pro Bowl players such as John Lynch, Warren Sapp and Derek Brooks were all mentored and guiding during their infant NFL careers by Nickerson.

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#8 Rod Benson vs #9 Ryan Anderson



Rod Benson might be familiar to you with the Boom Got Tho movement (video 1, video 2video 3). Norcalnick gives us a deeper look into the phenomenon

With a few notable exceptions, every person in this bracket has been included based upon their exploits on the field of play.  Not Rod Benson.  Now, don’t get me wrong - Rod Benson was a decent Cal hoopster.  Here’s his career line: 

2005-06: 16.4 min/game, 3.0 rebounds/game, 4.9 points/game

2004-05: 27.7 min/game, 6.3 rebounds/game, 13.3 points/game

2003-04: 8.5 min/game, 1.7 rebounds/game, 2.6 points/game 

His numbers declined greatly in 2005-06 mostly because a certain super-stud power forward returned from a devastating knee injury.  In 2004-05 Rod was the lone bright spot in a lost year for Cal basketball.  Without ‘The Show’ Cal struggled to a 6-12 conference finish and never sniffed the post-season.  But…a cult hero was born. 

When I went to a couple games, I noticed a small but passionate group of students who would go particularly nuts when Rod did anything positive.  Each wore a custom "In Rod we Trust" T-shirt.  The sophomore with stone hands already had a following.  The movement had begun. 



Rod improved greatly that year to lead Cal in scoring, but he reached his true heights as a blogger chronicling life in the D-League, including memorable posts involving peeing for an audience to pass an NBA Drug test, All-Star weekend craziness, and of course, music videos that are ready like spaghetti and in their like swimwear.  The Boom Tho movement’s main goal is to get Rod into the NBA.  Believe it or not, Rod has greatly improved his game and is one of the elite D-leaguers. 

Rod is a must read for Cal fans and basketball fans both, and can be found at his original site and at Yahoo Sports.

Maybe if we all say Boom Tho enough the Warriors will finally realize that continually drafting undersized power forwards is silly when a cheap, home grown, awesome option had been staring them in the face for years.  BOOM THO!




Ryan Anderson was as overlooked as they get in college, rollonubears argues:

Was/is an absolute monster. In my opinion, if he had stayed 4 years, he would have been considered an all-time Cal great. His freshman year he was robbed of Pac-10 Freshman of the year. His sophomore year he was one of the most underrated basketball players in the nation. He got absolutely no national recognition (talks about it here around 3:23), mostly because he wasn’t on a tournament team. Look at that team. The people surrounding him were pretty much awful (PChris was the only other good player on the team. This was back when Jerome Randle was the Nate Longshore of basketball). His starting point guard had a 1.2-1 A-TO ration. ERIC FUCKING VIERNEISEL AVERAGED 24 MINUTES A GAME ON THAT TEAM. I think I would give Vierneisel a run for his money in a pick-up game. He had a .298% on threes and still shot 84 of them. And don’t even get me started on Devon ’I’ll give effort when I feel like it’ Hardin. The point is that Anderson was that team. He was the only reason we made it to the NIT. That team minus Ryan Anderson would have had single digit wins

I am still angry that he never got any national props. Look at his stats that year: 21.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 49% from the field, 41% from three, 87% FT. He almost (and look how close he was) threw up a 20-10 in one of, if not the toughest conference in the nation. The Pac-10 was getting abundant love that year thanks to Love-Mayo-Bayless-Lopez twins-Budinger-Harden-Afflalo-that whole Wazzu team-etc. However, the guy who was most valuable to his team and who arguably had the best season that year got no love at all.

Ryan Anderson: the unloved Cal great.

He can now be seen costarring in 2 minute shorts with his *gag* Furd buddyBrook Lopez.


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