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CGB Hall of Fame: (1) Jahvid Best vs (8) Anthony Ervin

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Two Cal greats, one from the gridiron, the other from the pool square off in round 1.

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(1) Jahvid Best

Here are some thoughts from the CGB Remembering the Seniors post:

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).

After a short but often-electric stint in the National Football League with the Detroit Lions...

...Best joined the California coaching staff as a student assistant, while finishing his degree, in January 2014.

(9) Anthony Ervin

Anthony Ervin (California) (via SwimmingWorldSPI)

LEastCoastBears gives us tons of good info from the Calympics post on Anythony:

The feel good story of the US Swim trial, Anthony Ervin is again an Olympian. After winning a gold medal in the 50 freestyle at the 2000 Olympics, Tony (his preferred name to friends) retired in 2003 (after the end of his Cal career) when he was 22 years old to explore "other interests".

After joining a rock band in New York and various other youthful exploits (that some articles try to make a bigger deal than others), he eventually found himself teaching swimming to kids in both New York City and Oakland. Last year he began training again, and qualified for London by finishing second in the 50 free (by narrowly edging out fellow Cal bear, Nathan Adrian). Between his colorful sleeve tattoos and a more slender body type, Anthony stands out in the pool.

Also of note, Anthony auctioned off his 2000 Olympic gold medal on eBay to aid survivors of the 2004 tsunami. Anthony did eventual finish his Cal degree in English in 2010 and is now currently in the Cal graduate program for sport, culture and education.

  • Event: 50 freestyle
  • 2nd time Olympian (In Sydney 2000 Olympics won gold in 50 Free and silver in 4x100 Free relay)
  • Cal career: 1999-2002
  • A great sentimental comeback story (which NBC will surely milk in the Olympics), Anthony won a gold back in 2000 and proceed to take almost a decade off from swimming. After teaching kids to swim an year ago, Ervin decided to make a comeback and was able to finish second in 50 Free (narrowly edging out Nathan Adrian by 8/100th of a second).

Anthony's slightly different training method/mentality is nicely explained in this USA Swimming article here. Interestingly, the article also conjectured about the success of Cal swimming:

Cal Swimming has long been at the forefront of alternative training approaches. Which could explain why they are – and have been -- so successful. Their two most individualistic and strongest personalities, Ervin and 29-year-old Natalie Coughlin, are also two of the sports most inventive, innovative thinkers. They tinker. They ask. They learn. They reflect. It’s no secret they both are still involved in the sport at an age once considered "ancient."

Read more about Anthony in this SFGate article here.

Grantland has the following interesting short blurb about him:

Enigmatic 31-year-old who won gold and silver in Sydney, retired from swimming in 2003 at age 22, and sold his gold medal to raise money for the Indian Ocean tsunami relief. (Lost his silver medal during his notoriously nomadic travels.) Returned to competition last year. Has such poor eyesight that a competitor had to tell him he had qualified; when Brendan Hansen congratulated him afterward he squinted and responded, "Who is that?" Speaks in full paragraphs, but also says things like "I just want to keep this fun train chugging."