Ranking the state’s Hall of Famers

by Gary Shelton on June 28, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Eventually, the body goes. The speed fades and the power ebbs and the biceps shrink.

Eventually, even the best of athletes becomes mortal again.

Ah, but for a select few, greatness lasts forever. Martin St. Louis will always be the stubborn cuss that drove opponents crazy. Lee Roy Selmon will always have that rare strength of his. Derrick Brooks will always be impossibly fast. Warren Sapp will be unbelievably quick.

And so on.

But who is the best of them all?

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Know this about greatness. It doesn't much matter who bestows it, whether it's the Pro Football Hall or the National Hockey League Hall. Somewhere, there is a Nerf Football Hall of Fame, and a campaign to get someone who is outside on the inside. Immortal lasts a long time.

Think about it. John Lynch and Ronde Barber were great players, but they aren't in the Pro Football Hall. Vinny Lecavalier isn't in the Hockey Hall. Almost 1,000 players are in the College Football Hall of Fame, but Warren Sapp, Tim Tebow and Jameis Winston aren't among them. Neither is Joe Montana, for what that's worth.

Still, there are 34 players and coaches in the College Hall.

A ranking of the guys who made their mark in Florida colleges or with their pro teams.

1. Don Shula: Shula has won more NFL games than anyone with the Colts and Dolphins. He went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

2. Derrick Brooks: I've argued for years that Brooks was better, for longer than the great Lee Roy Selmon and won championships in college and the pros. He went into the Pro Hall of Fame in 2014 and the College Hall in 2016.

3. Lee Roy Selmon: Selmon was Tampa Bay's first shot at greatness, a fierce pass rusher who made you forget that he wasn't that big. He went into the College Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Pro Football Hall in 1995.

4. Phil Esposito. He's the founding father of the Lightning, but he was also an essential player for the Bruins. He went into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1974.

5. Dan Marino. Marino was a big deal from the start with Miami, no matter what his post-season record was. He joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

6. Marty St. Louis. St. Louis inspired a lot of young fans, but especially those who were a bit smaller than their teammates. He was a furious player who constantly proved that you don't have to be big. You have to be good.

7. Shaq O'Neal. O'Neal's humorous side can make you forget the way opponents used to beat him up beneath the basket. O'Neal's teams won four titles during his career.

8. Warren Sapp. Sapp always conceded that Derrick Brooks was the better player, but Sapp -- because of his personality -- may have been the most important signing. He went in the Pro Football Hall in 2013.

9. Bobby Bowden. It's still baffling why Bowden had 12 victories stripped from his record for an online music course he had nothing to do with. Still, Bowden was among the top handful of coaches ever to wear a whistle. He went into the College Hall of Fame in 2006.

10. Chris Evert. Evert, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale won 18 Grand Slam titles, mostly from the baseline. She entered the Tennis Hall of  Fame in 1995.

11. Steve Yzerman. Yzerman is still building the Lightning, but as a player, he was a smooth, efficient forward. He went into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

12. Pete Sampras. Sampras, who used to live in Tampa Bay, won 64 singles titles. He won 14 Grand Slams. He entered the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.

13. Wade Boggs. A lot of players get their 3,000th hit; Boggs did it with a home run. He worked his way past a lot of doubters to get into the Hall, and was a leader on the first Rays' team.

14. Dave Andreychuk. He was a scorer. Then he became a leader. In Tampa Bay, in fact, he will always be the Captain. He joined the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

15. Larry Csonka. Csonka was a battering ram against Dolphin opponents. He joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

16. Jack Youngblood. The old Florida grad was as tough as anyone, once playing with a broken leg. He went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

17. Dwight Stephenson. Stephenson was one of the staunchest centers ever to play the game.  He joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

18. Tim Raines. Raines entered the baseball Hall of Fame in 2017. Raines, from Sanford, had 2,605 hits in the majors.

19. Doris Hart. From Coral Gables, she won 25 Grand Slam titles. She entered the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969.

20. Mitch Richmond. Richmond averaged more than 20 points per game over his 10-year career. He went into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2014.

21. Ted Hendricks. Long before he was the Mad Stork of the Raiders, Hendricks was a star at Miami. He went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

22.Deion Sanders.Sanders was a cornerback who took away a team's option to throw to his side of the field. He played pro football and pro baseball during his time. He went into the Pro Football Hall  and the College Hall in 2011.

23.Andre Dawson went into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.He overcame 12 knee surgeries in his career.

24. Jim Kelly. Kelly was the leader of a Bills team that lost four straight Super Bowls. He was a tough player at Miami, and went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

25. Doug Williams. Williams, the former No. 1 draft pick of the Bucs, became the first quarterback of African-American decent to win the Super Bowl. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

26. Jim Otto. Otto, a star at Miami, anchored the Raiders line for years and won 308 games while playing. He went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

27. Dave Cowens. Before he was a Celtic, Cowens was an FSU Seminole. He went in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

28. Michael Irvin. Irvin, the Playmaker, went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

29. Steve Spurrier. Yes, Spurrier was winless as a Bucs' quarterback during that first season. But he made the College Football Hall in 2017 as a coach, where he won a national title.

30. Emmitt Smith. Smith ran for 18,355 yards in the NFL after leaving the University of Florida. He went into the College Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

31. Chipper Jones. Jones was a star third baseman with the Atlanta Braves. He entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018..

32. Fred Biletnikoff. The sure-handed Biletnikoff caught 589 passes for FSU. He joined the College Hall in 1973 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

33. Larry Little. Little was one of the key reasons that the Dolphins were able to run so well in the early 1970s. He entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

34. Charlie Ward. Ward decided he had more of a future in the NBA than the NFL. That doesn't change how great a college quarterback he was at FSU, however.

35. Paul Warfield. The Dolphins' offense became complete with the addition of Warfield, who gave Bob Griese a deep threat. He joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

36. Al Lopez. Lopez was a dependable catcher, but he made his mark as manager of the Cleveland Indians. Under Lopez, Cleveland averaged 95 wins per season.

37. Danny Wuerffel. Some believe he was just an extension of Spurrier. If so, he was a pretty good one. He led the Fun 'N Gun offense, won a national title and a Heisman Trophy. He went into the College Football Hall in 2013.

38. Jimmy Johnson: Before he won two titles with Dallas, he won the college championship at Miami. He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

39. Ed Reed. A fierce hitting safety for the University of Miami. Reed went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018. He'll soon be knocking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame's door.

40. Fireball Roberts. Roberts was named as one of the top 50 drivers of NASCAR. He entered the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014.

41. Bob Griese. Griese didn't throw as often as modern-day quarterbacks, but he was smart and efficient. He went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

42. Shirley Fry. Fry won the 1956 Wimbledon title while working as a copy girl for the St. Petersburg Times. Upon hearing that Fry's opponent, Angela Buxton, had been promised a seaside pier by her father, St. Pete mayor Samuel Johnson countered by offering the St. Pete Pier to Fry. She was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1970.

43. Ron Sellers. Sellers was called 'old Jingle-Joints," because of how elusive he was. Sellers went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He had 86 receptions in a single season.

44. Winky Wright. Wright was 51-6 as a boxer. He is a two-time light middleweight champion and the last boxer to hold the unified title. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame this year.

45. Anthony Carter. A native of Riviera Beach, Carter led Michigan in receiving. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

46. Don Sutton. Sutton, from Pensacola, won 324 games as a major leaguer. He went into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

47. Carlos Alvarez. Alvarez caught 88 passes in a single season. The "Cuban Comet" entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

48. Wes Chandler. Chandler was a versatile athlete who could play receiver or running back. He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

49. Nick Buoniconti. Buoniconti was the most recognizable member of the no-name defense. He went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

50. Vinny Testaverde. Testaverde was a great college player, winning the Heisman Trophy. Some might forget, because of his early struggles with the Bucs. Still Testaverde lasted a long time. He went in the College Hall of me I 2013.

51. Jim Courier. A former resident of Dade City, Courier won four Grand Slam titles. He went into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

52. Ron Simmons. Simmons made more of a mark as a pro wrestler than an NFL player, but he was a solid player for the Seminoles while he was there. He went into the College Hall of Fame in 2008.

53. Wilber Marshall. Marshall was a ferocious linebacker for Florida (and later, for the Bears). He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

54. Tony Dungy. For all of those who doubt whether Dungy belongs, ask yourself this. Where would the Bucs have been if he had never come? Dungy's belief spurred Tampa Bay's turnaround.

55. Jim Langer. Langer went into the Hall with Csonka in 1987. He was a rugged blocker for the Dolphins.

56. Gino Torretta. Torretta won the Heisman in 1992, but he never made much of a dent in the pro game. Still, he joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

57.Walter Jones. Jones joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He was a solid pro with Seattle and a graduate of FSU.

58. Cortez Kennedy. Kennedy was also a standiout with the Seahawks after a career with the Miami Hurricanes. He joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

59. Bennie Blades. Blades was a standout safety for the Miami Hurricanes. He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

60. Jason Taylor. Taylor had double-digit sacks in six of his first eight seasons. He went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.

61. Jennifer Capriati. A young star who overcame substance abuse and became a solid pro. She joined the Tennis Hall of Fame 2012,

62. Russell Maryland. Maryland was one of a series of dominant defensive tackles for the Hurricanes. He went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

63. Bob Hayes. Bullet Bob won both an Olympic Gold Medal and a Super Bowl Ring while with the Cowboys. At Florida A&M, he also became an adept enough receiver to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

64. Brooke Bennett. Bennett is a three-time Olympic champion She was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame in 2010.

65. Bobby Allison. Allison, from Miami, went into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011. He won Daytona three times.

66.Dino Ciccarelli.Ciccarelli played two seasons for the Lightning near the end of his career. He went into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.

67. Ray Graves. Graves won 70 games in 10 years for the Gators as a football coach. He went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

68. Doug Dickey. In nine years, Dickey won 58 games for the Gators. He was inducted in the College Hall of Fame in 2003.

69. Denis Savard. Savard played 105 games two seasons for the Lightning. He went into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.

70. Andy Gustafson. Gustafson coached 16 seasons for the Miami Hurricanes. He won 93 games.

71. Willie Galimore. Galimore joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999. He went on from Florida A&M and played six years for the Chicago Bears.

72. Dick Vitale. Vital won 34 games in a little over a season with the Detroit Pistons. He won 79 games at the University of Detroit. But his enthusiasm as a broadcaster made Vitale's mark. He entered the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

73. Don Bosseler. Bosseler played for Miami for four seasons, then was a No. 1 draft pick by the Redskins. He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

74. Dale Von Sickel. Von Sickel was an end an Florida who later became one of Hollywood's leading stunt men. He joined the College Football Hall in 1975.

75.Tyrone McGriff. McGriff was a standout for Florida A&M. He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

76. Charlie Bachman. Bachman coached football at Florida just four years and won just 27 games.

77. Mark Recci. At age 40, Recci played 62 games for the Lightning. He went into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

78. Marcelino Huerta. Huerta coached at the University of Florida, then lead the University of Tampa for 10 seasons (67 wins). He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

79. Jack Harding. Harding coached the Hurricanes twice and won 54 games. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in1980.

80. Darrell Mudra. Mudra made it? He won four games at FSU in two seasons, but he fared better at small schools.

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