Scott and I got to thinking. Is the 2012 Penn State Nittany Lion football team our favorite sports team we have ever rooted for? And, the answer is yes.
We decided to put a little list together (and a podcast of our brainstorming session), where we each ranked our top 5 all-time favorite sports teams, our favorite athletes of those teams, and our favorite moments of those seasons.
Now, remember we are in our early 20s, so no team before the 90′s is really prevalent in our lives. Really, the first team that we were able to “love” was the “Legion of Doom” Flyers team, which ended up losing in the Stanley Cup finals in 1997. Also, my Penn State career began in 2008, while Scott’s began in 2009. Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, we were never “die-hard” Penn State football fans until we became students. Rather, we were casual Penn State football fans. Therefore, pre-2008 PSU teams did not really qualify for our list.
Again, remember, we are ranking our favorite all-time teams, not necessarily the best. While winning does play a major part in likability of a team, and while there is some overlap and correlation, these are our favorite teams. Not the best.
Without further ado, here is how we ranked our top 5 all-time favorite sports teams. First my list, then Scott’s (podcast included at bottom of article).
|5||’01 Sixers||Allen Iverson||Iverson over Lue|
|4||’97 Flyers||Eric Lindros||Lindros’ GW goal in ECF|
|3||’08 Phillies||Chase Utley||Utley: “World Fuckin’ Champions”|
|2||’10 Flyers||Mike Richards||Gagne’s GW goal in game 7|
|1||’12 PSU Football||Matt McGloin||Wisconsin’s missed FG in OT|
Honorable Mention: 2004 Philadelphia Eagles
As much as I love B-Dawk, B-West, and even McNabb, I hate T.O. I couldn’t put T.O. on an all-time favorite list of mine. I just couldn’t do it. The run this team made was incredible, and there is nothing like a great Eagles team in Philadelphia, a true football city. I’ll never forget that week in between the NFC championship and the Super Bowl. It was brutal. I couldn’t wait for the game. The anticipation in the city was insane. And, I miss it. I miss good Eagles football.
2000-01 Philadelphia Sixers
Allen Iverson single-handedly carried this team on his back, and single-handedly got this team on my list. Other than AI, there were no other players that anyone fell in-love with. From E. Snow, to Tyrone Hill, to Aaron McKie, to even Dieke, these guys were just…eh. However, they played defense and let Iverson shoot, a lot, and it worked. I’ll never forget their 10 game win streak to open the season 10-0. I’ll never forget AI winning the all-star game MVP, followed by “Where my coach?” I’ll never forget Iverson vs. Carter in the Eastern Conference Semi’s. And, I’ll never forget Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue in game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, accompanied by the unforgettable call by Tom McGinnis — “He got it AGAIN! He’s WAY TOO GOOD!”
1996-97 Philadelphia Flyers
Admittedly, I am a “hockey guy”. I grew up into a Flyers family and spent my childhood going to tons of Flyers games with my dad (section 109). The first team I fell in love with was the “Legion of Doom” Flyers. Eric Lindros and John LecLair were the first two athletes I idolized in Philadelphia. They were unstoppable. 88 to 10 is one of the most glorious combinations in the history of Philadelphia sports. Watching this team make a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, at age 7, for me, allowed me to realize the beauty of being a sports fan in the great city of Philadelphia.
2008 Philadelphia Phillies
World Champions. World F—in’ Champions!
I mean, I get chills typing it. From Chase Utley, my all-time favorite athlete, to Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, Matt Stairs, and on and on, we loved them all. So many moments, so many memories wrapped into one season, one post-season run.
Maybe this team would have been higher on my list if I still lived in Philly at the time (I was a freshman at Penn State in October of 2008), but nevertheless, it was still incredible. The only parade I have ever experienced.
2010 Philadelphia Flyers
It wasn’t easy putting these guys ahead of the World Champion 2008 Phillies, but I did it. I went back and forth 100 times. I know, it’s bold, but I truly liked this team more (I think?).
They barely squeaked into the playoffs, with the shootout save by Boosh to beat the Rangers. Then, being down three games to none, and then three goals to none in game 7, and coming back, and Gagne’s goal, with the fans at the Wells Fargo Center…it was just all so magical. And nearly impossible.
The emergence of Giroux and emotion and likeability of Laviolette began during this run, continued into last season, and hopefully (if they ever play again), will set up an amazing couple years of hockey in Philly. G and Lavs.
Ps. Patrick Kane’s goal in OT of game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals will forever make me sick.
2012 PSU Football Team
Picture via the world’s greatest photographer, Dave Cole
This has way more to do than sports. It’s more than wins and losses. These kids restored the program. And it was amazing to see. From the devastation and agony of November 2011, to the restoration and accomplishment of November 2012, it was fairy-tale like. To see the community, the fans, the alumni, and the students—rally around this football like never before was special. It was truly a blessing to be a part of.
And the way Wisconsin missed that FG in OT to end the season, to give Penn State their 8th win, and to give PSU their own “World F’in Champions” moment was perfection.
|5||’10 Eagles||DeSean Jackson||D-Jack punt return|
|4||’11 Flyers||Claude Giroux||“The Shift”|
|3||’01 Sixers||Iverson||Iverson over Lue|
|2||’08 Phillies||Chase Utley||Utley’s fake throw to first, throw home in WS|
|1||’12 PSU Football||Mike Mauti||Wisconsin’s missed FG in OT|
Okay. So my list is going to look a little different than it did on the podcast we recorded last night. This morning, I got to thinking more about the meaning of this question, which is to name our favorite teams, the teams that resonate most with us. While I certainly rooted for the Eagles in the all of those NFC championships, I was never a Reid or McNabb guy. I remember always complaining and hoping for change back then, so they shouldn’t be on my list. Also, for me personally, hockey is clearly my 4th sport so that has to factor in my rankings. Remember that these are our personal rankings and that everyone should have their own unique list. Here it goes:
Honorable Mention- 2011 Philadelphia Sixers
I know what your saying right now. It’s probably something like ” I hate Iggy, i hated them, they stunk, bla, bla, bla”. But I personally, never hated him, I always thought that he was mis-casted as a super star both talent and personality wise. Iggy was a good guy, who had it really rough here and I really enjoyed his miniature redemption in the playoffs. His free throws/celebration vs Chicago was a cool moment and I really liked rooting for those guys.
2010 Philadelphia Eagles
I was not a McNabb guy so I was naturally really excited for this season. And while it didn’t go as planned (I bought an authentic Kelly Green Kolb jersey in the preseason), this team sure was a lot of fun. We know so much more about these guys now, but at the time they were all amazing to me. Vick. McCoy. Jackson. Maclin. I’ll also, never forget Vick’s emergence as a superstar in this town and how much we revered him. Or this. Or this.
2011 Philadelphia Flyers
I’m choosing this team over 2010 for a couple of reasons. I loved Giroux, loved his emergence as the team leader and the attitude and swagger he brought to this team. And although they fell short, I’ll always remember that Pittsburgh series as one of my favorite playoff series as a Philadelphia fan.
2001 Philadelphia Sixers
This was the first great sports experience for me, and everyone remember’s their first. I was only 10 years old, but I still remember vividly how “Sixered Up” this town was. The flags on every car, the illegal merchandise stands at every gas station, the ‘Beat LA’ rally towels and random chants. And we will always have Game 1, and Iverson over Lue. It was my first, and I was hooked.
2008 Philadelphia Phillies
Brett’s Walk. Shane’s Grand Slam. Stairs’ bomb. Chase’s play. Chooch’s dribbler. The final save. This team had the moment’s, the character’s, the story lines, everything. It was perfect and I loved every second of it.
2012 Penn State Nittany Lions
There are champions every year, in every sport. I will, hopefully, see many championships in my lifetime and am sure they all will be special and unique in there own way. But I will never see a season like this again. These players and coaches are all heroes and will be Penn State legends forever. They saved our football program and represented our University in a way that couldn’t make me any prouder to be a Penn Stater.
Audio: (Our lists changed a little after the podcast, FYI—but this was our brainstorming session)