PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – MAY 3
By Leo Haggerty

POLL QUESTION

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.

Sunday is special here at the It’s Sports! Magazine stomping grounds. Not only is it the first day of a new week but we also reveal the answers to our latest poll question.

Today’s poll question is as follows:

WHAT TWO ATHLETES, EITHER RETIRED OR DECEASED, DO YOU WISH YOU WOULD HAVE SAW PLAY?

So, with further fanfare, check out the 16 different opinions from the individuals connected with ISM. Enjoy.

WILL SMITH – AFC EAST CORRESPONDENT
Wow, great question and I’m going to stick with the same sport. Good old American Football. Both played on the same team in college and were drafted by the same team in the NFL but one of them never got to play a snap in the NFL.

Those two players would be Ernie Davis and Jim Brown.  Both played for Syracuse University and both were dynamic running backs. Both players experienced the racial hardships of the times, but still put it behind them when they stepped out onto the turf.  So, it’s Jim Brown, arguably the greatest athlete of all time and Ernie Davis, the first African American Heisman Trophy winner, would be the two athletes I would have loved to see play.

Now, for a bonus pick, if I would have chosen NBA basketball, it would have been Oscar Robertson & Bill Russell.

SHAUN HAGGERTY – NFC SOUTH CORRESPONDENT
Pistol Pete Maravich and Oscar Robertson with an Honorable Mention to Kareem in his prime.

DAVID ALEXANDER – AFC WEST CORRESPONDENT
Two athletes I wish I saw play would be, with the most obvious choice being, Babe Ruth. I’m not the biggest baseball fan, but it would have been an experience to see him at the ballpark.  There are few athletes we can all agree were the best at their craft and Ruth was certainly one of them. I can only imagine what the buzz was like when he walked up to the plate.

The other choice for me would be Pele.  I’ve become more a fan of soccer as I’ve gotten older.  To be the greatest player in the world’s most popular game at the age of 17!! Wow!!!

JIM THIES – NFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT
Henri Richard – Forward who played with the Montreal Canadians.

Bobby Jones – Arguably the best golfer ever.

RICK SASSONE – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Ernie Davis & Jim Brown for football.

Babe Ruth & Shoeless Joe Jackson for baseball.

JASON RUBIN – AFC EAST CORRESPONDENT
Babe Ruth and Wilt Chamberlain.

BARRY JENKINS – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Babe Ruth & Joe DiMaggio.

ROB KRIETE – ITS SPORTS MAGAZINE SENIOR WRITER
Roberto Clemente – All around great baseball player and human being.

Bo Jackson – Arguably the best two-sport player ever, even though he refused to play for the Buccaneers.

JOHN LENTZ – NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL ANALYST
Pete Maravich and Wilt Chamberlain in his prime!

ERIC WILSON – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Muhammad Ali & Bill Russell.

STEVE JACOBSON – PHOTOJOURNALIST
Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth.  Seen play of course through video, but would have loved to own those photographs, but I guess the bad tradeoff would be that I would be an old fart like some of you!

TOM HAGGERTY – NFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT
Considering that as kids we used to have lunch (YES, hoagies and perogies at the Olympia Roadside Cafe) at this athlete’s grave site in the Pocono Mountain region of Northeastern Pennsylvania in the town that now bears his name, I would have loved to see Jim Thorpe play football or baseball. Not only an Olympic champion, lacrosse player and now I am reading that he played basketball under an assumed name on a barnstorming team of Native Americans as well. He was the athlete of the 20th Century and was Bo Knows long before Bo Jackson was born.

Jim Brown’s football films don’t do justice to his remarkable skill set but I would have loved to have seen him play lacrosse at Syracuse. Not only was he the most dominate player in lacrosse during his college days, they had to changes the rules of offense carries and bull dodges to give teams that played against Syracuse a chance of not getting blown off the field. There is a damn good reason that he is in the NFL Hall of Fame and the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

WAYNE RICHARDSON – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Tough question for an old guy but here we go.

Jim Brown. I was 12 when he retired. You see some old tape on him now and again. Makes you wonder what he would have done today in the modern era. On tape he looks strong and fast and didn’t seem to mind running you over. Would have been nice to see him play.

Lou Gehrig/Babe Ruth because if you saw one you saw the other. Though Ruth was great, I think I’d rather have gone see Gehrig. The original 5 tool star (at least on tape) and I think “The Iron Horse” would be worth the price of admission even at today’s prices to see in person. Considering he didn’t miss a game for just under 14 years, you would see #4 no matter when you went to the park.

LEO HAGGERTY – ITS SPORTS MAGAZINE EDITOR
Being 67 years young, that limits down the field but I’ll give it my best shot.

One would have to be Jim Thorpe. The greatest multi-sport athlete of all time. Throw in an Olympic championship to his accomplishments in football and baseball. This one is a no doubter.

The other would be Ben Hogan. Had won nine majors and three of them were in 1953. Also, has a career Grand Slam on his resume and was victorious in 63 professional golf tournaments but here’s the rest of the story.

Hogan served as a utility pilot in Fort Worth rising to the rank of lieutenant during World War II but that pales in comparison to what happened four years later.

Hogan, along with his wife Valerie, survived a near fatal head-on collision with a Greyhound bus in February of 1949. Doctors had to tie off his vena cava due to life-threatening blood clots and, due to multiple fractures, were not very confident that Hogan would walk again let alone return to the links.

59 days after the accident, Hogan left the hospital. By using extensive walking as a therapy, he returned to competitive golf in November of that same year and won six majors after recovering from that near- death incident. Need I say more?

T.J. SHARPE – AFC CHEF
Gordie Howe. To see the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” (goal, assist, fight) would be the way hockey once was before visors and game misconducts and soccer-esque diving became the norm.

Wilt Chamberlin. No explanation needed. MJ may have been the greatest competitor to ever lace them up, but Wilt was the most dominant basketball player.  Ever.

KELLY CHAMPION-SMITH – PHOTOJOURNALIST
One is basketball.  I would have LOVED to have seen “Pistol” Pete Maravich play at the college and professional level.
The other is Track & Field.  I would have loved to see Jesse Owens dominate in the 1936 Olympic games.