The Ten Athletes I Will Always Stan For

During the ETSF days, and in subsequent ones since, we used the term “Stan” in a light that is not to be confused with the song that was recorded years ago by Eminem.  In essence, we use it to describe fans whose favorite player, or players, can do no wrong in their eyes.  Anything short of being a Chester, a Stan will rationalize when it comes to players they love.  It has more to do with the times, the memories, and everything in-between that said player has contributed to a fan’s experience that makes them become a Stan for them.

In my case, the following ten players are ones that I will ride to the end for.  Every single one of these athletes has provided countless memories and helped develop my fandom, in one way or another.  It’s why I go so hard for them when their good names, exploits, and accomplishments are challenged, taken for granted or disrespected, altogether.  Any fan of the world of sports has that one player they will always ride for.  It just so happens that, for me, there are many.

Randy Moss

Randall Moss is right below The Playmaker as my favorite wide receiver who’s ever walked the face of the earth.  Moss has literally done no wrong in my eyes.  When he squirted an official with a water bottle on the sideline, I was convinced the official had it coming.  When he mooned the Lambeau Faithful and followed it up with a classic parking lot interview, it became comedic fodder and frozen in history for many a memorable quote.  When he destroyed Revis Island in a single bound, Twitter exploded.  The touchdowns, celebrations, defiance, and the one-of-a-kind ability all contribute to the player that I will always ride for.

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk is someone that I didn’t fully come to appreciate until about 7-8 years ago.  Don’t get it twisted; I always knew Dirk could play, but it wasn’t until Michael Finley and Steve Nash moved until I realized how dope he really was.  At that point, it became a priority, as a fan, to promote and ride for Dirk anytime the opportunity presented itself.  The man has been one of the ten best players in the NBA for the past decade (seriously, there really is no debate), possesses skills that no other player at his height or position can claim, has garnered numerous accolades and is now an NBA champion.  The fact that all of these things have taken place in the city of Dallas makes it even better.

Michael Irvin

The Dallas Cowboys are in a class all of their own.  I have favorite teams in other sports, but the Cowboys are just different.  That’s how it is when you’re a fan of the Cowboys.  As a fan of them, you hold them to a higher standard than other teams you cut for.  Maybe we were just bred that way.  The same goes for the wide receiver position.  For me, there’s Michael Irvin, and there’s everyone else.  The man played with so much enthusiasm, passion, and zeal that I have yet to see someone have all those qualities, and possess his skill, since he wore The Star on his helmet and 88 on his back.

The Playmaker has always been one of my childhood heroes, and there’s something special that comes with still feeling like that, even now, as a 29-year-old man.  I’ve had a chance to interview him in the past, as well as just shoot the breeze about high school football and other topics, and he’s an even better person than he is as a Hall of Fame player.

Allen Iverson

For someone who grew up in The Michael Jordan Golden Age and someone who recognizes the significance of His Airness and refuses to compare anyone to him, Allen Iverson is my favorite basketball player who ever lived.  The man starred at Georgetown, for my favorite coach who ever lived, and I was immediately attached to his style of play, his attitude, the way he played defense, and the fact that he wasn’t scared of anybody, which is even more impressive due to what the Big East embodied in those days.

He could have vanished after college and he still would have been revered, but he went on to the Sixers and had a Hall of Fame-caliber career, before calling it a day.  Much like KG, he had his press conference moments, destroyed the opposition at will, won countless awards, led a team to the Finals against the most dominant playoff team in my lifetime, and much more.   The cultural impact Allen Iverson had is something that no one, and I mean no one, should ever understate.  He had young boys, young girls, and grown men and women mimicking many of his moves, down to the clothes, game, and overall demeanor.  Because of his presence, the NBA made changes to how they want players to appear to the general public.  Allen Iverson is easily one of the most polarizing athletes of any lifetime.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett can be considered the conscience of what was once known as ETSF.  Anytime there is a chance to write about KG, I take it.  Kevin Garnett’s career has had plenty of highs, lows, trials and tribulations.  He’s done amazing things on the court, given priceless interviews, had memorable moments, and has always left it all on the court for his team, opponents, and every paying customer that has come to see him play.

He is literally one of my five favorite athletes who have ever walked the face of this earth.  He is right up there, in terms of sheer impact on my development as a fan, with Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, and the Dallas Cowboys.

Ed Cota

In a basketball landscape that I’ve been fortunate enough to watch for over 20 years, the legends that have been born are plentiful.  The University of North Carolina has plenty to say about that, seeing as how they’ve helped breed many of them, and the one who ranks the highest on my list, in terms of his sheer college basketball career, is Edward Cota.

Ed Cota is the definition of what you want your point guard, in college, to be: leader, fantastic ball-handler, gets everyone involved, makes the right play at the right time, raises the level of his teammates on the court, a coach on the floor, and 100% fearless.  Recently, one of my boys sent a tweet about Tyler Hansborough being the greatest UNC Tar Heel in our lifetime, and I immediately went on the defensive about why Ed Cota is.  I have yet to see a PG come to college, play with a variety of teammates for four years and take those teams to Final Fours like Cota did and, at this point, I don’t see it ever happening again.

Roy Jones

Roy Jones is my favorite boxer of all-time.  There’s no debating that and it’s something I’ve felt for a long time.  However, it wasn’t until Roy got older and started getting whooped by nobodies when I realized how much I ride for Roy.  There have been heated debates in the barbershop when cats would try and disrespect his legacy and I would stand up and rattle off fact-after-fact about his accomplishments.  There have been exchanges on social media when people tried to downplay him in his heyday, and it would take reminding people of the entertainment aspect he contributed to boxing (in the ring, as well as out of the ring), as well as the dominance that Roy showed, to get them to ease up.  It was then that I realized how much Roy has contributed to my development as a fan and paying attention to a single sport, let alone the sport of boxing.

Tony Romo

People will see this one and may be surprised; the surprise won’t stem from the fact that a Cowboy is on here.  Hell, I’m a Cowboys fan, but it may be a surprise that, of all the Cowboys over the years, Tony Romo is the one I ride for more than just about anyone not named Michael Irvin.

Well, it’s easy.  After Troy Aikman retired, plenty of quarterbacks came through Dallas that weren’t able to do much of anything.  It’s hard to follow a legend, as many fans know.  Once Romo was thrown to the wolves in 2006 and proceeded to play with exuberance, flair, confidence, and the lack of a care in the world, I became a fan.  Not too long after that, a vow was made to ride for Tony Romo anytime a fan would come for his head with irrational, thoughtless, and stupid insight.

Granted, these things come from fellow Cowboys fans so much that I rarely use my energy towards people who don’t like the Cowboys.  Anyway, Romo is at it again, fighting through a couple of early season hiccups only to be playing at a top-five QB level.  If the day ever comes that the Cowboys win a Super Bowl, the last person you’ll want to deal with telling you the Tony Romo Gospel is the man who is writing this here.

Ed Reed

When he was at The U, his play and his motivational tactics were legend.  Once he got to Baltimore and teamed up with Ray-Ray, it was a match made in heaven.  Think about it: two of my favorite players who ever lived, both young and with plenty of years ahead to do work, on the same team?  For the past 11 years, the man hasn’t let anyone down.  I even went as far as to name him the best defensive player in the NFL today on this particular list on the former ETSF website.  Reed is the man, someone who I, to this day, feel is underappreciated and someone who may never get his just due until he wins a Super Bowl, or has his bust in Canton…which brings me to the next case:

Charles Woodson

The Heisman is my favorite cornerback of all time.  This is coming from someone who worships the Cornerback Ground that Deion Sanders walks on, but ever since The Heisman did work at Michigan and eventually won the aforementioned award, beating out Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf and Randy Moss, it was on.  The sole redeeming quality, for me, of the Packers winning the Super Bowl last year, is that The Heisman finally got a ring.  The man is still a terror on the field, a leader, a winner, a legend, and a champion.

Extras (only b/c I want to keep the write-ups at a maximum of ten): Donovan McNabb (I was going to write about him, but Ed and Michael Tillery feel just as strongly about him as I do, if not more), Michael Vick, Rasheed Wallace, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Lorenzo Favre, Dez Bryant, Pedro Martinez, Adrian Peterson, Chris Webber, Anquan Boldin, Tracy McGrady, Dwayne Wade, Barry Bonds, Gilbert Arenas, Deion Sanders, Ray Lewis, Steve Young, Sir Thomas Brady, Reggie Wayne, Gary Payton, Penny Hardaway, Deron Williams, Latrell Sprewell, JR Smith.

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