In honor of Presidents’ Day, I wanted to come up with a Mount Rushmore of Philadelphia sports, and choose the four most iconic personalities in Philly sports history. I soon realized that enough has been said about the legacy of greats like Mike Schmidt and Bobby Clarke. Instead, I wanted choose a foursome from the city’s current athletes and executives.
Here are the four people who I would choose to represent the city:
Chase Utley is the most popular athlete in Philadelphia today. It’s hard to find a sports fan in the city who dislikes him, and chances are, if you ask any Phillies fan who their favorite fan is, you’d have a better-than-even chance of him naming Utley.
After two straight injury shortened years, Utley bounced back and had a strong 2013 season. If the Phillies want to return to contention in 2014, they’ll need him to turn in a repeat performance.
The Phillies seem to be well aware of Utley’s popularity. He’s been all over the media circuit this offseason trying to drum up interest in the team.
The Eagles have a few prominent players on their roster. Nick Foles burst onto the national consciousness with a big season, and LeSean McCoy is rightfully considered to be one of the best running backs in football. Yet, in the eyes of most Eagles’ fans, the accomplishments of these two are overshadowed by their coach
Chip Kelly isn’t just a coach, he’s a “program builder.” He’s made sweeping changes in the way the Eagles operate, changing around the weekly practice schedule, introducing sports science initiatives, and bringing in a turbo-charged offensive system. Of course, none of this would have mattered if the results didn’t show on the field. But when the result is an NFC East title in his first season, it’s hard to ignore what Kelly has done.
Two years ago, then-Flyers coach Peter Laviolette called Giroux the “best player in hockey.” He was coming off a playoff run which saw him lead the Flyers to victory against the hated Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, Giroux hasn’t quite been able to live up to Laviolette’s praise in the days since then.
Early this season, Giroux got off to a poor start, and not coincidentally, so did the Flyers. Since those early struggles, Giroux has picked up his game, and the Flyers have followed suit. It seems that as Giroux goes, so go the Flyers, so if the team wants a shot at finally ending the long Stanley Cup drought, they’ll need Giroux to start truly living up to the label his former coach once placed on him.
The 76ers don’t have too many great players on their team. Sure, there are a few players of note, but unless Michael Carter-Williams continues to improve, they don’t have anyone worthy of being placed on any sort of monument. The reason for that is general manager Sam Hinkie. Hinkie has stripped the team down to bare parts in an attempt to gain a top draft pick that will hopefully lead them to a championship.
Whether or not that plan works, it is clear that Hinkie’s vision is now the driving force in the organization. If the Sixers eventually win a championship under Hinkie’s reign, he will deservedly be hailed as a brilliant visionary. If they fall short, he’ll just be another would-be genius who wasn’t up to the task.
Do you think that Utley, Kelly, Giroux, and Hinkie would make for a good Philadelphia Mount Rushmore? Or which four Philly sports personalities would you choose?