While everybody recovers from a blackout in New Orleans, the alligatorSports staff wants to take a moment to look at former Gators playing basketball and football. In which league do Gators make the biggest impact? Columnists Adam Pincus and Josh Jurnovoy tackle the question.
Adam: It’s all about the NFL. Maybe I’m still experiencing a New Orleans hangover after spending time in the Big Easy during Super Bowl week, but Gators are all over the football landscape. The big names are obvious. You have Percy Harvin, the Pouncey twins and that Tim Tebow dude. 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald recorded three tackles and a sack in Super Bowl XLVII. Ravens wide receiver Deonte Thompson was inactive for the game. He’ll still get a ring. There were 26 active former Gators playing during Week 17. There are 10 former Billy D disciples on NBA rosters. Granted, NBA teams field fewer players, but no basketball player dictates media coverage from the bench. That will be the last Tebow reference, I promise.
Josh: Sure, let’s end the debate now if we are going to talk about media coverage. Tebow wins hands down. But I’ll take Gator basketball if we are talking about impact in every sense other than what gets the most mentions on SportsCenter.
Even if you believe Tebow hasn’t received a fair chance in the NFL yet as I do, you can’t deny that his on-field contributions have been few and far between. He had just 32 rushes and eight pass attempts in 2012. The only Gators in the NFL that I’d say are playing at an elite level are the Pouncey twins, Janoris Jenkins, Joe Haden, Percy Harvin (whenever he happens to be healthy) and Aaron Hernandez.
For a sport where active rosters are almost a fourth of the size of that of the NFL, it is clear that Gator basketball players are making greater proportional impact.
Adam: Josh, you forgot Brandon Spikes and Will Hill. I’m sure your mom banned you from their racy Twitter accounts, so that’s probably why you didn’t mention them.
We’re talking about impact. Who impacts their sport the most? Does it really matter that David Lee is having the best season out of any former Gators player if he’s doing it for the Golden State Warriors? He’s averaging 19.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and four assists per game. That’s hard to do during an NBA 2K13 season. Too bad nobody has been paying attention.
Lee, Chandler Parsons, Joakim Noah, and Al Horford are having the best seasons of any former Florida ballers. They all play either forward or center. In the NFL, these Gators are lining up at offensive line, wide receiver, cornerback, defensive line, linebacker and safety. When was the last time a former Gators point guard made any noise in the NBA ... Jason “White Chocolate” Williams?
Josh: I’m not sure why you are so eager for Will Hill to be included among the elite Gators in the NFL. Hill was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and recorded two or fewer tackles in six of the games in which he played. While Spikes has been a prolific tackler, he has been iffy at times in coverage and has yet to make a Pro Bowl. Al Horford has already made two All-Star teams for the Hawks. This year, four other Gators will be represented at All-Star weekend — Brad Beal and Chandler Parsons will be in the Rising Stars Game, and Joakim Noah and Lee will be in the All-Star Game. Lee, Noah and Horford’s five combined All-Star Game appearances equals the total Pro Bowl appearances of the 26 Gators in the NFL. The guards aren’t making the same impact, but the big men are doing as much to earn respect throughout the league as their NFL counterparts.
Adam: As usual, you fail to grasp any humor thrown your way. I wasn’t including Spikes or Hill. I was making fun of you. Returning to my point, UF football ranks fourth with 106 draftees from 1992-2011 and fourth with 3,463 starts from former players during that time. Florida’s NBA players made 30 fewer starts during that span. No, I can’t count that high, so don’t ask. This means there have been far more Gators in the NFL. History has repeated itself with this latest batch of players on the gridiron and hardwood.
Josh: We’re not talking about which program’s impact was bigger in 2011. We’re in 2013. Admittedly, the bigger argument the NFL Gators have going for them is their impact at a multitude of positions whereas only the big men are producing on the basketball side. Beal was the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in January, shooting better than 50 percent from three-point range. It took him a while to find his stroke during his one season in Gainesville, but it didn’t leave him once he did. If he can just stay somewhere between 40 and 50 percent going forward, he will break the trend of struggling Gator guards. Then, Florida will have five All-Star quality NBA players in a league that has a fraction of the All-Stars that football does. I’ll take quality over quantity.