t’s summertime, and that means it’s time for another SportzEdge ® Bracket-style, 64-team tournament! Feel the excitement!!!
Last year, we changed the course of modern human civilization with the Coolest NCAA Logo Tournament, which became a national phenomenon along the lines of a presidential election, Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY speech, or DeAndre Jordan changing his mind about where he wants to play basketball.
This year, we decided to take on a question scholars have been debating since the 1800’s, maybe.
Who is the greatest athlete in Connecticut history?
There are plenty of outstanding candidates, from Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, to four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rogers, to all-time great featherweight boxer Willie Pep.
The athletes we considered must have grown up in Connecticut, and we counted only their prowess on the playing field, so coaches, executives and contributors like Walter Camp were not considered.
VOTING FOR SECOND ROUND ENDS MONDAY AT 3 P.M.
GENO AURIEMMA REGION
1. Caitlyn Jenner
1st Round: Defeated 16. Wes Matthews Sr. 58.56% to 41.44%
Though she has made national news for changing her gender identity, and won anESPY award for courage this past week, Jenner was once considered the greatest athlete in the world.
Jenner won the gold medal in the decathlon in 1976, eight years after graduating as a track and football star at Newtown High School. Jenner spent junior and senior year there.
The school named its field “Bruce Jenner Stadium,” after the Olympic champ in 1976, though it was renamed in 2001 after Jenner lost touch with Newtown. There’s no denying that Jenner was one of the greatest athletes ever to pass through Connecticut, but her connection with the state isn’t as strong as some other athletes, as she grew up in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. and spent most of her childhood there.
9. Scott Burrell
1st Round: Defeated 8. Chris Smith 71.17% to 28.83%
The Hamden High School grad was the first player ever to be taken in the first round of the MLB and NBA Drafts. He ended up playing 14 seasons in the NBA, with the Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets. He was the Hornets’ first-round pick (20th overall) in 1993.
Burrell also helped lead UConn to its 1990 Dream Season, which included a Big East title and the school’s first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.