Super Bowl XLVI: The Best New York Athletes to Never Win a Championship

Steven Goldstein@@GoldsteinNUContributor IFebruary 3, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI: The Best New York Athletes to Never Win a Championship

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    "I want to be a part of it—New York, New York," sings the lauded jazz legend Frank Sinatra.

    Much of the sporting world seems to agree.

    Players flock to New York for a slew of reasons. Sure, the Big Apple allows for increased marketability and the Empire State's loyal fan-bases are extremely enticing as well.

    But ultimately, athletes come to New York to pursuit rings. In "the city that never sleeps," the opportunity for a championship never takes a snooze either.

    The storied list of stars who have brought home hardware to NY goes on and on. But what about the players that never won a title?

    In anticipation of Super Bowl XLVI, in which the Giants will attempt to claim the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time in franchise history, let's take a look at the most talented ring-less stand-outs from New York.

Y.A. Tittle, Quarterback, New York Giants

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    When Big Blue is the topic of conversation, the first signal-callers that come to mind are usually Phil Simms, Charley Conerly, and even contemporary Eli Manning. All three of these quarterbacks brought a title home to the Big Apple.

    Y.A. Tittle did not, but he arguably had more pure talent than any other player under center for the G-Men.

    In Tittle's four years as a Giant, he was sent to the Pro Bowl three times, was a two-time All-Pro selection, and won an illustrious AP MVP award in the 1963 season.

    The Hall-of-Famer led New York to three consecutive division titles and set a league record with seven touchdown passes in a single game. He was a prolific field general who received a great deal of acclaim for his physicality: despite sustaining a concussion and a cracked sternum in a 1964 contest against the Steelers, Tittle continued to play and would end up finishing out the season.

    The only thing missing from his outstanding NFL resume is a championship.

John Franco, Closer, New York Mets

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    In his storied tenure with the Mets, reliever John Franco tore through the record books, earning the hearts of the Big Apple faithful in the process.

    The lefty played in New York from 1990 all the way through 2004, where he eventually became a team captain, an All-Star, and the NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year.

    Franco was a lights-out pitcher who dominated opposing hitters with a formidable fastball. His 424 saves and a career ERA of 2.89 makes him one of the most statistically successful players in Mets history.

    Sadly, he only reached the postseason twice, his closest shot at a Major League Baseball championship coming in 2000's "Subway Series."

Harry Gallatin, Forward, New York Knicks

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    In an era where Bill Russell and Elgin Baylor were setting precedents for defensive prowess and athleticism, New York's Harry Gallatin was able to keep pace with the best the NBA had to offer.

    Gallatin was a physical force in the interior, once grabbing a Knicks-record 33 rebounds in a single game against the Detroit Pistons. In his ten seasons in the Big Apple, Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star.

    While standing at just 6'6", Gallatin still averaged 11.9 boards per contest over the course of his career. His hard work was rewarded in 1991 with a trip to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

    Still, "The Horse" never won a title in his playing days. The Knicks won three conference championships with Gallatin controlling the paint, but only to fall flat in the Finals each time.

Jessie Armstead, Linebacker, New York Giants

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    Few quarterbacks enjoyed playing against the New York Giants in the 1990s. Jessie Armstead was a main reason why.

    Armstead helped establish Big Blue's agile, intimidating defense throughout the decade, combining with Michael Strahan to provide a lethal pass rush off the edge that gave opposing coordinators serious difficulty.

    A five-time Pro-Bowler, the former Miami Hurricane recorded 991 career tackles, and was known for his uncanny ability to both defend the run and excel in pass coverage.

    But while his teammate Strahan went on to claim a ring in 2007, Armstead retired without one. He played in Super Bowl XXXV, but for all of Armstead's memorable accomplishments with the G-Men, he'd probably like to forget about this game, a 34-7 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens

Patrick Ewing, Center, New York Knicks

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    The 1990s also marked a key era for the New York Knicks. The Knickerbockers reached the Eastern Conference playoffs every year in this decade, rocking Madison Square Garden off the hinges with a multitude of thrilling last-second wins.

    The ringleader of this team was Patrick Ewing. Many fans relentlessly argue that Ewing was the greatest player in Knicks history, anchoring New York with eleven All-Star appearances and a career average of 21 points per game.

    Ewing had an undeniable flare for the dramatic; his defensive abilities were widely celebrated throughout the league. The Hall-of-Famer holds an NBA record for notching a blocked shot in 145 straight contests.

    Yet there's a strange hollowness in Ewing's legacy, and his lack of a championship may prevent him from being one of the best ever at his position. He reached the Finals twice as a Knick, but much to the chagrin of himself and the Garden faithful, he was unable to bring home a ring both times.

Harry Howell, Defender, New York Rangers

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    Howell was a defensive stalwart in his time as a Ranger, winning the Norris Trophy and eventually reaching the Hall-of-Fame. He electrified New York crowds with his physical style of play, and helped re-define the position with Bobby Orr for generations to come.

    The Rangers reached the postseason seven times with Howell, but they were never able to capture the Stanley Cup.

    Howell would technically win a championship in 1990--as a scout for the Edmonton Oilers. Still, his devoted, all-out performances as a player were never rewarded with hardware.

Don Mattingly, First Baseman, New York Yankees

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    Contrary to popular belief, not every Yankee great has won a title.

    "Donny Baseball" is a staple in New York sports folklore, renowned for his fielding abilities and for delivering countless clutch hits.

    Mattingly was a nine-time Gold Glover and the winner of an AL MVP award in his tenure at Yankee Stadium, yet his Cooperstown-worthy performances never yielded a World Series trophy for the Bronx Bombers. Call it plain bad luck, but Mattingly played in the only decade that the Yankees did not win a World Series in since 1910.

    Ultimately, "Mr. Hit Man" will go down as one of the best to ever wear pinstripes, but his reputation will be forever hindered by a lack of hardware.

Pat LaFontaine, Center, New York Islanders

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    The New York Islanders were league champions for four consecutive seasons, beginning in 1979-80. Thus, when Pat LaFontaine was selected third overall in the 1983 NHL Draft, he figured to get at least a few good chances to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

    Sadly for the Hall-of-Fame center, that never occurred. The dynamic Islanders dynasty experienced a sudden decline, and LaFontaine was never able to win a title.

    Still, his statistics speak for themselves, asserting his place in team and league history with over 1,000 career points and 468 total goals.

    Like Mattingly, LaFontaine caught an unfortunate break. Nevertheless, his spectacular offensive skills have rightfully earned him a spot amongst the best in hockey history.

Bernard King, Forward, New York Knicks

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    A third Knick on this list may be a testament to the franchise's futility, but it also serves to remind fans of just how much talent the team has enjoyed throughout its history.

    Bernard King was a prolific scorer, and although he was far from a defensive aficionado, his ability to drive through the heart of opposing defenses caught the attention of the entire city.

    King spent five seasons in a Knicks uniform after playing in Golden State. He acclimated quite quickly—in just his second year with the team he topped 2,000 total points.

    In 1984, King scored over fifty points in back-to-back contests, and in 1985 won the NBA scoring crown.

    Yet King never won a championship. Perhaps this can be attributed to his constant change in scenery, his relatively-short career, and his frequently-sustained injuries. Regardless, King currently ranks 16th in the league in career points, a feat that, even without a ring, is considerably impressive.

Mike Piazza, Catcher, New York Mets

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    Traditionally, the catcher is a team's gritty, defensive-minded unsung hero.

    Apparently nobody told Mike Piazza.

    Piazza revolutionized the position, providing serviceable defense while tearing through opposing pitchers. A bona-fide slugger, he finished his career with 427 home runs and a .308 batting average.

    As a Met, Piazza was voted to the All-Star game a whopping seven times. Moreover, he tallied at least one RBI for fifteen straight games in 2000 and revitalized a once-loyal fan-base that was tired of watching offensively-challenged teams for much of the 1990s.

    True, in his only World Series appearance, Piazza and company fell short to their crosstown rivals, the Yanks. But his revered game-winning home-run the following season, a game on September 21, 2001, has made him larger-than-life in New York. It was the first time the Mets had played at Shea Stadium since the World Trade Center attacks and Piazza's eighth inning slam elevated him from star-status to a full-fledged city hero.