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Jeremy Lin and the Top Ivy League Athletes of All Time

Kelly ScalettaFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 14, 2017

Jeremy Lin and the Top Ivy League Athletes of All Time

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    Jeremy Lin is making waves as one of the newest "stars" in the league. Playing on the stage of Madison Square Garden is enough to make you either an instant star or an instant goat. So far, he's looking like he could be a star and not a goat at all.

    Where will he fit among the Ivy League's G.O.A.T.—or Greatest of All Time—though? Two games is too early to say, but let's look at how he might compare to the 15 greatest Ivy League athletes in history. 

Jeremy Lin, Harvard

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    It may come as a surprise to you that Jeremy Lin is the eighth all-time leading scorer in Ivy League history with 1,483 points. He's also eighth in conference history in assists with 403. Finally, he's second in Ivy League history with 225 steals. 

    So while his resume was padded playing against Ivy League competition, it's not like he never played basketball before he was a Knick. He comes out of the Ivy League with one of the best point guards the conference has ever produced. 

    With 168 points, he is now the second all-time leading scorer from Harvard University, trailing only the "great" Saul Mariaschin, who has 333. If you know who that is, you're either a) related to him or b) a serious basketball junkie. 

    Lin has potential, but he has a long way to go before he makes this list. There is some pretty good company here.  

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard

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    Ryan Fitzpatrick probably doesn't have a hard time learning the playbook. He also has the best beard in football, but that's another story. 

    Fitzpatrick scored a perfect score on the Wonderlic test and completed it the fastest any NFL player ever has, in just nine minutes. Pat McInally (who just missed this list as a career punter/wide reciever from Harvard) is the only other player to have a perfect score.

    Last year, Fitzpatrick broke out, passing for 3,832 yards and 24 touchdowns. Still relatively young for a quarterback, "Fitzy" could move up the list. 

Jim O'Rourke, Yale

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    Jim O'Rourke was a left fielder from way, way back when. His Wikipedia entry says

    For the period 1876–1892, he ranks behind only Cap Anson in career major league games played (1644),hits (2146), at-bats (6884), doubles (392) and total bases (2936), and behind onlyHarry Stovey in runs scored (1370). (Stovey was a younger player. Anson played five seasons and O'Rourke four prior to 1876.)

    In 1904, at the age of 54, he became the oldest player to ever get a hit in a Major League game, a record which still stands today. 

    It also says that he was the first baseball executive to sign a black to be a minor-league manager. 

Geoff Pietrie, Princeton

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    Geoff Pietre has scored more points than any Ivy League player in NBA history. The 1971 Rookie of the Year scored 9,732 total points, even more than Bill Bradley. He averaged 21.4 points in his career and added 4.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds. 

    He made it to the All-Star game twice in his career, in 1971 and 1974. Three times, he finished in the top 10 in scoring. He also has his No. 45 retired by the Trail Blazers

Matt Birk, Harvard

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    Matt Birk is the starting center for the Baltimore Ravens, and is formerly of the Minnesota Vikings. Birk is a two-time All Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler.

    The problem with centers is that it's hard to gauge them by stats, but based on his All-Pro and Pro Bowl invites, it's safe to say that he is one of the most dominant players at his position over the last decade. 

    Clearly with Birk, there is no choice between "brawn" and "brain." 

    There's a part of me that would like to see him hiking the ball to Ryan Fitzgerald on a long snap. They can work out between the two of them the ideal angle, trajectory and rotation of a perfect long snap. 

Calvin Hill, Yale

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    Calvin Hill was the first Dallas Cowboy to ever rush for 1,000 yards. Since then, you could say a couple of pretty good players, like Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith, have joined him.

    Bear in mind that when he played, 1,000 yards was a tougher accomplishment because they had only 12 games to do it in. The feat is the current equivalent of 1,333 yards. 

    In his rookie season, he just missed breaking the millennial mark in spite of breaking his toe, missing two games and playing the last two with it. 

    In all, Hill rushed for 6,083 yards in his career, scored 42 touchdowns and won one Super Bowl. He made Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro twice.  

Gary Fencik, Yale

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    Gary Fencik is the Chicago Bears all-time leader in both tackles and interceptions. He was also the captain of the 85 Chicago Bears, more famously known as "Da Bears," which was widely viewed as the single greatest defensive unit in the history of the NFL. 

    Fencik is a two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl player.

    He is also the owner of a gold record for his participation in  the single greatest team sport song ever written, "The Super Bowl Shuffle." 

Chuck Bednarik, Penn

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    Chuck Bednarik was the last of the 60-minute players in the NFL. On offense, he started as center, and on defense, he was a linebacker. I guess it would be a bit of an understatement to say that he wasn't the type to avoid contact. 

    In spite of the fact that he played on both sides of the ball, he only missed three games in his 14-year career. He was an All-Pro eight times. On the NFL Network's The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players, Bednarik was ranked 35th. 

    Personally, I never saw him play, but my guess is, this picture is worth a thousand words. 

Joe Nieuwendyk, Cornell

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    Joe Nieuwendyk is our first hockey player in our top 15. He is the only player to win a Stanley Cup with three different teams in three different decades. 

    He won with the Calgary Flames in 1989, with the Dallas Stars in 1999 and the New Jersey Devils in 2003. He has 564 career goals and 562 career assists. Only 19 players have more goals and more assists than he does for their career.

    Nieuwendyk is in the conversation for the five greatest centers in NHL history and probably has the hardest last name to spell. 

Bill Bradley, Princeton

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    Bill Bradley might be the smartest player on this list, which is saying something. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and received a graduate degree from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. 

    Over his NBA career, Bradley's numbers aren't overwhelmingly impressive. However, he contributed to helping the New York Knicks to NBA championships in 1970 and 1973. He averaged 12.4 points, 3.4 boards and 3.2 assists. 

    Since his tenure as a player has ended, he's gone on to do everything form have a career as a successful author, a US Senator and serve as corporate director of Starbucks. 

    He is propped up a little bit in these rankings because he is the all-time leader in points per game for the Ivy League at 29.8 and is probably the best athlete coming out of the Ivy League in its history. 

Eddie Collins, Columbia

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    From his bio in Wiki, it's evident why he is considered to be one of the best second basemen in the history of the game.

    At the end of his career, he ranked second in major league history in career games (2,826), walks (1,499) and stolen bases (744), third in runs scored (1,821), fourth in hits (3,315) and at bats (9,949), sixth in on base percentage (.424), and eighth in total bases (4,268); he was also fourth in AL history in triples (187). He still holds the major league record of 512 career sacrifice bunts, over 100 more than any other player. He was the first major leaguer in modern history to steal 80 bases in a season, and still shares the major league record of six steals in a game, which he accomplished twice in September 1912.

    To date, Collins remains second among second basemen all-time in WAR. 

    He won four World Series, and in 1914, he was the AL MVP. He is 10th all-time in hits and sixth all-time in stolen bases. 

    He is easily one of the greatest second basemen in history. 

Ken Dryden, Cornell

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    In the elite colleges, you learn to set and fulfill goals. As one of the greatest goalies in history, Ken Dryden kept other people from getting goals. 

    Dryden led the NHL in wins on three occasions. He led the NHL in postseason wins six times and won six Stanley Cups. What makes that even more impressive is that he did it in just seven years. 

    He has the ninth best goals against average in NHL history. His adjusted goals against is the best in NHL history. 

    Dryden is considered to be one of the best goalies in the history of the game. 

Sid Luckman, Columbia

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    Sid Luckman was one of the first great quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. He played for the Chicago Bears from 1939 to 1950. 

    He was the quarterback of the team that trounced the Redskins 73-0 in one of his four NFL Championships. He used his accuracy as a downfield passer to be one of the quarterbacks who changed the game.

    He was the first quarterback to really perfect the "T Formation."

    His career touchdown rate of 7.9 percent is still the best in NFL history.  

Bill Tilden, Penn

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    His Wiki profile is impressive. 

    An American tennis player who was the World No. 1 player for seven years, he won 14 Majors including ten Grand Slams and four Pro Slams. Bill Tilden dominated the world of international tennis in the first half of the 1920s. During his 18 year amateur period of 1912-30, he won 138 of 192 tournaments, and had a match record of 907-62, a winning percentage of 93.6 percent.

    Bear in mind that this was in an age where most of the tournaments, like the US Open and Wimbledon, were still not pro events. 

    Tilden was the first American to win Wimbledon. He won the US singles championship seven times, six of those consecutively. He won a total of 14 Grand Slam Events. He won 10 as an amateur and four as a pro. 

Lou Gehrig, Columbia

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    Lou Gehrig is more than one of the greatest at his position. He's more than one of the greatest players in the game. He's one of the truly great icons in the history of American sports lore. 

    His lifetime batting average of .340, his 1995 RBI, his 493 home runs and his 2,721 hits barely scratch the surface of what he meant as a player. 

    He has three of the six best RBI seasons in baseball history. He played in seven All-Star games. He won six World Series. His legacy is almost peerless. 

    Yet his 2,130 game streak is what was most at the heart of him. Tragically, when he finally missed a game, it was due to the disease which came to bear his name and take his life. The streak was so much a part of American culture that the day Cal RIpken Jr. broke it 56 years later, it was believed to be the "healthiest" day in American history. 

    Half a century later, people were still moved by his courage. That's what still is inspiring about the man.

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