Inauguration Special: Greatest Speeches In Sports' History
On Tuesday afternoon, Americans will be treated to a speech that will set the tone for the next four years of our nation's leadership.
So what better time to reflect upon some of the great speeches that the world of sports has given us?
What is great about sports' speeches is that their contexts can vary so much. They take place at press conferences, in locker rooms, on the field, and some even take place in movies.
I've highlighted a select few that I think defined either the person or the era. Feel free to chime in if you can think of one that I missed.
"I'm the Greatest!"
Yes, he was the greatest, and he made sure that everybody knew it.
Nobody will ever say that Muhammad Ali was a humble man—but if you were him, would you be humble?
The greatest boxer in history talked the talk, but then he walked the walk harder than anybody before or since.
Today's boxers are just as cocky as Muhammad Ali, the problem is that they are nowhere near as good when it comes to the sport itself.
Sandy Koufax Hangs 'Em Up
"I don’t know if cortisone is good for you or not. But to take a shot every other ball game is more than I wanted to do and to walk around with a constant upset stomach because of the pills and to be high half the time during a ball game because you’re taking painkillers, I don’t want to have to do that."
Sandy Koufax never wanted to be anything but a ballplayer. It was his job, and he was good at it. He avoided the cameras and the spotlight, and when it came time for him to decide between his health and another championship...
... he chose his health.
At a time when so many athletes, celebrities, and everyday Americans are abusing the drugs that are supposed to be for people who actually need them, it's kind of nice to think back on those words.
Jason Giambi Apologizes
At a time when every other player was lying under oath and letting the fans down for the millionth time, Jason Giambi had the guts to apologize.
Sure, he was a bit vague when it came to the details, probably due to some careful lawyer scripting, but there's no doubting that he was sorry.
Jason has made news recently by signing a paltry contract with his original club, a tiny fraction of what he made back in the juice days, but maybe he just wants to play ball again.
If every other player would just go up to the microphone and say "I'm sorry," then America's pastime would be much better for it.
Win One for the Gipper
This speech is legendary, even if it is more myth than fact.
Most people didn't know about it until a movie starring Ronald Reagan brought it to the nation's attention, but the story is just too good.
Did George Gipp actually say "win one for the Gipper?" Who knows.
But we can give Rockne, Gipp, and our 40th president the benefit of the doubt.
Not many people were there to see Joe Namath make his famous guarantee, but as the days followed, it became clear that he would have to live up to his words.
And he did.
It wasn't until the Giants beat the Patriots last year that the NFL saw a Super Bowl upset as shocking as the Jets' victory, and Joe Namath's bravado was the storyline that most people remember to this day.
There's No Crying In Baseball
Who said that movies don't count?
Tom Hanks added a new phrase to everybody's arsenal when he made it crystal clear that there is, well,absolutely no crying in baseball.
How he failed to win an Oscar for his role in this movie will forever remain a mystery, but it did succeed in kicking off his career for a second time.
Jimmy V Teaches Us a Lesson About Time
There are many memorable moments in this speech, but the one that sticks out to me is in the very beginning, when he makes it known — without question — that he is going to take his time with this speech.
Jimmy V didn't have much time left, but he knew how to capitalize on the minutes that mattered.
This speech has proven to be his ultimate legacy, along with the foundation that bears his name.
Lou Gehrig, The Luckiest Man...
The luckiest man on the face of the Earth?
The toughest player in baseball history was struck down with perhaps the most devastating physical condition any person can endure, and he accepted his fate with the type of dignity that defined his era.
It's hard to pick a speech greater than this one. The man who delivered it was a legend. It was the height of his team's greatest era, and it brought an already-struggling nation to tears.