Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Martin column: Gehrig, Pippen, Flutie are my kind of athletes

  • Ever since I can remember I've been drawn to the under the radar type of athlete.
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  • Ever since I can remember I've been drawn to the under the radar type of athlete.
    It's probably because I'm a little understated myself, but I don't cheer for those types of athletes or teams on purpose. They just sort of happen to fall in my lap. The way they play the game without drawing all the attention is something I admire.
    It was 1998 and I was just discovering how exciting the NFL was with Randy Moss exploding onto the scene. However, I fell in love with Cris Carter, who is definitely not understated, but compared to Randy Moss, took a back seat that season.
    And it was Doug Flutie that struck something inside me that year. He went on to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and was thrilling to watch. In his mid-30's and 5-feet-9, Flutie was dazzling. I stumbled across him throwing the Hail Mary for Boston College in 1984 on ESPN Classic and, with my lawn mowing money, went and bought a Bills jersey with "Flutie" on the back.
    Back in 1992 I fell in love with Ken Griffey Jr. I opened a pack of 1992 Upper Deck baseball cards and there was No. 24 in a motion blur-like photo of his sweet swing. I still remember turning the card over and seeing his child-like face with his hat backwards. At eight years old, I thought Griffey was the coolest.
    Griffey, though, he wasn't the loud, boisterous type of player. He played second fiddle to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the 1998 home run chase for 61 and was then overshadowed by Barry Bonds. Griffey ranks behind Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays on the all-time home run list for those who didn't use performance-enhancing drugs.
    I've always been fascinated with Lou Gehrig, who was often overlooked hitting behind Babe Ruth. When Ruth called his shot in the 1932 World Series, Gehrig followed him up with a homer of his own on the next at bat. Nobody remembers that though.
    I like the Wild, the Twins and the Vikings, all understated franchises.
    Although I wore the Michael Jordan shoes as a kid, it was Scottie Pippen that intrigued me more.
    I cheered for Pete Sampras, quiet and unassuming, to beat Andre Agassi, loud and showy.
    Phil Mickelson, a family man who wears black and white, is who I want to beat Tiger Woods, a ladies man who wears bright red.
    The flamboyant and loud Rolling Stones or the thought-provoking and consistent Beatles? I’ll take John, Paul, George and Ringo, please.
    How about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team? I could watch the movie “Miracle” on a loop for 10 years straight.
    I don't own a smartphone, I live in a small town, I drive an old pickup, which is worth as much as my snowblower.
    Page 2 of 2 - I guess I root for the underdog because that's who I am.
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