GAINESVILLE -- During Sunday's closing minutes of the USWNT’s 5-2 romp in the World Cup final, ESPN writer (and friend of the blog) Edward Aschoff posted a simple but inevitably controversial tweet:
Predictably, most of Twitter told Aschoff he was wrong.
Tim Tebow, Emmitt Smith and Ryan Lochte were all submitted as superior choices. Amazingly, no one mentioned Joakim Noah, Dana Torres or Kerwin Bell.
Really though, determining THE GREATEST GATOR EVER is an exercise in futility. It’s a silly (but entertaining) debate, with an endless string of points and counter points. It's a deep-dive into subjective questions and criteria as ridiculous and polarizing as Game of Thrones theories.
So instead of determining the impossible, let's use Wambach (and others) as an example of the craziness of the conversation on just who is Florida’s G.O.A.T.
With Sunday’s victory, Wambach’s accomplishments now include an elusive WC title, UF's goal and assist marks, a 1998 NCAA Championship, two Olympic gold medals and the all-time international scoring record -- male or female.
Those aren’t just impressive credentials, they’re legendary.
BUT SHE DOESN’T PLAY REAL FOOTBALL, PAWWWL!
Therein lies the crux of the issue. Florida’s bread is buttered on the gridiron, so debate angles such as -- Should collegiate legacy trump professional accomplishments? Should the popularity of the sport matter? Does decorated equal greatest? What about top athletes (i.e. softball stud Lauren Haeger) with few professional opportunities? -- are all trumped by did athlete X play football.
Is that fair? No. But checkout Aschoff's feed. It's the prevailing opinion.
Like Wambach, Ryan Lochte (5X Olympic gold medalist, 24X All-American, 7X NCAA Champion) and Dana Torres (First swimmer to medal in five Olympics, 4X Olympic gold medalist, 9X NCAA Champion) have decorated careers. Former UF tennis champion Lisa Raymond, swimmer Tracy Caulkins or long-jumper Christian Taylor could be on a short list for best UF athlete, too.
The number of people who did or didn’t watch Wambach & Co. at Florida probably shouldn’t matter so much, yet it does.
So since football is king, Emmitt Smith -- Twitter’s most popular choice -- would stand as UF's top athlete ever, right?
Smith -- a Hall of Famer, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and a 3X Super Bowl champion -- has had an arms-distance relationship with his alma mater. He actually left UF with the school's career rushing mark only to see his record later eclipsed. But since Smith hasn’t always embraced his Gators roots, he’s not on many Florida fans’ Mount Rushmore (That’d be Tebow, Spurrier, Wuerffel, Noah).
Does that matter? Should Florida's greatest athlete ever stand alongside it's most popular athletes ever?
See, it's a subjective debate with all the circular logic and silliness of an episode of Seinfeld.
So is Wambach the G.O.A.T?
I’m sticking with Kerwin Bell though.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton