Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday 12/27: Gerald Ford No. 1!
(in Presidential Athletic Power Rankings!)

If nothing else, the late Gerald Ford holds the title of the most athletic U.S. president. In an exclusive analysis, Ford leads the first-ever (and possibly last-ever)...

All-Time U.S. President Athleticism Power Rankings!

Ford was, by far, our most athletic (and athletically accomplished) President: He was a three-year center for Michigan's football team on two undefeated national championship teams ('32, '33), and the team's MVP in '34. He had offers to go to the NFL, but turned them down to go to law school.

Now, say what you will that Ford might have taken one too many shots to the helmet, but he reigns supreme among Presidential athleticism. (You'll find the final Presidential Power Rankings at the end of the rundown.)

Here's a chronological rundown of the athletic bonafides of the U.S. Presidents of the 20th Century, with an emphasis on actual lifetime athletic accomplishment (and, in the absence of that, significant off-field links to sports as a proxy for participation).

George W. Bush: Well, he OWNED a sports team (Texas Rangers), but the closest he got to participating in sports was as a cheerleader.

Bill Clinton: Huge sports FAN (particularly Arkansas basketball) and an avid jogger and golfer, but essentially a non-athlete and classic "wannabe" jock. (And, uh, there's nothing wrong with that...)

George H. W. Bush: Played first base for Yale baseball, which puts him near the top of a thin field. Certainly qualifies him for Top 5.

Ronald Reagan: Sports claim to fame is that he was a Cubs play-by-play broadcaster, but more concerned with acting than athletics. Famously played George "The Gipper" Gipp in the movie, "Knute Rockne, All American."

Jimmy Carter: Star local basketball and football player in high school, but his most notorious sports claim to fame is that he was in office when the US boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics.

Gerald Ford: See above. The best athlete of any President in our nation's history. And, when we inevitably do the "20th Century World Leader Battle Royale of Athleticism," I'm quite sure Ford would finish in the Final Four, if not win outright.

Richard Nixon: Despite leaving the office in disgrace, he truly embodied the idea of "First Fan," even going so far as to design and call a Super Bowl play for George Allen's Redskins. Played college football for Whittier College, but never left the bench.

Lyndon Johnson: Let's just say that he would have won any locker-room, uh, contests. (Jeff Reed? Ha! Small-time, by comparison. Literally.) LBJ enjoyed hunting, fishing and riding.

John Kennedy: Provided one of his most iconic President-and-sports images, playing touch football with his family on the Vineyard. Balky back, though, and general health problems. In the Clinton mold of "Big fan, not much of an actual player."

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Played football for West Point, once participating in a gang-tackle of Jim Thorpe. A knee injury ruined his football future, but he later became an insanely passionate golfer.

Harry Truman: Not much there.

Franklin Roosevelt: Do you have to ask?

Herbert Hoover: Was the student manager of the football and baseball teams as a college student at Stanford (he was part of the first Big Game versus Cal). Points for enthusiasm.

Calvin Coolidge: Doesn't seem to be much there for "Silent Cal."

Warren Harding: At this point in US history, most people who were young adults in Harding's era (1880s) didn't spend much time playing sports. But he did supposedly play a lot of poker.

Woodrow Wilson: Enjoyed bicycling and became an avid golfer while in office (as many future presidents would).

William Taft: Wasn't he kind of a fattie? He was, however, the first President to throw out a baseball at a game.

Theodore Roosevelt: What a bad-ass. He was the runner-up boxing champion as a college student at Harvard. He was a legendary big-game hunter. If he was alive today, he'd probably be a NASCAR champ. That was one tough SOB.

(I'm making the presumption that Presidents before the 20th Century weren't as exposed to sport as young men as the ones who followed them. Feel free to correct me in the comments.)

The first (and final) 20th Century Presidential Athleticism Power Rankings:

1. Gerald Ford
2. Theodore Roosevelt
3. Dwight D. Eisenhower
4. George H.W. Bush
5. Herbert Hoover
6. George W. Bush
7. Richard Nixon
8. Jimmy Carter
9. John Kennedy
10. Bill Clinton
11. Ronald Reagan
12. Woodrow Wilson
13. Lyndon Johnson
14. William Taft
15. Harry Truman
16. Warren Harding
17. Calvin Coolidge
18. Franklin Roosevelt

Other stories worth tracking today:

Bowls Tonight: Florida State vs. UCLA. Unless this is called the "Bobby Bowden Is Finally Retiring, Presented By AARP" Bowl, I really don't care. I picked FSU, like a moron. I'm rooting for UCLA, if only because they pulled off the biggest stunner win of the season, beating USC.

NBA: AI has a season-high 13 assists (plus 28 points) in a Nuggets win over Boston... Chris Paul hurt his ankle... the Wizards scored 41 points in the 1st quarter en route to beating the Grizz... T-Mac returned to the Rockets lineup; same result: Loss.

More NBA: Hot Trade Action! Is Ron-Ron Artest going to the Clippers for permanent trade-rumor fixture Corey Maggette? (My favorite Maggette detail: In the '99 NCAA title game, he was the only Duke player doing any damage -- or capable of doing any damage -- against UConn. Yet Coach K didn't like Maggette's early aggressiveness and benched him, likely costing Duke the title and affirming for me that Coach K can't... well... coach.)

NFL: Is it "win or else?" for Jim Mora Jr.? I'll contend that he's going to be axed regardless. Next time, Mr. Blank, bring in a coach who will build an offense around Michael Vick, not in spite of him.

Meanwhile, Michael Strahan is out for the rest of the year. Like that matters in the big picture for the Giants? And Bill Cowher will announce his plans next week. My bet is on retirement, temporarily. TV cred in '07 and a big raise with another team in '08 is his future.

Best NFL Rumor That Will Never Come True: Charlie Weis to coach the Giants? In a Big Blue wet dream, but that's as close as it's going to get. However, should Weis actually consider it? I say yes: The last two years at ND have proven that this is as good as it's going to get for him: A BCS-qualifying 9 or 10 wins a season, but getting beat by any/every top-tier team they play, with little or no chance at a national title unless they remove any/every top-tier team from their schedule. Meanwhile, doesn't he feel like he has something to prove at the NFL level?

MLB: Will Zito go to the Yankees or Mets? It all hinges on the Yankees trading Randy Johnson.

Gone Bowlin': Central Michigan gets its first-ever D1 bowl win (Motor City).

-- D.S.


Anonymous said...

The real question is, what athlete can you see as a future president?

It seems like just a matter of time until a prolific athlete ascends to the political forefront. Today's athletes are yesterdays actors.

Maybe Sir Charles will make the leap after he becomes the Gov. of Alabama?

Ed Lamb said...

Dan If you're baiting readers to comment with mistatements, consider me hooked: Eisenhower went to West Point, not the Naval Academy (

Anonymous said...

OK Dan, So we decided to list Tricky Dick twice and totally leave off John Kennedy?

FDR could may have had problems that put him in a wheel chair, but he could atleast outcrawl Roly Poly Taft.

The heroin sheik said...

c'mon Dan I thought everyone knew eisenhower was a general in the army. What really concerns me is what would happen if heath schuler wound up being a president. Would his four yrs suck as bad as his time with the foreskins. Of course I would never vote for him since he is a volunqueer. One athlete though who I could totally see as being a politician and a successful one at that would be tom brady. Maybe it is his way of being in control and leading the pats but I would totally trust him to lead our country. Hell if he can lead the pats to the playoffs without any real offensive stars IM sure he could lead out country. Then we would have another UM football player in office but who would be his running mate? MAybe steve largent or lynn swann?

Big D said...

Current/Former Athletes to consider for future Presidential Runs:

1) Tom Brady - All-American Guy, has "the look", already spent a State of the Union in the Capitol Building. Would automatically carry all six New England states...

2) Tiger Woods - Let's face it, if he put his mind to it, the guy could probably levitate.

3) Charles Barkley - Too controversial to really consider, but it would be hysterical to see him attend meetings with foreign heads of state.

4) Heath Shuler - Considering he's a U.S. representative now and all...

5) Peyton Manning - Still an icon in Tennessee and Louisiana. That's 2 out of 50 right there.

6) Derek Jeter - But he's a winner!

That's it, I'm out of ideas.

Anonymous said...

Bill Bradley was in the running for a presidential nomination for the 2000 election, but lost out to Al Gore.

Brian in Oxford said...

Anyone remember the SNL clip of Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw? He's pre-recording clips of different ways Gerald Ford would die, just in case it happened while Brokaw was on a sabbatical.

"President Gerald Ford was devoured by wolves...he was delicious."

And Brokaw (Carvey) was peturbed, but the director warned him if he was going to take time off from the news, he needed these clips in the can -- just in case.

I couldn't find a youtube clip, but there are some audio clips on Dana Carvey's website in the SNL section.

Didn't Abraham Lincoln do boxing, or wrestle a bear at one time?

One thing I'd say about Brady or Jeter as a politician...neither one of them really gives an opinion one way or another on stuff....they've got that part of being a politician down already.

"More budget for wide receivers, dammit!"

Unknown said...

Ironic how Chevy Chase caused many people to think Gerald Ford was a clumsy person tripping all over the place. If he did trip, it was because he had bad knees that eventually had to be replaced.

I remember an interview with Ford where he talked about being a big guy at about 220 lbs on the O-line. Of course if he played today, between the steroids and hormones they all take along with the protein powder and weight training, he would have been 300 lbs. and would have died 25 years ago from heart failure.

Anonymous said...

1. Tom Brady: Not squeaky clean image-wise.
2. Tiger Woods: too vengeful. Are you kidding me? He's golf's Charles Bronson, it would take one slight negative ad, and he'd go ballistic.
3. Barkley: Yes, you nailed this one. Too entertaining.
4. Shuler: Very difficult to move from Congress to Presidency now, that's why we have mostly governors like W, Clinton and Reagan. Hillary might be able to cross over, and Barack might (he has very little record).
5. Peyton: Every sports fan outside of Indy would be afraid of him choking away the "Big War". The possibilities are tantalizing. Would he go to invade, then forget the air support? Would his own political party stop defending his decision after he sent the troops? Would a diplomat (i.e. kicker) lose airbase rights the night before?

Why not go all the way and just re-elect Carter?

6. Jeter: this totally works. I'd also add that Barack is becoming the Jeter of politics, seemingly too quiet, talented and consistent to be real.

Staying in the realm of just the big, famous players, I would add:
1. We could probably nominate every good coach here, but I'll stick with one can't miss guy: Joe Torre. The Yankees management zoo is the closest thing to Congress/UN that anyone has to deal with professionally, and he's already had all the media attention anyone could ask for. Has to work on his nose image...
2. Strahan: well spoken and intimidating. Plus, they've shown that the taller candidate usually wins.
3. Jesse "The Body" Ventura: no one is dumb enough to vote for an ex-roider for an important, intellectually demanding job, right? Um... right?
4. Top owner pick: Mark Cuban. If we could rig a campaign where Barkley was running as a Republican candidate and Cubes was the Democrat, that would probably be the most entertaining thing in the entire world. And I'm pretty sure the Lincoln Monument would cry during the debates.

Two hyper, super-emotional millionaire loudmouths with no capacity for self-censorship and no respect for anyone else ... Well, this might happen in Bizzaro World.

Unknown said...


Sure Nick won't win but can we get the bloggers going on some 2nd and 3rd place vote for the Jets rookie center? I think Vince Young has it wrapped up because of his position.

However, here is my case:
Center is a very difficult position to jump in and start as a rookie.
He has to call all the blocking schemes in a complex offense.
He has played great and played every snap for the whole year.
He has played great.
RBs and Receivers peak in their early 20's while linemen only peak in their late 20's typically.

No problem with Vince winning, I just want some honorable mention for my man Mangold!

Get on the bandwagon Dan Shanoff!

Boomhauertjs said...

Cowher Power for the Browns in '08!!!

Anonymous said...

How about Isiah Thomas? We already have the precident of George W. Bush mismanaging the country. Let's go all the way!

Zeke for President!

Big D said...

@ solomonrex:

You are a God. Just the mere thought or a Barkley/Cuban debate set me off on a giggle-fest for about three full minutes. Nice work with the Peyton Scenario - although, Eli Manning would prove to be a great contemporary for Billy Carter.

I'm looking forward to the nationwide release of "Eli Beer". Nah, just doesn't have the same ring of "Billy Beer". Too bad.

BTW - My Fictional NFL ROY Ballot currently reads as follows:

1) MJD
2) VY
3) Devin Hester
4) Colston
5) Leinart

The VY/MJD debate might end up lopsided when the actual vote comes out, especially if the Titans manage to sneak into the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

ask an ye shall recieve :)

Christian Thoma said...

(yeah yeah, I know I left, but the history buff can't resist)

George Washington would have to rank at the top of the list of athletes. He was an exceptional horseman, and while he didn't throw a silver dollar across the potomac, he did throw a coin across the rapahannock (spelling?) ... so he had quite the pitching arm. Tall and athletic, he'd probably be a match for most current athletes.

Kevin said...

I read somewhere that Ford called a play for the Dolphins in one of their Super Bowls in the 70s...and that the play went for negative ten yards or something...

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

I will always remember Gerald Ford asking Homer Simpson if he likes nachos.

How is everyone doing in the pick 'em? 5-3 here...but my 3 losses only total 8 confidence poitns.

Big D said...

8-0 so far in the pick-'em. "The Best Seat In The House" also has the best record in the league... so far.

Now, if only I'd known what this "confidence points" crap was when I made the picks...

Sheldiz said...

i'm currently in a 4-way tie for 232nd place in the bowl pick 'em.

but i'm optimistic.

Brian in Oxford said...

Nice job on the google link! I forgot about the lion in the convenience store.

I'm impressed with the 8-0 folks so far. I got hosed by New's the freakin' New Mexico Bowl, how can you lose that?! At least Hawaii got me 29 confidence points in Hawaii, no less.

CMFost said...

Hey Big D just remember it not how you start but how you finish that is most important.

Jared said...

Dan, I think it's more likely that you can't write than it is that Coach K can't coach. Look at what he's doing with his young, undertalented roster... #5 in the country. I think he knows more about basketball than you, he's been coaching since you were in diapers.

mattie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Big D said...

Wow... crumbbum coming from waaaay out in left field... :)

About Schilling running for office - they guy is absolutely opinionated, maybe even moreso than Sir Charles (if that's even possible).

Problem is, Barkley does it in a "I'm just joking when I insult you to your face" manner, while Schilling will shoot you down and make you feel stupid for even trying to disagree with him.

I guess I'm still confused on the confidence picks, I guess. I'm fairly certain OSU will beat Florida, so I ranked them #1 in the confidence thing. Does that mean I get the most bonus points or least for it?

Why does tWWL have to screw with my brain so much...?

And cmfost... I know about the "finish strong" mentality. I started last year's NCAA Basketball tourney 16-0 on Day One, and 26-6 for the first round. And didn't even have one of my picks reach the Final Four.

I expect to finish this contest with about six more wins, max.

mattie said...

we need to get a petition going to NOT have LDT on the cover of Electronic Art's "Madden '08" or doing commercials for Chunky Soup next year

I'm with you! But you know it's going to happen. It's inevitable, it's destiny. The curses cannot be denied. And for good measure, he'll be on the cover of SI when the game is released and the first commercial appears, just to be ensure his knee spontaneously combusts. Sigh.

I'm onboard with the Simmons' suggestion...let's get bin Laden or the guy from Iran with the unspellable name on these covers and in these commericals, and really test out the strength the these curses while potentially doing the world some good. Who knows what that could lead to. ;)

chipp said...

"He was delicious."

Thanks for the link.

Largent's probably out since he's not currently in office and his son's arrest. What about Favre? Of course he'd lose Dan's vote, but he'd win Wisconsin, maybe the Dakotas, and Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Northwestern / Harvard grad and you put Ike in the Navy.

Good call on Washington whoever beat me to it, the guy was 6'2" or 6'3" by most accounts an was described as athletic.

How come no one has mentioned Grant Hill for president? Everytime he's on PTI they reference his love for politics, and how many times he's been to the White House.

12 days Dan, 12 more days.

Jared said...

Big D, wanna guess where I go to college?

Big D said...

@ crumbbum:
Lemme guess... you're a TarHeel?

Should I just duck the objects being thrown at my head now?

By the way, @ chipp: Good call on Favre. Can't believe I missed him. Of course, he'd have to actually retire from the NFL first.

Mega said...

When is Shanoff gonna run for President? I'd vote for him purely based off his true, and 100% accurate, assessment of what happens when Notre Dame plays good teams.

And is it bad of me to hope beyond hope that T.O. gets the 2008 Madden covers?

Christian Thoma said...

@big d:

Nothing in the constitution prevents the President of the United States from also serving as QB.

Has anyone mentioned Lance Armstrong yet?

Christian Thoma said...

Also George W. is a big workout guy (and not in the Bill Clinton "Jogging to McDonald's" way). He used to run until his knees started hurting, now he does serious off-road cycling.

Sheldiz said...

i think the image of the president of the free world getting sacked will be priceless.

Christian Thoma said...

i think the image of the president of the free world getting sacked will be priceless.

Insert "secret service would be better than the current O-Line" joke here.

Although, to be fair, they have gotten better, and have given up much fewer sacks this season.

Brian in Oxford said...

And Favre's over 35, so he's certainly ELIGIBLE to run for president.

Hey Big D....whatever number of points you put next to the pick, is the number of points you earn for getting it right. So if you've got 1 point on OSU-Fla, then you'll only lose 1 point if you're wrong, and only gain one point if you're right. You are *assigning* the confidence points, not ranking them by your amount of confidence.

Big D said...

Well, guess I didn't screw up so badly yet. Already had #'s 32, 29, 28 & 26 in the first 4 games.

Thanks for the help.

BTW - big "breaking news" on MLB and Steroids... yawn.

Anonymous said...

The First Daughter was named after some English soccer team?
I hope that's a made-up wikipedia "fact".

Here's the problem with Favre for President: I think we don't want to see another improvising gunslinger in the White House.

Sheldiz said...

if only everyone named their kids after their favorite sports teams...

Anonymous said...

Athlete as a future president? Seems like Tiki Barber has people chomping at the bit to snap him up and use him in any capacity. Why not president? He'd have the NY vote

Paul L Carter said...

"William Taft: Wasn't he kind of a fattie?"

Maybe when he was President; certainly not in his younger days.

I would put Taft in the top five--if not for a career-ending arm injury, Taft possibly would have been an MLB catcher for the Cincinnati Reds.

Christian Thoma said...

Here's the problem with Favre for President: I think we don't want to see another improvising gunslinger in the White House.

I'm sure most Americans wouldn't mind as long as he looked like he was having fun out there.

Anonymous said...

The only reference I found of Chelsea Clintons name on Wikipedia is from her page and it says...

"Chelsea was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her name was inspired by her parents' fondness for the Judy Collin's recording of the Joni Mitchell song 'Chelsea Morning'."

MP said...

I think Kennedy also played football as a kid. Isn't there a famous picture somewhere?