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Today we celebrate the 237th birthday of the greatest country in the world.  The good ol’ US of A!  Old Glory will be flying proudly all across the country today while we all celebrate freedom, pickup trucks, dogs, beer, baseball and BBQ. That got me thinking…which athletes or teams have made me feel patriotic?  Who makes me proud to be an American?

Since you wanted to know, here they are in no particular order…

Hacksaw Jim Duggan

hacksaw-jim-duggan

Back when I was seven years old, WWF legend “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, had a great feud with Russian wrestler Nikolai Volkoff. Vince McMahon come up with a perfect scheme.  The American vs. the Russian.  Nothing like using the Cold War to sell tickets.  But it did.  Would could forget Hacksaw coming down to the ring with his trademark 2×4 and the American flag? He’d hop up on the turnbuckle and waive it around, starting a “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chant, followed by a thunderous “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”.

USMNT – A.K.A. The United States Men’s National Soccer Team

USMNT-StartingXI

There’s nothing that brings out patriotism in America more than international sports. Especially in the ones that we are the underdogs in. In 1980 it was the Miracle on Ice team that took out the Russians in Olympic ice hockey, and nowadays it’s the Men’s National Soccer team. I am by no means a “soccer fan”, but I have been drawn in over the past 6 years or so to the Men’s National Team. Once a perennial doormat in international competition, the USMNT has completely overhauled the roster and coaching staff recently, and has now gained some respectability. But there is just something about watching this team and their never say die attitude. This team feeds off the home crowds and relishes beating teams on the road. If you happened to catch the World Cup qualifier a few weeks ago in Seattle against Panama, you heard a crowd chanting for 90 minutes straight as if they were at a Seattle Seahawks game. It was so loud that you could clearly hear all the words to the chants. Check out this beauty…

Mike Piazza

mike-piazza

September 21st 2001 will be one of the most memorable days of my New York Mets fandom. I had randomly bought tickets for that game a few weeks beforehand and little did I know, I would be there to witness New York sports history. It was the date of the first professional sporting event in New York City after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The buzz around the stadium was incredible. Everywhere you walked around the stadium, people were chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”. No one cared that there were Atlanta Braves fans there that night, we were all just proud to be American.

1980 Men’s Olympic Hockey Team

usa vs russia

I wasn’t even born yet when these legends were made, but I quickly learned about them. I became a huge hockey fan when I was young and had seen replays of the “Miracle on Ice” on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. I had never actually seen the game in it’s entirety until a few years ago when it was aired for a 30th anniversary special. The ultimate underdog story was more than just Al Michaels’ famous “Do You Believe In Miracles?!? YES!!” call. It was about a group of no name college kids who realized that the name on the front of the jersey is more than the name on the back.

Here’s the final minute of the game…

Jackie Robinson

Robinson

Being a pioneer in a time where doing so might have gotten you killed, is American as it gets. Putting your foot in the door where it doesn’t belong, and the kicking it wide open is exactly what Jackie Robinson did. On April 15, 1947 Jackie became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers. There is so much to Jackie’s story that I can’t even put it all here. So make sure to check out this Wikipedia page here.  Robinson led the way for such great African American players as Larry Doby and Satchel Paige.

Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman was a standout linebacker for Arizona State in the mid-90s and a hard hitting safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman finished his career with 238 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions for 37 yards, 3 forced fumbles, 2 pass deflections, and 3 fumble recoveries in 60 career games. His career was cut short at the age of 25 when he decided in May of 2002 that he would turn down the Cardinals 3 year, $3.6 million contract and enlist in the United States Army to fight the war against terror. Pat Tillman turned down millions of dollars to fight for his country. Pat Tillman died in the mountains of Afghanistan from friendly fire while fighting for freedom. Pat Tillman is a true American hero.

Ted Williams

ted williams fighter pilot

Widely known as the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, Ted Williams is also known in the millitary world as one of the greatest fighter pilots of all time as well. Ted served as a flight instructor in WWII and a combat pilot in Korea. In total, he served five years of active military service. Those five years came right in the middle of Williams’ prime. If you were to extrapolate his numbers for those five “missing years”, his career numbers might look like this: .344 AVG 686 HR 2500 RBI 2450 runs scored.

Honorable Mentions

Hulk Hogan – Had quite possibly the greatest entrance music of all time, but has now become real creep show. Only reason why he’s here instead of Hacksaw.

Michael Phelps – Most medals ever won in the Olympic Games and has just zero personality.

Michael Jordan – Although he is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, his off the court nonsense and his failure as an owner/GM has slightly tarnished his legacy.

Muhammed Ali – Anytime you dodge the draft, you can’t be up top.

Hank Aaron – Wasn’t as good as Ted Williams. I still consider Hank the all time home run king. No need for an asterisk next to his 755.

Jim Brown – It is widely documented that Jim Brown was a superior athlete, but he also destroyed the NFL when offensive lineman were 5’11 235 lbs.

Dream Team – It was nice to see the USA destroy other countries in the Olympics, but when you beat Angola by 89 points, it’s not really fun to watch after a while.

I’m sure there is someone that I left out, but make sure to leave a suggestion in the comment section below.

Happy Birthday America! TSB would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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