This article was written by bloggers SolarCane and Six...
Twenty five down, twenty five to go.
Many will ask: "Should the next twenty five Floridians be ranked above the athlete's we have already reviewed?" Not everyone will agree, but let the debate begin!The first half of the list contained some pretty impressive names, with statistics to back up their selection to the list. We heard a lot of Canespacers’ opinions. We even had a few eagle eyed readers shoot a couple non-Floridians right off the roster.
I hope you enjoy the bios in the following installments. These next selections have plenty of clout as far as resumes go. Here are numbers twenty five through twenty one, with two more Miami Hurricane greats making the cut.
#25 Derrick Thomas
Derrick Vincent Thomas (January 1, 1967 – February 8, 2000), nicknamed D.T., was an American football linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. He played his entire 11-year career for the Chiefs after being drafted 4th overall in the 1989 NFL Draft. Thomas, part of the class of 2009 entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was a premier football player throughout the 1990s and is considered one of the best pass rushers of all-time. In 1990 against the Seattle Seahawks, he set an NFL record with seven sacks in a single game.
Born in Miami, Florida, Thomas was raised by his mother, Edith Morgan; his father, Air Force Captain and B-52 pilot Robert James Thomas, died during a mission in the Vietnam War. Thomas started playing football when he was three years old. He played high school football at South Miami Senior High School.
One of the finest players in Alabama history, Thomas smashed many Crimson Tide defensive records, including sacks in a single season. He was awarded the Butkus Award in 1988 after a season which saw him record 27 sacks along with finishing 10th in Heisman Trophy balloting. He was also selected as a unanimous All-American at the conclusion of the 1988 season.
Thomas was selected in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft, fourth overall, and was signed by the Chiefs. He would remain with the Chiefs for his entire career.
Thomas's rookie year was very successful, earning him Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Sporting News, and was the first Chiefs' linebacker to be elected to the Pro Bowl in his first season since Hall of Fame player Bobby Bell. He would appear in nine Pro Bowls during his career.
Thomas was perhaps most well known for his ability to sack the quarterback and was named an All-Pro 8 times and was voted to 9 Pro Bowls. He totaled 126.5 sacks in his career and still holds the single game record of 7 quarterback sacks, a feat which occurred against Seattle's Dave Krieg on Veterans Day 1990 (in a 17-16 loss).
He is one of only 22 NFL players to achieve 100 or more sacks, and ranks fifth all-time in Chiefs' history with 649 career tackles. Thomas established Chiefs career records for sacks, safeties, fumble recoveries, and forced fumbles. His 45 forced fumbles are also an NFL career record.
On January 31, 2009, Thomas was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his fifth year of eligibility.
On January 23, 2000, Thomas' 1999 Chevrolet Suburban went off Interstate 435 as he and two passengers were driving to Kansas City International Airport during a snowstorm, where he was going to fly to St. Louis to watch the NFC Championship game. Thomas was left paralyzed from the chest down. By early February, Thomas was being treated at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital. On Tuesday morning of February 8, 2000, while being transferred from his hospital bed to a wheelchair on his way to therapy, when he told his mother he was not feeling well just before his eyes rolled back. The Chiefs star went into cardio-respiratory arrest and died as a result of a pulmonary embolism, a massive blood clot that developed in his paralyzed lower extremities and traveled to his lungs.
On January 31, 2009, Derrick Thomas was one of six players selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was officially inducted in Canton, Ohio on August 8, 2009. He had been a finalist for induction for four years before his induction. The Chiefs announced on June 23, 2009 that they would retire #58 in honor of Thomas, and the retirement ceremony took place on December 6, 2009 when the Chiefs played the Denver Broncos.
· 9× Pro Bowl selection
· 7× First-team All-AFC (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996)
· 1× Second-team All-AFC (1995)
· 1988 Dick Butkus Award
· 1993 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner
# 24 Warren Sapp
Warren Harrison Sapp (born December 19, 1972) is a retired American football player who played defensive tackle in the National Football League. He played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders during his 13 year professional career, and college football for the University of Miami Hurricanes. He was then drafted by the Buccaneers in the 1995 NFL Draft as the 12th overall pick. He spent nine seasons with the team where he earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl ring in 2002. He moved to the Raiders in 2004.
His 96.5 career sacks are the second-highest career total sacks for a defensive tackle and the 28th highest overall for a defensive lineman. His 77 sacks with the Buccaneers is second in the team's history.
Sapp was born in Orlando and raised in Plymouth, Florida, a community on the Lake County/Orange County, Florida line. During the late 1980s he was honored as an outstanding football player at Apopka High School in Apopka, Florida as a linebacker, tight end and punter.
In 2007, Sapp was named to the Florida High School Association All-Century Team which selected the Top 33 players in the 100-year history of high school football in the state of Florida.
University of Miami
Many top national colleges sought him out as a football player; Sapp chose to play for the University of Miami. Converted to defensive lineman while there, Sapp would win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player), the Rotary Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker) and the Bill Willis Award (best defensive lineman) all in 1994. He was also named to many All-American teams.
Awards and honors
· Second-team All-American (1993)
· 2× First-team All-Big East (1993-1994)
· Consensus First-team All-American (1994)
· Lombardi Award (1994)
· Bronko Nagurski Trophy (1994)
· Bill Willis Award (1994)
· Outland Trophy finalist (1994)
· Big East Defensive Player of the Year (1994)
· Defensive Player of the Year by Football Writers Association of America
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After playing college football at the University of Miami, where he was a defensive standout, Sapp was drafted into the NFL by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1995 draft (12th pick overall). Sapp ran the fastest defensive tackle forty time, recording a 4.69 time. Upon joining Tampa Bay, Sapp was almost immediately given the starting job at the position of right defensive tackle and finished his rookie season with 27 tackles and one interception. Sapp continued to be a prolific, intimidating tackler for the Buccaneers, tallying 51 tackles and nine sacks in 1996 and 58 tackles and 10.5 sacks in 1997. In 1997, Sapp was named to his first Pro Bowl. It was the first of seven straight selections. Sapp was named 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the year.
Super Bowl XXXVII
In 2004, it was reported that Sapp was interested in accepting a contract offer from the Cincinnati Bengals for four years worth $16 million. However, on March 20, he announced that he had agreed to terms on a seven-year, $36.6 million contract with the Raiders.
Sapp started all 16 games in his first season in Oakland, splitting time at defensive end as well as defensive tackle. Sapp recorded 30 tackles (18 solo), 2.5 sacks and recovered two fumbles. Warren lost an estimated 20 pounds before joining the Raiders in 2004. Sapp's 2005 season started out as a great year for Sapp, as he was moved back to his familiar DT position.
Sapp returned to his All-Pro form in 2006. Sapp and the Raider defense were one of very few bright spots for the 2006 Raiders. Sapp had 10 sacks to go along with 32 tackles (16 solo) and one forced fumble. Before the 2007 season, he lost 49 pounds. He finished the 2007 season with 37 tackles (24 solo), 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.
On January 3, 2008, Sapp told Raiders owner Al Davis over the phone that he would retire. The next day, January 4, 2008, Sapp confirmed it on his website qbkilla.com in just two words: "I'M DONE!" The retirement became official on March 4, 2008.
Dancing With the Stars
Sapp continued to show his athletism by making it all the way to runner up on the hit television show.
# 23 Andre Johnson
High school career
Johnson attended Miami Senior High School, where he graduated in 1999 and was rated as one of the top prospects in the country.
Johnson enrolled at the University of Miami, where he was a standout wide receiver on the Hurricanes' successful football team. He was MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl, where quarterback Ken Dorsey connected with Johnson for 2 touchdowns and 199 yards. Johnson finished his University of Miami career catching 92 passes for 1,831 yards (19.9 avg.) and 20 touchdowns. His 1,831 receiving yards is ranked fifth on the University of Miami's all-time career list.
While at Miami, Johnson also ran for UM's track and field team. In 2002, he won the Big East 60 meter dash (6.83 seconds) at the Big East Indoor Championship and followed that up by winning the 100 meter dash (10.59 seconds) at the Big East Outdoor Championships.
Johnson was the number three overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Johnson was signed to a six-year $39 million dollar contract. Johnson's rookie contract included over $13.501 million in guaranteed compensation.
In Johnson's rookie season, he started and played in all 16 games, recording 66 receptions for 976 yards and 4 touchdowns. His breakout year came in 2004 when he combined with Texans QB David Carr to record 79 catches for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns and be selected to his first Pro Bowl.
In the 2005 season, however, Johnson only played 13 games due to injury and had a lackluster 63 receptions with 688 yards and 2 touchdowns. Back from injury in 2006, Johnson led the NFL in receptions with 103 for 1,147 yards and 5 TDs, on his way to the Pro Bowl, once again.
On March 3, 2007, the Texans signed Johnson to a six year extension; the deal is worth $60 million and includes $15 million in guarantees.
In 2007, Johnson missed 7 games due to injury. He returned mid-season to finish with 851 receiving yards and a career-high 8 receiving touchdowns. He led the league in receiving yards per game in 2007 with 95.6.
Johnson finished the 2008 season recording career highs in receptions and receiving yards totaling 115 receptions for 1575 yards (both of which lead the league) and TD receptions with 8. This same season, Andre Johnson became the first player in NFL history to record 7 games with at least 10 receptions.
After finishing the 2009 season with 101 catches for 1569 yards and 9 touchdowns (a new career high), Johnson joined Jerry Rice as the only two receivers in history to lead the league in receiving yards in consecutive seasons.
· 3× NFL Alumni Wide Receiver Of The Year (2006, 2008, 2009)
· 1× Second-team All-Pro selection (2006)
In 2003, Johnson's rookie season, he founded the Andre Johnson Foundation for children and teens growing up in single parent homes. He also has a baby girl who was born in February. Johnson is also active with Habitat For Humanity.
# 22 Mitch Richmond
Mitchell James "Mitch" Richmond (born June 30, 1965 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida) is a retired American basketball player in the National Basketball Association. He played collegiately at Kansas State University.
Richmond was drafted 5th overall in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, following two years at Kansas State, where he averaged 20 points per game, and two years at Moberly Junior College in Missouri. Before joining the NBA, Richmond also competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.
Richmond captured the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in the 1988-89 NBA season, after averaging 22 points per game for the Warriors. He was a key part of Don Nelson's fast-paced offense, which was dubbed "Run TMC" after the first names of its three main components, Tim Hardaway, Mitch, and Chris Mullin, respectively.
After three years of scoring 22+ points a game in Golden State, Richmond was traded to the Sacramento Kings during the 1991–92 season in exchange for Billy Owens, and became arguably the team's first star since the franchise moved to Sacramento in 1985. Staying with the Kings until 1998, Richmond was the team's leading scorer in each of his 7 seasons there, averaging no fewer than 21.9 a game each season. Between 1993 and 1998, Richmond was a fixture on the Western Conference's All-Star team, and he won MVP honors at the All-Star Game in Phoenix, in 1995.
In the middle of his prime, Richmond was selected to the United States' Olympic team (Dream Team III), earning a gold medal in Atlanta. During his prime, Richmond was recognized as one of basketball's all time best pure shooters.
Richmond ended his career as a Los Angeles Laker. Playing strictly off the bench, he averaged 4 points a game. He earned an NBA championship ring with the Lakers in 2002, but played sparingly in the postseason, logging 4 minutes overall. In game 4 of the finals, Richmond dribbled out the clock to win the title with the Lakers. Richmond is now a scout for the Golden State Warriors. Over his 14 year NBA career, Richmond made over $53,000,000 in salary.
· 6x NBA All-Star (1993–1998)
· 3x All-NBA Second Team Selection (1994–1995, 1997)
· 2x All- NBA Third Team Selection (1996, 1998)
· 1989 NBA Rookie of the Year
· 1989 NBA All-Rookie First Team
· 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP (1995)
# 21 Rowdy Gaines IV
Ambrose ("Rowdy") Gaines IV (born February 17, 1959 in Winter Haven, Florida) is a former American swimmer, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member, Olympic three-time gold medalist, and member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He is currently the chief fundraiser for USA Swimming as well as a swimming analyst for television networks ESPN and NBC including coverage of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, his fourth as a TV commentator.
Born in Winter Haven, Florida, Rowdy unsuccessfully tried other sports during his teen-age years but turned to swimming as a Winter Haven High School junior where he improved quickly and was offered a swimming scholarship to Auburn University. At Auburn he became a five-time NCAA champion under the training of former Stanford University and Auburn head swimming coach Richard Quick. During one four-year period, Gaines held eleven World Records and, had the United States not boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, he would have been a favorite to win multiple medals at the event.
After graduating from Auburn in 1981, he stopped swimming for several months, thinking he had missed his opportunity to be an Olympic medalist, but was urged to resume swimming by his father. When Gaines qualified at the 1984 Olympic trials, his times were not particularly impressive and he was not expected to place at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. He won the 100-meter freestyle off a very good start and swam the anchor leg for both the US gold medal-winning 4 x 100-meter freestyle and 4 x 100-meter medley teams.
In August 1991, Gaines was temporarily paralyzed with Guillain-Barré syndrome. After a two-month hospitalization, he experienced a surprising full recovery attributed largely to his superb physical condition as a competitive swimmer. He eventually regained world-class times and, at the age of 35, became the oldest swimmer to qualify for the trials for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Gaines still holds Masters long course world records in several freestyle events in the both the 30-34 and 35-39 age groups. Gaines currently resides in Lake Mary, Florida where he is Executive Director of Rowdy's Kidz, a charitable program sponsored by The Limu Company. His wife, Judy, and he have four daughters: Emily, Madison, Savanna and Isabelle.
· International Swimming Hall of Fame
· U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
· Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
· Florida Sports Hall of Fame
· 1982 McDonalds Spirit Award
· 2007 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award