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9/11/2008 03:06:00 PM
Greatest Performances by a Backup
Will Matt Cassel make the most of his golden opportunity?
Photo by AP
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
As if Boston fans didn't have enough to worry about, what with the Red Sox about to head back to the postseason and the Celtics prepping to defend their NBA title. But now Tom Brady is injured, and New England turns its lonely eyes to one Matt Cassel (no relation to Celts PG Sam Cassell). Perhaps Cassel can turn in a performance for the ages, and join the greatest performances by a backup in sports history...
1. Lou Gehrig: In 1925, Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp went down with a headache, and Gehrig filled in that day...then went on to play in every game for the next 14 years.
2. Tom Brady: During the 2001 season, after Patriots starter Drew Bledsoe was injured with internal bleeding, Brady stepped in, finished the season 11-3, and led the Pats to a Superbowl victory.
3. Robert Horry: Since the 1999-2000 NBA season, the most games Robert Horry has started in a season is 26, but he still always seems to come up big in crunch time.
4. Frank Reich: Most people forget that when the Bills came back from a 35-3 deficit to beat the Oilers, it was Reich, not Jim Kelly, who led the way.
5. Magic Johnson: OK, so Magic was really a starter (at point guard), but with the 1980 NBA Finals on the line, he filled in for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and posted 42 points, 15 boards and 7 steals and led the Lakers to the NBA title.
Which backups do you think have turned in the best performances? Let us know below...
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
I would think that Roethlisberger's performance should have been on this list just after Brady considering as a rookie he started the preseason as the #3 QB but ended up stepping in and going 13-0 as a starter in the regular season.
It isn't quite hockey season (OK, it is never hockey season in AZ, where I live), but how could you forget Ken Dryden? He came up at the end of the 70-71 season, played in a few games (six?), then led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup title while winning the Conn Smythe trophy as MVP of the post-season. Oh, and then he won the Calder trophy as Rookie of the Year the following season. But he began as a late-season backup.