The Greatest


By Kyle Devitte (I have to type my own byline just in case you’re colour blind. Yes, I spell colour with a “U”; that’s how you’re supposed to spell it.)

For those of you in the real world, you are no doubt aware that there is an International competition afoot. Yes, it’s World Cup time – but don’t worry this isn’t some bat-guano crazy attempt to compare MLL teams with world cup teams or Paul Rabil to Fernando Torres (bonus haircut analogy) or Mike Gabel to Robert Green. I mean, I could do that, but then I’d lose the rest of my street cred by outing myself as a closet soccer fan. That would suck.

I just did it, didn’t I?

Well, now that the feline is out of it’s sack I can now justify the reference that I’m about to make. World Cup fever gripped me so very tightly leading up to the competition that I began to do some extra homework on the most interesting aspect of soccer as a sport – the players. Great soccer players are revered like deities in other countries. In Argentina Diego Maradona has an entire religion devoted to his both his visage and his time on the field. Here’s a link for proof that I’m not hyperbolizing again: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iglesia_Maradoniana

In my preparation for the 2010 World Cup I stumbled upon a video series called “The Greatest”. It airs sporadically on Fox Soccer channel, or as you may know it – that random channel that shows the Premiership and has the worst recap/hjghlight/news/soccer-centric-Sportscenter rip off in the history of television. It’s also right under ESPNU and G4 on my channel guide so I flip through it every once in a while when my roommate’s dog hides my remote and I have to change the channels on my TV with an old longpole I keep at my bedside to fend off intruders.

What was I saying? Oh, yes “The Greatest”. This show is amazing. It’s not really a show, more like a documentary of specific players from different eras of soccer – or football as the crazy Europeans call it in the series itself – that includes interviews from players, coaches, journalists and even the player being profiled himself. Here is the production company’s website, you can see a couple episodes on there if you want to get a more visual feel for what I’m talking about. http://www.pitchinternational.com/the-greatest.aspx

The best thing about the program is that you see how clearly insane each guy is. Like, the egos on these guys, they’re astonishing. They interview people in their 70’s and they talk about how awesome they are over with more superlatives than a high school yearbook. It’s ludicrous how full of themselves each one of these revered and worshiped players is.

I LOVE it.

I love it because it’s not boring or tedious or long or stupid. What these guys did DOES matter to millions of fans across the world. Sure, they show highlights in grainy 1980’s stock footage and sepia-toned 16mm film and some of the stuff these guys do is fairly incredible – but I’m American and not fossilized so I can’t – or won’t – appreciate the context.

Or am I mistaken? Perhaps I can’t appreciate the significance because I don’t love soccer as much as I love lacrosse. Perhaps I enjoy “The Greatest” because I don’t understand the true gravitas of what it is trying to accomplish. Perhaps I enjoy the scandalous insanity of European nutjobs.

But you’re not here to read me wax philosophical about some soccer thing and not relate it back to lacrosse, the MLL and the Cannons. This is just an intro to my pitch.

Let me ask you this: Will you tell your kids about the next Cannons game that you go to? How about the last one when Jordan Burke – the second-year banana – came out and keyed one of the most miraculous comebacks in MLL history? Wouldn’t you like to know who HE grew up idolizing as a kid? We’re at that point now – the league is ten years old. Max Quinzani wasn’t even putting tacks on teacher’s chairs when the Cannons were formed – but he grew up with the Boys in Silver Red and Blue. He of the-beard-that-is-weird even risked hepatitis when he went to see them in Lowell at Cawley stadium back in the day.

What if there was a way to learn about the best players in the history of lacrosse without having to read through a couple dozen articles and a few hours on the internet? What if lacrosse had it’s very own version of “The Greatest”?

Consider this my formal proposal to all visual media outlets. I want to make a lacrosse version of “The Greatest”. I want to go back to 2001 and profile old school defensemen like Rob Doerr and Pat McCabe. I want to talk to Mitch Whiteley about what Mike Watson and Doug Knight were like before they were the first Cannons. I want to talk to Bill Daye about the crazy neck injury that forced his retirement. I want to educate the fans. I want to learn about the guys that shaped the greatest league on the planet.

So now, you see, this is my record of this proposal. If anyone else tries to do this I have this article out there for public consumption and posterity so I can do the most American thing possible – sue the bejeezus out of anyone that tries to steal this idea.

Most importantly, I want to know if lacrosse players are like these soccer players with their tremendous egos. And so do you.

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