Sports fans love to argue about everything and in most cases those arguments are not won or lost, they just end with each side feeling like they are the right and the others are wrong.

This is especially true when the subject is debating the BEST of something, like the best teams, players, coaches in a given sport or era.  There is no definitive answer as it simply comes down to personal opinion especially when you are comparing those who did not compete in the same time period.  You make your case for who you believe is the best and have to accept the opinions of others.

That’s sort of the backdrop for the idea I had a few months ago to use our Shore Sports Network website to try and find the greatest sports personality from the shore over the past half century.  The criteria was pretty simple…they had to participate for a shore area high school or college or have a direct connection to the Monmouth-Ocean County area.  In early March began accepting nominees and we received the names of over 200 athletes, coaches and contributors who made a lasting impact between 1968-2018.

Our staff of Bob Badders, Matt Manley, Ed Sarluca, Matt Harmon and myself then sorted through the names, counted votes and used our own input to come up with a list of 64.  To mimic the NCAA Basketball Tournament we placed 16 in each of four brackets and seeded them to avoid early matchups between top contenders.

Each week people have been voting on in what is obviously a popularity contest but I think they have done a good job as we went from 64 names to our own version of a “final four.”  Three of the four original #1 seeds remain in: Todd Frazier, Al Leiter and Christie Pearce Rampone who are likely familiar to just about everyone who follows sports to some extent.

However the fourth spot is a surprise in that Phil Villapiano has been off the radar for so many years, having retired from the NFL some 35 years ago.  He’s drawn the interest of “Raider Nation” with fans from all over the country supporting his candidacy to be named the Shore’s Greatest Sports Personality in our contest which is sponsored by Sonny’s Recycling of Waretown.

The semifinal matchups pit baseball’s Frazier and Leiter against one another with Villapiano now taking on former soccer great Pearce Rampone.  Voting runs through Monday at and next Tuesday we will announce the finalists.


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