Why should we let the Boston pro sports have all the fun? On the heels of the Top Five Most Popular Boston Athletes we ask – and answer – the question: Who is the most popular Boston College sports alum?
If we limit the discussion to BC alumni or former coaches, and exclude current student-athletes, here’s our take.
No. 1: Charlie Davies
Davies tops this list due to not what he’s done on the field, but rather what he’s done off it. Davies, an American soccer player that plays striker for the French club Sochaux, was involved in a car crash that claimed the life of 22-year-old passenger. Before the accident, Davies was enjoying a breakout year for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team after a great performance in the Confederations Cup and in qualifying. There was no question that he was poised to make the World Cup roster.
After the fatal accident, however, it wasn’t a question of whether he would make the team. It literally became a question of survival. Davies suffered a lacerated bladder, broken elbow, broken right femur and tibia and facial fractures, and faced a 6-to-12 month recovery and rehabilitation. Originally, Davies was forecast to be out a full year. But he quickly worked his way back to start up training with his French side Sochaux after just six months. However, he was left disappointed in early May when he missed the U.S. 30-man roster.
While Davies hopes of playing in the World Cup will have to wait another four years, there’s no question what impact he would have had for the US side. When Landon Donovan was asked which players it would take for the US to replace Davies on the roster, he basically said that Davies was irreplaceable:
"Well, Charlie's different, I think, than all those guys," Donovan said. "So you don't replace Charlie. It's hard to replace Charlie not only on the field, but off the field. So that was always going to be tough."
Arguably Davies most famous goal in international play was his winner against Egypt in the 2009 Confederations Cup that allowed the US to advance out of the group stage. Because soccer highlights are better in other languages ...
Finally, if Twitter is any indication of a BC sports figures popularity, Davies has over 51,000 followers.
No. 2: Jared Dudley
Dudley was an instrumental part of the Phoenix Suns run to the 2010 Western Conference Finals. Coming off the bench, Duds averaged 8.2 points per game and 3.4 rebounds and was one of the most accurate 3-point shooters in the league.
Off the court, Dudley has gained a certain level of fame for his homemade video interviews and skits with Suns teammates that he posts on Twitter under the name "JMZ" and "JSPN". Dudley's JMZ was even picked up by the real TMZ, and he made a few appearances on the show while the Suns played in L.A. during the Western Conference Finals. In hopes of sparking a BC alumni Twitter rivalry, Dudley currently is trailing Davies by approximately 16,000 followers.
Oh yeah, and Dudley has the most athletic hands in the history of the world. Steve Nash Wikipedia'd it, he Google'd it and did all the research. The proof is in the pudding.
No. 3: Kenny Florian
As a disclaimer, I know next to nothing about MMA. That's doesn't mean I can ignore the undeniable popularity of the sport. Mixed martial arts has recently exploded in popularity, both nationally and here at SB Nation with several popular MMA communities including MMA Mania, Bloody Elbow, Watch Kalib Run, MMA For Real, Gals Guide To MMA and Cageside Seats.
Many BC alumni might not be aware that the school has its very own star in a sport growing rapidly in popularity. Kenny Florian is one of the world's best lightweights in UFC. In addition, Florian can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN.com as a co-host of MMA Live. He's also landed a product spokesperson gig for Flo TV, along with Will.I.Am, Jim Nantz and Landon Donovan. Florian recently took time to sit down with one of SB Nation's MMA blogs, MMA For Real, and answered questions, which is a must-read if you aren't familiar with this Eagle.
Florian also is pretty active on Twitter, and trails Dudley by a few thousand follows. Twitter fight!
No. 4: Matt Ryan
Admittedly, Ryan will probably be higher on this list in a few months. But given that we're in the dead period of the NFL season between the Draft and August's preseason games, Ryan lands in our No. 4 spot.
Ryan made a splash in the NFL on his first snap, connecting with Michael Jenkins for a 62-yard touchdown with his first attempt (and becoming the first QB to accomplish this since Michael Bishop of the 2000 Patriots). In his rookie year, Ryan went on to lead the Falcons to a 11-5 regular season and a playoff berth, the team's first since 2004. In his second season, he was plagued by a turf toe injury (actually is much more serious and painful than it sounds), which sidelined him for two games. Playing through the injury, Ryan came back and defeated the Jets, Bills and Bucs to finish the year at 9-7, the first back-to-back winning seasons in Falcons' franchise history.
Ryan isn't on Twitter, but we all wish he was.
No. 5: Brian Gionta
This pick won't sit well with our Hub NHL fans, but Gionta was instrumental in leading the No. 8-seed Montreal Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Finals. His nine goals and six assists in the playoffs were good for second on the Habs' playoff points total list, behind only LW Mike Cammalleri.
A pretty serious foot injury left Gionta sidelined for 21 games this season, but he still managed to tally 28 goals and 18 assists in 61 games. This season, Gionta was reunited with former Devil teammate Scott Gomez, and the pair have led a speedy Canadiens offense.
Honorable Mention: Doug Flutie (because at BC, it’s still all about Flutie), B.J. Raji, Jerry York, either Hasselbeck, Bruce Pearl, Ayla Brown
Leave your own top five, No. 1, or even top 25 most popular current Boston College sports alumni in the comments.