Missouri fans have been spoiled in the last several years by a combination of some of the school's best talent and a bevy of genuinely likable personalities. Chase Daniel earned his way to a Heisman finish. Chase Coffman hurdled his way into our hearts. Martin Rucker fought and scrapped his way into being America's favorite tight end. We've had the quote machines in Lorenzo Williams and SPOOOOOOOOOON.
And that's all just in the last few seasons.
The Beef might make his case for Brock Olivo. An entire generation of Mizzou students will make their case for Brad Smith. Everyone I've mentioned is a fantastic and worthy pick. But my favorite player is one I don't particularly expect everyone to agree with; in fact, it's become somewhat of a running joke on Rock M Nation. My favorite player played only 20 games in a Mizzou uniform, but my appreciation for the manner in which he played the game meant that when I had the chance to purchase a game-worn uniform of his, I couldn't pass up the opportunity**.
Cornelius "Pig" Brown: Irrationally and undeniably my favorite Mizzou player of all-time.
Here's what I had to say about Brown WAY back in the nascent stages of RMN in early 2008 when we held our Mizzou 25 Tournament:
If you were to build a human out of the 2007 football team, it might look something like this: Chase Daniel was the face, Gary Pinkel the brains, Lorenzo Williams the mouth, William Moore the hands, and Martin Rucker/Chase Coffman the "juevos." But only one player was the heart: Pig Brown.
Our fair Cornelius may have saved Mizzou's season on several occasions before anyone even knew how special of a season it would turn out to be. Against Illinois, his 100+ yard fumble return was a 14-point swing that completely changed the momentum of that game. Later, his interception iced it and gave Mizzou its signature non-conference win.
Once conference play began, Pig was all over the field. Against Nebraska, his thundering (albeit illegal) hit on Maurice Purify helped set the tone in the secondary for the unit to become one of the most punishing in the Big 12. Against Texas Tech, where the physicality of his secondary became VERY apparent, Pig turned the "Air Raid" offense into his personal playground. He finished the day with 14 tackles, 4.5 of them for loss, as well as a pick and two breakups.
His injury against Iowa State could have been devastating, but both Pig and the Tigers refused to let "Brian Smith syndrome" kill the momentum they'd built early in the season. His emotional contribution to his team and the program was actually most apparent when Gary Pinkel broke his own rule to allow the injured Pig to travel to road games, helping spur Mizzou to a 55-10 thumping of Colorado in Boulder. Pig may have only been on the field for eight games in Mizzou's finest season, but for a website that loves stats like "points per play," I'd be hard pressed to find someone with more "contribution to the program per appearance" than Pig Brown.
So, to you good readers, I ask: Who is your favorite Mizzou player of all-time? And, better yet, who is the player you love that qualifies as an "outside-the-box" type of pick?
**Personal story: I actually DID pass up the opportunity at first. I went to the tent sale the night before the spring game, saw the jersey, saw the steep price tag and sighed heavily as I left it on top of the pile. Later that night, I felt like I'd passed up a HUGE opportunity and figured it was worth the splurge. I woke up early to stand in line for the tent sale's opening and shot straight for the jerseys. I went through all of the jerseys, both home and away, and wasn't able to find the jersey, and I feared someone picked up on the greatness that I had foolishly left on top of the pile the day before. I gave the home jerseys one more lookthrough, and by the grace of whatever deity you believe in, I was able to find the jersey and purchase it. My future kids don't need to go to college, right?