We all know Cal football has not been doing great. Although it pains us to admit it, the team has been playing amateurishly, and we can only hope that Sonny Dykes revitalizes the program to win back some school pride. While our team as a whole has done poorly, we can boast about some incredible athletes who have gone on to stardom in the pros. Here, we will bask in the glory of five of our greatest alumni in the NFL :
5. Jahvid Best
Best is tough. Best is explosive. Best is fast. Although he is not currently part of the NFL, he more than deserves to be on this list. One thing can be said of Best: He goes out with a bang. Those who have been following Cal football remember Best’s incredible Oregon State touchdown for the Bears in 2009, which also happened to be his last game at Cal. That touchdown gave him his second concussion in two weeks and led to his retirement from college football.
In the 2010 NFL draft, Best was the fastest running back. He joined the Detroit Lions in 2010. The few times he was healthy, Best played incredibly, even having a 75-yard touchdown reception. In 2011, he beat his personal best with an 88-yard reception. Alas, despite his sensational athleticism and his commitment to football despite countless injuries, Best finally succumbed to post-concussive symptoms and is now on the NFL’s injury reserves. He has not played for more than a year, but his achievements in his prime are staggering. Hopefully we’ll see Jahvid again, but even if we don’t, as Bob Dylan said, “It is better to burn out than to fade away.”
4. Shane Vereen
Look, we know no one likes the Patriots, but Shane Vereen is another running back out of Cal who deserves mention. With an impressive college total of 1,167 rushing yards, Vereen left Cal in three years and was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2011. There, he continued to play well, reaching a career best of an 83-yard reception. Currently, he has 308 rushing yards and four touchdowns. But these stats don’t fully explain why he’s on this hall of fame list.
Remember two Sundays ago? Patriots vs. Jets, and the Pats chief running back Danny Woodhead is injured. It’s down to veteran Stevan Ridley and third-string nobody Shane Vereen. Vereen delivers the football to the endzone three times. Yes, Tom Brady deserves some credit for some accurate passing, but Vereen really showed the world what he can do. We don’t root for the Patriots any more than you do, but there are those magical moments when Vereen makes this world a better place and the Patriots head cheater is almost tolerable.
3. DeSean Jackson
The return specialist, Jackson has a bit of a temper. He left Cal in 2007 holding records for punt returns and was drafted by the Eagles in 2008. Jackson hit the ground running. His first season had him with 912 receiving yards, an impressive accomplishment for anyone, yet alone a rookie.
Arguably his best season, 2010 saw Jackson with 1,056 yards receiving and a jaw-dropping 91-yard touchdown. 2010 also showed the first glimpses of Jackson’s angry side in a fight with Aaron Landry.
2011 was a disappointment for Jackson, and except for a few personal fouls, a holdout for more money against the Eagles and minor yards, Jackson was hardly a presence on the field. This year, Jackson is on the injured reserves for fractured ribs. When he returns, we hope to see some of the Jackson that got him named to the 2010 Pro Bowl instead of the 2011 Jackson that got benched after dropping two perfect passes.
2. Marshawn Lynch
You can’t summarize Marshawn Lynch’s athleticism with some numbers and stories. He is Money. He likes skittles. He wears grilles. He hold’s Cal’s second-highest career rushing yards with 3,230 yards, but more commendable than his talent in catching and running is Lynch’s ability to be smart and make plays. Although he had a slow start in the NFL with the Bills, Lynch’s chemistry with the Seahawks showed him at his best. Most memorable was his 2010 67-yard touchdown run in which he broke through nine tackles and used one hand to put the Saints’ cornerback on the ground. That’s right. A running back that pushes through a cornerback.
In 2011, Marshawn Lynch broke 1,200 rushing yards and got himself added to the Pro Bowl roster. This past season, he’s had some minor injuries keeping him from his best, but when he’s healthy, expect earthquakes.
Marshawn Lynch, roll on you Bear.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Yeah, he plays football or something.
In 2004, he led Cal to a 10-1 season. For current Cal students, that seems almost magical.
His first season as starting quarterback for the Packers saw him with a 157-pass streak without interceptions. Aaron Rodgers has the lowest percentage of interceptions of any quarterback, ever.
His third season starting for the Packers got him the Superbowl MVP.
His fourth season got him League MVP, with all but two of the 50 votes going to Rodgers.
Watching the Niners win against the Packer’s was satisfying, but only because we live here. Many claim that watching Rodgers lose is worse than the pain of childbirth.
Aaron Rodgers, thank you. Thank you for going to Cal.
Tags:Aaron Rodgers, DeSean Jackson, Eagles, football, Jahvid Best, Marshawn Lynch, NFL, Oregon State, Patriots, Shane Vereen
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