of the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame
Steve Bartkowski, Brandi Chastain, Roger Maltbie, Willy T. Ribbs
Rudy Galindo, Art Lambert, Dan Pastorini, Peter Ueberroth, Kristi Yamaguchi
Arturs Irbe, Bruce Jenner, Keri Sanchez, Dave and Mark Schultz
Ron Calcango, Sherly Johnson, Ronnie Lott, Bob Murphy
Dick Gould, George Gund III, Margaret Jenkins, John Oldham
Brian Boitano, Bert Bonannno, Kim Oden, Carlos "Bud" & Ralph Ogden, Mark Spitz
Jennifer Azzi, Bill McPherson, Walt McPherson
Brent Jones, Barbara & Kathy Jordan, Benny Pierce, Ken Venturi
John Brodie, Amy
Chow, Kurt Rambis, Pat Tillman
Anne Warner Cribbs, Becky Dyroen-Lancer, Andre Phillips, Billy Wilson
Dennis Awtrey, Ed Burke, Betty Hicks, Carney Lansford, Craig Morton
Ernie Nevers, Joe Leonard, John Ralston, Dave Righetti, Carroll Williams
Donald Bowden, Jack & John Elway, Francie Larrieu Smith, Chuck Taylor
Millard Hampton, Claudia Kolb Thomas, Pat Malley, Patty Sheehan
Hal Davis, Pablo Morales, Buck Shaw, Debi Thomas, Bill Walsh
Payton Jordan, Angelo Hank Luisetti, Bob Mathias, Al Ruffo, Tommie
Chris von Saltza Olmstead
Peggy Fleming Jenkins, John Hanna, Julius Menendez, Yosh Uchida
Donna de Varona, Lee Evans, George Haines, Jim Plunkett, Charlie & Lucy
Wedemeyer, Bud Winter
– Football –
you look back over the career of John Brodie, it isn’t
long until an inevitable thought occurs: Was there any
sport this Stanford athlete could not play? Growing up
in Oakland, he won a state youth tennis championship
and lettered in four sports in high school. He set a
slew of records as Stanford’s quarterback, then
went to the San Francisco 49ers and played a team-record
17 seasons. After football, he switched to golf and recorded
a dozen top-10 finishes plus a championship in a 13-year
career on the Senior PGA Tour.
Yet there’s also another prominent
theme that runs through Brodie’s career, and that’s
of the many fall Sundays at old Kezar Stadium in which
he compiled record passing statistics for a sub-par team
before unappreciative fans. It took 14 seasons until
a suitable roster was assembled around the quarterback
with the precise and prolific arm, but when it was, the
booing stopped. The 49ers went to the 1970 NFC Championship
Game and Brodie, who led the league with 223 completions
in 378 attempts for 2,941 yards and 24 touchdowns, with
was named the NFL’s most valuable player. The 49ers
returned to the championship game the next season.
By the time Brodie retired from the
49ers in 1973, he compiled passing statistics that still
rank him second in team passing yardage at 31,548 and
third in team touchdown passes with 214.
Brodie developed his talents during
a period of Bay Area sports history that produced several
all-time greats. In high school he jumped center against
future NBA star Bill Russell and played baseball against
future Hall of Fame third baseman Frank Robinson. His
original plan was to play baseball and basketball at
Stanford, but he ended up on the football and golf teams.
In his senior season in 1956 he was named All-American,
finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy vote and later
was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Following retirement from the 49ers,
he joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1985 and won the Security
Pacific Senior Open in 1991, finishing with career winnings
of more than $735,000.
In 2000, while
watching an NFL game on television from his home in
Riverside County, Brodie
suffered a life-threatening stroke that permanently damaged
his speech. He continues to fight back from its affects,
slowly regaining the ability to speak and gradually expanding
the range of movement with his arms. Those who have watched
him master almost every task set before him in his life
have no doubt that this is another struggle he’ll
back to top
– Gymnastics –
years before she competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic
Games – when Amy Chow was beginning to show potential
as an international gymnast – her mother mused
about Chow’s competitive future.
“You know, if Amy could represent
the United States (in the Olympics), I feel it would
be a contribution,” Susan Chow said. “I think
it's a way to thank the country for letting us immigrate
debt repaid. The daughter of Chinese immigrants who
met and married in San Jose,
Chow made history as a member of the “Magnificent
7,” the first U.S. women’s team to win the
Olympic team gymnastics championship. Two days later,
in the individual event finals, Chow returned to the
medal podium to receive a silver medal in the uneven
But perhaps as impressive as her performance
in Atlanta was that four years later, Chow qualified
for her second Olympics and returned to compete for the
fourth-place U.S. team in the Sydney Games, rare longevity
in a sport where careers are notoriously short.
career began almost by accident. The ballet schools
her mother tried to enroll
her in would not accept a 3-year-old. By the time she
was 5, she had been moved into an accelerated gymnastics
program at West Valley Gymnastics in Campbell, and by
8 she was the first elite-level athlete the gym had ever
She was 14 when
she was chosen for her first U.S. international team,
traveling to Argentina
for a dual meet and then to Mexico for that country’s
Olympic Festival. There she won first in the all-around,
first in vault, balance beam and uneven bars and second
in floor exercise. A year later she won floor exercise
and finished third in the all-around and vault in a U.S.-Japan
meet in Japan.
That set the
stage for her first appearance with the senior U.S.
team, which won the silver medal
in the 1994 World Team Championships at Dortmund, Germany.
A year later at the Pan American Games on the United
States’ gold medal team, Chow won an individual
gold medal in the vault, silver in the uneven bars and
bronze in the all-around.
The road to
the Atlanta Olympics seemed clear for Chow. All she
had to do was get through the
Olympic Trials in Boston, and she’d be on the team.
But Boston proved to be scary. Her foot slipped during
a series of backward somersaults on the balance beam
and Chow’s head cracked against the wood. Even
as the swelling around her eye grew noticeably, she remounted
the beam and finished her routine.
It put her on an Olympic team destined
for glory and history.
– Basketball –
one – not even Kurt Rambis himself – would
have foreseen four NBA championship rings for the former
Cupertino High and Santa Clara star. A third-round draft
pick in 1980, Rambis was cut before the New York Knicks
even finished training camp. A season playing for AEK
in Athens, Greece gave no indication of Rambis’ future
either. In those days, European leagues were where mediocre
American players went to fade away, not the source of
NBA talent they have come to be today.
But after a season in Europe, the Los
Angeles Lakers took a small chance on Rambis, giving
him a non-guaranteed contract in 1981. He responded by
becoming one of the greatest role players in NBA history,
a blue-collar player on a glitzy team that won league
titles in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.
Of course, there
are those in Cupertino today who might say they weren’t
surprised. In three seasons at Cupertino High, the
won two Central Coast Section championships and he was
named Player of the Year in 1975 and 1976 by the San
Jose Mercury News. At Santa Clara he was the West Coast
Conference Freshman of the Year and in 1980 he was conference
Player of the Year.
he joined the Lakers, Mitch Kupchak had just been signed
and figured to stand between
Rambis and floor time. But Rambis got his break two months
into the ’81 season when Kupchak suffered a serious
knee injury, and he wound up starting 43 or the remaining
45 games of a championship season.
Over the next
six seasons, Rambis continued to play an integral role
in the Lakers’ success.
With the exception of the 1983-84 season, when he missed
32 games with a sore left foot, he appeared in at least
70 games each year and annually ranked among the team’s
He finished his playing career in stints
with the Charlotte Hornets and Phoenix Suns before returning
to the Lakers in 1994 for three seasons as an assistant
coach. Early in the 1998-99 season Rambis was named interim
head coach and led the team to the Western Conference
Finals. He then spent three years in the front office
as an advisor and assistant general manager before returning
to the bench as an assistant coach under Phil Jackson.
Rambis has also
worked in several television ventures including pre-game
commentator on Lakers’ telecasts
and has begun an acting career.
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– Football –
died a hero. He was in harm’s way in Afghanistan last April by choice,
and few people – weighing whether to the alternatives
of life as a pro football player or the risks of a soldier
in a combat zone – would have made the same choice
Still, it’s important to remember
that Tillman’s choice was about service; it was
neither a quest for heroism nor a death wish. “The
essence of the man was to help somewhere else if he felt
he was needed to help,” said Dave McGinniss, coach
of the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 when Tillman decided
to give up his NFL career for the U.S. Army Rangers following
the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Tillman’s death sharpened the
nation’s understanding of how fully and intensely
the San Jose native and Leland High graduate lived his
life. He fully supported family, friends and teammates
and accepted the consequences of those commitments.
In high school,
where he played both ways, Tillman once sneaked back
into a game after being
subbed out, so the coach took his shoulder pads and helmet
away from him the rest of the game. He also came to the
defense of a friend in a fight and had to serve 30 days’ juvenile
detention. He later told Sports Illustrated he was proud
of that chapter of his life, not because of what happened
but because “it made me realize that stuff you
do has repercussions. You can lose everything.’’
That was two
weeks before his first football practice at Arizona
State and was the last fight
he was involved inn until Afghanistan. The Sun Devils
planned for Tillman to redshirt his freshman year, but
he made it clear his commitment to them was for four
years, after which he had other plans. He rewarded ASU
by leading the team to the 1997 Rose Bowl as a linebacker
and being named Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of
the Year as a senior. He graduated in 3 ½ years.
Still, he was considered undersized
at 5-11, 192 pounds, and the Arizona Cardinals waited
until the seventh round to take him in the 1998 NFL Draft.
He switched to safety and became the first rookie starter
at that position in team history. He led the Cardinals
in special teams tackles with 30 in 1999, and by the
end of the 2001 season, the team was prepared to reward
him with a $3.6 million contract.
But for the second time in his football
career, Tillman had to tell his coach he had other plans.
He and his brother Kevin, a former minor league baseball
player, had been profoundly moved by the terrorist attacks
on the United States, and they enlisted in the Army together.
decision ended a great football career as well as his
life. But it was the decision
of a man more concerned with what he could contribute
than what he would receive.
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