Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear Me Out...Wyoming's top five professional athletes of all time


August 11, 2018

Rulon Gardner

Uggghhh ... is anyone else getting exhausted by these Trump tweets? It's the same thing every year or the same insults thrown at people he doesn't like. Last week he took a shot at LeBron and the only thing surprising about it was how long it took him to do so. Then, in what's slowly becoming a tradition with the start of the NFL season, he complained about the NFL players and their demonstrations during the national anthem.

It really feels like we're in a time paradox from "Star Trek" and honestly, I'm bored by all of it. Of course, 45 will feud with a fellow celebrity, that's what divas do. And as for the shots at the NFL, yawn. If you've been reading my column for a while you know where I stand on this. If you're new to Hear Me Out, here's a quick recap.

Liberty tops all. Demanded patriotism isn't what we're about. You don't have to like the players' form of protest but to force people into patriotism is not the US. But if you like government telling people they have to love their country Russia, China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (It's impossible to say without laughing or cracking a smile) are lovely this time of year. Only crap countries demand loyalty and respect.

But at least, for once, Trump doesn't have the dumbest beef on Twitter. I'm looking at you Ben Shapiro and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Enough of that, now on to the fun stuff.

Lately, I've been wondering who is Wyoming's best professional athlete? This might come as a shock but when you do a Google search for "best professional athlete in Wyoming" there aren't many current lists.

Want no more though. I have compiled the definitive list of the Equality State's best professional athletes.

The list is 100 percent subjective but should be taken as 1,000 percent fact. Compiling the list was tricky tough. There have been quite a few pro athletes who have been born here but were raised elsewhere. So I tried to keep this list to solely born and raised Wyoming athletes or raised for a stretch. Adding to the degree of difficulty I decided to only rank the top five, but I did put together an honorable mention list, in no particular order, for those who missed out.


Chris Prosinski – NFL, DB, (2011-2017) Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears

Brandon Nimmo – MLB, OF, (2016-present) New York Mets

Don Cockroft – NFL, kicker (1968-80) Cleveland Browns

Chris Cooley – NFL, TE, (2004-2012) Washington Redskins

Boyd Dowler – NFL, WR, (1959-69, '71) Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins

Jack Snow – NFL, WR, (1965-75) LA Rams

Jamila Wideman – WNBA, guard, (1997-2000) LA Sparks, Cleveland Rockers, Portland Fire

Jim Crawford – NFL, RB, (1960-1964) Boston Patriots

Marlin McKeever – NFL, LB and TE, (1961-1973) LA Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles

Gail Cogdill – NFL, TE, (1960-70) Detroit Lions, Baltimore Colts, Atlanta Falcons

Mike Lansing – MLB, infielder, (1993-2001) Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox



NO. 5 John Godina – Olympic shot putter, (1995-2008)

The No. 5 spot changed the most. Cogdill, Lansing, Dowler all at one point held this spot down but after looking through Godina's career it's quite impressive. Silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games and a bronze in the 2000 Sydney games. The Cheyenne Central alum brought home the gold in the World Championships in '95, '97 and '01. Those are just the big highlights, that's not even including his NCAA titles in the discus and shot put when he threw for UCLA. Godina is considered one of the greatest throwers of all-time.

NO. 4 Brett Keisel – NFL, DL, (2002-2014) Pittsburg Steelers

I know some of you might be thinking this is a bias pick. Keisel is a Greybull High School graduate as am I and the two of us share a lot of similarities, we’re both graduates of GHS. Both won 2A state basketball championships in our senior years. He went on to play DI football and was drafted by the Steelers. I went on to play fantasy football and took down a few leagues … OK, so the similarities are a bit thin.

Seriously, Keisel had an impressive NFL career. Canton is likely out of the question but he’s a lock for the Steelers Hall of Honor. He’s a 2x Super Bowl champ (SB40, SB43) and if not for Aaron Rodgers going god mode in 2010-11, he’d have three rings.

In SB 40 Keisel made a massively underrated play that led to their victory. In the second quarter, the Steelers led the Seahawks 7-3. But the ‘Hawks were marching and were in Steeler territory with less than a minute left. On 2nd and 10 the ‘Hawks gave the ball to league MVP Shaun Alexander, he only made it four yards before Keisel wrapped him up.

It seems like a run of the mill play but I remember ESPN’s Ron “Jaws” Jaworski breaking down the tape and pointing to this play as one of the game’s most pivotal moments. Jaws showed another angle and if Keisel doesn’t make that tackle, Alexander is high-stepping into the end zone and the ‘Hawks take a 10-7 lead into halftime. And as the cliché goes, who knows what happens after that.

NO. 3 Mike Devereaux – MLB, CF, (1987-1988) LA Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers

Devereaux played at Kelly Walsh High School then went to Mesa Community College and eventually become a World Series champion with the Atlanta Braves (An impressive feat unto its own) and was the NLCS MVP in 1995. He was also seventh in a very stacked AL MVP race in 1992.

NO. 2 Rulon Gardner – Olympic wrestler, (2000-2008)

I know Gardner is an obvious pick but anytime you can defeat a Russian, that’s a win in my book. It’s been a while since Gardner’s upset, gold-medal victory over Aleksandr Karelin in the 2000 Sydney Olympic games, but do yourself a favor and look up that story. Karelin hadn’t lost a match in 13 years and didn’t give up a point in the six years before losing to Gardner.

It’s one of the greatest upsets in all of sports and it’s crazy Disney hasn’t made a movie about this. Had this happened in the ’80s I bet Sylvester Stallone would have left the Rocky series in the dust and made Gardner’s story into a franchise.

NO. 1 Taven Bryan – NFL, DL, (2018-present) Jacksonville Jaguars

Every rankings list needs a controversial pick, so here you are. If you’re asking who Taven Bryan is shame on you. He’s only going to become one of the NFL’s greatest D-lineman. Sure he has yet to play a snap for America’s favorite team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he’s bound for greatness.

It’s fair to ask, did I rank Bryan No. 1 because he plays for my favorite NFL team? Busted. In my defense, Bryan is going into an awesome situation. He’s going to learn from future Hall of Famers like Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Malik Jackson. He’ll be on an all-time great defense this season and if I can speak truthfully, this year’s Super Bowl champs.

That’s one hell of a way to start a career. From there he’ll eventually anchor the defensive line and along with backers Myles Jack, Telvin Smith and DB Jalen Ramsey they’ll form the core to the NFL’s greatest defensive dynasties.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019