D.A.: Which Current Players Deserve To Be “The Franchise?"

In honor of Tom Seaver, D.A. identifies four modern athletes most deserving of “The Franchise” moniker

Damon Amendolara
September 04, 2020 - 1:27 pm
Tom Seaver MLB

USA Today Images

The passing of Tom Seaver this week devastated the Mets community. He was a three-time Cy Young winner, the lead horse on the magical '69 World Series team, and the man most responsible for changing the culture of the franchise. Seaver is such a Mets immortal the day he was traded in '77 is still a tragic date revisited every summer by the New York sports media. Dick Young and M. Donald Grant are names still met with visceral hatred more than 40 years later. Seaver's name now adorns the outside of Citi Field and a statue to him will be unveiled next year. He garnered 98 percent of the Hall of Fame vote in his first year of eligibility and is by far the greatest player in team history. Because of all this, he's nicknamed "The Franchise."  

This got me thinking of current players who have also earned that moniker. The list of attributes would have to start with being the best player in team history. You can't be "The Franchise" if there's someone better than you. The athlete should also be responsible for creating a winning culture. Seaver grabbed the scruff of the neck of an expansion team and dragged it to its first championship. Finally, the player needs to be active on that team. LeBron James is "The Franchise" for the Cavs, but he's in L.A. now. Here's the best candidate for the four major sports:  

Drew Brees
He wasn't drafted by the Saints, but quickly after being acquired it was obvious he would be one of the greatest in franchise history. Brees is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who will hold every significant passing record in league history when he retires. He delivered the organization's only Super Bowl title, and is the greatest all-time Saint by leaps and bounds (topping Pat Swilling and Archie Manning). Before Brees arrived, New Orleans had won a single playoff game and never advanced past the divisional round. Since '06 the Saints have tallied eight postseason wins, three championship game appearances, and a Lombardi. Brees is already "The Franchise."  

Steph Curry
The Splash Brothers didn't hang the first Warriors banner, but the '15 champs changed the course of the franchise's history. Curry's dramatics at Davidson were doubted by plenty of observers. How would an undersized guard from a small school survive in the NBA? But he altered the trajectory of the sport, launching threes from a superhuman distance, and making sharpshooting cool. Steph needed the perfect setup to win that first title, Klay Thomspon and Draymond Green as fellow cornerstones, plus a head coach in Steve Kerr that gave him the permanent green light. But he became the most important player for a modern dynasty. Curry's spot as the greatest Warrior is somewhat debatable. Wilt Chamberlain was a Philadephia and San Francisco Warrior for five-and-a-half seasons. Rick Barry is also one of the greatest players in league history, plus brought the franchise its first title by the Bay in '75. But Curry was the heart of three championship teams and five consecutive Finals appearances, which qualifies for "Franchise" status.  

Mike Trout
He's inarguably the greatest player in the game today. He'll retire perhaps as a top 10 player of all-time. The history of the Angels franchise is littered with broken dreams and heartbreak, but their one title came in ‘02 a decade before Trout arrived. Nolan Ryan is also an Anaheim legend, but he's identified as much with the Astros (and possibly Rangers) as the Angels. This would be a no-brainer if only Trout had more winning under his belt. His teams have astoundingly never won a playoff game and only appeared in the postseason once. Hopefully, Trout gets to play in October a few more times before his prime fades. Even if he doesn't win a title, however, there is no question he's already the best player in team history and synonymous with the Angels. 

Alexander Ovechkin
The "Great 8" brought the Caps their first Cup a few seasons ago, and once that happened his place was cemented in team lore. The Russian Rocket took a franchise without much success in its previous four decades and made them must-watch TV. Ovie's scoring and a boatload of highlights always made him the most dynamic Capital ever. But a penchant for great regular seasons spoiled by early exits in the playoffs threatened to undermine his legacy. He is unquestionably now the best player in team history and hoisted that elusive Lord Stanley. When he retires he will forever be "The Franchise." 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 6:00AM-10:00AM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.