Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2010 (check out our post tomorrow), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players signing huge contracts to current team members being a part of some of the biggest news stories in sports this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

10 » FIVE BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2010 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon and suddenly in all but one case. Lamar Abel (21), a walk-on defensive lineman, suffered cardiac arrest while volunteering at a roadside cleanup event with his fraternity in Gainesville, FL. Former safety John Curtis (24) committed suicide in Bellvue, WA. Hall of fame safety Jarvis Williams (45) passed away after an acute asthma attack. Former Gators basketball player and friend to the program Augie Greiner (76) died in his home. And long-time donor and Bull Gator George Steinbrenner (80), most famously known as the owner of the New York Yankees, passed away in a Tampa, FL, hospital. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

9 » ERIN ANDREWS GETS JUSTICE, STARS ON TV, RE-SIGNS WITH ESPN

Former Florida dazzler and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews had a much better go of it in 2010. Though her stalker plead guilty to his charges in court in December 2009, she spent a good portion of 2010 making sure he was brought to justice (27-month prison term) while also spreading word across the country that violence against women from sexual predators cannot and should not be tolerated. Simultaneously, Andrews participated in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and even dropped a few Gator Chomps along the way. She ended up finishing third in the competition but parlayed her talent on the sidelines into an enhanced gig with the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Andrews signed a new two-year deal with ESPN, which included a role hosting the first hour of College GameDay live on ESPNU, appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and more of a presence on the family of networks. She also spoke with OGGOA on two occasions, first in a wide-ranging interview that received significant publicity and later to share her thoughts on the resignation of head coach Urban Meyer.

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TWO BITS: Tebow up to No. 3, Hall on Williams

1 » During mini camp at the Dove Valley facility, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow was elevated to the No. 3 position on the team’s depth chart – ahead of Tom Brandstater – but still behind starter Kyle Orton and back-up Brady Quinn. The former Florida Gators star took a few reps, though “Tebow’s throwing motion, by the way, is still a tad long. But he does fire with decent zip and accuracy,” said beat writer Mike Klis of The Denver Post.
- VIDEO: Tebow speaks with Fox Sports about NFL career.

2 » A few former Gators chimed in on the passing of safety Jarvis Williams on Wednesday. The Orlando Sentinel‘s Jeremy Fowler was able to catch up with ex-Florida head coach Galen Hall (1984-89), who spoke just as highly about Williams as his former teammates. “He was just a joy to coach,” Hall said. “He was a very quiet person who went about his business, but he was one of the toughest people I’ve been around in his nice, quiet way. He loved contact, was a good athlete and never tried to be an outstanding hero, just a player doing his job.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Former Gators safety Jarvis Williams dead at 45

Former Florida Gators hall of fame safety Jarvis Williams, Sr. (1965-2010) passed away Tuesday evening. He was 45-years-old.

Though earlier reports stated Williams suffered a massive heart attack, the actual cause of death was ruled to be an acute asthma attack, according to a medical examiner. A person close to his family confirmed his passing to OGGOA early Wednesday morning.

Williams competed for the Gators as a defensive back from 1984 to 1987 under then-head coach Galen Hall. He started every game (45) for four consecutive seasons (third-most in school history), was twice named first-team All-Southeastern Conference and garnered national honors as a first-team All-American in 1987.

During Williams’ career at Florida, he recorded 239 total tackles including 172 unassisted. His 10 career interceptions ranked third all-time for the Gators when he graduated. He led the 1987 team in tackles (77) and punt return yards (222) and was also a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s top defensive back) that year.

Drafted with the No. 42 overall pick in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, Williams would play there for six seasons before finishing his career with the New York Giants. As a professional, he nabbed 16 interceptions (five in 1990) with three sacks and one recorded touchdown.

He played most of his career with fellow Florida safety Louis Oliver, who also made the transition from the Gators to the Dolphins, getting drafted in the first round in 1989.

“Jarvis was just a great person. He’d give you the shirt off his back, he was funny as hell, great teammate, great person. There was nothing bad to say about him,” Oliver told the Palm Beach Post. “He just made the transition from college to professional ball so much easier for me, because he knew the system when I got here. [...] I’ve always known Jarvis to pretty much stay in shape – shooting basketball, jogging, running, and when I got the news that he had a heart attack, that kind of shocked me. I stopped breathing this morning when I got the news. It’s just a sad day.”

After retiring, Williams was honored with an induction into the University of Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame (F Club) as a Gator Great in 2001. He was also named to The Gainesville Sun‘s All-Century Team, as voted by its readers in 1999.

As recently as March 12, Williams competed with a bevy of other Florida players at the Miracle of Life Foundation golf tournament hosted by Emmitt Smith and Darryl Perry.

“[I am] deeply saddened to hear that Jarvis Williams has passed,” Smith said via Twitter. “Man…[he was] only 45 years old. Had the chance and the luxury to play with him. Man…Jarvis [was] such a great football player and person. I still remem[ber] the hit Jarvis put on Melvin Bratton in one of the games when I was being recruited by Florida. Jarvis will be missed. Heartfelt condolences to his fam[ily].”

Oliver on the above clip: “I remember it like it was yesterday – playing it up at UF, Bratton coming over the middle and Jarvis just knocking the s*** out of him. But he did that a lot. He did that in practice, he did that at Florida, he did that in games with the Dolphins.”

OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Williams family. We will update this story as more information is made available.

Photo Credit: George Tiedemann/Sports Illustrated

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