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NN Community Thread: Who was the greatest athlete you ever saw live?

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We asked this question on Twitter Wednesday. Let’s keep it 49ers’ related.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

At a time where sports and just about everything else in the world has come to a halt, thank goodness for the NFL starting their new league year on time and allowing us to enjoy the good graces of free agency.

While there is a ton of news shooting through social media, we thought it’d be a fun idea to create other conversations that aren’t just centered on the latest tweet by Adam Schefter or Ian Rapoport. Yesterday we put up a tweet asking you guys to tell us about the single-best performance you ever saw from an athlete. We decided that not everyone has a twitter account, so we extended it to the site and hope to continue the conversation here.

Why don’t I kick this bad boy off?

I have been to way more college football games than professional, so this one comes from my time growing up in the state of Iowa and going to almost every home game at Kinnick Stadium to watch the Hawkeyes. I got to watch a lot of great players come through the Big Ten. Guys like Terrell Pryor, Melvin Gordon, Russell Wilson, Braxton Miller, Le’Veon Bell, Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, and Saquon Barkley. And that’s just the offensive side of the ball.

Now Iowa isn’t known for churning out great skill-position players. We’re a school that produces players in the trenches or “semi” positions like linebackers and tight ends, as one of my old college coaches used to call them. But in 2008, the Hawkeyes enjoyed a season from their starting running unlike any they’ve ever seen. They always commit to establishing the run, but they took that term to a whole other level that year.

Shonn Greene was a 23-year old senior who missed the entire previous season due to being academically ineligible. He played sparingly in ‘05 and ‘06, averaging 4.7 and 6.0 yards per carry giving the team an early look at what to expect in the future. After winning the starting job, Greene was the epitome of a workhorse, toting the rock 307 times and only recording one game with under 20 totes. By the end of the season, Greene was the only running back in the country to rush for over 100 yards in every game. He finished the year with 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns.

But his crown-jewel of an outing came on October 18th when the Hawkeyes took on the Wisconsin Badgers. Greene took 25 carries for a season-high 217 yards and four touchdowns in that game, but it wasn’t the pure numbers that made this performance amazing. This was the single-greatest performance I have ever seen simply due to the fact that I have never watched a running back run through a team like he was a grown man tearing through a pee-wee football team.

Some running backs are described as pinballs when they just bounce off one defender after the other. This was also a good way to describe Greene’s performance. When a guy seems like he’s averaging multiple broken tackles PER CARRY, you just know you’re watching something special.

There’s obviously some bias as I’m an alumni of the university, and there’s probably some inflated nostalgic aspect that makes me think so highly of that game. Still, sometimes that’s how things are when we look back on our favorite memories.

Now I want to turn this over to you all. What was the greatest athletic performance you have ever witnessed in person? Tell us in the comments and don’t spare a single detail. Make us feel like we were there with you in the moment.

Let’s hear ‘em!