The Defense of Paul Brady (against his own people)
Last week, we at theskinny365 put together a list ranking the 15 greatest athletes of all-time. The list features such greats as Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Pele and Lebron James. Included on this list is the much lesser known, but equally deserving, Paul Brady. Brady is regarded as the greatest handball player of all-time by those that follow the sport and arguably the greatest athlete to ever come out of Ireland. The game of handball itself dates back to the times of Homer and the Ancient Egyptians, so to be regarded as the best at something with that much history is a feat in and of itself. In an effort for full disclosure, the reason I am aware of Paul Brady and his accomplishments is because I myself am a handball fan and also an active participant in the sport. In turn, I have seen Paul Brady dominate the sport for many years. I have also seen some other athletes on this list in person, and Brady dominates his sport as much or more than all others included in the top 15.
When I released these ranking I had no intention of causing any kind of commotion or waves within the sports world, especially not in Brady's home country. Ireland is a relatively small country that is rarely recognized for its athletes on a global scale. So I figured, if anything, the inclusion of an all-time great Irishman would make the Irish folks feel happy, recognized, and proud of Mr. Brady for representing them in such great company. Naively, I also thought maybe they would give theskinny365 some props, for shining a light on this great Irish athlete and their great sport of handball.
Oh, but to the contrary!
The article was published at 4 pm Pacific Standard Time in Los Angeles, California. At 7 am the next morning, we were awoken by a phone call from an Ireland based podcast called "The Racket." The show is hosted by 3 gentlemen, Connor Neville, Donney Mahoney, and Gavin Cooney. When we received this call, we quickly realized they were attempting to do a tired Howard Stern like prank. The folks at "The Racket" actually called us while they were on the air, in an attempt to discredit the notion that Paul Brady is worthy of claiming a spot on the list and to educate us on the many more deserving Irishmen ahead of Brady for the distinction. They went as far as to say the article has "proven to be extremely controversial, and outrageously included only one Irish athlete." When quizzing each other on who might be the lone Irishman on the list, the hosts were unable to even come up with Brady as a possible candidate. When it was revealed that the Irishman is in fact Paul Brady, one of the hosts, presumably an aspiring comedian, said, "Paul Brady, not the folk singer... NO! not to be confused with the folk singer Paul Brady." Some of the audio can be heard here:
I refuse to believe that the opinions of these jokers at "The Racket" are the opinions of all Irish sports fans. I have met many of the great people from Ireland and they have enormous respect and admiration for what Paul Brady has been able to accomplish in his illustrious, and on going career. But the reactions and comments we received from "The Racket" and elsewhere, regarding the rankings of these athletes did start to make me wonder if some folks in Ireland have an inferiority complex when it pertains to their place in athletics throughout the world. As sports fans, we all know some high-profile Irish athletes, stars like Rory McIlroy and Conor McGregor jump to mind immediately, as pointed out in the podcast. But, when comparing their career resumes both fall well short of the accolades Brady has accomplished in his sport. By the time McIlroy and McGregor retire they may rise to an equal level of greatness, but at this point they are both just entering the height of their abilities and do not have the resume to justify consideration for this list. There are also some great Irish athletes that are lesser known here in the United States that deserve to be acknowledged as well. For example, athletes such as Roy Keane, the superstar defensive midfielder from some of the great Manchester United futbol teams. There is also the great hurler Christy Ring; some have said he was to hurling what Ali was to boxing. Unfortunately for Ring, hurling never reached the world in the same way boxing did.
Ireland has had many great athletes throughout the history of the country and many of them are certainly not given their due respect by the rest of the sports world. However, I believe it is undeniable that Paul Brady's dominance is the single most impressive career an Irish athlete has ever had. When compared to Brady, the athletes offered up by they guys at "The Racket" podcast are simply not as dominant and have not been dominant for as long. Brady has been the best player in his sport, without question, for almost 15 years. The level of excellence shown by Paul has been unmatched by almost any athlete, in any sport, across the world. With his 5 consecutive World titles, spanning 15 years , 11 All-Ireland Senior titles, 10 U.S. National titles and dozens of pro circuit tournament victories, Brady has exhibited a level of unmatched, world-wide supremacy, that the game has never seen before.
My hope is that the people of Ireland do not agree with the hosts of "The Racket," and they actually appreciate Paul Brady for what he has done as an athlete as well as the man he is off the handball court. I have met Paul on multiple occasions and he is as much a gentleman off the court as he is an animal on it. Ireland should be extremely proud of Paul and proud of themselves for helping raise such a great champion. For an athlete of such relatively small fame to find his way on to a list of the 15 greatest athletes is an accomplishment that should be relished and praised by the people of his home country, not mocked or laughed at. That some of his own countrymen attempted to make a joke of Mr. Brady's inclusion is shameful. Not that he needs any defending, his resume speaks for itself, but we will continue to defend Paul Brady and congratulate him along with the other 14 athletes who made the top 15. They are all well deserving of the honors they recieve.