While we continue to push and trudge through the offseason—as we wait for both Wisconsin football and Joey and Sam Hauser’s announcement of their next college basketball destination—our group of writers came together earlier this week to discuss some random topics that we will also throw out to you, the Bucky’s 5th Quarter community.
On Monday, we published our chat about what plays we would love to see more of from Wisconsin football, if and when appropriate. Today, we dive into Badgers at the next level. See we ask:
Who are your top 5 offensive linemen from Wisconsin to ever play in the NFL?
Tyler Hunt: I don’t know how I can choose only five.
Bob Wiedenhoeft: Joe Thomas, Paul Gruber, Mark Tauscher, Kevin Zeitler, Ryan Ramczyk. Lots of recency bias, of course.
Tyler: GRUBER. ONE CALLLLLLL.
Jake Kocorowski: DAMNIT TYLER NOT THAT [GRUBER LAW OFFICES] COMMERCIAL.
Tyler: Sorry, I saw the name and my thumbs went to work. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs.
Neal Olson: Joe Thomas, Travis Frederick, Kevin Zeitler, Rob Havenstein and Mark Tauscher.
Bob: In my research for this one, I was impressed with Gruber. Started 183 games for the Bucs, two Pro Bowls (1991, 1992), is in the ring of honor for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also got me $2.3 million after I got in a car crash.
Jake: Wait, $2.3 million?
Drew Hamm: Bob ... are you the wealthy benefactor this website has been looking for?
Jake: Bob ... what ... is ... going on?
Bob: None of you are concerned that I got into a fictitious car crash???
Tyler: Am I taking crazy pills here?
Jake: Oh, Bob made a Gruber Law Offices joke. *light bulb turned on*
Drew: I’m also interested in hearing more about this Spanish language preseason game on Telemundo.
Bob: That was when there was an issue with contracts with cable and local TV stations maybe six years ago.
Tyler: Nate Tice, David Gruber, it’s off the rails [on the past two roundtables], folks.
[Ed. note: Gruber Law Offices appears to be a “proud partner of Wisconsin Athletics, for what it’s worth.]
Drew: This has been our best roundtable yet.
Jake: Anyways, I think this is a tough one, especially because of that recency bias. I think Joe Thomas, Mike Webster and Paul Gruber are definitely in there. [According to the Steelers’ website, Webster started 150 consecutive games, made nine Pro Bowls, claimed seven All-Pro honors and helped the organization win four Super Bowls. He also is a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.]
Neal: Forgot about Mike Webster. He for sure belongs on the list.
Tyler: I can’t wait to look back one day and remember how incredible Thomas’ career was. It’s remarkable. Very under appreciated, as lineman often unfairly are.
Bob: If he wasn’t in Cleveland...
Drew: My dad played against Mike Webster in high school!
Neal: Much trickier to evaluate offensive linemen also, yah know, without the touchdowns.
Drew: My dad’s best play in his high school football career was when he was blocking Webster, and Webster was clearly manhandling him, and my dad turned to the ref and he said, “He’s holding me!” and the ref called the penalty.
Jake: Anyways, I’ll throw in Tauscher for his NFL career on my end. The last one is tough. Mind you, we’ve seen guys like Casey Rabach, Cory Raymer, Joe Rudolph, Rob Havenstein and others at the next level. If Chris McIntosh doesn’t suffer injuries, he probably is up there.
Neal: Does anyone remember that Aaron Gibson could do the splits and dunk at like 350lbs ... insane.
Jake: I do in fact remember that.
OK, so I [Jake] didn’t give my fifth one during the roundtable chat, so right now I’ll say Travis Frederick based on his recent Pro Bowl selections—despite missing the 2018 season in fighting Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, it was really close between the All-Pro center and Zeitler, who was a first-round draft pick, has helped anchor offensive lines and made quite a bit of money in his professional career already.
Now it’s time to hear from you, our community. Who did we miss? Why are we right or wrong (or both somehow?)? Let us know your top five NFL lineman that Wisconsin has produced in the comments below!