During the summer of 2011, the Times/Review Newsgroup sports staff began an ambitious project to compile a list of the 20 greatest athletes in this area’s history, starting from the North Fork and stretching into Brookhaven Town. The idea was to tell the forgotten or unknown stories of the many great athletes over the years and to chronicle their careers from beginning to end.
In addition to profiles on each athlete, which ran over 21 days, the sports staff wrote stories detailing the accomplishments of many other outstanding athletes who didn’t crack the list.
Compiling such a list had its difficulties. And in the end, not everyone agreed with all selections. But what was indisputable was the passion for their sport that came through for each athlete.
The list began with a pair of Greenport hoops legends as a tie for No. 20, Al Edwards and Ryan Creighton. During their respective eras at Greenport, each player set the all-time scoring record for Suffolk County.
Sports Editor Bob Liepa wrote: “Edwards and Creighton could play any position on the floor. They both were relied upon by their teammates to lead the way. They could both dominate a game. They both handled their fame on the basketball court with humility. They both put winning over individual achievement, as considerable as some of those individual achievements were.”
When the countdown finally reached No. 1, the top honor went to a Riverhead legend, Ed Danowski, who hailed from Aquebogue. Danowski played seven seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants. He quarterbacked the Giants to two titles in the 1930s.