Bert Sugar, the beloved cigar muncher/boxing historian has frequently expressed his belief that the dearth of great American heavyweights can be directly attributed to the rise in popularity, and profitability, of leagues like the NFL. Forty years ago it was boxers who were on top of the American sports world while professional football was still struggling to find its place (fortunately it had some ardent supporters).

Obviously today’s landscape is far different. Ethan Albright is earning millions and enjoying the fame associated with being Madden ’07’s lowest rated player while some guy named Vodka Drunkenski is hoisting our once beloved title belts over his Chernobylized head. But what if that weren’t the case?

What if all of the tremendous athletes in our beloved NFL had grown up in headgear rather than helmets, and throwing jabs instead of footballs? When asked which NFLer would make the best boxer Sugar contends that “Ray Lewis would be a hell of a heavyweight,” but I think we need a tournament to make things official.

What we need from you readers is some nominations. It’s quite simple really, you name an active NFL player in the comment section and they will be considered for the field. Once the competitors are decided upon we’ll seed them and provide a tale of the tape for each match-up to help you vote. In the end, only one man will remain standing.

I’ll get the ball rolling with one guy who’s a lock for a favorable seed. He’s big, he’s crazy, and he actually boxes in the off-season. He’s Shawne Merriman.

Remember, we’re limiting this to potential heavyweights so all competitors should be at least 5’11” (taller than Tyson) with a hypothetical boxing weight between 215 and 299 pounds.