T Nation

10 Greatest Athletes of All Time

This is my list. These are athletes (not the best player, we are talking freaks of nature) that stand above in ANY sport in ANY era.

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Bo Jackson
  3. Jim Thorpe
  4. Babe Ruth
  5. Pele
  6. Randy Moss
  7. Sugar Ray Robinson
  8. Wayne Gretsky
  9. Nadia Comaneci
  10. Edwin Moses

Honorable mentions: Barry Sanders, Michael Phelps, Maradonna, Roger Federer, Ronaldo

Where am I wrong??

Secretariat… yeah, a horse. Watch the vid from the Belmont, then doubt me :smiley:

Jim Brown was an athlete who dominated in multiple sports while in college. Sporting News named him the greatest football player ever. Member of pro football, college football, and lax hall of fame.

From wiki:

NFL champion (1964)[1]
Rated No. 2 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com as of 2009 season
Pro Football Hall of Fame (1971)
9x Pro Bowl selection (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965)
8x First-Team All-Pro selection (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965)
Second-Team All-Pro selection (1962)
8x NFL Rushing champion (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965)
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
3x NFL MVP (1957, 1958, 1965)
3x UPI NFL MVP (1958, 1963, 1965)
3x Pro Bowl MVP (1961, 1962, 1965)

I think it depends on how you go about defining it. For the question, I like taking the angle of “who was or could have been great at multiple sports”.

From that perspective I like your top 3 and Randy Moss. I don’t like Moses 'cause he did just one thing. Jackie Joyner Kersey would probably be my token female. Andre Agassi would have been a great middle infielder if his dad had put him in baseball bootcamp. Wilt Chamberlain could have played football or been a track athlete. Elway. Deion Sanders (he would have had more success as a baseball player if he played for a manager who was more open minded than Bobby Cox. Michael Vick.

That’s ten off the top of my head. There are so many great athlete that could probably be on the list. There’s probably some linebackers that should get some luv.

Dan Gable

The question is poorly phrased. Try to better explain the criteria.

In terms of athleticism or achievements?

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
Jim Brown was an athlete who dominated in multiple sports while in college. Sporting News named him the greatest football player ever. Member of pro football, college football, and lax hall of fame.

From wiki:

NFL champion (1964)[1]
Rated No. 2 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com as of 2009 season
Pro Football Hall of Fame (1971)
9x Pro Bowl selection (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965)
8x First-Team All-Pro selection (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965)
Second-Team All-Pro selection (1962)
8x NFL Rushing champion (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965)
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
3x NFL MVP (1957, 1958, 1965)
3x UPI NFL MVP (1958, 1963, 1965)
3x Pro Bowl MVP (1961, 1962, 1965)[/quote]

Wow. How could I forget Brown. My mistake. I totally agree.

so hard to answer. when you say “that guy is a good athlete”, you probably seen him play different sports and he is good at all he participates in. so best ever in my mind is someone who can do it all… that would be a multi sport athlete. eric heiden always comes to mind.was the best speed skater for years, then went on to ride the tour. 2 brutally hard sports, but maybe not events as athletic as other sports. who dominates multi sports? decathletes… who won the most decathalons? is he the best ever then?
rick berry was a tremendous basketball player. in the top 50 of all time… years ago i read where when he plays golf, he is pro material… as well as when he plays tennis. probably the guy on the corner. dr j said “there a ton of street players better than me”, but they choose the other lifestyle…the best i ever seen? probably daley thompson.

I guess “athletic ability” is what I’m measuring. And I give weight to those who show ability in more than one area (that’s why Usian Bolt didn’t make my list or that great Russian powerlifter)

Gable is a good choice.

Along with Alexander Karlin

And as much as I like Jordan, I always default to a prime Randy Moss when I think of raw athletic ability.

“Athletic Ability” is sport specific and task specific. Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson are fucked on the pommel horse and rings, and Nadia Comaneci wouldn’t get very far even in Lingerie Football League. If you are looking for the best “all around” athlete its tough to talk about that without defining what that means. Also, if “all around” is what you are looking for, I don’t see how you you can look past the best decatheletes who, by definition, are the best “all around” but who don’t excel at any particular discipline.

Edwin Moses and Randy Moss don’t even belong in the discussion.

Usain Bolt. That is all. Pretty sure he has the speed to own at most other sports if he chose an alternative path like soccer, football, basketball, rowing, other track events, volleyball, etc.

Mariusz Pudzianowski in terms of strength and conditioning without taking sport specific skill into account.

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Edwin Moses and Randy Moss don’t even belong in the discussion.[/quote]

Seriously, did you forget about jerry rice?

If we’re talking pure athletic ability and disregarding playing ability or accomplishments, then guys like Bo Jackson, Vince Carter and Randy Moss would be at the top of the list. The guy who’s probably most impressive from a purely physical athleticism standpoint is Nate Robinson. That kid went to college on a football scholarship, decided he’d rather focus on basketball, went to the league and win 3 dunk contests at 5’9". Personally don’t think he shoulda win all 3, but his speed, strength and leaping ability are fucking absurd. There ate TONS of dudes who can’t make it in basketball that succeed in other sports (football and boxing mostly). He excelled at everything and went pro in a sport where the AVERAGE player is a full foot taller than him. Dude is a freak.

Jim Thorpe

Jerry Rice was an elite player, but not an elite athlete. He never was considered fast or very strong. But he was more like Larry Bird or Magic Johnson.

Moss had more ability, Rice was the better player.

[quote]WhiteFlash wrote:
If we’re talking pure athletic ability and disregarding playing ability or accomplishments, then guys like Bo Jackson, Vince Carter and Randy Moss would be at the top of the list. The guy who’s probably most impressive from a purely physical athleticism standpoint is Nate Robinson. That kid went to college on a football scholarship, decided he’d rather focus on basketball, went to the league and win 3 dunk contests at 5’9". Personally don’t think he shoulda win all 3, but his speed, strength and leaping ability are fucking absurd. There ate TONS of dudes who can’t make it in basketball that succeed in other sports (football and boxing mostly). He excelled at everything and went pro in a sport where the AVERAGE player is a full foot taller than him. Dude is a freak.[/quote]

Good call. Nate was out of this world.

He was a multiple event sprint champ in high school as well. That dude is the definition of physical specimen. How effortlessly he pulls off incredibly difficult dunks at his height is insane.