View Full Version : Best Players in Professional Sports (includes all Major Sports)

07-23-2008, 10:16 PM

No. 00--Contender: Robert Parish Winner: Jim Otto, Oakland Raiders. After Otto wore No. 50 in his rookie season with Oakland, the Raiders equipment manager decided double-zeros would look good on "Mr. Aught-O." The Raiders weren't winning games or bringing in fans in 1961 and thought, why not?

No. 0--Contenders: Well ZERO! Winner: Al Oliver, Texas Rangers. Oliver wore No. 0 for the Rangers because he wanted to start over after his years in Pittsburgh. An 18-year major leaguer Oliver left with a lifetime batting average of .303, which shows that his value was much higher than his number.

No. 1--Contenders: Warren Moon, Oscar Robertson (Bucks only), Nate Archibald, Tracy McGrady, Pee Wee Reese and Richie Ashburn. The Winner: Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals. The Wizard beats some nice competition and does a backflip to celebrate.

No. 2--Contenders: Red Auerbach and Tommy Lasorda. The Winner: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees. The Captain starts a run on Yankees.

No. 3--Contenders: Dale Earnhardt, Harmon Killebrew and Bronco Nagurski. The winner: Babe Ruth, New York Yankees. Come on, The Yankees in the 1920s started uniform numbers and Babe wore No. 3 because that's where he batted in the order. An easy choice as Ruth is arguably the greatest player in Major League history.

No. 4--Contenders: Brett Favre, Bobby Orr and Duke Snider. The Winner: Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees. Favre and Orr garner serious attention, but the Iron Horse was the original No. 4 and still the best.

No. 5--Contenders: Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Bench, Brooks Robinson, Paul Hornung and Hank Greenberg. The winner: George Brett, Kansas City Royals. Well, you could pick any of these guys, but Brett wins because I don't want to pick four Yankees in a row.

No. 6--Contenders: Stan Musial, Al Kaline and Julius Erving (76ers). The winner: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics. I would have liked to pick Stan the Man, who I believe is an underrated great player, but Russell was the cornerstone of the Boston Celtics of the late 1950s and 1960s, which was simply the greatest dynasty in the history of pro sports.

No. 7--Contender: John Elway. The winner: Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees. Elway certainly has a lot of merit, but George Costanza wanted to name his child Seven, in honor of Mantle not Elway. Mantle is an icon of the '50s and '60s. His aura is still so great that trading card giant Topps doesn't print card No. 7 in its baseball sets as a tribute to the Mick.

No. 8--Contenders: Yogi Berra, Steve Young and Kobe Bryant (early in career). The winner: Cal Ripken, Jr., Baltimore Orioles. Ripken's record of consecutive games played is so amazing, that it overshadows a career of arguably the greatest shortstop in Major League history.

No. 9--Contenders: Ted Williams and Gordie Howe. We'll simply flip a coin. Tails is Howe. Heads (cryogenically frozen or not) for Williams.

No. 10--Contenders: Fran Tarkenton and Chipper Jones. The winner: Pele, New York Cosmos. The only time I saw him play was in the 1981 movie "Victory" with Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine. He was about 60 then (actually 41) and he made a goal with a bicycle kick -- good enough for me.

No. 11--Contenders: Mark Messier, Isiah Thomas and Yao Ming. The winner: Carl Hubbell, New York Giants. Not only is Hubbell considered the greatest screwball pitcher of all time, but his No. 11 is actually part of his last name.

No. 12--Contenders: John Stockton, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw and Tom Brady. The winner: Joe Namath, New York Jets. Namath guaranteed a win in Super Bowl III as an 18-point underdog, then went out and did it. The Jets' victory in Super Bowl III paved the way for the NFL to become the dominant landscape in all of sports.

No. 13--Contenders: Dan Marino and Alex Rodriguez (Yankees). The winner: Wilt Chamberlain, Philadephia/San Francisco, Philadephia, Los Angeles. As great as Marino was and A-Rod is, there's only one Wilt. Chamberlain's No. 13 has been retired by six different teams: Philadelphia Overbrook High School, the University of Kansas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and the Harlem Globetrotters.

No. 14--Contenders: Ernie Banks and Pete Rose. The winner: Oscar Robertson , Cincinnati Royals. Robertson wore No. 14 as a Royal and the guy averaged a triple-double in 1961-62 and after his playing days, donated a kidney to his daughter. That's enough to beat Mr. Cub and the all-time hits leader.

No. 15--Contender: None. The winner: Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers . Surprisingly not a lot to choose from, but Starr was a great quarterback on dominant Green Bay teams and easily gets the nod.

No. 16--Contenders: Frank Gifford and George Blanda: The winner: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers. Joe Cool wore No. 19 for the Chiefs, but his best years were in the Bay Area wearing sweet 16.

No. 17--Contender: Dizzy Dean. The winner: John Havlicek, Boston Celtics. Havlicek was a 13-year all-star for some great Celtic teams and is an easy choice.

No. 18--Contender: Dave Cowens. The winner: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts. Hands down winner.

No. 19--Contenders: Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount and Lance Alworth. The winner: John Unitas, Baltimore Colts. How great was Unitas? Fifty years after leading the Colts to their first championship, he's still considered one of the top five quarterbacks of all time.

No. 20--Contenders: Mike Schmidt and Frank Robinson. The winner: Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions. Two of the greatest baseball players of all time just can't match the excitement of Sanders, who retired after just nine seasons with the third-most yards rushing in NFL history.

No. 21--Contenders: Roger Clemens (Red Sox), Sammy Sosa, LaDainian Tomlinson and Warren Spahn. The winner: Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates. The most beloved Latin American player ever was an absolute legend and guiding force to many players. Clemente was not only a great player, but also a great humanitarian.

No. 22--Contenders: Elgin Baylor, Jim Palmer, Roger Clemens (Yankees). The winner: Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys. Smith is the all-time rushing leader in the NFL and a catalyst of great Cowboys teams in the 1990s.

No. 23--Contender: Lebron James. The winner: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls. Ten years from now, this may be a dead heat or possibly even reversed, but for now Jordan is the king and James is the prince in waiting.

No. 24--Contenders: Rick Barry, Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson, Lenny Moore and Kobe Bryant: The winner: Say-Hey Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants. No. 24 is one of the great jersey numbers ever, but Mays and his 660 homeruns and peerless defense, is still an easy choice.

No. 25--Contenders: Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmiero. The winner: Barry Bonds, San Francisco. Are you kidding me? All three of these guys are tainted by the steroid issue and they all wore No. 25?

No. 26--Contenders: Wade Boggs and Rod Woodson. The winner: Billy Williams, Chicago Cubs. Williams power gives him the edge over Boggs.

No. 27--Contenders: Carlton Fisk (Red Sox), Catfish Hunter and Vlad Guerrero. The winner: Juan Marichal, San Francisco Giants. Marichal compiled a 2.89 career ERA, with 244 complete games and a .631 winning percentage. Yeah, he was pretty good.

No. 28--Contenders: None. The winner: Marshall Faulk, Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. Faulk is a sure Hall-of-Famer.

No. 29--Contenders: Satchell Paige, Rod Carew and John Smoltz. The winner: Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams/Indianapolis Colts. Dickerson set an NFL record 2,105 yards in 1984 for the Rams.

No. 30--Contenders: Terrell Davis and George McGinnis. The winner: Nolan Ryan, California Angels. OK, we're going out of the box here, because most people remember him as No. 34, which is a very crowded field, but he played eight years for the Angels wearing No. 30. This way we can get the Ryan Express on our list.

No. 31--Contenders: Dave Winfield, Ferguson Jenkins and Mike Piazza. The winner: Greg Maddux, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres. Four straight Cy Young awards and well over 300 wins for this future Hall of Fame pitcher.

No. 32--Contenders: A lot! The winner: Jim Brown Cleveland Browns. My vote for greatest number. How about Magic Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Julius Erving (Nets), O.J. Simpson and Franco Harris as runner-ups? Still, Brown is an easy choice besides being arguably the greatest football and lacrosse player ever. He was pretty good in "The Dirty Dozen," "100 Rifles" and "Mars Attacks, as well.

No. 33--Contenders: Tony Dorsett, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The winner: Larry Bird, Boston Celtics. Larry Legend has some stiff competition, but Bird was so dominant in the 1980s that he edges Jabbar for the honor of best No. 33.

No. 34--Contenders: Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Kirby Puckett, Nolan Ryan and Earl Campbell. The winner: Walter Payton, Chicago Bears. As we mentioned when we selected Ryan at No. 30, this is another loaded number. All of the contenders are in their respective hall of fames or soon will be, yet Payton is the sweetest player to ever wear No. 34.

No. 35--Contenders: Phil Niekro and Phil Esposito. The winner: Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox. It's become quite fashionable to knock Big Frank in the last few years, but just take a look at his numbers: 519 home runs (and counting), a lifetime batting average above .300 and six years being in the top five in his league's MVP voting is good enough to win the spot at No. 35.

No. 36--Contenders: Gaylord Perry, Robin Roberts and Jerome Bettis. The winner: Meadowlark Lemon, Harlem Globetrotters. How about a guy who only lost like once every 10 years or so?

No. 37--Contender: Doak Walker. The winner: Casey Stengel, New York Yankees. The Ol' Professor actually had a decent major league playing career as he played 14 seasons and retired with a career batting average of .284. It was as manager of the great Yankee teams of the 1950s and the laughable Mets teams of the early 1960s that Casey is so fondly remembered, and our choice at No. 37.

No. 38--Contenders: A pretty weak field, actually. The winner: Curt Schilling, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox. No hall-of -fame types here. Schilling has had a strong career and cemented is spot at No. 38 with World Series rings in Arizona and Boston.

No. 39--Contenders: Larry Csonka and Dave Parker. The winner: Roy Campanella, Brooklyn Dodgers. Campanella was a three-time winner of the MVP in a career tragically cut short by a car accident that left him a paraplegic.

No. 40--Contenders: None. The winner: Gale Sayers, Chicago Bears. Mere numbers don't really reflect just how great this guy was. Quite possibly the most thrilling open-field runner ever and also quite possibly the greatest athlete ever born in the state of Nebraska.

No. 41--Contenders: Wes Unseld, Eddie Mathews and Dirk Nowitzki. The winner: Tom Seaver, New York Mets. A surprisingly great bunch for an obscure number, Tom Terrific gets the nod over Mathews.

No. 42--Contenders: Ronnie Lott and Paul Warfield. The winner: Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was thought of so highly as not only a player, but a sociological pioneer that his number has been retired by Major League Baseball.

No. 43--Contender: Dennis Eckersley. The winner: Richard Petty, NASCAR. Ring one up for the good ol' boys. The King and his car deservedly take the checkered flag in the race for No. 43.

No. 44--Contenders: Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson (Yankees), George Gervin, Jim Brown (College) and Pete Maravich. The winner: A tie between Hank Aaron, Milwaukee/ Atlanta and Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers.. Why a tie? Aaron hit 755 career home runs and West's image is the actual logo of the NBA. Two of the greatest athletes of all-time share double four.

No. 45--Contenders: Michael Jordan (comeback number) and Pedro Martinez. The winner: Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals. Another candidate for greatest athlete born in Nebraska, Gibson's 1968 season is the best year ever for a pitcher. Gibson's ERA that season was 1.12 with 22 wins, 13 shutouts and Cy Young and MVP awards to boot.

No. 46--Contender: Lee Smith. The winner: Todd Christensen, Oakland Raiders. Known as the Renaissance Man, Christensen wore a fullback's number as a tight end and appeared in five Pro Bowls.

No. 47--Contender: Tom Glavine. The winner: Mel Blount, Pittsburgh Steelers. Hall of Fame cornerback with the great Steelers teams of the 1970s is regarded as one of the hardest hitters in NFL history.

No. 48--Contender: None The winner: Jimmy Johnson, NASCAR. This young driver should be a NASCAR mainstay for years to come.

No. 49--Contenders: Ron Guidry and Hoyt Wilhelm. The winner: Bobby Mitchell, Washington Redskins. In 11 NFL seasons, Mitchell caught 65 touchdown passes, ran for 18 TDs, returned kickoffs for five TDs and punts for scores and even threw a pass once for a TD.

No. 50--Contender: Mike Singletary. The winner: David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs. Robinson completed a 14-ear NBA career, after fulfilling a three-year commitment to the United States Navy. The Admiral retired with a 21.1 per game scoring average.

07-23-2008, 10:16 PM
No. 51--Contenders: Ichiro Suzuki and Randy Johnson The winner: Dick Butkus, Chicago Bears. While Butkus' career was not that long, his impact on the game was tremendous. Thirty-five years after last playing Butkus remains one of the most enduring images in the NFL.

No. 52--Contender: Mike Webster. The winner: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens. Lewis could easily be described as the modern day version of Butkus -- a tough bruising leader, Lewis will easily be elected to the Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.

No. 53--Contenders: Artis Gilmore and Harry Carson. The wsinner: Don Drysdale, Los Angeles Dodgers. Double-D was a great pitcher and would throw at anyone. He once was asked if he would throw at his own mother. His response: "Only if she was crowding the plate."

No. 54--Contenders: Rich "Goose" Gossage and Brian Urlacher. The winner: Randy White, Dallas Cowboys. White not only was a brilliant player who reached the Pro Bowl nine times, but only missed one game in a 14-year career.

No. 55--Contender: Orel Hershiser. The winner: Junior Seau, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots. Seau is a 12-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL's all 1990s decade team.

No. 56--Contenders: None The winner: Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants. Jersey numbers in the 50s are filled with great linebackers and Taylor is arguably the greatest linebacker to ever play the game.

No. 57--Contender: Tom Jackson. The winner: Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets. Superb young left-hander, now pitching in the National League with the Mets after some great years with the Twins.

No. 58--Contender: Derrick Thomas. The winner: Jack Lambert, Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a real tough choice, but one can't argue with the success the Steelers had during the Lambert years. Still, I won't argue if anyone chose Thomas or called this a tie.

No. 59--Contenders: None The winner: Jack Ham, Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, that Steeler defense in the 1970s was very special.

No. 60--Contenders:None The winner: Otto Graham, Cleveland Browns. No. 60 is a strange number for a quarterback and Graham finished his career at No. 14, but he wore No. 60 long enough to be considered the best.

No. 61--Contender: Curley Culp. The winner: Bill George, Chicago Bears. Gee, you'd think the Bears won a lot of championships as many players as they have on this list.

No. 62--Contenders: None The winner: Jim Langer, Miami Dolphins. Langer is a Hall of Fame center and the center on the NFL's all 1970s team.

No. 63--Contender: Willie Lanier. The winner: Gene Upshaw, Oakland Raiders. Upshaw is considered one of the greatest offensive linemen in history and narrowly defeats a great linebacker in Lanier.

No. 64--Contender: Randall McDaniel. The winner: Jerry Kramer, Green Bay Packers. Kramer got famous for one block, but had a very nice career.

No. 65--Contender: Tom Mack. The winner: Gary Zimmerman, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos. Zimmerman was selected to seven Pro Bowls.

No. 66--Contender: Ray Nitschke. The winner: Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins. Lemieux wore No. 66 to honor upcoming No. 99. Lemieux was so great he returned to star in the NHL after serious injuries and a cancer scare after being elected to the NHL Hall of Fame in 1997.

No. 67--Contender: None. The winner: Bob Kutchenberg, Miami Dolphins. Kutchenberg fractured his back in August of 1977 and only missed two regular season games that year.

No. 68--Contenders: None. The winner: Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins. Jagr still plays in the league for the New York Rangers. A gifted scorer, Jagr led the NHL in scoring on five different occasions.

No. 69--Contenders: None. The winner: No one worthy of joining this list at No. 69.

No. 70--Contender: Sam Huff. The winner: Art Donovan, Baltimore Colts. Huff was probably the better player, but Donovan is a lot funnier.

No. 71--Contenders: None. The winner: Alex Karras, Detroit Lions. Speaking of a funny guy, Karras played Mongo in "Blazing Saddles," plus he also was a four-time first team All-Pro defensive tackle.

No. 72--Contender: Dan Dierdorf. The winner: Carlton Fisk, Chicago White Sox. Fisk switched from No. 27 to No. 72 when he left Boston because he wanted a complete reversal in his career.

No. 73--Contenders: None The winner: John Hannah, New England Patriots. Hannah is a member of the NFL's 75th anniversary all-time team and is good enough to be considered the top No. 73.

No. 74--Contenders: Merlin Olson and Ron Mix. The winner: Bob Lilly, Dallas Cowboys. Lilly narrowly wins over two great players in Olson and Mix. Lilly was named to 11 Pro-Bowls in his 14-year career.

No. 75--Contenders: Deacon Jones and Mean Joe Greene. The winner: A tie -- you tell the loser, not me.

No. 76--Contenders: Big Daddy Lipscomb and Bob Brown. The winner: Lou Groza, Cleveland Browns. Lou "The Toe" Groza played 21 years in the NFL as a tackle and a place-kicker. Groza retired with 1,608 points scored in his career.

No. 77--Contender: Ray Bourque. The winner: Red Grange, Illinois and Chicago Bears. The Galloping Ghost, wow did they have great nicknames back then or what?

No. 78--Contenders: Bruce Smith, Bobby Bell and Art Shell. The winner: Anthony Munoz, Cincinnati Bengals. Munoz played 13 years and was a first-team All-Pro nine times and a first ballot Hall of Famer at offensive tackle.

No. 79--Contenders: None. The winner: Roosevelt Brown, New York Giants. Before Munoz came along, Brown was considered the greatest offensive tackle in NFL history. Brown was all-NFL for eight consecutive seasons at offensive tackle.

No. 80--Contender: Cris Carter. The winner: Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers. Rice is the second-easiest choice on this list (see No. 99 for the easiest).

No. 81--Contender: Kellen Winslow. The winner: Dick "Night Train" Lane, Detroit Lions. Coolest nickname of all time. Lane was a product of Scottsbluff Junior College. Most of Lane's techniques are illegal now.

No. 82--Contenders: None. The winner: Raymond Berry . A six-time Pro-Bowler and a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, Berry caught 631 passes in a 13-year career and only fumbled twice!

No. 83--Contender: Andre Reed. The winner: Ted Hendricks, Oakland Raiders. An eight-time Pro Bowler, The Stork is the greatest NFL player born in the country of Guatemala.

No. 84--Contenders: Sterling Sharpe and Randy Moss. The winner: Shannon Sharpe, Denver Broncos. Shannon had a longer career than his brother and was more consistent than Moss has been.

No. 85--Contender: Nick Buonoconti. The winner: Jack Youngblood, Los Angeles Rams. Youngblood actually played a Super Bowl with a broken leg -- and played well.

No. 86--Contender: Buck Buchanan. The winner: Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers. Ward is a catch machine and an outstanding blocker. He was named the MVP of Super Bowl XL.

No. 87--Contenders: Dave Casper and Lionel Taylor. The winner: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. You have to be pretty good to be considered the greatest to wear a jersey number in only your third year in the league. Crosby is that good.

No. 88--Contenders: Alan Page, Tony Gonzales and Lynn Swann. The winner: Marvin Harrison, Baltimore Colts. Harrison wins over some worthy candidates as he is currently fourth in career receptions and fifth in reception yardage in NFL history.

No. 89--Contender: Mike Ditka. The winner: Gino Marchetti, Baltimore Colts. Marchetti doesn't get much credit today, but even the old coach would tell you that he was a dominant player in his day.

No. 90--Contenders: None. The winner: Neil Smith, Kansas City Chiefs. Smith was a six-time Pro-Bowler and made nose strips very popular.

No. 91--Contender: Sergei Federov. The winner: Dennis Rodman. Only Rodman would wear No. 91 in basketball.

No. 92--Contender: Michael Strahan. The winner: Reggie White, also known as the Minister of Defense.

No. 93--Contenders: None. The winner: Doug Gilmore. Gilmore scored 450 goals in a 20-year NHL career.

No. 94--Contenders: None. The winner: Charles Haley, San Francisco 49ers/Dallas Cowboys. The ultimate winner, Haley played on five Super Bowl championship teams and was a five-time Pro-Bowler.

No. 95--Contenders: None. The winner: Bubba Smith wore No. 95 at Michigan State. Good enough for us.

No. 96--Contenders: None. The winner: Cortez Kennedy, Seattle Seahawks. He wore it because he came from Ninety-six, S.C.

No. 97--Contender: Corneilus Bennett. The winner: Jeremy Roenick of the Phoenix Coyotes.

No. 98--Contenders: None. The winner: Tom Harmon, Michigan Wolverines. Harmon had a brilliant career at Michigan, but chose not to play pro football immediately upon graduation. Harmon played two years for the Rams after serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II.

No. 99--Contenders: None. The winner: Wayne Gretzky. The absolute easiest choice in this entire endeavor -- not called "The Great One" for nothing.