Tom Brady has officially retired (again).
Whenever any great athlete hangs ’em up, people like to debate where they rank all-time. Given the fact that quarterback is the most impactful position on the football field and no one impacted winning like Brady, it’s hard to make a case against him. Still, there is certainly a case to be made.
As such, it’s time to rank every major sport’s greatest player of all time.
10. Babe Ruth
The first guy on this list is going to be one a lot of people disagree with. The only argument against him is the level of competition he played in. With this being said, greatness is relative to the era the players played in. In other words, what’s most important thing is how they played against their competition, and no one dominated like Ruth.
On average, Ruth hit 46 homers, drove in 143 runs, had a .342 batting average, and notched a .471 on-base percentage. He also amassed a. 1.161 OPS and 206 OPS+, both the highest in league history. This is all without even mentioning that he started his career pitching. It doesn’t matter that he probably couldn’t hit a fastball off Patrick Corbin today; no one dominated like Ruth in his prime.
9. Tom Brady
The guy himself. Not only is it unreal that Tom Brady played football for over 20 years, but the fact that he was one of the best players in the league that entire time is something that can’t be made up. Where do you even start with all of his accomplishments? In his career, Brady is a 15-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, three-time MVP, seven-time Super Bowl Champion, and five-time Super Bowl MVP. He also retires with the most career touchdowns and passing yards of all time.
8. Roger Federer
The fact that Federer is only eighth on this list is by no means an indictment on him, but it is important to remember he is competing against every other athlete who was the best at their sport. With that said, Federer is elite. In his professional career, he has 20 Grand Slams, 103 total titles, and 1,251 total wins. Tennis is a global sport and there are already players knocking on the door of Federer’s GOAT case, but he is someone who will never be forgotten, even by non-tennis fans.
7. Tiger Woods
Not only is Tiger the greatest golfer of all time, but he is also one of the most iconic athletes of his era. Woods has five Master’s victories, four PGA championships, three U.S. Open championships, and three British Open titles. He also has one of the better redemption stories of all time in his most recent Master’s victory (2019).
6. Lionel Messi
The most recent FIFA World Cup Champion comes in at No. 6. The only thing holding back his legacy was that he was without a World Cup, but that all changed in December 2021. Individually, he has scored 799 goals and holds countless European League records. Messi is a player who is tougher to rank because he plays a team and worldwide sport, but few have dominated their profession like him.
5. Wayne Gretzky
You can argue that Gretzky should be as high as No. 1 depending on how much you value team sports. When most people think of Gretzky, they think of one insane stat. If you take away all of the goals he scored in his career, he would still have the highest point total (goals plus assists) of all time. In addition, he is a four-time Stanley Cup Champion, nine-time MVP, and 10-time scoring champion. It will probably be a long time before we see anyone threaten Gretzky’s title as the greatest hockey player ever.
4. Michael Jordan
Jordan is the GOAT of team sports. Even though he does not have the longevity of LeBron James, Jordan accomplished more in less time and is hands-down the most dominant player ever. He is a six-time champion, six-time Finals MVP, five-time MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, two-time Gold Medalist, and 10-time scoring champion. All of these accomplishments do not even factor in the impact he made off the court, where Jordan was a key contributor to making basketball global.
3. Muhammad Ali
Speaking of contributions outside of his sport, Ali is the one who started it all. In addition to being one of the most outspoken activists ever, he is also the greatest boxer of all time. Through 61 fights in his professional career, he was 56-5. Three of those five losses came in his last four matches. He was also the first boxer to win the world heavyweight championship three different times. Not for nothing, the picture of him standing over Sonny Liston in 1965 is probably the most iconic picture of all time.
2. Michael Phelps
The most decorated Olympian of all time comes in at No. 2. This man is a human fish. He has 28 Olympic medals, 23 of those being gold. He achieved these gold medals in six different events over five Olympic years. Even though people do not like hearing “Greatest Olympic Athlete Ever” because comparing Olympians is like comparing apples and oranges, it is pretty tough putting anyone with Phelps’ resume lower than No. 2, especially given the difficulty of swimming.
1. Usain Bolt
The GOAT of all GOATs is the fastest man in the world. This makes perfect sense because, in most sports, you need speed to be elite, and the greatest athlete ever also happens to be the fastest. Bolt is an eight-time gold medalist. From 2008 to 2016, he participated in 24 sprinting events, including the 100- and 200-meter dash, plus a couple of relay races. In two of those races he was disqualified, in one of them he came in second, and he finished first in the rest. There is a chance we’ll see Bolt’s records be broken one day, but everyone who watched Bolt compete in his prime will never forget how dominant he was compared to his peers.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images