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100 Most Exciting Athletes Of All Time

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2017

The 100 Most Exciting Athletes of All Time

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    Exciting athletes.

    There are guys that we would give our paychecks to watch. Guys that can set the stadium, arena, or field on fire just by walking through the tunnel.

    Guys who can make a crowd go nuts, guys who you will never change the channel when they get in the game, guys who are a threat to do something you’ve never seen before every time they touch the ball.

    These are guys who can visit a team with the leagues worst attendance, and have the game sell out.

    These are guys who can make your heart beat faster than ever before, guys who can give you a sugar rush with no sugar.

    These are guys who could outrun a bullet, jump over the moon, or in some cases do both.

    This list compiles some of the most gifted athletes that ever lived.

    So allow me to make the blood race through your veins faster than ever before, here’s the 100 most exciting athletes of all time. Enjoy!

Thrillers On The Cusp

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Here are four guys who just missed the cut by the skin of their teeth to make this list...

104. Sandy Koufax

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    Since offense is the name of the game, it's never easy for a pitcher to excite the crowd when all he's doing is stopping the one thing that we all love about baseball from happening - Runs.

    However, Sandy Koufax was a special pitcher. He was the greatest of all time.

    Every time the Hebrew southpaw took the bump, people didn't buy tickets to see runs scored, they bought them to see Sandy Koufax take the energy right out of the opposing offense's bats.

    Koufax won three Cy Young awards in his last four years in the league and thrice posted an ERA south of 2.00 in that span.

    Sandy was the king of the whiff as well, he posted historic strikeout totals throughout his career and made opposing hitters look silly.

    The big leagues will never again see a pitcher like Sandy Koufax again, and even back in his day people knew that, which is why they lined up to see the legend throw.

103. Jimmy Connors

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    If you want to talk about tennis players with an attitude, then Jimmy Connors is your man.

    If there was ever a borderline call that didn't go his way, he was in the line judge's face within .5 seconds.

    Once he got in the judge's face he had no mercy either, as no words were off limits for Jimmy when he got angry.

    Connors made tennis fun to watch for a long time back in the '70s.

    Although it was always fun to watch Connors get angry, maybe the most exciting aspect of his game was his never-say-die attitude.

    He loved tennis and the way he played reflected that. Nobody went the extra mile like Jimmy.

    Jimmy Connors is one of the very few tennis players that I would give up a week's paycheck to see in person.

102. Roy Jones Jr.

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    This is a man who is quite possibly the most physically gifted athlete ever to step into the ring.

    He can fight in ANY weight class and be successful.

    He once held seven title belts at once.

    Jones Jr. is the first boxer of all time to start his career as a middleweight and go on to be heavyweight champion.

    Roy Jones Jr. is arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in boxing history, and keeping him off this list would be a sin.

101. Pete Weber

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    It's not easy to put a bowler on any list like this, and that's why Pete Weber is the only one who makes the cut.

    I know most people might disagree with a bowler making this list, but this guy rejuvenated the sport.

    I like to think of him as the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa of bowling, he's a controversial figure who people love to hate, but his sport wouldn't be where it is today without him.

    Weber was a very talented bowler early in his career but could never escape controversy.

    In 1999, with the PBA already struggling as it is, they decided to hand Weber a six-month suspension for an alcohol addiction.

    During his suspension, the company began to suffer so much that they sold it to a few former Microsoft executives.

    This was when Weber returned.

    Unlike the old owners, the new ones saw Weber's cocky and flamboyant attitude as a great marketing tool.

    They marketed and marketed Weber as their top gun and he became sort of a brand name. Once people finally tuned in to see what the hype was about they liked what they saw in Weber.

    He raised the company from shambles to being at least respectable.

    This guy crotch chops after every strike, in a bowling ally.

    That's pretty exciting if you ask me.

OK Folks, Start Your Engines

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Now that we know who the near-misses were on the list, were about to take a look at what you've all been waiting for.

    So sit back, relax, and get ready to take a roller coaster ride through 100 of the most thrilling athletes to ever walk the Earth.

    Here we go...

100. Scottie Pippen

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    Why not get the countdown going with the one guy that nobody ever wants to give any credit to?

    This is the guy who paved the way for the LeBron Jameses and Kevin Durants of the world.

    Scottie Pippen was the first ever to man the most exciting position in all of basketball: point forward.

    Pippen was the first ever Small Forward who played the game like a point guard.

    Scottie was the Bulls everything-man.

    He always defended the other team's best player, no matter what position. He was always willing to do whatever his coach asked and did most of the Bulls' dirty work during their championship years.

    And he always made everyone around him look better, Michael Jordan included.

    Pippen was exciting because he always did at least one thing exciting in every game.

    Whether he was stealing the ball from the other team's prodigy point guard or posterizing their Center, Pippen would come out each night and make you stand up and cheer at least once.

    Few guy possessed that ability, and Pippen was one of them.

99. Mariano Rivera

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    On the surface, it's hard to tell what's so exciting about a guy who will appear in less than 90 games per season, and likely never pitch more than one inning when he does.

    However, you'd be lying if you said you didn't get the chills every time Mo trots in from the bullpen.

    Once Enter Sandman hits the Yankee Stadium speakers, everybody knows what's up. They know that Mariano will come in from the bullpen and the game will be over.

    No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

    It's over. Especially in the playoffs, where Mo is arguably the greatest pitcher of all-time.

    There is no more thrilling sight in playoff baseball than Mariano Rivera trotting in from the bullpen, and that's a fact.

98. Florence Griffith-Joyner

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    Before Marion Jones ever had a chance to be dishonest, and long before Usain Bolt turned into Moses, Florence Griffith-Joyner was the talk of track and field.

    Joyner was the fastest woman of all time, still holding the records for the 100m and 200m sprints.

    If that doesn't merit an automatic selection onto this list, then I don't know what does.

97. Chris Evert

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    Sticking with the theme of kick-ass female athletes, I give you Chris Evert.

    This fine lady places six spots higher than her former fiance and doubles partner, Jim Connors.

    And that's for good reason too, Evert is easily one of the five greatest female tennis players of all time.

    When your career winning percentage is 90 percent (the highest in pro tennis history, male or female) you'll always have a spot on this list.

96. Dennis Rodman

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    Watching Dennis Rodman exit the locker room and come out onto the court was entertaining in itself, because you never knew what color his hair would be when he came out.

    However, that was far from the only thing that made Rodman exciting.

    Dennis Rodman was exciting because of his ability to make anything watchable and interesting.

    He could have turned the Tim Duncan-Manu Ginobli-Tony Parker led Spurs into a fun team to watch.

    Rodman was out there to say the least, but that's what made him so much fun to watch, he looked like he had just been shipped in from the insane asylum to play a game of basketball every night.

    It also helped that he cleaned the glass like he was storing Windex in his back pocket.

    Think about it, if there was one guy in the history of basketball that averaged 7.7 PPG and shot 58 percent from the free throw line that you'd work overtime to see in person, who would it be?

    The only acceptable answer to that question is Dennis Rodman.

95. Secretariat

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    I can see the comments now, "A horse isn't an athlete, how could you put Secretariat on this list?"

    I know we as people don't like to take animals who play sports seriously, (thanks a lot, Air Bud) but the fact is that these horses go on national TV, and run with everything they have until they cross the finish line, always competing against other horses.

    Let's break this down for a second: There's running involved, that's usually an indication that something athletic is going on. There's competition too, so now we have running and competition, doesn't that sound a little bit like the sport track?

    Oh yeah, there's also gambling and publicity.

    If you don't want to consider that a sport, fine, but if that's so then there's very few things in this world that can be considered sports.

    With that being said, nobody has ever made horse racing look as fun as Secretariat.

    Just look at how far ahead he is of all the other horses in that picture.

    How often do you see a horse get their own freaking movie?

    Watching Secretariat run is like watching Usain Bolt run if he were a horse, and we all know how exciting that is.

94. Randy Johnson

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    There are three things that all baseball fans learned in the first decade of the new millennium that they can be 100 percent sure are true:

    1. Steroids are bad.

    2. The Yankees will break the bank for victories.

    3. Randy Johnson is not human.

    The third may be the most inarguable, too.

    Randy Johnson stood at six-foot-ten and looked like nothing but an uncoordinated, ugly, (no pun intended) tall, stick.

    If you walked by this guy on the street you'd most likely chuckle. He looked like anything but an athlete.

    However, Randy Johnson was not only an athlete, he was one of the greatest power pitchers to ever live.

    This guy threw gas. His fastball was always in the high 90s and often touched 100, and he paired it with his classic hard-biting slider that seemed unhittable if thrown right.

    He once threw a fastball so hard that it killed an unsuspecting bird that was flying by. Look it up folks, that's a true story.

    The Big Unit was also one of the great strikeout pitchers of all-time posting a nasty 10.6 K's per nine innings, the greatest of all-time in that stat department.

    When he was in his prime, people would find a game when the Mariners or Diamondbacks visited their stadium so they could see this guy pitch.

    Randy Johnson was absolutely filthy on the mound, and it was pretty damn fun to watch the gentle giant go.

93. Andre Agassi

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    While making this slide I began to remember just how much Andre Agassi meant to the game of tennis and the people who watched it, so I began to read through some forums about Agassi, and I came across what I thought was a rather interesting story:

    "In a way, Andre made my mom understand why I love tennis so much, and not that we weren't close but somehow became closer during that match. She never knew anything about tennis, until on her own watched the Wimbledon final against Goran.

    "She was so excited to be watching him play, and knowing this is what I like to do. So I drove over to her house and we watched the final 2 sets together. I have never seen her so excited and animated. I remember she began crying when he fell to his knees. She has been following his career ever since. She was crying today too (this was written the day Agassi retired)."

    I know online forums aren't always the best place to get your quotes, but I just couldn't resist.

    That sums up Andre Agassi in a nutshell; Agassi brought out the emotions in everybody that watched him play. Tennis fan or not, anybody would gladly sit through an Andre Agassi match.

    Watching this guy play would forever change your view of tennis.

    He was just so charismatic out there, and he always wore his emotions on his sleeve.

    Watching Andre Agassi play tennis never failed to get the blood flowing through my body.

92. Ray Lewis

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    If there was ever a more fiery competitor in the history of sports than Ray Lewis, I never saw him play.

    I don't think Ray Lewis ever took a play off in his entire 15-year career, he played every single play as if the game was on the line.

    Lewis could begin a play as a blitzer and end it 20 yards down the field tackling a wide receiver, he never gave up on any play.

    Ray Lewis invented the term, "Quarterback of the defense." If you don't think Lewis is the leader on the Ravens defense, or the Ravens in general, then I'm going to have to question your football knowledge.

    Before every game Ray Lewis goes absolutely nuts to make sure that every single guy on the 53-man roster is ready to knock somebody's head off.

    You don't win Super Bowl MVP as a linebacker unless you're seriously something special, and Ray was just that.

    If I was starting a team, and I could only take one player in the history of football that wasn't a quarterback, I might just take Ray Lewis.

    This guy is all over the place and the fans go crazy for him.

    I don't care what team you like, if you don't like Ray Lewis, you don't like football.

91. Reggie White

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    Sticking with the theme of NFL defensive players who could put a crowd on their feet, I give you the Minister of Defense.

    Nobody could give a quarterback nightmares quite like Reggie White.

    White lived in the backfield, because despite double and triple teams, he seemed to cause penetration on every play.

    This man would use his strength to barrel right over the blocker, and then he'd make a bee-line for quarterback.

    It wasn't always pretty, but it was always thrilling.

    Reggie White is the second greatest pass-rusher of all-time in my opinion (You'll see who No. 1 is soon enough) and he's also one of the most exciting defensive players in NFL history.

90. Carl Lewis

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    It could be argued that Carl Lewis is the greatest Track and Field athlete that ever lived.

    Lewis was named "Olympian of the Century" by Sports Illustrated in 2000.

    He was also named 90th to this list, a list that he has rightfully earned a spot to.

    Carl Lewis was unlike any other man to ever take the track, he felt like he was always one of the greatest athletes in the world, and he demanded the respect.

    Lewis once said, "The whole thing is that the [track] athletes were treated like dirt. None of them ever spoke up. I was not going to be treated that way. I was not taught that way. I was not raised that way. I saw professional basketball. I saw baseball. I saw football and I knew how they were being treated. I said, 'Why can't track be the same way?'"

    And he was right, while he wasn't always received well by the public, there's no doubt that Lewis had that charisma about him that he wasn't afraid to stand up for himself, something that few track and field athletes possessed.

    In addition to that Lewis was just so much fun to watch out on the track.

    He was a record nine-time Olympic Gold Medalist.

    He was a star sprinter and a superstar long jumper.

    As a long jumper, he still holds the record for longest indoor long jump, which he set in 1984. He also went 10 straight years without losing a single long jump competition, and won the Gold Medal for long jump at the Olympics four straight times (that's a span of 16 years!).

    Not to mention the fact that he was involved in one of the most exciting moments in Track & Field history- The 1991 Tokyo World Championships long jump.

    Carl Lewis is unlike any other athlete in Olympic history, which is what made him so exciting.

89. Derek Jeter

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    If you want to talk about exciting athletes you likely won't get too far without mentioning Derek Jeter.

    Jeter's not the most talented athlete of all-time, but he gives 200 percent every time he gets on the field and has provided us with some of the defining moments in 21st century baseball history.

    Jeter will run out every ground ball, sprint to every pop-up, and do anything to win.

    Jeter officially established himself as an exciting athlete in the 2001 ALDS when he made he made his famous flip play cutting off Shane Spencer's wild throw from right field.

    Jeter sprinted from where he was originally on the left side of the infield all the way to cut off a throw on the right side of Jorge Posada and flip it to him for the historic out.

    Since then he's taken a mouthful of metal seat, another World Series ring, and faked being hit by a pitch.

    Derek Jeter is one hell of a ballplayer.

88. Fran Tarkenton

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    This is the guy who invented the quarterback scramble.

    In fact, Fran Tarkenton invented just about everything you've watched Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick do over the years.

    Back in Tarkenton's day, when the pass rush got to you, the play was over.

    However, he was the first guy to attempt to escape that rush, the first guy who knew what to do when the play broke down.

    And he was lethal when it did.

    This guy had a cannon, he would either evade the rush just long enough to find a man open 50 yards down the field, or he would take off and run with it himself.

    And boy, was he fun to watch.

    At the time of his retirement, this guy held every major quarterback record.

    He was one of the first stars of the modern football era.

87. Jerry West

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    You see that logo to the left, you're familiar with it, correct?

    You've seen it multiple times, right? Well haven't you ever wondered whose body that's a picture of?

    If I haven't given it away yet that's Mr. Clutch himself, Jerry West.

    Some might argue that nobody played the combo guard spot better in the history of basketball than West, you won't hear any objections from me.

    He was a career 27-point per game scorer, who excelled on the defensive end of the court to say the least, and once led the league in assists.

    He was as efficient as any player in the history of basketball, and although he only got one ring in nine career NBA Finals appearances, that was no fault of his own.

    West holds the second highest playoff scoring average in NBA history and is widely regarded to as one of the greatest clutch players in NBA history.

    The Logo was so much fun to watch because he was always making plays, at the end of the first half, you'd look at the stats and he'd only have four points, and you'd figure he was having an off night.

    Until you looked deeper into the stats and saw six assists, five steals, four blocks, and six rebounds.

    There was no such thing as an off night for Jerry West because he could hurt you in so many ways.

86. Brock Lesnar

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    Not too long ago, Brock Lesnar burst onto the scene with the WWE in what was one of the fastest rises to prominence in business history.

    The reason he rose so fast was not only because of his great technique, but because of his unmatched charisma.

    This guy knew how to work the WWE crowd to boo him as a heel or to cheer him as a face.

    Since joining the MMA, Lesnar has kind of done the same thing.

    He has already become the biggest name in the sport not very long into this UFC career.

    The reason for that is once again in part because of his unbelievable fighting ability: 5-2 record, former UFC Heavyweight Champion.

    But mainly because of his unbelievable charisma, Lesnar has really gotten the UFC crowd behind him with post-fight interviews which he actually makes interesting.

    While his outrageous comments have put him in deep water on more than one occasion, they've also caught the attention of a nation.

    Lesnar is now the headlining superstar of this UFC era that seems destined to bring the sport to new heights of popularity, and he's embracing the role.

85. Manny Pacquiao

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    Manny Pacquiao has been all over the place since the new millennium began.

    He's considered by most to be the greatest pound for pound fighter in boxing history, winning nine titles in seven different weight classes.

    Pacquiao is one scary dude in the ring, but outside it he's quite the opposite.

    Pacquiao's a pro boxer, congressman, singer, and actor.

    So he can do four things well and fight in seven different weight classes. Not bad, huh?

84. Dan Marino

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    If Super Bowls didn't matter, Dan Marino would have been the greatest quarterback of all-time.

    He had the quickest release of any quarterback in NFL history, and that was far from the only thing that made him exciting.

    Marino was a touchdown machine who could make any receiver look good.

    In just his second season in the league, Marino broke the single season record for both touchdown passes and yards passing.

    He had 13 seasons of more than 3,000 yards passing and 13 seasons of 20 or more passing touchdowns.

    Nobody ever figured out a way to stop Dan Marino; he threw and threw and threw and threw and threw.

    But no one ever stopped him.

    There's no way that a guy who threw the ball on almost every play and was so great doesn't make this list.

83. Darryl Dawkins

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    There was never a more ferocious dunker in the history of basketball than Darryl Dawkins.

    Standing near Chocolate Thunder while he dunked was about as dangerous as holding a metal bat in a lightning storm.

    This man twice shattered the backboard into shards of glass with his hard throw downs.

82. Desmond Howard

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    Back in his days at Michigan there was nobody as an opponent that you hated more to see with the ball in their hand than Desmond Howard.

    Because chances were he was going to score.

    In 1991, Howard had 61 receptions, and an amazing 19 went for touchdowns.

    Once he got to the pros, Howard had hefty expectations, but he cracked under the pressure and never quite reached them.

    However, none of that mattered back in the 1996-97 season when Howard suited up for the Green Bay Packers.

    That season he led the league in both kick return yards (875) and touchdowns (3).

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot he became the only special teams player in Super Bowl history to be named Super Bowl MVP.

    Not too bad for a draft "bust," huh?

81. Tom Brady

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    Tom Brady is the most calm passer in NFL history.

    He's so cool in the pocket, he just stands back there and waits for the first sign of any receiver getting open, then he heaves it to that receiver.

    Brady could win no matter who was around him on offense, whether it was Deion Branch and Corey Dillon or Randy Moss and Kevin Faulk.

    He made everyone look good.

    And in 2007 when the Patriots finally acquired an elite receiver, and somebody to make Tom Brady look good, he went absolutely nuts for 50 touchdowns and 4,800 yards.

    Look, Tom Brady isn't winning any races, but he is winning the in-game battle.

    Brady seems to have perfect instincts for the game of football, and as much as we all love to say how much we hate him now, in 20 years we'll all start appreciating him as the great, thrilling player he was.

    Guaranteed.

80. John McEnroe

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    If you don't think John McEnroe belongs on this list, then I have five words for you: "YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS!"

79. Reggie Jackson

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    Reggie Jackson was a baseball player unlike any other.

    He was very, very, very good in April, May, June, July, August, and September.

    But Jackson was legendary in October.

    The five-time World Series Champion was dubbed Mr. October for his amazing clutch hitting abilities.

    Jackson was also never one to shy away from controversy.

    In fact, his entire Yankee career can be summed up in two words: Controversial, great.

    Actually I think I can narrow that down to one word: exciting.

    "The straw that stirs the drink" was as exciting as any athlete to ever play in New York.

78. Satchel Paige

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    When you start your career as a 42-year old rookie, you're definitely going to excite some people.

    Satchel Paige did just that, and then some.

    Paige was a Negro League pitcher who didn't get his big league chance until he was 42, but he made the most of it.

    Had he played his entire career in the Major Leagues, then he probably would have been top 50 at least on this list.

    Paige threw overhand and sidearm, he threw hard and soft, he even threw a pitch with a windup so crazy that you would have sworn he balked in the motion, but he didn't.

    People find Dontrelle Willis exciting because of his high leg kick, but in my opinion nobody had a more entertaining delivery than Satchel Paige.

    The reason why his delivery was so exciting was because you never knew which way he would deliver the ball.

    He had so many different windups.

    Nonetheless, Satchel Paige may have been the greatest pitcher in baseball (not MLB, but baseball) history.

    You heard me.

77. Joe Montana

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    Here we see the guy who many believe to be the greatest quarterback of all time.

    Montana wasn't particularly fast, he wasn't the most talented quarterback of all time either, but Joe Montana had the it factor.

    And until you see him play, you have no idea what I'm talking about.

    So, do yourself a favor and go on YouTube or NFL.com, or whatever website you use to watch football highlights, and watch Joe Cool in action.

    You won't be sorry you did.

76. Spud Webb

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    Spud Webb, the little engine that could.

    At five-feet seven-inches, this guy wouldn't have stood in the back at a Middle School Graduation, yet he could dunk a basketball well enough to beat out Dominique Wilkins in a Slam Dunk Contest.

    This was the NBA's original little man.

    He could ball too.

    You wouldn't pay to see a five-foot seven-inch, fully grown man dunk a basketball in the presence of guys like Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler?

75. Roberto Clemente

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    Roberto Clemente was one hell of a ballplayer.

    He was also one hell of a person.

    There's something about great baseball players who do everything right.

    Clemente did everything right on the field and never complained, and he went above and beyond everybody off the field, and never showed it off.

    Roberto was a special player, and a guy who you could pencil in to do something great each day.

    He could get it done with the stick, and he could get it done with the leather.

    There was nothing flashy about Clemente's game, yet he managed to excite us all.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the Clemente and Roberto himself, I know he's smiling down on us from heaven.

74. Oscar Robertson

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    This man once AVERAGED a triple-double over the course of a full season.

    Next.

73. Roger Clemens

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    The Rocket is the perfect example of a guy who went from hero to zero, but that doesn't take away what he did in his years on the rubber.

    Clemens was the most exciting pitcher of our generation without a doubt.

    He threw a fastball that would have made a radar gun sweat, he never shied away from controversy, and he always seemed to be just looking for a problem that would launch him into the headlines.

    It was why we hated him, but at the same time it was why we loved him.

    His mix of skill and competitive nature kept fans on the edge of their seats every time they watched him pitch.

    This man once chucked a broken bat at Mets' catcher Mike Piazza and then backed it up by saying, "I thought it was the ball," or in other words, "yes I threw the bat at him, what are you going to do about it?"

    The Rocket was a baseball player who played like he was a paid assasin.

    He once brushed his own son off the plate with a high and tight fastball!

72. Ronaldihno

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    Ronaldinho has some of the sickest dribbling moves ever seen in soccer.

    And if you don't want to take my word for it, just watch the video to the left, it's four minutes and twenty-two seconds of exactly why Ronaldihno makes this list.

71. Adrian Peterson

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    This guy is just flat out amazing, and is only a few more great seasons away from taking a big leap on this list.

    AP is just ridiculous to watch.

    He's one of the fastest guys in the NFL, but with his size and strength most people can't even tell.

    All Day, as they call him, will blow right by the linemen, throw a few juke moves at the linebackers, and then run right over everybody in the secondary.

    There's nothing this guy can't do when running with the ball.

    He's like a combination of Jim Brown and OJ Simpson.

    Peterson is like Superman, and his only Kryptonite is fumbles, that's the only way to possibly contain him.

    Adrian Peterson is like an energizer battery, because he just keeps going and going and going and going and going until he's in the end zone.

70. Mario Lemieux

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    It's not too far fetched to call Mario Lemieux the most talented player in the history of hockey.

    His fakes were out of this world, his dekes got you off balance just watching them on television, and his speed was blinding.

    It was that same combination that made Lemieux one of the most exciting players in the history of hockey.

69. LaDainian Tomlinson

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    LaDainian Tomlinson, or Marshall Faulk lite as I like to call him, was one of the greatest running backs of all-time.

    He had it all: size, speed, strength, great hands, you name it, he had it.

    He was a All-Pro running back who doubled as a superstar receiver.

    Tomlinson was the type of guy you would trade your entire fantasy team to acquire.

    He was a killer with the ball in his hands, and he continues to be one to this day.

68. Tony Dorsett

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    Speaking of exciting running backs, a guy who one-ups Tomlinson in that department is Tony Dorsett.

    This guy was a big play waiting to happen.

    Dorsett was a guy who could get stuffed for three quarters, and just when the defense thought they were doing a great job, BOOM he'd torch them for a big run.

    Dorsett is still the only man in NFL history with a 99-yard run.

67. Charles Barkley

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    Charles Barkley was just six-feet and six-inches tall.

    Yet he managed to become one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.

    The Round Mound of Rebound was a top-notch NBA scorer and elite rebounder despite his height.

    Sir Charles was a guy who looked like he belonged more on his living room couch than he did on the court. This guy seemed too short to play forward, but too bloated to play guard.

    However, once he got on the court Barkley didn't let the body that God gave him effect him. He made plays that he didn't look capable of making.

    Also, Barkley played with his heart on his sleeve, and was always up for a night of competitive banter between him and his opponent.

    This guy was no Tim Duncan, he loved to hear himself speak, and before he became an NBA analyst, we loved it too.

    Even young NBA fans know exactly who Charles Barkley is, and how he carries himself.

    Barkley is as original an NBA basketball player as you're going to find.

66. Steve Nash

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    Oh boy, can Steve Nash ball.

    This guy has shown some of the flashiest passes the NBA has seen since Magic Johnson manned the point for showtime.

    Nash has the ability to make anyone look good from Channing Frye to Amare Stoudemire.

    He might be the greatest passer in NBA history, people don't tell Steve Nash when they're open, Nash tells them.

    He's also one of the toughest players in the NBA and watching him throw his body around is always a thrill.

    Steve Nash is one of the flashiest players in NBA history, and kids across the nation break open their piggy banks at the prospect of watching him play.

65. Terrell Owens

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    There's no way this list would be complete without the man who coined the saying, "Getcha popcorn ready."

    This is the one guy in the history of the NFL who was more exciting after he scored than he was before he did.

    And with the skills that TO possessed, that's saying something.

    The man who once famously said, "I love me some me" had nine seasons of 1,000+, and currently sits at 146 career TDs.

    Although Owens has been named amongst the most hated athletes in sports quite a few times because of his cocky attitude and selfish behavior, he's also been the headliner for the NFL's new diva wide receiver era.

    I feel like no matter what team you support, or what you say about Terrell Owens, everybody has a soft spot for TO.

    He's just so much fun to watch, and he puts butts in seats.

64. Mickey Mantle

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    Back in the '50s, the Mick was as famous as anyone in America.

    Most believed him to be the best power hitter since Babe Ruth and his ambidextrous abilities always added some intrigue.

    Mickey Mantle was an alcoholic, and he had several personal issues, but once he took the field, none of that mattered.

    He hit the ball so much farther than any other hitter in the big leagues.

    There's a reason why this guy's name is always in the conversation when talking about the greatest hitters in baseball history.

63. John Elway

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    John Elway was an exciting player in general, but he became the 63rd most exciting athlete of all-time in the fourth quarter.

    This man led game winning drive after game winning drive after game winning drive throughout his career.

    Even if he broke your team's heart at some point in his career (he most likely did), you can't deny how exciting Elway was bringing his team down the field with the game on the line.

62. Shaquille O'Neal

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    Will we ever again see an athlete like Shaquille O'Neal?

    This man was 7' 1", 325 pounds of pure entertainment.

    He was not afraid to call out anyone. Literally, this man has his own reality show called Shaq vs. where he faces people who are professionals at what they do, at what they do best.

    He could rap, act (sort of), fight, out-diss anyone, and do anything else he wanted to.

    Even at the age of 38, the once-dominant center is still one of the guys in the NBA that we all go out of our way to watch.

    Shaquille O'Neal is a name that will never die.

61. Rafael Nadal

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    This is the single most exciting player in the history of tennis.

    I'll even use astronomy to back up my aforementioned statement; Rafael Nadal has an asteroid named after him, that's right, an asteroid.

    What other tennis player has that?

60. Ichiro Suzuki

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    From one clean steroid era player to the next we go.

    Back in 2001 when Ichiro first made his debut and the Mariners were still relevant, this guy was a sensation that was sweeping the nation.

    Remember that? When everybody had to see this Asian prodigy in action?

    This guy won an MVP Award in 2001 largely based on the fact that he was just so damn fun to watch.

    He was billed as the fastest, most electric, strongest-armed player in baseball.

    You had to be crazy to run on Ichiro, he had a cannon attached to a rocket launcher for an arm.

    And if you were impressed by what he did with the leather then wait 'til you saw him with the wood.

    He swung like a Little Leaguer, running out of the box while he was swinging and chopping at the ball. Any decent batting coach who saw an approach like that in high school would have changed it immediately, but not Ichiro.

    He's arguably the best hitter in baseball, you read that correctly. Suzuki has never had a season with less than 200 hits in his entire career, has broken the American single-season hits record, and has broken 220 hits five times.

    When you can hit like that, throw like pitching machine, and run like a cheetah, chances are you're going to excite some people.

59. Marcus Allen

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    Marcus Allen was a big-play running back.

    He lived and died on the home run, and he hit it quite a bit.

    When Allen got a full head of steam it was not suggested, but rather demanded that you get out of his way.

    Just think back to Super Bowl XVIII, that was excitement. 

58. Ozzie Smith

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    Ozzie Smith was the most fun to watch defender in the history of baseball.

    He was one of the few players in the history of baseball who could change a game using strictly his glove.

    He flew around the infield always making plays like we've never seen before, and making us all quote John Starks and say, "Did this dude just did this!?"

    And he did.

    This man was literally a wizard. He wouldn't walk out onto the field like a veteran starting pitcher, he wouldn't run out like a rookie in his first game, Ozzie Smith did flips on his way onto the field.

    That's right, flips. In baseball.

    How exciting is that?!

57. Steve Young

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    Here we have one of the great scrambling quarterbacks in NFL history.

    We also have one of the great throwing quarterbacks in NFL history.

    Steve Young was a running, gunning machine.

    He worked his way up from the USFL all the way into a Hall of Fame, Super Bowl quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

    It wasn't easy to make 49er fans forget about Joe Montana, but Young did it to perfection.

    Any time a guy can do the two most exciting things in football (run and throw) extremely well, he's going to be exciting.

56. Larry Bird

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    Larry Bird may be the most competitive person in all of sports.

    He didn't look flashy, in fact, he didn't even look like a basketball player with his unkempt matter and lack of energy, but when he got on the court Larry Bird was an absolute beast.

    He sunk game winners like it was his business. This man was captain clutch.

    He was also great at making opposing players want to kill him.

    Here's just a few examples of times Bird has had his opponents calling for his head:

    Before the first ever three-point shooting contest in 1986, Bird walked into the locker room and just looked around for a while without saying a word. Once he finally had the entire room's attention, he broke the silence and said, "I'm just looking around to see who's gonna finish in second."

    On a Christmas day game against the Pacers, Bird told Chuck Person before the game that he had a Christmas present waiting for him.

    During the game, Person was sitting on the bench right near the baseline, Bird dribbled towards him, shot a three directly in front of him, and as soon as he released the ball, he turned to Person and said, "Merry F*%&ing Christmas!"

    And then the ball went in.

    Late in a tied game against the SuperSonics, Xavier McDaniel was covering Larry Bird. During a timeout Bird told McDaniel exactly where he would hit the game-winning shot.

    Bird then got the ball, dribbled right to the spot, paused, shot and swished it with two seconds left on the clock. Bird then said to McDaniel, "I didn't mean to leave two seconds on the clock."

    How do you not like this guy?

55. Pete Rose

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    Pete Rose may not be allowed in the Hall of Fame, but there's no way I'm keeping Charlie Hustle off this list.

    Rose had a passion for baseball that was almost touching.

    Who barrels over the catcher in Spring Training? Apparently, Pete Rose does.

    He played every game as if he were a high school baseball player and there was a MLB scout in the stands.

    He ran to first on walks and sprinted out to his position in the field between innings.

    Oh yeah, he wasn't a bad hitter either.

    Rose is the all-time hit king.

    Pete Rose is a one-of-a-kind baseball player.

54. Alexander Ovechkin

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    My apologies to Sidney Crosby on this one, but there's no way in hell that he's more exciting than Ovechkin.

    Then again, most people are not, at the age of just 25, Ovechkin has already established himself as one of the most exciting players in hockey history, and his stock is only rising.

    Look out, Gretzky.

53. Pete Maravich

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    The Pistol had a scoring average of over 40 points a game in college.

    Moving on...

52. Jerry Rice

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    What do you say about Jerry Rice?

    He wasn't the fastest guy around, he wasn't the biggest either.

    In fact, in terms of being physically gifted, Rice wouldn't even be one of the top 15 wide receivers of all-time.

    Yet he was the greatest.

    Jerry Rice was not an athlete, he was a football player, maybe the greatest of all-time at that.

    He didn't always get it done pretty, but Rice was just fun to watch because when you watched him you knew you were witnessing greatness.

    There's always something special about that feeling.

51. Manny Ramirez

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    Isn't it just ridiculous the kind of stuff Manny Ramirez gets away with?

    Then again, isn't it hilarious?

    Manny Ramirez is one of the great pure hitters of all-time, and if you don't want to take my word for it just take a look at the numbers.

    However, Manny is also one of the biggest idiots sports has ever seen.

    He's already cut off a throw as an outfielder resulting in an inside the park home run, went into the Green Monster between innings to make a phone call, traded himself to Green Bay for Brett Favre, taken his talents to "MannyWood," and so, so much more.

    Any other player who did half this stuff would find himself in the minors, but not Manny Ramirez.

    No, there are three simple words that can justify anything Manny Ramirez does and have nobody doubt it, those three words: Manny being Manny.

    When this man steps into the batter's box he's as exciting to watch as any player in baseball, and when he does anything else he's as exciting to watch as any individual on the planet.

    And that's just Manny being Manny.

50. Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe

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    Back before the days of Vince Carter dunking between his legs, the NBA showmen made their mark in a different way: with their slick dribbling moves and flashy passes.

    No man had tricks up his sleeve quite like "The Pearl."

    He was nicknamed "Black Magic," then "Black Jesus."

    His spin move was lethal, his passes were flashy and precise, and he could do things with the ball in his hands that still haven't been matched to this day.

    Nobody could get the crowd on their feet like Earl Monroe.

49. Dale Earnhardt

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    Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I absolutely hate NASCAR, so for me to be excited by anybody from the sport, period, is saying something.

    But having me put somebody from the sport as high as 49 on a list like this speaks volumes about the person.

    This is the only guy, in my mind at least, who could make driving a car around in circles for hundreds of laps look fun.

48. Jesse Owens

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    Jesse Owens was before most of our times, and there's not much film of him doing his thing, but of what there is this is the one guy who turns the black and white screen into a rainbow.

    In 1935, Jesse Owens set three world records and tied another in the space of 45 minutes.

    But that was only the beginning for Owens, who would go on to humiliate Adolf Hitler just one year later.

    Going into the 1936 Olympic Games, Hitler had his team of Aryan athletes which was set to officially prove that the Aryans were the master race.

    Little did he know, a man by the name of Jesse Owens was going to forever alter the landscape of the world, with the use of only his legs.

    Owens left the 1936 Olympics with four gold medals, and the support of a nation.

    Without moving his mouth, Owens told Adolf Hitler "go f**k yourself"" at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

47. Chris Johnson

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    Consider this a conservative ranking for the third year player out of East Carolina.

    Chris Johnson is one of the fastest players ever to grace the gridiron.

    He is one of the few guys in NFL history that is as much a threat to take it to the end zone from his own one-yard line as he is to score from the other team's one-yard line.

    He set the NFL record for single-season yards from scrimmage in just his second year in the league.

    That's right, at the age of 24 Chris Johnson did something that the likes of Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson never managed.

    Johnson also hits the home-run arguably better than any back in NFL history.

    In 2009 he had three runs of 85+ yards, seven touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving) of 50+ yards, and once had three touchdowns of 50+ yards in one game.

    That'll get your blood pumping.

    I'll wait a few more years before moving Johnson up, but barring a total loss of skill out of the blue, CJ will one day be in the top 20 on this list.

46. Dante Hall

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    There was a time not so long ago when Dante Hall was considered the NFL's ultimate threat.

    You had to be crazy to kick the ball to him, just getting a finger on him when he was returning kicks was considered an accomplishment.

    He even had a sick nickname that fit him perfectly: The Human Joystick.

    He had 12 combined Kick Return and Punt Return touchdowns in his career.

    Hall became ineffective far earlier than anyone would have hoped, but Dante was as dangerous as anybody in NFL with the ball in his hands for a period of about five years, and that can't be forgotten.

45. Michael Phelps

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    When you set eight World Records and win eight Gold Medals at just one Olympics, you've proven yourself to not be human.

    Michael Phelps is not human. End of story.

    The way he moves in the pool is absolutely amazing. First you see him, then you don't.

    If Usain Bolt put on a speedo and a swim cap, his name would be Michael Phelps.

44. Billy "White Shoes" Johnson

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    Billy "White Shoes" Johnson was the one guy in football that every fan liked.

    And it made sense, this guy was so smooth out there on the field that he never seemed to get his shoes dirty.

    He would just run right by defenders on punt returns and make them look like fools.

    This man was as explosive as they came on punt returns.

    However, what really made White Shoes exciting was his end-zone antics. Nobody got down like Billy "White Shoes" Johnson in the end zone.

    He was an All-Pro punt returner on the field, and a pop star in the end zone. Everybody wanted to dance like White Shoes.

    Billy "White Shoes" Johnson > Cali Swag District.

    You can't argue with math.

43. Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Ken Griffey Jr. was Willie Mays with injury problems.

    Nobody had more fun on the baseball field than The Kid.

    Whether he was robbing home runs, or hitting jacks of his own Griffey was a thrill.

    Something about Griffey just made him special, if I didn't know a thing about baseball and I walked by this guy on the street I could have guessed he was a great ballplayer.

    From his backwards cap to his earring, this kid just looked like a stud.

    He demonstrated all five tools of the game, and he demonstrated them well.

    He had the sweetest swing in the history of baseball. It was just so pretty, I would have paid just to see Jr. swing, let alone see the rest of his game in action.

    Ken Griffey Jr. is a special, special athlete.

42. Tiger Woods

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    Before you start a web riot, just drop your pitchfork and think for a second.

    One year ago today, what did you think of Tiger Woods? If your answer was anything but the most dominant golfer of all time, and the most fun-to-watch golfer of all time then you're lying, because that was the public perception of Tiger Woods before the huge sex scandal.

    Unless you were absolutely anti-golf you were praying to God that you would get the chance at least once in your life to see Tiger Woods play in person.

    For a very long time he was bigger than the game Golf itself.

    People didn't go to see Tiger and Phil Mickelson or Tiger and Vijay Singh, people went to see Tiger and "The Field."

    He was really that big.

    If anything, this is a conservative ranking for Woods.

41. Reggie Miller

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    On the surface, it's tough to see what's so exciting about a 6' 7" shooting guard who can hardly dunk.

    However, Reggie Miller was a special player.

    Guys like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant get praised daily about how clutch they are, but Reggie Miller was every bit as clutch and then some.

    Miller was the one guy on Indiana that you would go into a playoff game swearing you wouldn't let him beat you, but then he did.

    Take it from a Knicks fan, this guy was a terror in important games.

    He was also a cocky, trash-talking guy that made the Hoosier State go absolutely insane every time he touched the ball.

    Reggie Miller is one of a select few guys that I would pay to watch play.

40. Brett Favre

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Brett Favre is Brett Favre.

    He's as original a player as the NFL has ever seen.

    He has probably the strongest arm in NFL history and he had that gunslinger mentality about him.

    Every time he threw the ball he gave Green Bay faithful a heart attack, because for every amazing touchdown pass he threw, he threw an interception that left you scratching your head.

    But that's what made him exciting, he was like a box of chocolates, you never knew what you were gonna get.

    Through the sun, rain, snow, sleet, mud, and below-zero temperatures, Brett Favre took snaps and played like no other quarterback in NFL history.

    There is nobody who is even close to comparable to Favre, he's one of a kind.

    There is nobody else who would run 81 yards down the field with their helmet in hand just to celebrate a touchdown pass, there is nobody else who would fireman carry their wide receiver, and there is nobody else who would break his wideout's fingers with a single pass.

    The NFL will never see a player like Brett Favre.

    What made him different, made him great.

39. Wayne Gretzky

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    Some will argue that Gretzky belongs higher, but I feel he's perfect where he is.

    He scored goals like nobody else which made him so exciting, but there were just more exciting athletes than The Great One and that's a fact.

    I loved Gretzky and I'd certainly give my paycheck to see him, but there are just other guys I'd give my money to see first.

38. Nolan Ryan

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Nolan Ryan was the greatest power pitcher in the history of baseball.

    He threw a harder fastball into his 40s than most guys threw in their 20s.

    He could strike you out on three pitches using only fastballs, he could go the distance in any game, he could kick your 20-year-old ass well into his 40s (just ask Robin Ventura.)

    Nolan Ryan threw seven no-hitters in his career.

    If you don't think that's electrifying, then I don't think I'll be able to find something for you that is.

37. Randall Cunningham

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    Randall Cunningham was an absolute freak.

    Just when you thought he was sacked, he would turn into Barry Sanders and juke out the defense only to chuck the ball 50 yards down the field off his back foot.

    Randall ran like a running back, threw like a quarterback, and played like a once in a generation football player.

36. Red Grange

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    If you want to talk about explosiveness you should look no further than "The Galloping Ghost," Red Grange.

    In his 20-game college career he scored at least once in all but one game, and had 16 touchdown runs of 20+ yards.

    Right about now would be a good time to start working on a time machine...

35. Devin Hester

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    I've never seen a return man cause as much damage as Devin Hester.

    He was the biggest offensive threat on a 2006 Bears team that made it to the Super Bowl, and he didn't play a single snap on offense.

    He scored 11 return touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons. To put into perspective just how good he was, I'll use the Madden video game series.

    Devin Hester became the first player in Madden history to have an attribute at 100. Peyton Manning's awareness, Brett Favre's throw power, Randy Moss' jumping, these attributes never got higher than a 99, yet Hester's speed was rated 100.

    If you want any more proof just watch the guy play, he's as explosive as any player in NFL history if not more so.

    When you play the Bears as a coach, you don't even think about telling your team to try and contain Jay Cutler until you make one thing clear to all 53 men on the roster: Don't let Devin Hester touch the ball.

34. Allen Iverson

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    Allen Iverson was six feet tall in high heels, he was 165 pounds soaking wet with a brick in each pocket, yet he could score as well as any player in NBA history.

    AI was not human, he did things that never should have been done.

    A man that small should not be scoring 30 points a game in the NBA, he should not be breaking Michael Jordan's ankles with his killer crossover, he should not be playing 43 minutes a game, he should not be taking a team to the NBA Finals literally by himself, he should not be stealing the ball from whoever he wants to steal it from.

    But he did it, and boy was it a thrill to watch.

    No player in the history of basketball could light up an arena with a contact layup or fadeaway jumpshot like Allen Iverson.

    His crossover was ridiculous, and his cornrows and baggy shorts made him even more exciting and badass at the same time back in the days when players didn't dress like that.

    Allen Iverson never took a play off, either. He gave 110 percent on every play and he had a mean streak to him once the lights turned on and the game started.

    The NBA will never see a player like Allen Iverson again. He was one of a kind.

33. Bobby Hull

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    This was the one guy from the "Original Six" that everyone had to see.

    He was fast as a bullet. In fact, the only thing faster than Bobby himself on skates was his slap shot.

    Hull was a guy who was 50 years ahead of his time.

    He was scoring 50 goals a season when those numbers were unheard of in hockey.

    His shots were clocking in at over 100 MPH when nobody even knew what a slap shot was.

    Everybody wanted to see this guy in action, he was the Babe Ruth of hockey,...the first player in the history of the sport that everybody was talking about.

    Bobby Hull was an absolute legend in his time and he still is.

32. Wilt Chamberlain

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    It's not often that a back-to-the-basket center can make a crowd storm the court, then again, it's not often that a player like Wilt Chamberlain comes around.

    This guy was an absolute machine.

    When Kobe Bryan or LeBron James average 50 points per game over a five-game stretch they're the talk of the country.

    Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points per game over a full season. That's right, for an entire season Wilt Chamberlain trotted into the gym with the expectation of 50 points or bust, and he rarely got the latter.

    Oh yeah, he also scored 100 points in a single game.

    The Big Dipper as he was called, earned that nickname because every time he stepped onto the court he would be the one thing that everybody looked for.

    He was a shooting star among white dwarfs. 

31. Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe Bryant can do so many things out on the court to hurt you.

    He can slam it down like few others, he can score in bunches, (81 points in one game!) and there are few better with the game on the line.

    It's only fitting that Kobe Bryant plays so close to Hollywood because he's just as much of an entertainer as he is a basketball player.

    This man is compared to Jordan so frequently for a reason, he's a showman and a living legend.

    Folks if you haven't seen Kobe play in person yet, then I don't know what you're waiting for.

30. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa

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    This should stir up a whole lot of controversy.

    Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are two of the headlining juicers of the steroid era, they're also quite possibly the only two reasons why you're watching the MLB playoffs this season.

    Back in 1998, baseball was in a state of desperation. After a strike four years earlier had severely hurt the sports popularity, they needed something that would push them back into it's rightful role as America's Pastime.

    Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa gave them exactly what they needed.

    Their home run race back in 1998 made for the most exciting year in baseball history, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

    This chase was groundbreaking and at the time was almost hard to believe. These guys went home run for home run all season, both shattering the old home run record of 61 set by Roger Maris.

    Slammin' Sammy and Big Mac finished the season with a completely mind-boggling 68 and 70 home runs respectively.

    Back when nobody knew of their steroid use, this was HUGE. Everybody was watching when these two guys stepped to the plate in 1998 and that is why they make this list.

29. Randy Moss

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    Was there ever a receiver as perfectly built for the spotlight as Randy Moss?

    He had the attitude of TO, the antics of Ochocinco, the speed of DeSean Jackson, the size of Calvin Johnson, the football IQ of Jerry Rice, and the hops of Michael Jordan.

    This man literally had it all: the attitude, the skill, the athleticism.

    There was a time when I could have quarterbacked the Vikings and thrown 20 TDs to Randy Moss, all you had to do was know where Randy was lined up on the field, wait three seconds, and then let it fly 50 yards down the field.

    He would come down with it, guaranteed, and then he would add a memorable TD dance to put the cherry on top.

    He was perfect. Watching him was as thrilling as going out there and playing yourself.

28. Walter Payton

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    It's only fitting that Walter Payton was nicknamed Sweetness, because I can't think of a much sweeter sight than watching No. 34 run with a football in his hand.

    He held the ball like he was begging a defender to come try and take it from him just so he could embarrass them with his perfect cut moves and unmatched strength.

    Payton wanted to embarrass his opponents, he found joy in it. And, I hate to admit it as a diehard Packers fan, but I found joy in it too.

    And I'm sure I'm not the only cheesehead who feels that way.

    Walter was so quick getting in and out of his cuts, yet he was so strong when hitting a defender head on.

    Any sports fan who kept a bucket list back in the '80s had "Watch Walter Payton play in person" written on there somewhere.

27. LeBron James

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    You can call him LeBrick, you can call him The Akron Douche, but you can't take away from the excitement LeBron James brings to an arena.

    He took a team with next to no talent around him and a city that was at the bottom of the league for attendance, and he set attendance records for them by himself.

    His presence as a free agent inspired a two-year plan by nearly half the league to trade their best players for expiring contracts just at the prospect that LeBron might consider them.

    He may be the only road player in the history of Madison Square Garden to receive a standing ovation.

    This man has the size to play the four, the skills to play the one, the touch to play the two, and the athleticism to play the three. He could even play center if he really wanted to.

    He can do whatever he wants on the court.

    Flashy passes. Check.

    Unmatched leaping ability and flashy dunks. Check.

    Speed to chase guys down from behind and swat their layups into the backboard in transition. Check.

    In fact, there are few things you could want in a basketball player that you won't find in LeBron.

    He can do it all, and look good while doing it.

26. Jim Brown

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    Widely considered the greatest football player of all-time, Jim Brown is certainly deserving of that honor.

    After all, he was a nine-time All-Pro and nine-time rushing champion in 10 pro seasons.

    However, if that's not enough to get the blood pumping straight to your heart, then maybe the fact that he's the undisputed biggest badass in football history will.

    He ran between the tackles not because he had to, but because he enjoyed inflicting pain on the opponent.

    Brown would carry an entire defense on his back on his path to the end zone.

    He was almost like an urban myth back in his day, from his Syracuse days to his twilight years (if he even had any), nobody would believe quite how good Jim Brown was until they saw him.

    This man was as exciting as they come.

25. Pele

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    How can you have a list like this without Pele?

    This man is exciting as they come.

    Ask any American, and they'll know who Pele is. His name carries as much weight in this country as Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.

    Considering he's a soccer player, that's saying something.

    In fact, that alone says enough to merit his spot on this list at No. 25.

24. Vince Carter

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    Vince Carter has sort of faded to oblivion lately, but that's a result of the effort he shows on the court rather than the fact that he doesn't still have it.

    Back when Vince Carter cared, he was unbelievable to watch.

    If Vince isn't the greatest dunker of all-time, he's an extremely close second.

    His show at the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest is something that will never be matched.

    One thing's for sure, there was no more fun player in NBA history to watch on a breakaway than Vince Carter. He doesn't take cheap layups, when he sees daylight he gives the people their money's worth.

    Watching Vince Carter dunk a basketball is as pretty a sight as anything in sports.

23. Marshall Faulk

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    Marshall Faulk was two players in one.

    He was a Pro-Bowl receiver and an All-Pro running back built into one body.

    Faulk was the greatest all-purpose back in NFL history, and was the top cog in The Greatest Show On Turf.

    This guy could do it all, he would line up at receiver, catch a pass and then turn into a running back again.

    There was no way to defend him, you just hoped you could limit the damage when you played him.

    He still holds the record for scrimmage yards in a season, and at one time held the record for scrimmage touchdowns in a season.

    When you talk about the greatest and most exciting running backs in NFL history, you won't get very far without talking about Marshall Faulk.

22. Eric Dickerson

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    Eric Dickerson was one hell of a football player.

    He had the size to run straight at you, and the speed to run right by you.

    Dickerson was a star the second he stepped foot on the gridiron.

    As a rookie, he had over 2,200 yards from scrimmage and 20 TDs.

    In his second season in the league, he set the single-season rushing record with 2,100 yards, a record that still stands to this day.

    Much like Chris Johnson, this guy was a threat to take it to the end zone on any play.

    Although his career as an elite NFL running back didn't last very long, when he was in his prime he may have been the most explosive running back in NFL history.

21. Barry Bonds

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    This pick likely won't be popular with many people.

    Barry Bonds is quite possibly the biggest douche in America, and the fact that he continues to lie about PED use certainly doesn't help his image, either.

    However, this list isn't about that. It's about the fact that when Bonds was in his prime, and nobody knew he was on 'roids, he could sell out a stadium by himself.

    Every time he stepped to the plate the entire world watched because they knew they'd see one of two things: a home run blasted into McCovey Cove or an intentional walk.

    Bonds could run, field, and most of all hit.

    He was a five-tool player, with the most powerful bat in the history of baseball.

    Admit it, every time Barry Bonds stepped to the plate in 2001, no matter what team you liked, you were watching and praying that the other team would pitch to him, because there was no more thrilling sight at that time than a Barry Bonds home run.

    And admit it, even when he hotdogged his way around the bases like the arrogant piece of crap he is, you loved it.

20. Bobby Orr

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    There was no more exciting player in the history of hockey than Bobby Orr.

    He was a defenseman, but looking at his stats you could hardly tell, Orr led the league in assists five times and points twice.

    Did I mention he played defense?

    Bobby Orr revolutionized the game of hockey, and without him it wouldn't be where it is today.

19. Babe Ruth

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    Back in the 1920s, this was the guy in sports.

    He was the only athlete in the world that everybody knew about. He was bigger than big.

    Every time he stepped to the plate, kids would storm the Yankee Stadium bleachers because they knew they'd be getting a souvenir.

    He was hitting 60 home runs when other guys were popping champagne if they hit 20.

    Everybody wanted to see Babe Ruth play, he was a phenomenon. Watching him strikeout made you smile as much as watching him homer.

    Babe Ruth was Barry Bonds minus steroids and being a douche.

    The Bambino was just an all-around normal guy, he was a heavy drinker and he loved hot dogs.

    People ate him up. Then again, who wouldn't?

18. Jim Thorpe

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    We've all heard the stories, read his Wikipedia page thousands of times, brushed up on all the knowledge of him that we possibly could, but the fact is, nobody knows just how exciting Jim Thorpe actually was to watch in person.

    Now, I never saw Thorpe in person of course, but from what I read and what my common sense tells me, An Olympic Gold Medalist, professional football, basketball, and baseball player must be pretty damn exciting.

    Jim Thorpe was Bo Jackson before Bo Jackson, except he was even more accomplished.

17. Jackie Robinson

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    If Jackie Robinson had not accomplished a thing in his career other than breaking baseball's color barrier, he probably would not have qualified for this list.

    Robinson was as exciting as they came out on the baseball diamond.

    He was the one guy in the history of baseball that could change the entire complexion of a game with a walk. He would drive pitchers crazy with thoughts in their heads that he might be going, the game stopped as soon as he stepped on first base.

    He stole home an amazing six times in his career. And I'm not talking about the types of steals of home we see in today's game where maybe a guy makes a heads-up play and scores on a pickoff, I'm talking about legitimate, straight steals of home.

    And, for those of you that have never seen a straight steal of home in their life, let me tell you it's arguably the most exciting play in sports.

    Robinson was a master at it.

    He was also a fantastic hitter, baserunner, fielder, and just all-around player. He was a five-tool player who played the game the right way, he also played it under more pressure than anybody else in sports history.

    It's safe to say that Jackie Robinson was a once-in-a-millennium type baseball player.

16. Usain Bolt

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    Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    How does the fastest man in the history of the world sound to you for exciting? Good, that's what I thought.

    Embedding has been disabled for this video, so here's the link:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=By1JQFxfLMM

15. Lawrence Taylor

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    Lawrence Taylor is as exciting as an NFL player could be on the defensive side of the ball.

    Especially at linebacker.

    This guy was an absolute beast, and there was no amount of players that you could use to possibly stop Lawrence Taylor from delivering a bone-crushing hit on the ball-carrier.

    This guy ended Joe Theismann's career with one sack.

    He was big, strong, fast, athletic, scary, and anything else you could possibly want in a pass-rusher.

    This is the only defensive player in the history of the game who could win a football game on his own.

    I'll pay to see that.

14. Mike Tyson

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    These days, Mike Tyson is nothing more than a punchline, but back in his heyday he was so much more.

    Mike Tyson brought more energy to the crowd in his pre-fight interviews than most boxers brought throughout a 12-round fight.

    He had one of the most lethal punches in boxing history, and when he was young fans would bow down to him.

    He would just knock out whoever the hell he wanted to, and there was nothing anybody in America could do to stop him.

    If you managed to get out of the first round with Tyson you considered yourself lucky. He was literally, The Baddest Man on the Planet, and everybody knew who he was.

    He was the top pop-culture icon in boxing over the last 20 years for a reason.

    Nobody beat Tyson, he even scored a knockout in The Hangover.

13. Willie Mays

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    I've written about Willie Mays countless times in the past.

    This guy was the literal definition of a five-tool player. He didn't do everything well, he did everything perfect, and he made it look fun.

    Watching Willie Mays made us all want to be baseball players because he made the game look so fun, he also made it look pretty damn easy.

    He was the greatest defensive outfielder of all-time, had one of the best arms I've ever seen, he was a .300 hitter who could hit well over that at times, he had one of the best power strokes of all-time, and oh boy could he run.

    Mays played the game like a kid in Little League in way of the fact that he smiled every time he got to bat, and prayed to god that the ball would be hit to him.

    He was also a class act off the field.

    There are few joys greater in sports than watching Willie Mays play baseball.

12. OJ Simpson

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    There was a time when OJ Simpson was as devastating with a ball in his hands as any player in any sport.

    OJ was as good as any running back in NFL history, and his speed was unmatched.

    He could make the fastest of defensive backs look like Mo Vaughn.

    He once averaged 6.0 yards per carry over a full season, and 143 yards per game.

    That's not exciting?

    Simpson even made getting arrested look exciting and fun.

    That's saying something.

11. Julius Erving

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    Julius Erving was one hell of an athlete.

    He could jump as high as any player I've ever seen.

    Dr. J could score with the best of 'em, and his dunking abilities were unfathomable.

    Even his hair was awesome!

    This is the man who rocked the baby and went up and under.

    Julius Erving was a rare breed of athlete, and one that we would be more than honored to watch in person.

10. Michael Vick

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    Love him or hate him, there's no denying just how exciting Michael Vick is with a football in his hand.

    He has the speed to go stride for stride with DeSean Jackson and the arm strength to rival Brett Favre.

    Just think about this for a second, Michael Vick's 40-yard dash time as a rookie was 4.36. You read that correctly, 4.36.

    That's a mark that's considered elite for running backs, and Vick ran it as a quarterback.

    Vick's accuracy was always a problem, but for a guy who can run that fast and throw that far, you'll accept him for being a little inaccurate.

    Michael was a one of a kind athlete and a freak. He rushed for 1,039 yards on 123 carries in 2006, that's a 8.4 yard per carry average on a pretty large amount of attempts.

    He has a career yard per carry average of 7.2 to go along with his ability to be a pretty effective throwing quarterback.

    Michael Vick is one of a kind, and one of the most exciting athletes that ever lived.

9. Dominique Wilkins

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    When you get a nickname like "The Human Highlight Reel," you're a pretty safe bet to make this list.

    And I'm sure when you saw the title, 'Nique was one of the first names that came to mind.

    This guy was as good a dunker as anybody to play the game and could score from anywhere on the floor.

    This guy twice went blow for blow with Michael Jordan in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

    Is there really anything else you need to know?

8. Gale Sayers

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    It's a damn shame that injuries derailed Gale Sayers' career before we could see exactly what he was capable of, but what we saw was enough.

    In five full seasons, this guy totaled 56 touchdowns.

    He was Devin Hester and Chris Johnson all in one player, and he may have been faster than both of them.

7. Rickey Henderson

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    Rickey Henderson was fast.

    Edit: Rickey Henderson was really, really fast.

    We all know that, he stole over 100 bases in a season three times.

    People like to talk about Henderson's speed when shaping his legacy, but he was so, so much more.

    Allow me to compare Henderson to somebody here that I'm sure most of you are familiar with: Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), from the hit movie Major League.

    Hayes was extremely fast, just like Henderson.

    However, anybody who has seen the movie knows that while Willie's speed made him exciting, it was far from the only thing that made him such a lovable character.

    It was Hayes' power, it was his ability to manufacture runs, it was his love for the game, and, most of all it was his huge ego which somehow never seemed to bother any fans.

    It was his wall filled with batting gloves he used to steal bases, and his famous saying "Run like Mays, hit like Hayes" that made him so memorable.

    Henderson was the same way.

    While nobody has or ever will steal bases like Rickey, it was the threat he always was to crank a leadoff home run, or walk then steal second and third and score on a sac fly.

    It was him talking in third person and still believing at the age of 44 that he was the best player in baseball.

    It was his love for the game of baseball that made him so much fun to watch.

    Rickey Henderson was the perfect mix of power, speed, baseball savvy, and ego.

    A mix that the game will most likely never see again.

6. Deion Sanders

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    If you look up exciting in the dictionary a picture of "Prime Time" is sure to be close.

    Deion Sanders was the greatest shut down corner in NFL history, but that's not why he makes this list.

    "Neion Deion" makes this list because of the electricity he could bring to a stadium.

    The crowd would chant "Prime Time, Prime Time" every time Sanders got the ball because they knew he had his eyes on paydirt.

    Sanders embodies what this list is all about.

    He was athletic as you could imagine, he played both football and baseball professionally.

    He was as cocky as can be, he made up his own nickname: Prime Time.

    And, he was as big a showboat as possible; he would high step his way into the end zone and dance around like he owned the NFL.

    And to many of the fans watching, he did.

5. Earvin "Magic" Johnson

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    How the hell does a man who stands at six feet, nine inches (the same height as Carlos Boozer and Karl Malone) manage to become the greatest point guard that ever lived?

    How does a man who would be considered average height at the power forward position manage to point guard one of the best dynasties in basketball history?

    How does a man who proved he's an extremely effective center manage to lead an up-tempo style team nicknamed "Showtime" to the promised land as a point guard?

    These are all questions that I'll never be able to answer.

    Magic Johnson was a big, big dude. And for a point guard he was a beanstalk.

    He was a special player. I can assure you that there will never be another 6'9" point guard in NBA history, and if there is, he'll be nowhere near as affective as "Magic."

    Johnson's nickname may have been the only one that did him justice, because watching him on the court was literally like going to a magic show.

    His passes were as flashy as they come, he set up his teammates with absolutely perfect opportunities, he could score at will, he could play center if he really wanted, he could rebound.

    Basically, he could do whatever he wanted, and nobody could stop him.

4. Muhammad Ali

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    There's a reason why Muhammad Ali's name lives on through generations of people.

    When Ali talked, the world stopped.

    Every time he said something it was as much news as the Tiger Woods "apology."

    He was the cockiest athlete of all-time, and he talked as good a game as anybody in the history of sports.

    Ali could make anything cool.

    He could even make getting your face get punched in cool.

    He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, and we loved every minute of it.

    When Ali stepped into the ring, the world stopped. Everybody was watching.

    People were willing to lose their job just to see Ali fight, and it's easy to see why.

    Muhammad Ali set the gold standard for exciting athletes and only three guys have topped it since.

3. Bo Jackson

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    "Bo Knows."

    Bo knows baseball, Bo knows football, and Bo knows how to make a crowd go absolutely nuts.

    Jackson was the second most athletically gifted man to ever live, trailing only Jim Thorpe.

    However, when it comes to excitement, Bo soars above Jim Thorpe and almost everybody else.

    He was an All-Star in both baseball and football, and had he focused on just one sport, he would have been amongst the greatest of all-time at that sport.

    On the gridiron, Jackson didn't get many reps in the off-season, and he never played all 16 games in a season, yet most consider him one of the most talented running backs of all-time.

    And that's for good reason, he averaged 5.4 yards per carry over his short career. He was fast as a bullet, yet as strong as a body builder.

    He was impossible to get a finger on and even more impossible to bring down once you did.

    Out on the baseball field he wasn't quite as good as he was as a football player, but he was still pretty damn good.

    He was a lock for at least 20 home runs 20 steals a season.

    There was no guy in the history of sports like Bo Jackson, and there never will be another one.

    He was the one guy that even your five-year-old son would notice out on the field.

2. Barry Sanders

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    Barry Sanders was a Pro-Bowler every single season he played in the NFL.

    He managed to make the Lions look like a respectable team for 10 years.

    Sanders was faster than any player in NFL history in and out of his cuts, and his straightaway speed could have even made Usain Bolt take notice.

    Barry could run one way and gain five yards, but not be satisfied, he would run all the way back and try to cut it back the other way for even more yardage.

    This man looked at the end zone before every play and literally said to himself, "If I'm not standing there by the end of this play, then I'm not doing my job."

    And he really believed it.

    He was the most explosive player in NFL history.

    If Barry Sanders came out with a two-hour movie of just him running the ball, it would be a box office hit.

    Even as a Packer fan, I'll admit he was fun to watch even when running at my expense.

1. Michael Jordan

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    Are you really surprised? I don't think Michael Jordan will ever be topped on this list.

    He played with a special swagger about him that said, "I'm better than you, and I know it."

    He did things that I swear to this day he didn't do.

    There's really no way to describe watching Jordan play. He was just unbelievable.

    He was a winner, he was the best, he could score, defend, shoot, make clutch plays, he did whatever he wanted.

    There are three things that all men have no choice but to love in this world: Their wife, their kids, and Michael Jordan.

    That's in no particular order, by the way.

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