What's the difference between a great athlete and a great player? An athlete can perform various sports at high levels. An athlete is well-rounded and versatile. An athlete gets all that he can out of himself on a nightly basis and uses all the talents he has. Here is my opinion on the top ten greatest athletes of all-time.
10. Charlie Ward: Ward attended Florida State where he led the Seminoles to a National Championship and won the Heisman trophy in 1994. Ward also won 30 other individual awards for football during his stay at Florida State, including two ACC Player of the Year awards. The outstanding quarterback also played basketball in college and was drafted by the Knicks and played in the NBA for ten seasons and was selected to participate in the 1998 three-point contest in 1998. Ward was also drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers even though he never played baseball in college.
9. Rafer Johnson: Johnson, despite having a knee injury, won the silver medal at the 1956 Olympics in the Decathlon. Then came back in 1960 to win the Gold. He was also offered a scholarship by UCLA to play football, but turned it down to concentrate on the decathlon. However because Johnson was such an outstanding athlete, he did have the ability and time to play basketball at UCLA during the John Wooden era.
8. Jesse Owens: Although Owens only really played one sport in track and field, he excelled at several different events. Owens once set the record in 100 yard dash (9.4), the 220-yard dash (20.3), the 220-yard low hurdles (22.6), and long jump (26.67 ft.) in a span of about 45 minutes at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor Michigan. Owens also won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Owens used to earn money by racing horses and other athletes. Owens would race the fastest ballplayers and also beat them even after giving them a 10-yard head start.
7. Deion Sanders: "Prime Time" is the only athlete to ever appear in a World Series and a Super Bowl. Sanders is also the only athlete to ever hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same week. He is the only man to score a touchdown off of a kickoff return, punt return, interception, fumble, reception, and rushing. Sanders once played in an NFL game and an MLB game in the same day. Sanders was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1995 where he won the first of his two Super Bowls, his second coming in 1996.
6. Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain: In high school, Chamberlain set Pennsylvania state records in shot put and the 110-meter hurdles, and earned a scholarship to Kansas for both track and basketball. He was recruited by over 200 hundred colleges due to his excellent play in basketball while in high school. In just three seasons of high school play, Chamberlain scored over 2,200 points. At Kansas, Chamberlain didn't just excel at basketball, he won three consecutive Big Eight high jump championships.
After college, Chamberlain went on to the NBA where he would win two championships, four MVPs, one finals MVP, and rookie of the year award in 1960. He is known as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. However, after basketball, he was a elite Volleyball player, ran marathons, and opted not to go professional in both boxing and football, even though he received offers to do so.
5. Jackie Robinson: In College, became known for his multi-sport stardom. One day while attending Pasadena Junior College, Robinson set a Junior College long jump record of 25' 6 1/2", then ran across town to help his baseball team win the league championship. In Robinson's first year at Pasadena, he hit .417 with 25 stolen bases in 24 games. In the same year, he rushed for over 1,000 yards, 17 touchdowns including a 104-yard kick return. In the same year, Robinson averaged 19 points per game while leading the team to a Southern California Junior College Championship. Then he won MVP honors for his baseball team when winning the league title, and was participating on the track and field team at the same time.
After Robinson decided to accept a scholarship from UCLA, he averaged over 12 yards per carry for the Bruins football team in his first season. He was the schools first four letter recipient when he participated in basketball, baseball, football, and track. During his time at UCLA, Robinson was an All-American running back, led the Pac-10 in scoring twice, and was the 1940 NCAA Champion in long jump.
Robinson then joined the Dodgers in 1945 where he led the team to six pennants, one world series championship, and won the MVP award in 1949.
4. Bo Jackson: Jackson was drafted by the New York Yankees but chose to take a scholarship to Auburn University from 1982-1985. Jackson participated in baseball, football, and track. He .401 with 17 homers and 43 RBIs, qualified for the 60-yard dash in his freshman and sophomore years, and won the Heisman trophy in 1984 after rushing for over 1,700 yards. He was also named MVP of the Sugar Bowl in 1983, and the Liberty Bowl in '84.
Jackson was then the first pick of the 1986 draft when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him. However, he decided to pursue his baseball career and joined the Kansas City Royals. Jackson was named to the American League All-Star team and won MVP honors for the game, and would finish that season fourth in the AL in both home runs (32) and RBI's (105). In that same year, Jackson would rush for 950 yards in just 11 games for the Oakland Raiders, and would be named to the Pro Bowl team.
3. Dave Winfield: The only athlete to ever be drafted in all three sports was drafted by the Padres in baseball, Utah Stars and Atlanta Hawks in basketball, and the Minnesota Vikings in football, even though he never played a single down in college. Winfield, who played for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, led his baseball team to the semi-finals of the 1973 World Series, and his basketball team to a Big Ten Championship.
Winfield never played in the minors, and after 22 seasons, he won seven gold gloves and hit 465 home runs.
2. Jim Thorpe: Thorpe started out his athletic career by leading his high school football team to a championship in 1912, and won gold at the 1912 Olympics in the Decathlon and Pentathlon. He also won three unofficial league titles with the Canton Bulldogs between 1916 and 1919. Thorpe played baseball as well, putting in six MLB season with the Giants, Braves, and Reds. Thorpe was named best athlete of the first half of the 20th Century.
1. Jim Brown: In High School, Brown earned 12 letters in basketball, football, track, and lacrosse. He was an All-American Lacrosse player and averaged 38 points per game in high school basketball. He lettered in basketball at Syracuse and was also an All-American there in Lacrosse and Football.
In 1957, Brown rushed for 12,312 yards, 8th most all-time, but did it in fewer carries than everyone else ahead of him. He is considered to be one the greatest running backs in NFL history, but also finished fifth in the 1956 Decathlon, and was offered a minor league contract by the New York Yankees.
So there are the top ten all-around athletes of all-time according to yours truly. All of these athletes showed that they could excel at many different levels in all the different fields of their sports.