Few know him as Edison Arantes do Nascimento, but most people know “King” Pele as one of the world’s greatest football player’s ever. The International Olympic Committee named this Brazilian as the Athlete of the Century in 1999. He alsostarted a soccer resurgence in the United States when he first played for the New York Cosmos in 1977. Honorable Mention: Andre Dawson (MLB), Phil Rizzuto (New York Yankees) and Walt Frazier (New York Knickerbockers.)
11. Mark Messier
The captain and hero of the 1994 New York Islanders Stanley Cup Championship had a stellar career. Messier was a six-time Stanley Cup champion, 15-time All-Star and two-time Hart Trophy (MVP in the NHL) award winner. Honorable Mention: Carl Hubell (New York baseball Giants), Phil Simms(New York Giants) and Paul Wagner (Pirates.)
12. Terry Bradshaw
The best player ever to put on a Steelers jersey and wear No. 12 is Mr. Bradshaw. Few quarterbacks can boast winning four super bowls in six years. The 1978 NFL MVP passed for a startling 932 yards in the Super Bowl in his career. Member of the 1970’s All-Decade, Bradshaw was one of the greats. Honorable Mention: Tom Brady, Wade Boggs (Devil Rays), John Stockton (Utah Jazz) and Roger Steinbach (Dallas Cowboys).
13. Dan Marino
The best professional football player never to win a Super Bowl is “Dan the Man.” The best No. 13 was the definition of class at the helm of his team. In one season, the University of Pittsburg alumnus passed for 5,084 yards along with 48 touchdowns. Marino passed for 61,361 yards in his career; he had 60 games with 300 or more yards. He was also the first rookie to start in a Pro Bowl. Honorable mention: Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns), Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia 76ers) and Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees.)
14. Ernie Banks
While Mr. Banks told everyone, “Let’s play two,” “Mr. Cub” is not the second best athlete to wear no. 14. Banks was the first Cubbie to ever be retired. Not only did he play for the Negro Leagues, but he is also considered the first African-American to manage a baseball team. Banks also won the NL MVP in ’58 and ’59. Honorable Mention: Dan Foutes (San Diego Chargers), Pete Rose (Cincinnati reds) and Don Huston (Green Bay.)
15. Bart Starr
The famed golden boy of the Packers put up impressive numbers in a run-dominated era. While one of the last picks drafted by Green Bay, he went on to win Superbowl I and II (he was also named MVP of the first two super bowls) and five NFL championships. All together, the man who led his team past Dallas in the “Ice Bowl” threw for more than 24,000 yards and is the only player to lead his team to seven NFL World Championships. Honorable Mention: Thurman Munson (New York Yankees), Tom Heinsohn (Boston Celtics) and Vince Carter.
16. Joe Montana
Montana is the architect of the “catch” and great drives in Super Bowls. Oh, and he won four super bowls, while being named MVP to three. He was also named to the Pro Bowl eight times and passed for more than 40,000 yards in his career. Honorable Mention: Whitey Ford (New York Yankees), Ted Lyons (Detroit Tigers) and Frank Gifford (New York Giants).
17. John Havlicek
The legendary Celtic was involved in what NBA.com calls the most famous radio call in basketball history as the late Johnny Most screamed: “Havlicek stole the ball!” His steal at the closing seconds sealed the Eastern Conference Championship in 1965. The man sometimes called “Hondo” was named to the 50th Anniversary All-Time Team for his abilities on defense and his scoring capacity. His 26,395 points are the most scored by any Celtic and currently ranks sixth all-time in NBA scoring. He also owns eight NBA rings and was All-NBA first or second team 11 separate times. Honorable Mention: Dizzy Dean (St. Louis Cardinals) Lance Berkman (Houston Astros) and Jari Kurri (Houston Oilers.)
18. Peyton Manning
The first present-day player to be named on the list is Mr.Manning the best No. 18 ever. The man from the University of Tennessee and is one part of one of the best quarterback family in the nation. The most marketable man in the NFL has made eight Pro Bowls and was named AP All-NFL six times. The XLI Super Bowl MVP is on pace to break every quarterback record ever written. Honorable Mention: Frank Tripucka (Broncos), Serge Savard (Canadians) and Mel Harder (Reds.)
19. Tony Gwynn
This may be the hardest number to pick so far, but Gwynn can and could do everything. Gwynn coaches at the other SDSU (San Diego State, his alma mater), provides commentary on baseball for ESPN. Not only was Gwynn a great defender (five gold gloves) and fast on the bases but more than anything he could swing a bat. Gwynn accumulated 3,141 total hits, seven Silver Slugger Awards to go along with his 15 all-stars appearances. Honorable Mention: Johnny Unitas (Baltimore), Lenny Wilkins (Seattle Sonics) and Steve Yzerman (Detriot Red Wings.)
Tune in for next week’s issue to read about no. 20-29