All-time great athletes lacking in major sports

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

Every now and then, an athlete comes along who redefines the sport; an athlete who all other athletes in that sport are compared to: the Jim Browns, Michael Jordans, Jerry Rices, Wayne Gretzkys, Babe Ruths, etc.

Right now in professional sports, we are lacking in these great figures. Great players are out there, but none that will be remembered for all time.

Due to a lack of a clear, legitimate best player in any of the four major sports, we need to look elsewhere to find the most transient, era-defining player of our generation. To find ourselves the athlete about whom we can say, “I saw him play in his prime,” we need to look farther, to go beyond the big four and look at men’s golf and men’s tennis.

The only two athletes who can reasonably be considered era-defining, once-in-a-lifetime athletes are Rodger Federer and Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods is a household name. His accomplishments rank him as one of the greatest golfers of all time, even though he is only 31.

Rodger Federer is probably less known to most people. He is a Swiss tennis player on the verge of shattering the record for consecutive weeks ranked as the top-ranked player in the world.

Both athletes accomplished grand feats this past weekend. Woods won his seventh consecutive PGA tournament, giving him the second-longest streak of all time, while Federer won his third consecutive grand slam, his tenth overall.

Federer and Woods could lay claim to this decade’s greatest athlete, but which one truly is?

With his latest Australian Open victory, Federer reached double-digits for career grand slam victories. His ten career grand slam victories ranks him tied for fifth on the all-time list, four behind Pete Sampras’ record 14. Federer has won 36 straight matches, the fifth-longest streak in the Open era, and nine out of the last 14 grand slams. He has won the past two US Opens, Wimbledons and Australian Opens. He is the only player in the Open era to win three consecutive grand slams twice in his career. He is, without question, the most dominant player in tennis today, but does that make him our once-in-a-lifetime athlete?

Woods has ranked as the No.1 golfer for longer than anybody in history recorded his 12 major championships at a younger age than anybody in history and holds multiple scoring records at the major championships. He accomplished what may be the single greatest feat in golf – winning four consecutive majors. No one besides Woods has held the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship trophies at the same time.

Both offer very impressive r