The Hall of Fame center manned the middle for the Raiders for 15 seasons. He was named all-league 12 straight years (1960-71) and played in six AFL titles games and one Super Bowl. <br><br>Runner-up: Robert Parish.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Ken Burrough and Dean Smith (who wore 00 as a ninth-grader while playing for his father, Alfred, at Lowther Junior High in Topeka, Kansas).
2 of 33AP
A deadly shooter and well-known blogger, Arenas has averaged 22.9 points during his six-year NBA career. He ranked third (28.4 points) in scoring in 2006-07.<br><br>Runner-up: Al Oliver.
3 of 33Vernon Biever/WireImage.com
A CFL legend (he won five consecutive Grey Cups with Edmonton) before heading south, Moon completed 3,988 of 6,823 passes for 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns in 17 NFL seasons.<br><br>Runner-up: Oscar Robertson.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Benny Friedman, Glenn Hall, Billy Martin, Sadaharu Oh, Jacques Plante, Pee Wee Reese, Terry Sawchuk, Ozzie Smith.
4 of 33AP
Out of the gate and into history, Big Red won the 1973 Belmont Stakes by a preposterous 31 lengths. The chestnut stallion won 16 of 21 races, including the Triple Crown in 1973.<br><br>Runner-up: Derek Jeter.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Tommy Lasorda, Doug Harvey, Al MacInnis, Moses Malone, Eddie Shore, Rusty Wallace.
5 of 33 National Baseball Hall of Fame Library
Ruth didn't wear No. 3 regularly, nor did Lou Gehrig wear his famous 4 until Opening Day 1929, when the Yankees officially decided to wear numbers. By then, the Bambino was a legend. <br><br>Runner-up: Dale Earnhardt.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Allen Iverson, Bronko Nagurski, Dwyane Wade.
6 of 33Neil Leifer/SI
Eight straight Norris trophies, the only defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy, and who can forget the seminal image of Orr flying through the air after scoring against the Blues in the 1970 Stanley Cup. <br><br>Runner-up: Lou Gehrig.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Jean Beliveau, Brett Favre, Mel Ott, Duke Snider, Adam Vinatieri.
7 of 33AP
The 56-game hitting streak. Three-time MVP. Spouse of Marilyn Monroe. DiMaggio played his entire career (1936-1951) for the Yankees and hit .325 with 361 home runs.<br><br>Runner-up: Johnny Bench.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: George Brett, Hank Greenberg, Paul Hornung, Donovan McNabb, Albert Pujols, Brooks Robinson.
8 of 33James Drake/SI
An extraordinary defender and the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty, Russell played on 11 NBA championship teams in 13 years. <br><br>Runner-up: Stan Musial.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Julius Erving (Sixers), Al Kaline, Joe Torre.
9 of 33John Iacono/SI
The personification of persistence. Elway lost the first three Super Bowls he appeared in before leading the Broncos to titles in 1997 and '98. He led Denver to a record 47 fourth-quarter comebacks. <br><br>Runner-up: Mickey Mantle.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: David Beckham, Phil Esposito, Ted Lindsay.
10 of 33John Iacono/SI
One of the better numbers in sports. Ripken played in a record 2,632 consecutive games for the Orioles, setting a sporting standard for work ethic. He played 21 seasons in Baltimore, hitting 431 home runs and earning All-Star game nominations in each of his seasons. <br><br>Runner-up: Yogi Berra.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Troy Aikman, Kobe Bryant (through 2006), Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joe Morgan, Steve Young, Carl Yastrzemski.
11 of 33Richard Meek/SI
Another spirited debate but Williams gets the nod over Mr. Hockey. He won two Triple Crowns, hit .406 in 1941 and had a lifetime average of .344. <br><br>Runner-up: Gordie Howe.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Bill Elliott, Mia Hamm, Bobby Hull, Bob Pettit, Rocket Richard.
12 of 33Jerry Cooke/SI
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as the soccer genius Pele, is the most famous footballer of all time. He played on three World Cup-winning teams with Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970) and helped launch soccer in America when he came out of retirement to play for the Cosmos in 1975. <br><br>Runner-up: Diego Maradona.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Walt Frazier, Guy Lafleur, Zinedine Zidane.
13 of 33Lou Capozzola/SI
Hockey's ultimate leader is the only player to captain two franchises (Oilers and Rangers) to Stanley Cup victories. (His jersey is retired in both cities.) Messier ranks second on the all-time regular season scoring list with 1,887 points.<br><br>Runner-up: Isiah Thomas.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Elvin Hayes, Yao Ming.
14 of 33Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Tough call over Terry Bradshaw but Brady gets the top spot for winning in a tougher era. He's 80-25 as a starter, 12-2 in the postseason and holds the NFL record for the most consecutive wins (10). Plus, well, Gisele. <br><br>Runner-up: Terry Bradshaw.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Jim Kelly, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Roger Staubach, John Stockton.
15 of 33Walter Iooss Jr./SI
The most dominating force in NBA history: The 7-footer averaged 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds during his NBA career, and his 100-point game against the Knicks on March 2, 1962 might stand the test of time. <br><br>Runner-up: Dan Marino.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Steve Nash, Alex Rodriguez.
16 of 33Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Character aside, it's hard to argue with the production: Rose owns the major league record for most hits (4,256), games played (3,562), and at bats (14,053). He edges A.J. Foyt, probably the most brilliant race car driver this country has ever produced, by a car length. <br><br>Runner-up: A.J. Foyt.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Ernie Banks, Bob Cousy, Otto Graham, Don Hutson, Oscar Robertson, Y.A. Tittle.
17 of 33Vernon Biever/WireImage.com
The great conductor of the Packers offense, Starr won NFL Championships in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967, and was named MVP of the first two Super Bowls. <br><br>Runner-up: Thurman Munson. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Carmelo Anthony, Hal Greer, Earl Monroe.
18 of 33NFL/WireImage.com
Joe Cool was at his best when the money was on the line. He quarterbacked the Niners to four Super Bowl wins and was named Super Bowl MVP on three occasions. His cool and collected manner in the closing success of Super Bowl XXIII remains the standard for all Super Bowl game-winning drives. <br><br>Runner-up: Brett Hull. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: George Blanda, Bobby Clarke, Len Dawson, Marcel Dionne, Pat LaFontaine, Whitey Ford.
19 of 33Tony Tomsic/WireImage.com
One of the NBA's clutch performers, Hondo played on eight Celtic championship teams and is regarded as the best sixth-man in history. <br><br>Runner-up: Jari Kurri.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Matt Kenseth, Dizzy Dean, Mark Grace.
20 of 33Al Tielemans/SI
When his career concludes sometime next decade, Manning could end up holding every major NFL passing record. He's thrown for 37,586 yards, which ranks No. 13 among all passers. His Super Bowl win cemented his place among the game's elite. <br><br>Runner-up: Charlie Joiner.<br><br> Worthy of consideration: Dave Cowens, Denis Savard.
21 of 33Darryl Norenberg/WireImage.com
Unitas was the first quarterback to throw for 40,000 yards and was the quarterback on the NFL's All-Time team in 2000 as voted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. <br><br>Runner-up: Steve Yzerman. <br><br> Worthy of consideration: Lance Alworth, Bob Feller, Joe Sakic.
22 of 33John Iacono/SI
An electrifying runner whose uncanny ability to cut back often made defenders feel like Wile E. Coyote, Sanders was the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in his first 10 seasons. He led the NFL in rushing four times. <br><br>Runner-up: Mike Schmidt.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Lou Brock, Frank Robinson, Tony Stewart, Vladislav Tretiak.
23 of 33Darryl Norenberg/WireImage.com
He is remembered as much for his humanitarianism as for his renown in right field. Clemente won four batting titles, 12 Golden Glove awards and finished his career with 3,000 hits. He died at 38, in 1972, in a cargo plane that was carrying supplies and food to Nicaragua.<br><br>Runner-up: Roger Clemens.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Tim Duncan, Sidd Finch, Kevin Garnett, Stan Mikita, David Pearson, Deion Sanders, Sammy Sosa,Warren Spahn, LaDainian Tomlinson, Dominique Wilkins.
24 of 33AP
The NFL's alltime rushing leader (and Dancing With the Stars king) won three Super Bowls as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. In 1993 he won the league's MVP, rushing crown (1,486 yards) and Super Bowl MVP, the only player to hit that triple in NFL history. <br><br>Runner-up Elgin Baylor. <br><br> Worthy of consideration: Mike Bossy, Roger Clemens, Clyde Drexler, Doug Flutie (college), Bobby Layne, Jim Palmer.
25 of 33Manny Millan/SI
Any objections?<br><br>Runner-up: LeBron James.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Kirk Gibson, Pete Maravich (college), Calvin Murphy, Ryne Sandberg.
26 of 33AP
In the city of San Francisco, May 24 is known as Willie Mays day. The Say Hey Kid hit 660 home runs over 19 seasons. <br><br>Runner-up: Jeff Gordon.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Kobe Bryant, Ken Griffey Jr., Moses Malone, Lenny Moore.
27 of 33Brad Mangin/SI
Bonds wore No. 24 with the Pirates from 1986 to '92 in honor of his godfather, Willie Mays, but switched to his current number when he arrived in San Francisco. <br><br>Runner-up: Mark McGwire.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Fred Biletnikoff, K.C. Jones.
28 of 33Bill Frakes/SI
He was the premier cornerback of his era, and was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary team, the only active player on the list when it was chosen in 1994. He played 17 seasons (1987-2003) and for four teams (Steelers, Niners, Ravens, Raiders).<br><br>Runner-up: Wade Boggs.<br><br> Worthy of consideration: Herb Adderly, Billy Williams.
29 of 33Tony Tomsic/WireImage.com
One of baseball's dominant pitchers in the '60s, the "Dominican Dandy" won 20 games six times and finished his 16-year career (mostly with the Giants) with a 243-142 record. <br><br>Runner-up: Carlton Fisk.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Eddie George, Vladimir Guerrero.
30 of 33Al Tielemans/SI
A key cog of the Rams' "Greatest Show On Turf," Faulk retired from football earlier this year after a career that produced 19,154 combined yards from scrimmage. His 6,875 yards receiving are the most by any running back.<br><br>Runner-up: Darrell Green.<br><br> Worthy of consideration: Bert Blyleven.
31 of 33AP
Whatever his age, Paige was one of baseball's most enjoyable and memorable personalities. The Negro League star became the oldest player to make his major league debut --42 in 1948. We think.<br><br>Runner-up: Rod Carew.<br><br> Worthy of consideration: Eric Dickerson, Ken Dryden, John Smoltz.
32 of 33John G. Zimmerman/SI
He won 324 games and threw seven no-hitters but he'll always be remembered for one letter: K. Ryan's 5,714 strikeouts are tops among all pitchers. He later switched to No. 34 (retired by the Astros and Rangers) after leaving California. <br><br>Runner-up: Martin Brodeur<br><br> Worthy of consideration:Terrell Davis and Ken Griffey Jr.
33 of 33Peter Read Miller/SI
Looks like an accountant, pitches like an assassin. Maddux is a four-time Cy Young winner and has won 340 games over 22 seasons. <br><br>Runner-up: Reggie Miller.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Fergie Jenkins, Mike Piazza, Billy Smith, Dave Winfield.
You May Like
More More Sports
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!