Blog Entry

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

Posted on: September 16, 2009 12:53 am
Edited on: September 18, 2009 1:35 am
This post will lightly discuss the 5 luckiest athletes of all time. To emphasize, I do not mean to say that the people listed are not (or were) tough opponents, nor do I suggest that they don't (or didn't) have some talent.... Although I must admit that some of these guys have very little to no talent. The point is that often you have a case of incredible circumstances meeting a good to moderate talent to create a superstar who really isn't as good as everyone thinks. My list of these people is as follows:

1. Joe Namath: By far the luckiest athlete of all time. Interesting Stats: barely had a career 50% complete percentage (50.1%), threw for below 50% completion percentage 7 out of his 12 years, had a career average of 5.6 yards-per-attempt, had a career 65 quarterback rating, etc. I understand that Joe Namath predicted a Super Bowl win by sipping Pina Coladas at the pool and he allegedly "helped" win the big game that legitimized Football's Rival Divisions. However, the man had little talent and was blessed with a superb group of teammates around him. If it wasn't for ideal circumstances no one would ever know who this guy was.

2. Shaquille O'Neal: This is another guy who will go down as one of the greatest Centers of all time. But let's be honest, the guy has routinely been lazy, unwilling to dedicate himself to his craft, and has embarrassed himself with a skill set so far below the average NBA norm that he should be ashamed. Shaquille cannot dribble, he cannot shoot, and he's routinely overweight and unable to run the floor without being gassed. This is a joke. If this guy was just a mere 4 inches shorter I doubt anyone would have ever even heard of this guy.

3. Marvin Harrison: The guy had decent speed, good hands, decent routes, but most importantly he had Peyton Manning throwing to him. Most people will call BS on this one but if you've watched the Colts over the years you'll realize that Manning throws for his 4,000 yards and 25+ TDs no MATTER WHAT. The Colts didn't miss a beat when Harrison went down 2 years ago. They didn't miss a beat when Harrison could barely run his routes (he looked like an old man). He isn't missing a beat this year. Point is, Marvin Harrison was a pretty good receiver who fell into an ideal situation with one of the best quarterbacks of all time who consistently put the ball on the numbers and called audibles at the line. Marvin Harrison truely was a product of his environment.

4. Cal Ripken Jr: Cal Ripken is one of the most famous baseball players in the modern era yet his stats and/or contribution don't really explain why (e.g. 11 seasons with a batting average of .264 or below, 9 seasons with a season HR total in the mid to low teens, etc). Cal had a decent early career but struggled middle to late career with terrible numbers both in the box and in the field (yet he continued to be selected to ALL-STAR games). If it wasn't for his consequtive games streak and the fortunate situation he was in while he played for Baltimore, this is a guy you would probably have heard about...but not really think twice about (no less a hall of famer).

5. LaDainian Tomlinson: LaDainian Tomlinson makes this list, not because he isn't talented, but because he has received far too much credit for the amount of TDs he has received (which seems to be primary basis for people making an argument for how talented he is). To further illustrate this point, LT received more carries than any other back in league history inside the 5 in the amount of seasons LT has played. So logically it follows that he has the most TDs for a RB in the amount of seasons he has played. Further, his yards-per-carry has been below the league average of 4.0 ypc for almost 50% of the seasons he has played (a number that shows how low his productivity actually is). Ultimately, LT is a talented RB who ran behind one of the best offenses for quite some time, who had a good offensive line, a routine pro-bowl FB, and coaches who utilized him far more than any RB could ever dream to be used. I believe LT is more of a product of environment than sheer talent. That is why he makes this list. 
Category: NFL

Since: Oct 11, 2006
Posted on: September 18, 2009 1:41 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

No, but if you're going to rip the guys, at least spell their names right. 

That's Sportswriting 101.

I could have ripped all the other writing errors in your blog, but I didn't.

Nice try, though.

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: September 18, 2009 1:26 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

So my entire argument is garbage because I spelled LT's name wrong? Great argument HuskerTex; you should go work for ESPN with your brilliant insight.

Since: Oct 11, 2006
Posted on: September 17, 2009 5:33 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

Aside from your Ripkin instead of Ripken gaffe, L.T.'s first name is spelled Ladainian, not Ladanian.

I stand by my assertion.

Since: Sep 30, 2006
Posted on: September 17, 2009 3:11 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

You could argue this point for every major sport and every supestar. Who blocked for this guy, how good was this guys o line, who passed to this guy, types of offenses they played in, etc. It just is what it is. Maybe there is some luck involved in have superstar careers, but the point is, did that player take advantage of their situation and excel beyond his peers? Did he avoid the injuries that ruin other careers. Maybe an average running back/wide receiver could have scored all those touchdowns that LT and Marvin did/are, maybe not, point is, they did. Discreditting any superstars career based on speculation is just lame.  I know, lets make a list of unlucky players that would have made the HOF IF they had Payton Manning, the Colts offense, Darryl Johnsons blocking, etc. Whatever.  

Since: Feb 28, 2007
Posted on: September 17, 2009 2:30 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

Cal Ripken Jr....really?  He was a great player and on of the best of all time.  here are is stats.
  • Games Played: 3,001
  • Consecutive games: 2,632
  • At bats: 11,551
  • Hits: 3,184
  • Runs: 1,647
  • RBI: 1,695
  • Extra Base Hits: 1,078
  • Doubles: 603
  • Home runs: 431 (
  • Total Bases: 5,168
  • Walks: 1,129
  • Assists: 8,212
  • Double Plays: 1,682
LUCKY?  I think not.

Since: Nov 4, 2008
Posted on: September 17, 2009 2:08 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

1. Terry Bradshaw
2. Joe Montana
3. Steve Young

Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 1:53 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

This is a great topic of discussion but some people need to relax.  The first five words of the post are, "the post will lightly discuss".  That being said there are some laughable arguments on here.  Any that address spelling or punctuation as dismissal for content are always funny to me.  You basically show your ignorance and inability to have an intellectual conversation by looking for the first reason you can find to dismiss another persons opinion.  It's all about the content, regardless of how it's conveyed.  Name calling is also on the "always funny to me" list.  What's next? All caps?  There's one other post that warrants mention.  It regards Cal Ripken Jr. and indicates that winning the HR derby and having 3,000 hits has nothing to do with luck and from what I understand implies this is due to skill.  It's followed with some name calling and a whole lot of stats, mostly awards.  I agree it took skill for Ripken to have his accomplishments, but again you have to consider your definition of luck.  I believe you do have to be lucky to stay healthy for long enough to achieve those accomplishments so for him to be on a lightly discussed list of lucky atheletes can be justified.  As much as I hate to bring him up, some might argue the current Minnesota Vikings quarterback could be on the luckiest list for being able to play healthy for so many games and having a lot of touchdown passes (and for still getting game time with the interceptions record as well).  In regards to Ripkens long list of awards, I believe that awards are just based on opinions anyways.  And we all know what opinions are like, and everyone has one.  There were years in the NBA when Charles Barkley and David Robinson got MVP awards, when the award should have went to Michael Jordan. The voters chose to break the trend of awarding the same player the award for another year, but most people would agree that Barkley or Robinson were not the better players.  I think you also confuse the question of luckiest players versus overrated players.  If the original post stated these players were overrated, and then you dropped all those statistics of awards indicating they were excellent players every year, I could see having a more polarized opinion. But I don't recall anybody saying anyone was overrated, just lucky.  Some people also base the luck of a player on championships alone, while others value statistics and longevity.  Lastly, I posted earlier that Ben Rothlisberger has an incredible amount of luck.  I also forgot to add that his second Super Bowl was also won during a year in which the Steelers did not have to face the Patriots in the playoffs.  Tom Brady was injured for the year, coinciding with a resurgence in the Miami Dolphins that allowed the Patriots to miss the playoffs with an 11-5 record which is usually enough to get a playoff spot.  While the Patriots without Brady is less formidable, not having to face them at all is certainly preferable.  So you can add avoiding the Pats in the playoffs for a second time to his luck resume.  And speaking of the Miami Dolphins, Dan Marino who is arguably one of the better quarterbacks in NFL history got one shot at the Super Bowl and "lucked" into a matchup with a Hall of Fame coach in Bill Walsh, and arguably the clutchest quarterback in history in Joe Montana.  Big Ben has somehow managed two rings already, but you would have difficulty finding anybody who would say Big Ben is a better quarterback than Dan Marino.  I haven't decided on a definitive top 5, but Ben Rothlisberger is certainly on my list. 

Since: Sep 16, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 1:49 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

Marvin and Peyton both worked extremly well together considering their hard work, competetiveness, and work ethic. For you to disrespect Marv and say that he was lucky is absolutely ignorant! Do you know who was playing aside him before Reggie Wayne arrived? Jerome Pathon, E.G Green, Quadry Ismail, Troy Walters, just to name a few. He is a first  ballot H.O.F like it or not. You dont record 1102 rec, 14,580 yds, and 128 tds by luck. You don't think that he has H.O.F....he was consistantly  double teamed and was always open. Peyton threw to him because he was reliable and he knew that he would catch the ball. You just seem like a  Peyton lover. Marvin was there first, he was fortunate to have a skilled receiver that he could lean on to help them both be sucessful. 

Being lucky is catching a home run, or your section being picked to get free hot do...t-shirts. Not Mqrvin Harrison buddy!!!! Cool

Since: Dec 20, 2006
Posted on: September 17, 2009 1:25 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

Your comment 'LEVEL' says it all!

Since: Feb 24, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 1:23 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

LTisntThatGood you did spell some names wrong and then you edited it. Your blog post even says you edited the post. So now you're lying as well.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or