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: Dec 20, 2006
Posted on: September 17, 2009 1:22 pm

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

You forgot Namath also played in New York. But is the fact namath beat Shula in SB III the reason you included him?

Since: Dec 13, 2006
Posted on: September 17, 2009 11:58 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

Tom Brady, although he has put a nice string of seasons these past couple of years.
His first superbowl, "he" beat the rams, in a low scoring game, and the rams had one of the best offences ever, and Brady got all the credit, not the d-line or the defense.

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: September 17, 2009 11:34 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

Ripken's resume of a "lucky" man,,,  This doesn't even mention how lucky he was to win a home-run derby
or the luck involved in getting 3000 base hits.  To put Ripken on your list and try to justify it shows
you to not only be an idiot - but a d-bag as well.  I wish you didn't have the logo you have because as a 
Phins fan, you're an embarrassment.   


Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 10:06 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

The person I would like to add to this list is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger.  There are many who argue regularly about whether or not he is even a good quarterback, let alone worthy of the 2 Super Bowl rings he's wearing.  What immediately stands out about both of his titles is the benefit of a good defense.  During last years game against the Arizona Cardinals, the defense making the play at the end of the first half is the difference in the Steelers winning that game.  If the Cardinals come away with a missed field goal on that final possession of the half and score nothing, you still have seven points removed from the Steelers score in a game they had to come back at the end to win by less than a touchdown.  But the fact that the defense scored on that play made it a fourteen point swing, setting up the second half of the game for the events that would lead to the final drive to begin with.  Then you had a wide receiver make a circus catch in the back corner of the end zone for what would be the winning points.  It certainly was no Montana to Taylor.  But even then, the win was not sealed until another play by the Steelers defense to force a fumble by Kurt Warner near midfield, and a recovery of said fumble.

His first Super Bowl (XL), against the Seattle Seahawks, required a ridiculous amount of luck.  He won with a sub-30 quarterback rating which speaks for itself.  The officiating was questionable at best.  What many people don't realize about the officiating is that there was a differential of 7 penalties against the Seahawks versus only 3 against the Steelers, and 2 of the penalties against the Steelers were on the first two plays of the game for false starts.  7-1 penalty differential against the Seahawks during the rest of that game.  I have always felt there was no way that Seattle would be allowed to win that game.  I believe the officials threw two quick flags to make it look like it was going to be an unbiased game.  Seattle dominated the first half and went into the locker room down 7-3.  The Super Bowl XL win began the season before when the Steelers lost at home in the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots.  The NFL itself portrays the Super Bowl XL run beginning the year before.   They show footage and interviews of multiple Steelers players crying and depressed that "The Bus" (Jerome Bettis) was going have to retire without a ring.  He comes back for one more season that has the Super Bowl being played in his home town of Detroit.  The story almost didn't happen, but a late season run allowed the Steelers to back into the playoffs as a sixth seed.  The first play against them in the AFC wild-card game was a pass completion that went for over 60 yards when Carson Palmer immediately threw a strike against their defense.  Palmer would likely have been the better quarterback that day if the defense doesn't destroy his knee on that same play.  During the next round of the playoffs, it took another amazing stroke of luck to get past the Colts.  The defense held the Colts in check most of the day, and the Colts had the opportunity to win at the end.  You can argue that a great play was made against the Colts, or that the Colts blew it on a play they should have made.  Meanwhile, you had a Denver Broncos team quarterbacked by Jake Plummer eliminating the New England Patriots in the other AFC playoff game.  History has shown that New England owned Pittsburgh during that time period, so the Steelers caught a huge break in not having to go through New England for the AFC championship.  Once in the Super Bowl, the storyline just needed completion and I've already addressed how I felt that went.  And one last note regarding the officiating in the Super Bowl, do a search of: Steelers, Rooney, and Gambling and you'll be surprised at the history of gambling associated with the ownership of this team.  The Rooneys also own dog racing tracks which I find a conflict of NFL ownership interest, yet there is rarely mention of this. I'm also not really sure how running animals to exhaustion against their will is that much different than say, dogfighting, but that's an argument for another day.    

Since: Apr 21, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 9:51 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

- Mike Tyson - went years without a real fight

- Charles Haley - weeeeee. i got to play with hall of fame offensive players wherever i went.

- Jackie Moon - he owned his own team

- Entire NY Giants team when they beat the Pats in their last SB win.

Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 9:05 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

With so many atheletes to choose from, it's easy to nitpick any list.  I guess it also depends on how you compare the degree of luck.  I almost wanted to take Shaq off this list because he did have talent.  But then I thought, you also left out that he got paired up with Kobe Bryant and had Big Shot Bob (Robert Horry) help him to his Lakers titles, and it's doubtful he gets there by himself.  He got those same titles with Phil Jackson as a coach and Phil is regarded as one of the best NBA coaches in history.  In Miami, he wins a title while paired with Dwayne Wade who won that title at the free throw line pretty much single handedly.  And speaking of "the line", Shaq definitely caught a break on his way to one of his titles during the Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings in game 6.  The officiating in that game is arguably one of the most questionably called games in NBA history, and will it always appear that there were forces outside of the Kings hands that wanted a game 7 in that series.  Earlier in the same series, during game 4, Horry hit a 3 at the half after the time expired that the replay shows should not have counted.  It did. It is the shot that led to the NBA change in rules that now allows replays at the buzzer.  Ultimately the Lakers fought back from a twenty point deficit to win that game 100-99 on the 3 that Vlade Divac knocks out to Horry and he hits at the end of the fourth. If the three at the end of the half didn't count, you only have 99-97 Kings.  Kings went on to win the next game and should have took the series 4-1 but instead were only up 3-2 going into that awful game 6.  I'll admit, the Kings tanked in game 7, but to my point, there was a lot of luck for Shaquille O'Neal in that series alone.  During the Heat title run, you had D. Wade, if I recall right, he shot 41 free throws in one of those games?  Or was that free throws made?  And I think D. Wade was the series MVP, not Shaq, which would indicate he wasn't even the best player on that squad.  You also have Pat Riley coaching that team, so again he had the benefit of Hall-of-Fame coaching.  As far as being four inches shorter, that weakens your argument.  By that logic, Yao Ming should be able to just get in the paint, catch it over everyone, and dunk.  I'm just saying on height alone, not overall mass.  Shaq was a freak of nature and probably could have been a better overall player if he could at least hit a free throw.  Time seems to show that another freak will eventually come along.  Maybe the next one will be built like Shaq, but with the skills of Hakeem.  That would make me want to watch.  Lastly, I mentioned the officiating a number of times in my statement, and we've also seen that the NBA had some problems with at least one official (Donaghy) having been linked to the outcome of games.  I believe that with so much money involved, it's hard to ignore there were probably other officials involved. 

Since: Jul 2, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 9:04 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

How can you not put up Emmitt Smith????  Put him on the Lions and Barry on the Cowboys and see what the record books would look like was always my arguement.  Truley a 4th round talent.  Tough as nails I'll give him that.  But Id put him at #1 on this list. 

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: September 17, 2009 7:16 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME


You did spell Cal Ripken Jr.'s name wrong. Not 100% when you get one wrong. And I agree with that poster, he does not belong on the list. Also, it is true that Shaq cannot shoot free throws and that the biggest reason for his success is his size alone, gowever, he can pass and has strong moves that make him the dominant center he was.

Maybe switch then with Buster Douglas, Scottie Pippen, or Bob Griese.

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: September 17, 2009 2:58 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Feb 24, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 2:45 am

Top 5 Luckiest Athletes of ALL TIME

Cal Ripken Jr. had 3,184 hits and 431 home runs. Oh and he played in 2,632 consecutive games. So these stats make him lucky? I really don't understand what you're trying to say with your post but Ripken's greatness had nothing to do with luck it had to do with hard work and talent.

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