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.