3rd Runner Up- Tom Brady
The 3 time Super Bowl champ has been to 5 Super Bowls in only 10 years. That means he has made the Super Bowl in half the seasons he has played. That is an insane percentage. One of the clutchest QBs of all time, Brady also holds the record for single season TD totals and has a shocking career record.
With his last two Super Bowls ending with a loss to the Giants, his mysticism has definitely dropped. He does play for a team sport and has drawn too many comparisons with Manning and Farve to be considered the greatest athlete of my lifetime.
2nd Runner Up- Michael Phelps
With 14 Gold Medals, an almost perfect Olympic record, Phelps has dominant a mostly individual event. The greatest Olympian is quite a title but one that Phelps has earned. Watching the man-fish in the pool is thrilling and like Tiger, you almost expect and demand he win.
In my opinion Phelps doesn’t compete enough to be considered the best athlete in my generation. His Olympic races are really numbered and a few of them are out of his hands.
1st Runner Up: Michael Jordan
MJ dominated his sport and then transcended it. With 6 titles, 5 MVP, 6 finals MVPs, a numerous scoring champ and all defensive player, MJ has the stats to be the best. But his drive, feel for the dramatic moments, and desire to win make him the greatest NBA player ever. He also brought basketball to heights it could never imagine. Michael Jordan is probably the most popular and well known Athlete of all time.
Though amazing, it did take MJ a few years to achieve his greatness. While the centerpiece, he did have plenty of help with some amazing teams along the way. Also holding against him, Jordan dominated for 7 years, a relatively short time for someone considered the best athlete of my 25 years.
The Greatest Athlete of My Lifetime: Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete of my generation. First the stats; Tiger has 11 majors, the second most all time. Most players dream of winning one. He has 72 wins, tied with Jack Nicholas for all time. He has been the #1 player in the world for years at a time. Tiger Woods is without a doubt the best golfer of all time. With the level of competition he has faced and the target on his back, the fact that he just keeps on winning and winning is amazing. He has brought golf, a very white collar, “not for the masses” sport to the forefront of the nation. But what is perhaps most amazing is the expectation and demand for excellent every time he is on the course. Tiger is expected to win every single tournament he plays and quite often he comes through. The fact that in his worst years he gets 2-3 victories is stunning. Most golfers hope to win 2-3 tournaments in their lives. In the 18 years he has been a professional, Tiger has dominated the sport. Winning a major in his second year, after becoming the highest endorsed golfer and SI Athlete of the Year as a Rookie, Tiger never slowed down. I play golf and the insane pressure on every shot in a sport where it is all on you to be great just seems daunting. Watching that unbelievable chip in on the 16th hole of Memorial was just a reminder how I have the pleasure and honor to watch the greatest athlete of the last 25 years on a daily basis. Tiger; thank you!!