An Off Soccer Topic: Reoccurring Greatness

To try and get away from all this crazy transfer and buying/selling madness, I figured I'd bring up something a bit off topic but also relative to sports as well and share it with you guys because this is the one place I most associate with as far as not only talking football, but just sports and anything else in general.

I just got done watching Kings Ransom, which is a documentary about one of the most controversial trades in sports history, the trade of Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings, and if you get the opportunity to watch it sometime (on ESPN, or on Netflix where I watched it), I highly recommend it. But overall, it got me thinking, has any sport truly had anyone where no matter what, nobody could possibly be compared to one individual at all, not even in a single aspect relative to that sport? And personally, I think the only major sport where that could apply to is hockey and Wayne Gretzky.

Now, in some obscure sport where there's no coverage and is limited to a few nations, then yes, there's probably somebody out there where their achievements and talent in that given sport will never be matched, but I don't know about it, and odds are most of us or the general public wouldn't know about it as well (but if you happen to know about someone like this, definitely mention it, everybody loves a fun fact). But as far as major sports, it's hard to think of someone who was so great at what they did, that is was unimaginable, almost frowned up to think that they could be emulated in any way again.

For an example, a lot of people under a popular belief think that Pele is odds on the best player in football, but there's really a lot of factors playing against that. For one, football has such a vast history that there could be somebody out there who was just as great, if not better than Pele, that was never as recognized. Pele had a lot going for him as far as publicity goes. You also have to add in the factor that a lot of people believe that Maradona is more superior than Pele and today, you could also argue that Messi is approaching that legendary status as well. Another factor is that, there's just so many positions, so many different uses for so many different players that it just becomes hard to completely narrow down the list of one legendary player that will never be matched or compared to, just the fact that Messi is driving himself into "the greatest ever" conversation pretty much kills any argument now that there's just one player in football who will be greater than everybody else.

Baseball can be eliminated almost instantly, because there's groups of people who believe Babe Ruth was the best ever, another group who claims that Hank Aaron was the best ever, or Pete Rose, there's just too many players out there, not to mention the huge disparity between a great batter and a great pitcher like Nolan Ryan, it's just too hard to completely narrow down just one player. Football (our brute American style) is just as hard too, there's just too many great players, but even today, players are still compared to other greats and not just one player stands alone, Adrian Peterson shows signs of Gale Sayers, Tom Brady shows signs of Joe Montana, and Patrick Willis shows signs of Dick Butkus.

Basketball has to be the next closest sport, but alas, no cigar. The popular belief has always been like Mike, but then there's Kareem, and Magic, and Bird, and eventually LeBron and Durant...

But then, there's Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky had so much going for him, he won multiple championships in a row with the Oilers, was the key piece in one of the best dynasties in sports, set unsurmountable records and won multiple awards. He also played in a relatively modern time (from the mid 80's into the 90's), and was in the viewpoint of a then growing popularity in the sport, everybody, not just the hockey world, knew who Wayne Gretzky was. The key factor though, is that everybody has conceded that Wayne Gretzky is THE best hockey player the sport will ever see. The legends agree, current players agree, fans agree, even the league itself agrees with that, he was announced a hall of famer instantly after retirement and his number will never be worn again, league wide. It's almost a sin amongst the hockey public to even compare someone to Gretzky because the odds are so incredibly slim that anybody is going to reach those numbers. Even for the slightest bit when people thought that Mario Lemieux could be just as great as Gretzky, the talk was hushed right away, even Lemieux himself believes that the Great One will be the only Great One, ever.

The only other comparison to someone of this caliber that I can think of, is Ayrton Senna. I'm a hardcore auto racing fan, but even I don't believe auto racing is a sport. My definition of a sport is based purely on human capabilities, the addition of a machine adds a factor to auto racing that in some way, shape, or form, is out of human control entirely. But in racing, Senna is almost godlike, the things he could do with a race car are unimaginable, he could feel the car so well, know exactly where the grip was, he could even predict the mindset of an upcoming rival and what he was going to do, his mind inside a race car was so advanced that we'll probably never see anyone like him again, he was so fearless, even when he showed doubt, he would just go out and go even faster. Even though Senna only raced in Formula One, it's usually a given among the racing community that Senna's skills are unmatched and will continue to be unmatched...

So now, commence discussion! Am I wrong? Am I right? or am I possibly forgetting somebody obvious or do I not know somebody of this caliber?

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