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Athletes That Are Universally Respected And Liked


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Been meaning to start a thread like this, and the Wimbledon final yesterday between two class acts clinched it.

Roger Federer, in particular, strikes me as an athlete about whom you never hear a bad word. Seems to be universally respected and liked by rivals, fans, athletes from other sports, and just about everyone else.

Have a few more in mind, but who else would you put in the same stratosphere?

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Tim Duncan

Surprised no one mentioned Walter Payton yet.

4 minutes ago, Uruk-Hai said:

 

Guys like Ernie Banks, Brooks Robinson, John Unitas, Julius Erving come to mind for past generations.

All good calls except for Dr. J, I think. Having an out-of-wedlock daughter kind of notched him down a peg in the public's eye, I think.

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3 minutes ago, northern exposure said:

Wayne Gretzky.

Not sure I totally agree on Gretzky, as some saw him as a crybaby in his playing days.

As long as we're talking hockey, I'd submit Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and the Sedin brothers.

Edited by zamboni
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lionel messi gets standing ovations from opponent's fans. 

also is a quiet, seemingly humble, out of the media dude who also seems to go about just trying to do his job without a lot of noise. plus is one of the GOAT. 

 

joe montana seemed similar (minus the standing o's from opponent fans).

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13 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

lionel messi gets standing ovations from opponent's fans. 

also is a quiet, seemingly humble, out of the media dude who also seems to go about just trying to do his job without a lot of noise. plus is one of the GOAT. 

 

joe montana seemed similar (minus the standing o's from opponent fans).

Messi was the first that came to mind.

Almost the polar opposite to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Edited by NewlyRetired
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11 minutes ago, Ignoramus said:

Peyton Manning

Probably should have googled this one first.

10 minutes ago, gump said:

Namath

Assuming this is a joke?

23 minutes ago, RG623 said:

Bill Russell

Spends a lot of time acting like he's the final arbiter on basketball greatness because he dominated an eight-team league that drew from a talent pool that was infinitesimal compared to the modern era, a fact he never acknowledges.

22 minutes ago, ChiefD said:

Jack Nicklaus

nah

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2 minutes ago, NewlyRetired said:

Messi was the first that came to mind.

Almost the pilot opposite to Cristiano Ronaldo.

true. rape-allegations aside, he also gets the occasional standing o from opponent's fans... but only because he's amazing at the sport- not because of the chiselled abs he routinely shows, or the name on the back of his jersey he routinely points to after scoring.

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2 minutes ago, TobiasFunke said:

Probably should have googled this one first.

Assuming this is a joke?

Spends a lot of time acting like he's the final arbiter on basketball greatness because he dominated an eight-team league that drew from a talent pool that was infinitesimal compared to the modern era, a fact he never acknowledges.

nah

put some names down first before jumping to critic-mode, imo.

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Just now, Don Quixote said:

Being the first player to enter Cooperstown unanimously has to be worth something.

Fair point, but Mo was about as class of an act as the game has ever seen, gawdy stats/WS titles or not.

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6 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

put some names down first before jumping to critic-mode, imo.

I did: Freddie Freeman and Cutch. It seems like baseball players are the best candidates in the current era for some reason.  NBA guys are just too outspoken to garner universal respect and affection, and football players are generally either not that well known or have provoked some crazy fan base by whupping on them. Pat Mahomes is a great call, though.

One from the past who hasn't been mentioned: Barry Sanders

Edited by TobiasFunke
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2 minutes ago, TobiasFunke said:

I did: Freddie Freeman and Cutch. It seems like baseball players are the best candidates in the current era for some reason.  NBA guys are just too outspoken, and football players are generally either not that well known or have provoked some crazy fan base by whupping on them. Patrick Mahomes is a great call, though.

One from the past who hasn't been mentioned: Barry Sanders

sorry- and thanks.

huge barry fan. aren't there people who felt like he didn't do enough to lead his team to titles or that he quit too soon? thought he had an outspoken group of haters.

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1 minute ago, El Floppo said:

sorry- and thanks.

huge barry fan. aren't there people who felt like he didn't do enough to lead his team to titles or that he quit too soon? thought he had an outspoken group of haters.

Yup, good point.

Easy to confuse people who are universally respected and liked and people who should be universally respected and liked.

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2 minutes ago, TobiasFunke said:

 It seems like baseball players are the best candidates in the current era for some reason.  NBA guys are just too outspoken to garner universal respect and affection, and football players are generally either not that well known or have provoked some crazy fan base by whupping on them.

I think NHL players - maybe not so much any more in the millennial generation - would have baseball beat. 

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Just now, General Malaise said:

 

Edgar Martinez also beloved, though I'm not sure if he's in the same stratosphere as Rivera, who by all accounts is a great, great guy to everybody.

Good call. I think Edgar playing in Seattle kept him a bit under the radar from a respect standpoint. Obviously not the HOF voters though or his peers.

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1 minute ago, zamboni said:

I think NHL players - maybe not so much any more in the millennial generation - would have baseball beat. 

I agree, although I don't think many of them are well-known enough to qualify. Not a slam on the sport, just that they're behind helmets and masks all game and generally maintain a low profile off the ice.  Also hockey fans can be pretty spiteful about guys on rival teams.  I can't imagine not liking Alex Ovechkin but the entire city of Pittsburgh would certainly disagree.

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2 minutes ago, Don Quixote said:

This is first thing that came up in Google on Tony Gwynn and Jack Clark:  https://www.sbnation.com/2011/6/28/2247559/tony-gwynn-san-diego-padres

I forgot that story, but do recall that Gwynn wasn't universally revered.

In terms of other HOFers that died too soon, I don't remember too much bad being said about Kirby Puckett. In fact, I think he got in the HOF because he was so universally revered.

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