Who is the greatest player of all time?

Who is the greatest athlete of all time? Is it Michael Jordan? Tom Brady? Pele?

This is a question people have been asking for decades. Also a question that will never ever be definitively answered. And a question that plagues the minds of sports fans like myself.

But what criteria do we use to decide who is the definitive G.O.A.T. Do we go by championships won? We can’t because guys like Bill Russell would be considered greater than Michael Jordan.

Or a no name like Jimmy Garoppolo would be considered greater than say Dan Marino and that’d just be blasphemous. Well how about stats?

Then Peyton Manning would be called greater than Joe Montana and that just isn’t true. But to find the overall greatest player of all time we need to find out at least the greatest from each sport. This is my opinion, being a New England, and in no way fact so take it as you will.

Representing football is Tom Brady. This is possibly my bias but it was a close call between him and Joe Montana. But I chose Brady based on the fact that not only do all of his stats surpass Montana, he did it in fewer years, and with less hall of fame teammates, two vs. 20.

Representing basketball is Michael Jordan. This one wasn’t even close it was Jordan by a landslide, six NBA championships, six Finals MVP’s, five NBA MVP awards, 14 time NBA all-star, 10 time member of the All-NBA first team. There is no one close to the level of Michael Jordan.

Representing hockey is Wayne Gretzky. This one was a tough decision coming down to either Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky and I couldn’t tell myself that Orr was a better player than Gretzky. Gretzky finished his career with 894 goals in 1,487 games and also had 1,963 assists.

Representing soccer is Pele. This one was tough because of the enormous amount of talent in this sport. I had to chose from Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Gullit, Maldini, Beckenbauer, Zidane, Ronaldo, Messi, etc., etc., I could go on for hours. Pele won three world cups, had a final goal scoring record of 1,282 in 1,363 games.

Representing baseball is Willie Mays, who is the greatest player of all time, 660 home runs, 3,283 hits, 1,903 RBIs, 338 stolen bases, 12 Gold Gloves (they weren’t awarded before 1957) and he made every All-Star team from 1954-73. When Mays came to the majors in 1951, no one had ever seen anyone like him. Even now, he remains the greatest combination of power, speed and defense in baseball history.

Now that we have our players to consider we have to figure out how to rank them, by individual success? Team success? How do we stack a guy like Pele against Willie Mays. I’m gonna base my rankings on effect on the sports world, individual stats, and team stats while present.

So automatically Wayne Gretzky and Willie Mays are out because Baseball doesn’t have the effect it used too and Hockey doesn’t either. So now we’re down to Brady, Pele, and Jordan.

I’m eliminating Tom Brady, as much as I hate to, because he’s only had an effect on the US not the globe as a whole. So now we’re down to Pele and Jordan.

Now we get to comparing stats Pele has the best goal scoring record in history with 1,282 out of 1,363 games, while Jordan is fourth all-time on the scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant.

Jordan won six NBA titles while Pele only won three World Cups. Michael started a global brand spanning the continent. Pele has a failing soccer boot company. Pele was finesse before finesse was a thing in soccer, but Jordan revolutionized the game and made it into the game it is today.

I’m not here saying Jordan or Pele are perfect, they all had their flaws, but they were able to work them out of their games.

Compiling everything Michael Jordan is my greatest player of all time, only slightly beating out Pele. Just as a whole Michael’s career stats, individual stats, and influence on the sports world is just better than Pele’s. So to round things out here is the final list.

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Pele
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Willie Mays
  5. Wayne Gretzky