Chris Davis and the 15 Most Opportunistic Athletes

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Chris Davis and the 15 Most Opportunistic Athletes

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

One of the greatest parts about sports is that you never know when a superstar is going to be born. There are plenty of athletes who have been given opportunities and never took full advantage of them, while there are other athletes who make sure that their chance to be great does not go to waste.

Auburn Tigers defensive back Chris Davis is a great example of not letting an opportunity slip by. Davis became a household name after he returned a missed field goal for a walk-off touchdown against the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. It is by far the greatest play in the 78-year history of the Iron Bowl and the reason why Davis instantly became a legend at Auburn. The crazy part about it is Davis isn’t even a returner on special teams.

Every athlete gets that one shot at greatness and Davis simply took full advantage of his. In fact, there are many times when that single moment impacts a player’s life forever. Instead of riding a bench for the rest of their career, they made the necessary plays to keep the starting job for several seasons. There are even times when an opportunity cements an athlete’s name in the history books of their given sport.

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see Davis and the 15 most opportunistic athletes. Also, make sure to comment below if there are any athletes who used an opportunity to become a household name not on the slideshow that you think belongs on the list.

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15. Michael Oher

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Michael Oher grew up with a rough childhood, but that all changed when he was adopted by a couple named Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy. Prior to his adoption by the Tuohy family, Oher was homeless and struggled to get by. That all changed when his new family gave him an opportunity to make something of himself, mostly through football. Oher was selected in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. The offensive tackle won a Super Bowl with the team last season.

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14. Deion Sanders

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Deion Sanders is an athlete who took full advantage of every opportunity that came his way. Not only did he dominate in the NFL for more than a decade, but he also played Major League Baseball at the same time. In fact, Sanders is the only athlete in history to play in the Super Bowl and the World Series. He also is the only player to score a touchdown and hit a home run in the same week.

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13. Manny Pacquiao

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Manny Pacquiao had a very difficult childhood in which he lived on his own in the Philippines at the age of 13 years old. Since he wasn’t old enough to be a professional boxer, he competed as an amateur boxer and worked blue-collar jobs to make some money. The death of his best friend is what made him pursue a career in professional boxing. Since Pacquiao weighed just 98 pounds at the time, he would put weights in his pockets to make the minimal weight requirement. He went on to win his first fight and the rest is history as he has held 18 different titles in his career.

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12. Magic Johnson

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Magic Johnson is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He is definitely someone who took advantage of opportunities during his playing days as well as in retirement. There is one moment in particular when a chance to shine met the point guard head on.

In Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was unable to play due to an ankle injury he suffered in the previous game. Johnson stepped in and played center, along with the four other positions, to help lead the Lakers to victory and clinch the NBA championship. He recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

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11. Chris Davis

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If it weren’t for Davis stepping up and making one of the greatest plays in college football history, Auburn wouldn’t have a shot at a National Championship. It will be interesting to see the impact his return for a touchdown will have on the rest of his life.

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10. Adam Vinatieri

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Adam Vinatieri is not only the best field goal kicker in NFL history, but he also is the most clutch. He is responsible for the New England Patriots winning three Super Bowls by kicking the game-winner in all three games, including two with zeros on the clock. Vinatieri’s first made field goal in a championship win occurred in Super Bowl XXXIV. The Patriots were 14-point underdogs in the contest and Vinatieri knocked down the 48-yard attempt to cement his and Tom Brady’s names in the history books forever. Talk about not letting an opportunity go to waste.

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9. Earl Morrall

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Quarterback Earl Morrall is known as one of the greatest backups in NFL history. He famously started 11 of the 17 games as a backup for the Miami Dolphins during their undefeated season in 1972. He also led the Baltimore Colts to a 13-1 record while filling in for Johnny Unitas in 1968. In 1970, Morrall filled in for Unitas again and led the Colts to a win in Super Bowl V.

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8. Jason McElwain


Jason “J-Mac” McElwain is by far one of the most inspirational stories to ever occur in any sport. McElwain, who was born with autism, wanted nothing more than to play basketball. To get into one game would be a dream come true. The high school basketball equipment manager got his chance on February 15, 2006 when the team’s coach put him in for the last four minutes and 19 seconds of the last game of his senior year.

McElwain missed his first two shots, one being a layup. However, his cold streak changed when he got red hot and knocked down seven shots, six of which were 3-pointers. He finished with a game-high 20 points and inspired everyone in attendance. After the buzzer, all of the fans from both teams stormed the court and raised McElwain up on their shoulders.

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7. Aaron Rodgers

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Aaron Rodgers fell to the Green Bay Packers in the 2005 NFL Draft after he was projected to go No. 1 overall. He sat behind legendary quarterback Brett Favre for three seasons. When Favre retired and then unretired, the Packers decided to stick with Rodgers as the starter in 2008. Even though Rodgers took a lot of grief from fans, he made sure not to let the chance go to waste. Rodgers is now considered one of the best signal callers in the game. He’s also a NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP.

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6. Kurt Warner

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Kurt Warner stocked shelves and played arena football after he got cut by the Packers prior to the 1994 season. His luck began to change when he got his opportunity to start in the NFL when Trent Green went down with an ACL injury in the 1999 preseason. Even after Warner led the St. Louis Rams to victories throughout the season, people still really had no idea who he was. That all changed after he helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV.

Warner was written off later in his career. However, he was given an opportunity to start for the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 in which he used to lead the team to Super Bowl XLIII. Even though the Cardinals lost the game, it proved just how special Warner truly is.

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5. Kirk Gibson

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Kirk Gibson was an incredibly talented baseball player who had more than his fair share of success. However, it was his home run in the 1988 World Series that made him a household name that has lasted decades. Gibson suffered from a stomach virus and injuries to both legs, which forced him to have just one plate appearance in the series. However, that’s all he needed as he hit a walk-off home run on a 3-2 pitch. The homer propelled the Los Angeles Dodgers to a World Series title.

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4. Albert Pujols

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Superstar Albert Pujols is said to have got his start in the big leagues after Bobby Bonilla suffered an injury in 2001. It has also been said that manager Tony La Russa had decided Pujols was to be placed on the active roster regardless of Bonilla’s injury. Regardless, the fact that Pujols was given an opportunity in the first place is astonishing considering he wasn’t selected until the 402nd overall pick in the 1999 draft.

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3. Brett Favre

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One of the greatest living legends in sports never would have got his start if it weren’t for Packers general manager Ron Wolf believing in his capability and then quarterback Don Majkowski going down with an injury. All Favre wanted was a chance to show that he could do great things in the NFL. He certainly didn’t let his opportunity go to waste as he started 297 consecutive games and became one of the most beloved quarterbacks in NFL history.

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2. Tom Brady

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Brady got his chance to start after Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury in Week 3 of the 2001 season. The rest is history has Brady led the Patriots to an upset with over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV. He would lead New England to five Super Bowls in 10 years, including three victories. The fact that he wasn’t selected until the 199 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft adds to the mystique.

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1. Jackie Robinson

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Jackie Robinson was given a chance to do something great. In fact, the opportunity that he decided not let slip by is the reason why his name will stand the test of time. Robinson is the first man to break the color barrier in baseball, which occurred in 1947. Instead of giving up after he took plenty of heat from the media, players and fans, Robinson kept playing baseball the best he could in the hopes that his actions would pave the way for so many players after him.