Peyton Manning And The G.O.A.T. Of All Big-Time Sports

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Peyton Manning Paves the Way for Other All-Time Greats In Sports

Peyton Manning
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

When Peyton Manning completed a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas on Sunday afternoon to give the Denver Broncos a 37-13 lead over the Houston Texans, the quarterback not only secured a number in the box score, but also a spot in the history books. The touchdown was Manning's fourth of the afternoon, and more importantly the 51st of the 2013 season, which secured the single-season touchdown record with a game to spare.

For the entirety of the 2013 season, Manning has completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 5,211 yards, 51 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and an impressive 12-3 record to win the tough AFC West. While this statistical output is undoubtedly the best single-season output from one player in the history of the NFL, the way that the quarterback achieved it was even more impressive.

Once again, Manning took a team with a shaky defense, guided the offense like a coach and generally looked like the most important player of any team in any sport during the year. To say that a fifth NFL MVP is on the way is easy, but it could now be said that he is also the best football player to have ever walked on the face of this earth.

Throughout his 16-year career, Manning has been the epitome of consistency, never seeing a lull in his play even when other players took plays, drives or even games at a time off. He has a career stat line that includes 64,698 passing yards, 487 touchdowns and a 65.4 completion percentage. He will likely hold every single statistical record for a quarterback by the time his career is over.

For all of those people who will detract from Manning's case as the best player ever because he has "only" won one Super Bowl, your case is fatally flawed from the start.

Aside from being an unprecedented statistical machine, the quarterback has transformed his position unlike anybody in the sport ever has. If one ever wants to wonder where all of the no-huddle, uptempo offenses originated from, look no further than no. 18. He may not be a speed demon on the ground, but he was dominated with ball precision, accuracy and intelligence for the last 16 years and probably could for as long as he wants to.

So you can have all of your flashy guys that "step" up when things count or are supposedly more clutch than Manning, but I will take him on my team all day long. Never will you have to hear about any sideline issues, problems with a coordinator or persistent struggles because a tight end or wide receiver is missing. He is the epitome of greatness, and is now the undoubted G.O.A.T. in the NFL, sitting on Mount Rushmore of sporting lore.

With this in mind, I have taken the liberty of assessing the G.O.A.T. in baseball, basketball, boxing, cricket, golf, hockey, MMA, NASCAR, rugby, soccer, skateboarding, snowboarding, swimming, tennis and track and field. Each of these sports represents a large portion of populations in a certain area of the world, and the athlete that represents them deserves to sit in the pantheon of greatness for their craft.

Enjoy, and feel free to give feedback to your opinions on each selection and who you feel should have been chosen as the G.O.A.T. their respective sport.

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, "Like" him on Facebook or join his network on Google.

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Baseball - Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth
Image Courtesy of @BeschlossDC

When it comes to defining both a sport and an entire country's sporting culture, there will never be an athlete quite like Babe Ruth. The burly slugger ranks in the top six in MLB history in slugging percentage, OPS, OBP, RBIs, home runs, total bases, career runs and base-on balls on the way to winning 12 single-season home run titles and six RBI titles. While these career feats are incredibly impressive in any context, one must only look at the fact that before Ruth stepped on a field, the career home run record was 138. He brought it up to 714.

Additionally he compiled a 94-46 record with a 2.28 ERA as a pitcher and even won a league ERA title in 1916. Over his 21-year career, Ruth won seven World Series rings and become the single most popular athlete in the history of North American sports. He could even be the most popular baseball player in the world today.

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Basketball - Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan
Image Courtesy of @FinishLine

Sorry LeBron James lovers, but Michael Jordan is still the king of basketball. Over his 15-season career, Jordan won 10 NBA scoring titles, five NBA MVP titles, one NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, six NBA titles, 10 scoring championships and made 14 All-Star games. In addition to all of these feats, there was a certain aura around Jordan that is not easily defined and will never be topped. Whether or not opposing players wanted to accept it, he knew he was better than them and so did everyone else.

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Boxing - Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
Image Courtesy of @HistoricalPics

Muhammad Ali was the epitome of a heavyweight fighter, combining brute physical presence with a bit of finesse and a swagger that fills stadiums. Although too brash for some people outside of the ring, nobody could turn away from what he accomplished inside. Ali finished his career with a 56-5 record, won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games and was named the no. 1 fighter of the 20th century by the Associated Press.

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Cricket - Sir Don Bradman

Sir Don Bradman
Sir Don Bradman Facebook

Sir Don Bradman is regarded as the best test batsman of all time with his individual test batting average of 99.94 ranking as the best ever. Additionally, Bradman set numerous other records on his way to becoming the only cricket player to ever receive knighthood in Australia, and is considered the ultimate legend of the sport.

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Golf - Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

While there will be some people who feel that Jack Nicklaus is the best golfer of all time, there is no doubting in my mind that Tiger Woods deserves this honor. Woods ranks second all-time in majors won with 14, second in wins with 79, and still has many years to go at the age of 37. Aside from wins, what truly sets Woods out from the rest of the pack is the unprecedented level of dominance he has had over the rest of the golfing world. While some people will boil this down to a decline in standard of play, I do not.

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Hockey - Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky
Image Courtesy of @EdmontonOilers

When it comes to easy picks on this list, Wayne Gretzky certainly was the easiest. During his career in the NHL, he set the record for goals, assists, points and hat tricks, along with nearly every other individual record that one would want to achieve. While never the fastest or biggest player, Gretzky simply had an innate ability to know what was happening on the ice, and his ability to anticipate both boggled minds and left other professionals admiring his skills. There is a reason he is called the Great One after all.

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MMA - Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Although the sport of mixed martial arts is relatively young, there is no doubting that Anderson Silva holds the crown of best fighter ever. He has compiled a 33-5 career record, setting the UFC record for consecutive victories with 16. As a middleweight fighter, Silva has become the epitome of an all-around fighter and has been named the best fighter ever by numerous publications.

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NASCAR - Richard Petty

Richard Petty
Image Courtesy of @toppscards

There is no denying that Richard Petty is the best NASCAR driver to have lived, and his title as The King only helps to further reinforce that. Petty won an incredible total of 200 races, seven cup championships and seven Daytona 500 championships. Furthermore, he helped to grow the sport from a backyard attraction to something that is now shown to nationwide audiences.

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Rugby - Jonah Lomu

Jonah Lomu
Image Courtesy of @Sportsinpicture

Jonah Lomu was an absolute beast on the rugby field, running through defenders with ease and attracting fans like no other player on the pitch. Lomu had an extensive career for New Zealand, and even despite a debilitating kidney disorder, it often felt as if he was a god-like figure on the field.

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Soccer - Pele

Pele
Image Courtesy of @Pele

Pele was an absolute magician with a soccer ball at his feet, and had the killer instinct in front of the net to back it up. During a 21-year career with Santos FC and the New York Cosmos, he combined to score 1281 goals in 1363 games, a world record that will never be broken. In addition, he scored 77 goals in 92 official appearances with the Brazilian National Team, and became the only player in soccer history to win three World Cup titles. While Lionel Messi may be gaining ground, Pele is still no. 1.

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Skateboarding - Tony Hawk

Tony Hawk
Image Courtesy of @RTE2fm

While the sport of skateboarding is one with vastly different genres and styles, it is clear that Tony Hawk transcended all lines during his epic career. Specializing in vert skating, he won nine gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze Medals at the X Games between the years of 1995 and 2002. During this run, he became the first person to ever pull off a 900, and turned skateboarding from a sideshow sport into a main event with the hugely successful video game that bore his name. While some may be equal to Hawk in terms of skating ability, there is nobody who has topped the influence he has had on skateboarding, and for that he takes the cake as the G.O.A.T.

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Snowboarding - Shaun White

Shaun White
Image Courtesy of @shaun_white

The sport of snowboarding has entered the mainstream sporting world in recent years in large part because of the X Games, and Shaun White has become the face of the games' winter edition. He has won 13 gold medals, three silver medals, and two bronze medals at the X Games, and an additional two gold medals at the Olympic Games. Labelled the Flying Tomato, the snowboarder has constantly pushed the boundaries of the snowboarding world, and has become a sporting icon that rivals those in more traditional sports like baseball, basketball and football.

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Swimming - Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

During his career in the swimming pool, Michael Phelps has been a dominant force with a level of consistency and longevity that is completely mind-blowing. Over three separate Olympic Games, he has won 18 gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals, in turn becoming the most decorated Olympian ever.

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Tennis- Roger Federer

Roger Federer
Jerrry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

No tennis player has reached the levels dominance that Roger Federer has. The Swiss star holds the world record with 302 weeks combined as the world's no. 1, 17 Grand Slam Titles, eight appearances in the final at Wimbeldon, and he is one of just seven men to complete the career Grand slam. During this run to the top, Federer had to fend off significant challenges from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, and although he has already peaked at the age of 32, there is no doubting his spot as the G.O.A.T. has been secured.

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Track and Field - Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a number of supremely successful track and field athletes throughout history, but Usain Bolt surely tops the list as the G.O.A.T. He has continuously raised the bar to be the fastest man ever with his current marks of 9.58 in the 100 meter and 19.19 in the 200 meter serving as the world record. In total, he has won six gold medals at the Olympic Games, and eight at the World Championships.


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