The Bracket: Day 2

Day 2 of the new and improved bracket and the matchups only get better.  Be sure to vote for who you would have picked.  Check out the first post to figure out what it’s all about.

#7 Willie Mays vs. #10 Jim Brown

VINNY- What a great matchup.

Jim Brown only played for nine seasons in the NFL, but he led the league in rushing yards all but one of those years. He finished with a career 5.2 yards per carry, while averaging more than 100 yards per game. Despite only playing for nine years, Brown still ranks fifth all-time in rushing touchdowns and ninth in rushing yards.

Unlike Brown, Mays had a long career (seems to be a theme with our baseball players). He played in 22 seasons, totaled 660 home runs and 3,283 hits, earned two MVPs, and appeared in a record 24 All-Star games. He won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves and would have won more had it been created earlier (the Gold Glove was created in 1957, Mays’ fifth season).  Mays is the best all-around player to play the game.

When I think about Jim Brown, I think about one of the dominant running backs of all time. And that’s it. But when I think about Willie Mays, I think of the most complete player in baseball. I think of the “Say Hey Kid”. I think about his over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954. That’s one of the most iconic images in sports history. I asked my dad about this matchup and his first response was about that catch. Almost 60 years later and that image still sticks out.

The Pick: Willie Mays

HERD – I may say this again but I think this is the best matchup in the first round.  Willie Mays is the definition of a complete player.  He had four seasons as the HR leader and 4 seasons as the SB leader.  His numerous Gold Gloves show his ability in the field as well.  If he learned how to pitch, he would be able to do anything in the game of baseball.  It’s very possible the terms “perennial all-star” and “5 category player” were made to describe players like Mays.

Jim Brown was one of the most dominant RBs in the history of the NFL.  He led the league in rushing yards every season he played except one.  The choice between an elite baseball player and an elite football player is a tough one, but there are three reasons for my decision.

1. Mays stats are incredible.  His number of all-star appearances and gold gloves are astounding, but they aren’t unheard of.  Hank Aaron, who is also on our bracket, has the same number of all-star appearances, 3 gold gloves, and was both great at HRs and SBs.

2. Jim Brown’s dominance is what does it for me.  His ability to lead the league in 8 of his 9 seasons is unprecedented and really shows how much better he was than any other player at his time.

3. Jim Brown has been rated by as the 2nd best NFL player of all time.  #1 is Jerry Rice, the undisputed best WR in NFL history and #4 is Joe Montana, the undisputed best QB to ever play the game.  Brown’s appearance on this list at the second best player to ever play in the NFL means I can’t possibly vote against him.  He was too good and after only 9 seasons that was enough to earn him such a high ranking.

The Pick: Jim Brown

GEORGE-This is a fun matchup because it brings together contemporary players from a generation gone by.  Both players were crucial to the success of their teams and sport.

Jim Brown was very good, but his numbers have not stood the test of time like Mays’ have.  As a young person, he was a multi-sport star (he played lacrosse against my uncle in college!).  On the gridiron, he played for the Browns back when they were good (any coincidence that there were fewer teams in the league then?)  He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and over 100 yards a game, which are astounding for an entire career.  His career rushing total has been passed, and it is probably because he played such a short career.

Mays is simply in another class.  Besides having the 4th most home runs ever, he was an elite outfielder and had probably the most iconic play a center fielder has ever had when he had his over-the-shoulder grab in the ’54 World Series.  He caught the ball nearly 500 feet from the plate.  Tell me Curtis Granderson could cover that much ground.  Mays was also first in the league in stolen bases four times and was a 12-time Gold Glove winner.  In this comparison, he sustained his excellence for a longer time than Brown.

And I know Kaplan loves him since he ended his career in the famed blue and orange of the Mets! SAY HEYYYYYYYYY!

The pick: Willie Mays

T-MAC – Man, this bracket thing is not as easy as I thought it was going to be. Here we have two of the greatest players to ever play their respective sports. The benefit of being in my position is that everyone else has gone through the trouble of putting all the stats together, so I get to mooch off of them and just expound my own personal opinion.

Jim Brown was a phenomenal athlete. It was said that at Syracuse, as good as he was at football, he was an even better lacrosse player. To a Long Island kid like me, that means a lot. He had outstanding speed, power, quickness, agility… basically everything you ever needed in a running back. That helped him average over 100 yards a game for his career, which is a stat that you need to stare at for a while to truly appreciate. The guy was unstoppable, like a pro prospect tearing it up on the collegiate level. Only with Jim Brown he was doing it in the NFL. Ask most football fans who the best running back ever was, and they’ll say Jim Brown. Better than Walter Payton. Better than Barry Sanders. That’s some incredible stuff right there.

But as talented as he was, he simply doesn’t have the cultural cache that Willie Mays does. Sometimes, the best player is not the most famous one, and that applies when talking about Jim Brown. With the Say Hey Kid, though, his excellence and his iconic status goes hand and hand. He is likely the best all around player that has ever lived, and was really Mickey Mantle if Mantle had never gotten hurt. Well, the Mick would have been just a little bit better if he reached his full potential, but Willie was incredible just the same. And the catch in the Polo Grounds is likely the most famous image in baseball history. Nobody can top that.

The Pick: Willie Mays

KAPLAN- A lot has already been said that I couldn’t have said better myself. I love the whole Jim Brown story. He was not just an all-time legendary running back for the Cleveland Browns, but he served as a crucial part of the Civil Rights Movement as well.

However, Willie Mays is in a class of baseball players by himself. Pokey alluded to the fact that Hank Aaron and Willie Mays have similar career arcs on paper. But, Mays was truly one of the game’s first five-tool players. His defense was stellar, he retired as the third all-time in home runs, and he knew how to run the bases better than just about every player to ever play the game.

Like I have done so many other times, and will continue to do throughout this bracket, here is my most fun Willie Mays fact. In 1951, everybody remembers that it was Bobby Thomson who homered off Ralph Branca to end the dramatic one-game playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. But, did you know, a rookie was waiting on deck in case Thomson couldn’t come through in the clutch situation.

That rookie? Willie Mays.

The Pick: The Say Hey Kid (and yes, George, he was The Shea Hey Kid at the end of his career)

Final Votes:

Mays: 7 (Kaplan, Tom, George, Kaiti, Ryan, Vinny, Zak)  Brown: 2 (Herd, Mike)

Winner: #7 Willie Mays

This catch is what stands out in the minds of those who watched Mays play and is one of the reasons he advances past Brown to the next round

#5 Magic Johnson vs. #12 Dan Marino

VINNY- Dan Marino might be my all-time favorite athlete.

Marino made passing cool. In his first full season, Marino threw 48 touchdowns. That broke the previous record by 12. He’s the only quarterback to throw for more than 40 touchdowns twice in his career (only four have thrown for 40). In the same season, Marino threw for 5,084 yards, a single-season record that still holds today. When he retired, Marino held career passing records of touchdown passes (420) and passing yards (61,361). He led the league in passing yards five times and touchdowns three times. Who knows what type of numbers he would have put up today with restrictions the rules now put on defenses.

The obvious knock on Marino is that he never won a Super Bowl. For some positions in sports, this argument is somewhat insignificant. It doesn’t hurt Ken Griffey Jr.’s legacy that he never won a World Series or Barry Sanders’ that he never won a Super Bowl. But quarterback is the most important position in sports; it has the most influence over the outcome of a game.  Because of this, Marino’s legacy is permanently stained.

Players like Magic Johnson don’t come around often. He had the size of a power forward and the ball handling and vision of a point guard. He could play and defend every position.  As I mentioned in a previous post, he was the heart of the Showtime Lakers, one of the most famous sports teams in history. He won three MVPs and is a five-time NBA champion. He was the co-captain of the Dream Team, the greatest basketball team ever. His Game 6 performance in the 1980 NBA Finals (42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists while starting at center because Kareem didn’t play) is simply remarkable. His revelation of contracting HIV stands as an iconic moment in sports and medical history. He took this news and educated the nation on HIV, that can’t be ignored.

Marino is in the discussion for the best quarterback of all-time. For Magic, there is no discussion. He’s the best point guard to ever play the game. That, coupled with Magic standing as much more than just an athlete, leads me to pick against my favorite football player.

Sorry, Dan.

The Pick: Magic Johnson

HERD – Dan Marino is one of the more underrated QBs to play the game.  Like Vinny said, there’s a lot of stress added to his lack of a Super Bowl which hurts his reputation.  When Favre was playing as a grandfather, the records he was breaking were Marino’s.  Dan was playing in the NFL at the same time as Jerry Rice and Montana or Young, Elway and Aikman, all of whom had much better teams than Marino did, so it’s not surprising he never won a Super Bowl.  He deserves a much better ranking than many people give him.

However, he can’t compete with Magic Johnson.  Besides the fact the Magic did win the big games, was a better player than Marino was and could play multiple positions, Magic also because the face behind not giving up hope when diagnosed with HIV and spread knowledge to people across the country.

The Pick: Magic

GEORGE-Oh boy, I was afraid of this.  I was pretty anti-Magic the first time around and I have a feeling I may be again.  Let’s see…

Dan Marino was a stud of a quarterback coming out of Pitt and was a dynamic player throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  He was the only QB until Drew Brees to throw for 5,000 yards in a season and that is super impressive.  Sadly, I think Marino will be forever be equated to Patrick Ewing as somebody who dominated their position and was by all accounts a great player….who didn’t win a title.  He did get to live in Miami his entire career, though.

With Magic, I said that versus Pete Rose, I didn’t think the desire was there at quite as high of a level.  However, I will say the opposite here.  His valiant effort in the 1980 Finals of playing all 5 positions (as a rookie no less!) is remarkable.  Magic did more important things for his teams than Marino and it didn’t hurt things that he played for a way better organization.

The downside is I feel that he is most remembered for his teams than his own play.  And I’m sorry but I have to say that the way his career ended was kind of creepy and his odd cameos (such as the 1992 all-star game or his lame 1996 comeback) were not endearing and only made things worse.  I may also be in the minority but what got him into the trouble that ended his career too early is not something that anyone would want to have as the reason they were in the public spotlight.  Yes, he has dealt with HIV well, but he kind of was forced to step up since he was so famous.  Still, he has been brave and he has maintained his health which is something we are all thankful for.

But compared to Marino, his achievements are way better.  He was a champion in college and a multiple champion in the NBA and revolutionized the point guard position.  What stands out to me the most about Magic is that he was 6’8”.  Point guards just are not that tall.  To have the skills and mindset of a point guard at that height is devastating.   Plus he’s a better studio analyst than Marino, which in 2011 is sort of important.

The pick: Earvin Johnson

T-MAC – I wrote a lot about Magic in the previous post, but I’ll reiterate the gist of what I said for those of you like me who are too lazy to click on hyperlinks. Magic Johnson is neck and neck with Larry the Legend for “best player not named Jordan” status, and I would be inclined to give Earvin the slight edge. He was a phenomenal basketball player, able to play every position not only because of his size, but because he could do everything. He could run the floor, make passes that no one else could, rebound, and take over games with his scoring. He could play down low or from the perimeter. He was admittedly not the best defender ever, but operated in a league environment and on a team that didn’t ask him to do a whole lot on that end. His rivalry with Bird going back to their college days was THE story of the NBA in the 1980s, and the Lakers-Celtics rivalry during that era shot basketball into a different stratosphere of popularity.

Marino, on the other hand, is a prototype for the position of quarterback in the NFL. He’s tall (6’4″), with the ability to “make all the throws” as they often say. But his most outstanding quality was his quick release. No one got the ball out quicker than Marino. That being said, he’s seen by a lot of football fans as a “stats” guy, able to pile up stats but not win the big one. As a Peyton Manning fan, I know that stigma can be bullshit, and it’s not always on the quarterback if the team doesn’t succeed. But a stigma matters when it comes to cultural cache. Marino isn’t loved the way Montana, Elway, Unitas, or Favre is. Also, while he is the prototype of a quarterback, Magic broke the mold.

The Pick: Magic

KAPLAN- Going back to our original bracket, here were my initial thoughts on Magic Johnson:

Magic Johnson? He was the Showtime Lakers. He could’ve played any of the five positions on the floor at any given time and, maybe more importantly, defended any of the five positions on the floor at any given time. If you take Magic Johnson off the Lakers in the 1980’s, they don’t win a title.

I absolutely stand by those comments. Magic is truly a once-in-a-lifetime type player. How many times can you think of off the top of your head that you had a guy, in the same NBA Finals, start both at center and at point guard? Magic Johnson defined the type of basketball the Showtime Lakers played. He was the true king of Los Angeles as long as he played in the purple and gold.

The only aspect of this match-up playing in Dan Marino’s favor is the fact that just about every Dolphins quarterback post-Marino has been terrible. The only other player I can think of that has had this long of a hangover over one team is Barry Bonds (when Bonds left the Pirates, they were one out away from a World Series appearance. Since then? The Pirates haven’t even posted a winning record. WOOF!). I mean, how do you miss on every quarterback post-Marino?

And, while Marino was truly one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game (he has the records to show it), he is also known as arguably the best player to play in the NFL…and never win a Super Bowl title. Listen, you can’t beat Magic if you haven’t won any titles. Regardless of how talented you were. Its that simple.

The Pick: Magic

Final Votes:

Magic: 8 (Herd, Zak, Kaplan, Mike, Tom, Vinny George, Kaiti) Marino: 1 (Ryan)

The Winner: #5 Magic Johnson

Magic's ability to play any position on the court as well as his incredible rivalry with Bird and the Celtics put him through.

#2 Jerry Rice vs. #15 Rickey Henderson

VINNY- The debate isn’t if Jerry Rice is the best wide receiver to play in the NFL; he certainly is.  The debate is whether or not Jerry Rice is the best player in NFL history. The NFL Network ranked the top players of all-time and Rice earned the number one spot. He’s a three-time Super Bowl champion, 13-time Pro Bowler, and 12-time All-Pro. He also won the Offensive Player of the Year award twice and the NFC Player of the Year award three more times. Rice holds every career receiving record with a considerable gap over the player in second for each category.

Rickey Henderson is the greatest base stealer of all time. He stole over 100 bases on four different occasions, which is flat-out unbelievable. He holds two MLB records that may never been surpassed: single-season steals (130) and career steals (1,406). But he’s much more than a base stealer; he also won an MVP award and is a member of the 3,000 hit club. Henderson is also known for having somewhat of an egocentric personality. He often referred to himself in the third person, and after he passed Lou Brock on the career steals list, he declared himself the “greatest of all time”. This didn’t resonate well with fans.

Henderson’s speed and personality make him a great addition to this bracket, but Rice is in a different class.

The Pick: Jerry Rice

HERD – When discussing Jim Brown, I mentioned that Jerry Rice was voted the #1 NFL player by  Vinny mentioned he was also voted #1 by the NFL Network (I’m not sure if they were the same poll).  Rice is without question the best WR in the NFL and very likely is the best overall player.

Henderson’s hits and steals make him one of the MLB’s elite but he’s by no means the best.  Jerry Rice is in his own class.

The Pick: Jerry Rice

GEORGE-Jerry Rice is a true football legend and was still schooling defenses even during those weird years when he played in Oakland.  His individual and team successes will make him very difficult to beat in this contest.

He also was runner-up on Dancing With the Stars, beating the likes of Kenny Mayne, Tatum O’Neal and former WWE Diva Stacy Keibler.  Tell me how many athletes could navigate their way through that gauntlet? Henderson was good and can run.  But can he DANCE!?  I can tell you that he WILL be quickstepping his way out of this bracket.

The pick: Jerry Rice

T-MAC – Rickey Henderson will be the first to tell you how good Rickey Henderson is. He did his “thing” – stealing bases – better than almost anyone else in baseball has ever done their “thing”. He was a showman and a legend, and one of the fastest players in the league even when he was in his late 30s.

On the other hand, when Jerry Rice was in his late 30s, he was probably still the best wide receiver in the league, period. I think that’ll do.

The Pick: Jerry Rice

KAPLAN- Alright, it would take an incredible athlete to make me pick against Jerry Rice. Growing up, I never really got big into the NFL. However, something about the Steve Young-Jerry Rice connection captivated me at a very young age. Not only does Jerry Rice hold just about every receiving record there is, the odds are he will hold those records forever.

And yet, I will be the odd ball in this group and, somehow, pick against one of my childhood heroes and choose Rickey Henderson.

Time to knowledge you some Run Rickey Run:

Earlier, I admitted that Cal Ripken Jr., holds the most unbreakable record in professional sports: 2,632 consecutive games played. I believe Rickey Henderson has the second most unbreakable record in professional sports. Rickey stole 1,406 bases in his Major League career. Fellow MLB Hall of Famer Lou Brock is second, a solid 468 stolen bases short (Brock held the previous record at 938).

Let me put this in perspective for you: in order to tie Henderson’s record, a player would have to average just over 70 stolen bases a season, every year, for 20 years. In 1998, as a 39-year old, Rickey Henderson stole 66 bases. That led the league! He was 39! He didn’t even stop there! The next year with the Mets, he stole 37 more at age 40, then 36 the next year, then 25 after that. And for all of you in Cyberland saying “Well, I’m sure he just ran all the time and got caught just as much”. Nay, I say! For his career, Rickey Henderson was an 80.76% success rate at stealing bases. (!!!) In 1982, Rickey stole 130 bases. He would steal 100+ bases in two other seasons. He was insane. When he broke Brock’s record, he declared himself the greatest who has ever lived. My man.

Ok, so I admit. Just about everybody knows Rickey Henderson holds the stolen base record. Well, did you know that Rickey Henderson is second all-time in MLB history…in walks? That’s right! Rickey’s 2,190 walks is second only to Barry Bonds, who walked about 200 times a season when he was on steroids. Rickey Henderson, he of the 247 career home runs, was once the all-time leader in walks. He was the most amazing and successful lead-off hitter the game has ever seen! He got on base. He advanced himself while he was on base. He scored runs.

SPEAKING OF RUNS! That’s something else Rickey Henderson is a all-time leader in with 2,295, better than Vinny’s favorite player of all-time, Ty Cobb. Oh, and Rickey also is the all-time leader in lead-off home runs. Could you ask for a more efficient, patient and dynamic lead-off hitter? No? I didn’t think so.

The Pick: Rickey Henderson

Final Votes:

Rice: 8 (Herd, Mike, Zak, Ryan, Tom George, Vinny, Kaiti) Henderson: 1 (Kaplan)

Winner: #2 Jerry Rice

Rice may have been the greatest NFL player of all time. That's plenty good enough for us

#4 Lawrence Taylor vs. #13 Nolan Ryan

VINNY- For whatever reason, we aren’t all that high on pitchers. The highest seed was an eight, and that somehow went to Mariano Rivera (I know he’s great, but we have ranked as the best pitcher on the bracket? That shouldn’t happen).

Nolan Ryan threw seven no-hitters in his career. That’s incredible. He also finished with a career 3.19 ERA and pitched in four different decades. He also beat the crap out of Robin Ventura and led the league in strikeouts 11 times. I’d go into more detail, but I having a feeling this is one of those players Greg Kaplan is going to write for days about.

But Lawrence Taylor is Lawrence Taylor. He is the most intimidating defensive player to ever play in the NFL. He’s one of two defensive players to ever win the MVP award and won the Defensive MVP three times. He also led an interesting lifestyle off the field, with drug addictions, rape charges, and a stint on Dancing with the Stars.

Also, it took about three seconds for me to get annoyed with how many times they showed Nolan Ryan during the World Series. Once a game would have been tolerable. Once every half-inning? Not so much.

The Pick: Lawrence Taylor

HERD – I agree with Vinny that pitchers got the shaft in our rankings.  Nolan Ryan’s 7 no-hitters is impressive but this is another matchup where an NFL player outmatches the MLB matchup.  Taylor is ranked as the 3rd best NFL player in history which makes him the best defensive player to ever play the game.  He won MVP and 3 defensive MVPs as well as being selected to 10 pro bowls.  His off the field issues make him that much more interesting and push him through to the next round (at least if I have anything to say about it).

The Pick: Lawrence Taylor

GEORGE-It has to be Nolan Ryan.  The dude pitched no-hitters in his 40’s.  He played the rest of MLB like a fiddle for the better part of 3 decades.  He was young enough to play on the famous ’69 Mets team and also with Pudge Rodriguez.  There was a time when he led his league in strikeouts for 7 out of 8 years.  After that there a 7 year lull.  Then he led his league again for 4 more years in a row.  Dominance.  Simply put.  He was also voted into the Hall of Fame with the second highest percentage of all-time which  represents just how revered he was.

As far as Lawrence Taylor is concerned I must quote Taylor Swift here, “Someday I’ll be living in a big old city. And all you’re ever gonna be is mean. Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me. And all you’re ever gonna be is mean”

Why you gotta be so mean LT? Nice guys finish first here.

The pick: Nolan Ryan

T-MAC – As much as I appreciate a Taylor Swift quote when talking about Lawrence Taylor, I gotta disagree with George. Nolan Ryan was a phenomenal strikeout pitcher, and the fact that his stuff was good enough for so many no hitters is insane. Unfortunately, his image of greatness has not stood the test of time, and he’s now well known for being overrated. Aside from the K’s, his other stats aren’t as great. He only managed a 2.04 K/BB ratio for his career. Pedro, another big strikeout pitcher, had a 4.15 K/BB. Ryan’s WHIP, ERA+, and WAR are all impressive, but not “best-ever” status. And most of the baseball community knows this. Fortunately for his public persona, Ryan has stayed close to the game, and now is part of the ownership group of the Texas Rangers.

But that isn’t enough to overcome the original LT. Famous for his ferocity and his brash nature, LT changed his position. If you’ve read my posts before, I’m a big fan of someone that leaves an imprint on the game long after they are though playing. Everyone is constantly looking for the next LT, and as was mentioned in the opening few minutes of The Blind Side, he made the Left Tackle one of the most important positions on a football team. If you change not only your position, but another position on the field because of your greatness, you’re gonna make it out of the first round.

The Pick: LT

KAPLAN- Whoa! Vinny! Don’t assume I’m going to ramble on about Nolan Ryan. You know what happens when you assume…

Actually, I am probably the angriest person of the bunch when it comes to starting pitchers in this bracket getting the shaft. Am I happy that Tom Seaver somehow made the Top 64? Absolutely! (I think people listened to me when I said he holds the record for percentage of ballots his name appeared on when he was elected into Cooperstown). I was also thrilled to see Sandy Koufax appear on the bracket in this balloting after I finally through his name into the pool (I will talk in detail about Koufax, you can count on that).

However, I would not rank Nolan Ryan ahead of pitchers like Pedro Martinez (who, somehow, did not make this list) and Randy Johnson (neither would, who lists Johnson as #5 all-time, Martinez as #10 all-time, and Ryan as #15).

When you think of The Express, you think of the obscene amount of no-hitters (amazing that Nolan Ryan has thrown 7 in his career, while the team he made his debut with and won his only World Series ring with, the Mets, are yet to throw one as a franchise. I’m bitter). People also look at the 5,714 career strike outs, number-1 all-time and nearly 1,000 better than Randy Johnson, who is second.

But, Nolan Ryan also had his weaknesses. I mean, this is the same guy that also walked 200+ hitters in a single season. Twice. And, while he won 324 games in his long, illustrious career, he also lost 292. Is it unfair to judge a pitcher based on the number of losses he has? Sure. But, I’m sure a number of his wins were undeserved as well, so it goes both ways.

Everybody on TheWaiverWire staff probably had me marked down to pick Ryan in this match-up. On the contrary! Lawrence Taylor was one of the few players that I had rated a perfect 10 out of 10. LT altered how the game was played in the NFL. The man was ruthless and he played the game like somebody insulted his mother and he was out for blood.

Taylor made offensive lineman, especially left guards, a premium position. If you didn’t have someone on your offensive line to stop LT, your quarterback might as well reserve himself a bed in the nearest hospital. Without LT trailblazing his style of play in the NFL, we don’t see players like Ray Lewis, James Harrison, Junior Seau, Zach Thomas, Keith Brooking, Patrick Willis or any of the other great linebackers that have entered the league after LT has left. LT not only wins this match-up, but he should do so rather easily as well.

The Pick: LT

Final Vote:

Taylor: 7 (Herd, Mike, Zak, Kaplan, Tom, Vinny, Kaiti)  Ryan: 2 (Ryan, George)

Winner: #4 Lawrence Taylor

Taylor goes to the next round because if we don't pick him, he'll kill our families.

Michael Jordan Bracket

#1 Michael Jordan vs. #16 Alex Rodriguez
#8 Pele vs. #9 Mike Tyson
#5 Joe Montana vs. #12 Sandy Koufax
#4 Tom Brady vs. #13 David Beckham
#3 Jackie Robinson vs. #14 Bill Belichick
#6 Peyton Manning vs. #11 Red Auerbach
#7 Mickey Mantle vs. #10 Deion Sanders
#2 Jerry Rice vs. #15 Ricky Henderson

Wayne Gretzky Bracket

#1 Wayne Gretzky vs. #16 Randy Moss
#8 Ken Griffey Jr. vs. #9 Barry Sanders
#5 Phil Jackson vs. #12 Reggie Jackson
#4 Kobe Bryant vs. #13 Jesse Owens
#3 Hank Aaron vs. #14 Michael Phelps
#6 Ted Williams vs. #11 Greg Maddux
#7 Willie Mays vs. #10 Jim Brown
#2 Bill Russell vs. #15 Tom Seaver

Muhammed Ali Bracket

#1 Muhammed Ali vs. #16 Ichiro
#8 OJ Simpson vs. #9 Derek Jeter
#5 Magic Johnson vs. #12 Dan Marino
#4 Vince Lombardi vs. #13 Emmitt Smith
#3 Jack Nicklaus vs. #14 Serena Williams
#6 Brett Favre vs. #11 John Elway
#7 Lebron James vs. #10 Walter Payton
#2 Tiger Woods vs. #15 Ty Cobb

Babe Ruth Bracket

#1 Babe Ruth vs. #16 Johnny Unitas
#8 Mariano Rivera vs. #9 Joe Dimaggio
#5 Larry Bird vs. #12 Barry Bonds
#4 Lawrence Taylor vs. #13 Nolan Ryan
#3 Roger Federer vs. #14 Cal Ripken Jr.
#6 Wilt Chamberlain vs. #11 George Steinbrenner
#7 Albert Pujols vs. #10 Kareem Abdul-Jabar
#2 Shaq vs. #15 Lance Armstrong