Harris Poll Calls Michael Jordan Best Athlete Ever

Ranks Brett Favre No. 5, Gretzy No. 7

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Who's the greatest athlete of all-time? It's not exactly an easy question to answer. All sorts of responses could crop up. So hey, why not ask a bunch of people -- take a survey -- and use the wisdom of the crowd to decide?

    Whoops. Bad idea.

    The pollsters at Harris asked 2,293 who the best athlete of all-time was. Their No. 1 response? Michael Jordan. And we don't disagree. MJ's a pretty reasonable answer there, though you could make an argument for a few others. It's the responses after MJ that tend to make us doubt the veracity of this poll.

    For example, No. 2 is Tiger Woods. OK. No. 3 is Babe Ruth. Those should probably be switched, but fine. No. 4? Muhammad Ali. We're OK so far. No. 5? Brett Favre. OK, stop. Brett Favre is not the fifth-best athlete of all-time. He's a top five quarterback of all-time, sure, and he's one of the best football players to ever play the game, even if by now his "greatness" is defined more by longevity and Wrangler Jeans than any real on-field brilliance. But good Lord: Brett Favre is not the fifth-best athlete in the history of sports.

    The next travesty comes at No. 7, where Wayne Gretzky is woefully low for someone who owns almost every record in every category in his own sport. And where's Lance Armstrong? Cycling may not be popular, but Armstrong is; you would think someone with his record of achievement would merit at least a spot in the top five.

    In any case, we're happy to have MJ atop the list. It's quite a crowdsourced honor. If only the listees below made a little more sense.

    Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. He is the editor of Yahoo! Sports's college basketball blog The Dagger and a contributor to Inside The Hall. Follow him at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com, or on Twitter.