The G.O.A.T.s of the 5 Major Sports: 2023 Edition

Will Speight, Contributing Writer

Football: Tom Brady

Few pro athletes are as decorated as Brady; He’s won 3 Most Valuable Player Awards (MVPs), 5 Super Bowl MVPs, made 15 Pro Bowls, and holds NFL records for Super Bowl wins (7), touchdowns (649), and yards (89,214). The NFL’s Greatest of All Time (GOAT) debate was all but settled when his Tampa Bay Buccaneers absolutely smoked Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Many fans view Mahomes as the heir apparent to Brady, as well as someone with GOAT potential. But for now, there’s very little competition for this title.


Hockey: Wayne Gretzky

Essentially a toss-up between Gretzky and Gordie Howe, Gretzky narrowly wins here. There are arguments for both; however, Gretzky possesses 61 NHL records. Among these are goals in a season (92), assists in a season (163), career assists (1,963), and career goals (an unsettlingly large 2,857—936 more than the runner-up, Jaromír Jágr). It’s nearly impossible to find a more complete hockey player than Gretzky, and originating the iconic quote “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” doesn’t hurt.


Baseball: Barry Bonds

Even considering the stunning amount of talent baseball has had, Bonds has a résumé like no other. The all-time leader in home runs, slugging, and on-base percentage, with 7 MVPs, no one matches Bonds’s on-field brilliance. His dominance in the 1990’s and 2000’s was such that many players today model their playing styles (belting homers and getting on-base at elite levels) to resemble Bonds, even getting a play (intentional walks with the bases loaded) named after him. Although shrouded in controversy with steroid use, there is no one to match Bonds’ impact on baseball.


Basketball: LeBron James

Basketball’s debate is often the most heated, largely narrowing down to 2 players: James, and Michael Jordan (honorable mentions to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the late Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Steph Curry, Shaq, etc). Both players have massive and extremely vocal fanbases. While Jordan has the edge in career accolades, James has matched Jordan’s stats while playing in a more difficult era. It’s arguable that nobody has impacted opposing defenses like LeBron has, with his ability to do literally anything he wants on the court at a given time (much like Gretzky did). With his recent surpassing of Kareem’s scoring record, he’ll cap off a legacy with 19 all stars, 4 MVPs, 18 All-NBA team nominations, and the incredible nickname of “The King.” 


Soccer: Lionel Messi

Perhaps the most popular athlete ever, Messi’s career is unmatched (especially after his recent World Cup win). Wingers and strikers in soccer usually must choose between dribbling (Diego Maradona), playmaking (Xavi, Zinedine Zidane), and scoring (Pélé, Ronaldo) as a primary skill. Messi, on the other hand, combines them in a way that hasn’t ever been done in the beautiful game by anyone else. Along with 4 Champions League titles, 10 La Liga titles, 7 Ballon D’Or awards, and almost 800 career goals scored, there is nothing to praise that hasn’t already been said about “The Little Magician.”