The 10 Most Likable Players In Sports History

Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports

The 10 Most Likable Players In Sports History

Baseball

The 10 Most Likable Players In Sports History

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Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports

Throughout history, we have seen so many players considered to be the most respected, most hated, and most well-known, but what about the ones who are the most likable? Not only does their game create an awe effect, but also how well-rounded their personality is. Read as Nick Hogan and Isabelle McCarthy put together two lists of their top five most likable players. Will your favorite players be on their lists? 

Nick Hogan’s Top Five:

Walter Payton

Have you ever heard of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award? Anytime your name is attached to a league’s award that credits a player’s character and work off the field, you deserve a spot on this list. As a Super Bowl champion who is widely considered a top five running back in NFL history, it’s remarkable that his charity work rivals that resume. It’s near impossible to dislike a player who has done as much for his community as Payton has done. Just like your favorite treat, people love “Sweetness”, and there’s no reason not to. 

Yogi Berra

As an 18-time All-Star with 10 World Series rings, you’d think there would be a group of people to despise Yogi Berra simply for his success, yet the opposite is true. Berra hasn’t played a game since 1965, but the love of his comedic personality has never ceased. He’s arguably the most quotable player of all time, can you imagine what Berra would have been like with a Twitter account? Not to mention, he is a World War II veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. If that resume isn’t enough to gain your fandom, I’m not sure what will. In the words of Berra himself, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over.” This list could never be over without Berra’s name on it. 

Jackie Robinson 

The effects of what Jackie Robinson did for baseball, sports, and society as a whole are still seen in our world today. Breaking down the color barrier was certainly a gruesome task, yet Robinson found a way to achieve a previously unprecedented feat in the MLB. Robinson’s talent was also enough to draw in fans, beginning in his collegiate days at UCLA where he was a four-sport star for the Bruins. Similar to the other likable baseball great on this list, Berra, Robinson served in the U.S. military during World War II. Can you really root against an immensely athletic war veteran who was also a champion for social justice? It’s not a coincidence that his jersey number is retired in every MLB franchise. 

Cooper Kupp 

This list needs a touch of some active talent. Cooper Kupp fits the bill for everything an all-time likable player represents. To start, Kupp’s humble beginnings at Eastern Washington are enough to draw most fans’ attention to his football journey. Kupp accomplished enough in college to make him the Los Angeles Rams third-round selection in 2017 before exploding into the superstar he is today. In a time where NFL wide receivers are frequently regarded as dramatic, problematic, and simply self-absorbed, Kupp does not portray any of those traits. It’s important to note that he’d have every right to become that stereotype as he became only the fourth NFL wide receiver to win the triple crown since Jerry Rice did so in 1990. If you can have that much personal success, win a Super Bowl in the most glamorous city in the country and still stay humble, you can earn a spot on this list. It wouldn’t be a shock if Kupp’s popularity grows even more over the next few seasons.

Tim Duncan 

It’s time we make some room for an NBA player on this list, despite standing at nearly seven feet tall,  Tim Duncan fits in perfectly on this list. You can argue no other league publicly criticizes its stars more than the NBA. Especially the ones who are in the limelight of the playoffs on a consistent basis. The list of NBA stars who have led their teams to at least five championships is full of divisive players who fans truly love or loathe. Then, there’s Duncan. The former number one overall pick who led the San Antonio Spurs to five rings over three decades while adding two MVPs to his trophy case in the process. Whether it’s his soft-spoken personality or something else, he didn’t pick up too many critics in that process. Duncan proved that an NBA dynasty and a star don’t have to leave a bad taste in the mouths of basketball fans. It’d be easy to argue that feat may never be realized in the NBA once again. Duncan’s likability was the centerpiece of that public perception and it’s impressive enough to get him on this list. 

Isabelle McCarthy’s Top Five

My top five most likable players in sports history wasn’t easy, but after looking through many popular athletes and doing some deep thinking, I realized exactly who my top five were. 

Serena Williams

One of two women on this list, Serena Williams is a name people would know nationwide. A fierce competitor in the world of tennis, Williams has strived to be the best even through her lows. Even as Williams ages, it is still hard to not appreciate everything she has accomplished. Being a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist and having 23 Grand Slam titles is not easy, but throughout Serena Williams’ career, she made it look easy. 

Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr. was a phenomenal baseball player, but that didn’t mean he was a show-off. Being a good player like Griffey Jr. comes with popularity and the media, but he was able to remain humble and classy when he wasn’t on the field. Being a 13-time All-Star, having 10 Gold Glove Awards, and seven Silver Sluggers means you are one of the best, which is why he is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ken Griffey Jr. proved that while you can be a superstar, you can also remain humble for the gift you have been given. 

Peyton Manning

Super Bowl 50 was the last time the world would see Peyton Manning play in an NFL football game. To end a legendary career with a Super Bowl victory is hard, hard enough that even Tom Brady is trying to retire with another Super Bowl victory. However, speaking of Tom Brady, one thing that made Manning likable was his rivalry with Brady. With the hilarious jabs on social media, or on television shows, Peyton Manning will always get a laugh out of somebody. But off the field, Manning is a father, a son, and a brother. Like the rest of his family, he was born to play football. His career landed him in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. There is no doubt that his play caught the attention of many fans, but also for just being Peyton Manning. =

Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan is a role model for young female athletes and a huge inspiration in the world of soccer. Not only was her skill admired by so many people, but her ability to be calm and patient off the field is admirable. Morgan may be aging and is now experiencing motherhood, but there is no doubt that all of her accomplishments and success have been legendary. Through her highs and lows, Alex Morgan has made a special place in women’s soccer, and will only continue to inspire many more. 

Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman holds a special place in NFL history. Not only was he a professional football player for the Arizona Cardinals, but he also was a military veteran. Tillman’s game not only earned him a spot in the Cardinals Ring of Honor but also having his number 40 retired. His game on the field isn’t the only reason he is on my list, his heroics and bravery for serving our country is the other main reason. After the September 11th attacks, Tillman enlisted in the U.S Army. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq but unfortunately was killed in Afghanistan. Pat Tillman’s success on the field and off the field shows that people will fight for what they believe in and that it takes courage and bravery to do two amazing things at the same time.

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