Poll: The Most Respected Athlete of All Time

After seeing the nearly unanimous reaction of sadness to the news of Mariano Rivera’s injury, I began to wonder what other athletes in history had this kind of widespread affection at the time they were playing. There are certainly people who are looked back on now with great fondness and respect, but it is human nature to emphasize the good qualities of the past, and people are rarely seen in such a positive light at the time they are in the spotlight.

Rivera’s stature is that of a beloved living legend, and I don’t know a single person who responded in any way besides sadness when they heard that he had a torn ACL. This is not something I’ve ever experienced before in watching sports. So, I’m curious about the larger perspective. How do you perceive Rivera now relative to some of the other players during their playing days who were often talked about with reverence and widespread respect?

Poll after the jump.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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