Ok, so the name sucks. I'm open to a new one.
I was having a discussion with some buddies after Clayton Kershaw threw his unworldly no-hitter yesterday. The discussion basically came to this - how many athletes can honestly be said to A) be the universally accepted best athlete at his position for a reasonable stretch of time and B) be universally considered humble, kind, friendly, and all-around-likable. In other words, the kind of player that even the opposing fans have to say "damn, that's a good dude".
My initial two offerings were Kershaw and Calvin Johnson. Those are kind of the flagship guys. Several other guys came up and were included on the list, including Albert Pujols, Mariano Rivera, and Roger Federer (again, they don't have to currently be the best, they just have to have been the best in the recent past). We all kind of agreed that this only applies to athletes in the ESPN era, since it was not easy to truly know players' personalities prior to that (e.g. Stan Musial could have been a dick, we don't know for sure).
The contentious issue, and the reason I'm bringing it up here, was Barry Sanders. I nominated him assuming he'd be a shoe-in. Although everyone acknowledged that he met A, my brother (a Steelers fan) protested, saying that Barry wasn't humble, and that he was a quitter. I countered by saying that I have no memory of Barry being anything besides humble and professional. And, though you could technically call him a quitter, he's basically universally loved by Lions fans (aka the only people who have any reason to be upset that he quit). Rather than argue about this forever, I thought I'd just ask you guys. So go ahead and answer the poll, it'll be a huge help.
Also, just for fun, I'd love to hear any player suggestions (in any sport) that you guys can think of. Again, the criteria are:
A) Universally accepted as the best player at the position for a reasonable stretch of time
B) Universally accepted as a good, humble, nice, generous, likable guy
In other words, spotless on and off the field.