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The List: Coolest athletes
From the Page 2 mailbag

Poll Results

Here's how the Page 2 staff ranked the top coolest athletes of all-time:

1. Joe Namath
2. Derek Sanderson
3. Julius Erving
4. Sugar Ray Robinson
5. Venus Williams
6. Evel Knievel
7. Deion Sanders
8. Walt Frazier
9. Brandi Chastain
10. Mario Andretti

Honorable mention: Georges Vezina, Joe Pepitone, Slick Watts, Champagne Tony Lema, Ilie Nastase, Archie Moore

On Wednesday, Page 2 ran its list of the coolest athletes of all-time. We asked for your take, and you filled our mailbag with plenty of opinions.

After going through more than 600 letters, here's a complete rundown of the voting, along with some of the best letters about each athlete:

1. Michael Jordan (64 letters)
I know it's obvious, but MJ has got to be somewhere near the top. He made Nike cool. He made shaving your head cool. He made baggy shorts cool. He changed the world by doing his own thing.

2. Muhammad Ali (32 letters)
How can you people sleep at night without mentioning, the greatest, and the prettiest, and the coolest of all times? Muhammad Ali. He may not have had the women like "Broadway Joe," but he could talk smack like no one, and smack you down like no one's business. He could beat down everyone on your Top 10 list in a blink of an eye. Which makes him the toughest and the coolest of all time.
Michael Steinbecker
St. Louis

3. Joe Namath (31 letters)
He came immediately to mind, and I could think of no other athlete who was cooler than Joe Namath, the original Joe Cool.

Perfectly matching his bravado on the field was his swagger off-field. Joe stood out in a town that swallows stars for breakfast, and was the coolest guy in any town he was in, not just NYC.

He was a legitimate star on and off the field, but looked like he could've cared less. Kinda like when he was once a huge underdog to a big, bad Colts team out of Baltimore. He talked the talk, and he walked the walk.

Cool ... heck, even Snoopy wanted to be like Joe Willie.
Mike Lares
New York

4. Wilt Chamberlain (26 letters)
Of all the cool athletes, how can you leave Wilt Chamberlain off your list? Women adored him, men cheered him, and mere mortals wanted to be him. Not to mention, a class act who loved his fans!
Sean Sutton
Media, Pa.

5. Bo Jackson (23 letters)
I was shocked when I saw that the Top 10 included Deion Sanders but did not include the man who truly made being a two-sport athlete really cool -- Bo Jackson.

Bo was a dominant force on the football field and on the baseball diamond. He was so cool even Bo Diddley wanted to "Know Bo." Bo was the inspiration behind an entire Nike advertising campaign and was so cool that he didn't have to pretend to be able to sing or wear flashy jewelry to try to impress people.

Had Bo Jackson not had his hip pulled out of socket by dragging a would-be tackler in a Raiders' playoff romp over the Bungles, he would still be the coolest two-sport athlete today. Bo Jackson definitely deserves to be on this list!
Brian Townsend
Burlington, Vt.

6. (tie) Julius Erving (21 letters)
My choice for coolest athlete is "The Doctor," Julius Erving. Doc was the king of the ABA and, when he joined the Sixers, he was like a mysterious gunfighter -- Was he that good or was it all rumors and stories? He was as good as his rep.

He revitalized the NBA with his athleticism, his style, and the almost regal way he carried himself on and off the court.
Dave Valentine
Sioux Falls, S.D.

6. (tie) Dale Earnhardt (21 letters)
The man in black. The Intimidator. People loved him. They hated him. But most of all, they all respected him.

The best thing about Earnhardt is he never left where he came from. He will always be the man from Kannapolis, N.C., who liked to hunt, fish and drive race cars.
Patrick Elliot
Wilmington, N.C.

8. (tie) Deion Sanders (15 letters)
The coolest athlete by far is "Prime Time." Deion Sanders set a new trend in football style on the field and sports style in general, and he gave us the famous quote: "A closed mouth cannot be fed."

He is by far the coolest, and he had the game to back it up. Hands down best cornerback ever.
Jared Yaman
Ann Arbor, Mich.

8. (tie) Walt Frazier (15 letters)
Walt "Clyde" Frazier. Nothing was cooler than Clyde in his day. Heck, there is very little cooler than Clyde now.

From his game, his sartorial splendor, his hammerlock on the English language during broadcasts (Bill Walton wishes he could hang with Clyde word for word), to the fact he manages his own bed and breakfast on the island of St. Kitts in the offseason, you can't touch Clyde.
Anthony Nurse
Silver Spring, Md.

10. Joe Montana (13 letters)
Joe Cool himself. Joe was always cool under pressure. When the Niners were down to the Bengals in the Super Bowl with 1:42 remaining, he calmly scanned the crowd, pointed out John Candy and then picked the Bengals apart (despite key penalties) to engineer the greatest Super Bowl comeback victory of all time.
Garth Tipton
Sacramento, Calif.

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