FORT WORTH _ What in the heck was ESPN thinking? Better yet, were they thinking?
The idea that Wayne Gretzky is only the fifth-best athlete on their Top 50 list of the century's greatest athletes has to be a joke. The not-so-funny punch line is that ESPN thinks there are four athletes who dominated their sport more thoroughly, did more to promote the game they played or did more to change the sporting landscape than Gretzky.
In truth, there is only one.
Numbers 1-4 have been surmised to be Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown. Gretzky stands second to only Ali.
Yes, Jordan was good. But did he dominate basketball as thoroughly as Gretzky dominated hockey? No.
Yes, Brown was good. But did his ability change football from a Canadian game to all the rage in cities like Phoenix and San Jose and Dallas? No.
Yes, Babe Ruth was larger than life. But did his off-the-field persona rival Gretzky's image as a consummate gentleman and ambassador of the game? No.
He has the numbers to hang with Jordan, Brown and Ruth. Gretzky scored 894 goals and assisted on 1,963 more, including his amazing 92-goal season. Gretzky has the championships, too, leading …