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GOATs of the Sporting World and Their Real Life Equivalents

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
8 min read

The Greatest of All Time (GOAT) in every sport has been argued by fans since the beginning of professional sports leagues well over a century ago, and we’re certainly not going to settle any of those complex statistical arguments here today.

So instead, we provide a list of GOAT frontrunners in each league (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, FIFA, and MMA) and their lofty achievements, each player an incredible example of excellence in their chosen game.

And for fun, we’ve also included the actual goat (as in the noble animal) that has similar qualities to each of these amazing GOAT athletes, pictures included.


NFL GOAT: Tom Brady – Mountain Goat

Tom Brady Tampa

In the past, many argued that Joe Montana or Peyton Manning or Johnny Unitas (or even Walter Payton) deserved this honor, but once the New England Patriots won their sixth Lombardi trophy with this man under center, his GOAT status was solidified.

Name: Tom Brady

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Tom Brady’s new team)

Position: Quarterback

Years Pro: 2000 to present

GOAT stats and highlights:

  • 6× Super Bowl champion
  • 4× Super Bowl MVP
  • NFL Most Valuable Player
  • 14× Pro Bowler
  • 3× First-team All-Pro
  • 2× Second-team All-Pro)
  • 2× NFL Offensive Player of the Year
  • 4× NFL passing touchdowns leader
  • 3× NFL passing yards leader
  • 2× NFL passer rating leader
  • Multiple NFL record-breaker, including most games won by a quarterback (219), best touchdown to interception ratio (28:2) and most games with 2+ touchdown passes (173).
  • Lifetime TD-INT: 541-179
  • And the list goes on and on…

Description: No other player in the history of the NFL has been as productive as Tom Brady and given that the 42-year-old plans to keep playing, chances are his GOAT status will continue for years to come.

Actual goat most like Brady: Mountain Goat – capable of climbing impossible-to-scale heights even as it ages past its prime.

FIFA GOAT: Lionel Messi – Alpine Goat

Lionel Messi GOAT

Considered by most ‘futbol’ fans the best player in the world currently as well as the best player of all time, this Argentinian plays as a forward and captains both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team.

Name: Lionel Messi

Team: Barcelona

Position: Forward

Years Pro: 2003-present

GOAT stats and highlights:

  • 6x Ballon d’Or Award winner (most ever)
  • 6x European Golden Shoes (most ever)
  • 8x La Liga Best Player
  • 1x FIFA World Cup Golden Ball
  • 1x FIFA World Player of the Year
  • 1x The Best FIFA Men’s Player
  • 1x FIFA World Cup Dream Team
  • And the list goes on and on…

Description: Messi is one of the most famous athletes in the world and was ranked the world’s highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2019.

Actual goat most like Messi: Just like Messi, who has consistently produced results, the Alpine goat has incredibly good production (of milk), making them both huge producers in their respective fields. Whether its milk or scoring goals for his teammates both Messi and the Kalahari Red are big-time producers.

MLB GOAT: Babe Ruth – Boer Goat

Babe Ruth GOAT

There will never be a baseball player again like the Sultan of Swat, a loveable lug who would call his home runs (he hit 714 of them in the dead-ball era) and pitch the ball just as well as he could play right field, setting records most of which wouldn’t be broken for well over half a century.

Name: Babe Ruth

Team(s): Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Boston Braves

Position: Right fielder

Years Pro: 1914-1919 (Red Sox)

1920-1934 (Yankees)

1935 (Braves)

GOAT stats and highlights:

  • 2× All-Star
  • 7× World Series champion
  • 12× AL home run leader
  • 6× AL RBI leader
  • 1x AL MVP
  • 1x AL batting champion
  • 1x AL ERA leader
  • New York Yankees No. 3 retired
  • Yankee Stadium Monument Park honoree
  • Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame
  • Major League Baseball All-Century Team
  • Major League Baseball All-Time Team
  • Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936
  • And the list goes on and on…

Description: While most of Ruth’s records have been broken at this point in time, two remain intact: his lifetime slugging percentage (.690) and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164) still stand as of last season.

Actual goat most like Ruth: Boer goat, bred in South Africa for their meat – large framed, they can reach a size of about 200-340 pounds.

NHL GOAT: Gordie Howe – Tobago Racing Goat

Gordie Howe GOAT

Canada is known for its hockey players, and the best ever is no exception, this eventual Red Wing born in Floral, Saskatchewan was known for his scoring prowess, physical strength, and career longevity.

Name: Gordie Howe

Team(s): Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers

Position: Right-wing

Years Pro: 1946-1971 (Red Wings)

1979-1980 (Whalers)

GOAT stats and highlights:

  • 4x Stanley Cup Winner
  • 12x NHL First All-Star Team
  • 8x NHL Second All-Star Team
  • 6x Hart Memorial Trophy Recipient
  • 5x NHL Goal Scoring Leader
  • 6x Art Ross Trophy Recipient
  • Multiple record holder, including most regular-season games played (1,767), most NHL All-star game appearances (23) and most NHL regular-season goals by a right-winger (801).
  • Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972

Description: Howe was the only player to have competed in the NHL in five different decades, and he became the namesake of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, which was a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game.

Actual goat most like Howe: The only goats that can match the speed of ice skating Gordie Howe live on a Caribbean island named Tobago, where, for the last 85 years, the “fastest goats on the planet” have raced every Easter Monday in a town called Mount Pleasant.

MLS GOAT: Landon Donovan – Saanen Goat

Landon Donovan GOAT

When it comes to American soccer, this Californian and MLS multi-record holder is said to be (arguably) the greatest U.S. soccer player of all time.

Name: Landon Donovan

Team: Los Angeles Galaxy

Position: Winger, forward

Years Pro: 1999-2018

GOAT stats and highlights:

  • 6x MLS Cups.
  • The league’s all-time assists leader with 136.
  • MLS All-Time Best XI: Midfielder
  • 2x MLS All-Star game MVP
  • IFFHS Legends
  • The league MVP Award has been renamed the Landon Donovan MVP Award in his honor.

Description: In 2019, Donovan joined a private ownership group that eventually brought an expansion team to San Diego, California, the San Diego Loyal, and since then he has been named the team’s manager.

Actual goat most like Donovan: Since Donovan was on loan during much of his career (his talents being ‘milked’ by the highest bidder), he most resembles a Saanen goat, considered the Holstein of the dairy goats, producing up to 3 gallons per day, much like Donovan’s income.

NBA GOAT: Michael Jordan – Ibex Mountain Goat

Michael Jordan GOAT

The top names that are brought up in every NBA GOAT conversation are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, and Ray Allen, but the winner (according to most) is the man wearing number 23.

Name: Michael Jordan

Team(s): Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards

Position: Shooting guard

Years Pro: 1984-1993 + 1995-1998 (Bulls) – 2001-2003 (Wizards)

GOAT stats and highlights:

  • 6× NBA champion
  • 6× NBA Finals MVP
  • 5× NBA Most Valuable Player
  • 14× NBA All-Star
  • 10× All-NBA First Team
  • 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team
  • 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP
  • 2× USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year
  • 2x Olympic Gold Medal Winner
  • 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009
  • And the list goes on and on…

Description: The way MJ played the game of basketball was magical – taking inhuman leaps, tossing no-look passes and making breathtaking dunks and three-pointers with equal ease, all with his tongue hanging out of his mouth and his sneakers selling off the shelves.

Actual goat most like Jordan: Ibex Mountain Goat – like Jordan in his prime, capable of jumping 6 feet straight into the air.

MMA GOAT: Georges St. Pierre – Kalahari Red Goat

Georges “Rush” St. Pierre GOAT

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is its main promotional company, founded in 1993, and in all that time, one man has proven to be the GOAT of that brutal sport.

Name: Goerges “Rush” St. Pierre

Team: N/A

Division: Welterweight and Middleweight

Years Pro: 2002-2013 (Welterweight)

2017 (Middleweight)

GOAT stats and highlights:

  • 3x UFC Champion (Welterweight and Middleweight)
  • 3x Canadian Athlete of the Year
  • 3x TKO Major League MMA
  • Fight Matrix lists him as the top MMA Welterweight of all time and most accomplished fighter in MMA history.
  • Black Belt Magazine’s Fighter of the Year
  • Most takedowns in UFC history (90)
  • Beat Karo Parisyan, Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn, Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz, and Johny Hendricks.
  • Became one of the biggest MMA drawing cards of all-time.
  • The top player in the sport’s tremendous Canadian popularity.

Description: Nicknamed “Rush,” St. Pierre has (arguably) the most impressive wins in MMA history, facing and defeating one stiff challenger after another (see above).

Actual goat most like St. Pierre: The Kalahari Red goat, a bad-tempered beast that can easily be set off for an offensive attack.

That’s our GOAT vs Goats list! If you liked our info-graphics here then you’ll love reading our info-graphics about the UFC weight classes here!

GOATs of the Sporting World and Their Real-Life Equivalents FAQ

Who are WSN’s GOATS?

For the NBA – Michael Jordan, NFL – Brady, MLD – The Babe, and many more.

How can you compare Greatest of All Time players to real goats?

Just like individual players, goats have unique characteristics that help them succeed, we’ve chosen the best matching pairs so you don’t have to.

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Mike Lukas

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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