Top Five Athletes From Florida

On October 8, 2012 by admin
Deion Sanders Florida Athlete

NFL legend Deion Sanders making a name for himself in baseball, 1993

Avid readers of our blog have probably figured out by now that we like to do top five lists on various subjects. In the latest instalment of this beloved category we take a look at athletes who were born in Florida. So with no further ado I give you Florida Holidays’ Top Five Athletes From Florida. As always feel free to disagree and leave us comments on who you think should be included on this list.

Number 1

Deion Sanders is not only on top of this list but might also count amongst the greatest athletes in sports history due to his versatility. Born and raised in Fort Myers Florida, Sanders already made a name for himself at high school level when he earned All-State honours in American football, basketball and baseball. He went on to become a star in football, baseball and track at Florida State University and ended up being drafted not only into the National Football League but also Major League Baseball, thereby becoming a professional athlete in two different sports.

In his 14-year career in the NFL, ‘Prime Time’, as he is also known, established himself as the best cornerback the game had ever seen, won 2 Super Bowls, earned 8 Pro Bowl selections and still appears on America’s screen weekly as an analyst for the NFL network. His body of work as a baseball player wasn’t nearly as successful but a nine-year career in which he led the National League in triples in 1992 is still more than respectable. To this day he is the only man to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series!

Number 2

The second spot of our top five athletes from Florida, this is  born and bred in the Sunshine State, is occupied by yet another American Football Hall of Famer and one-time teammate of Deion Sanders, namely Emmitt Smith. Smith who attended the University of Florida entered the league in 1990 and was only picked 17th overall by the Dallas Cowboys because he was considered too small and slow to make it as a running back on a professional level.

Smith proved his doubters wrong and put together a stellar career in which he not only became the NFL’s all-time rushing leader but also won Most Valuable Player honours in 1993 as well as three Super Bowl rings within a four-year span in the early 90s with the Cowboys. Smith holds several NFL records but the most peculiar one might be that he is the oldest player in the league’s history to throw his first touchdown pass, which happened in his last year as a professional before he retired in 2004.

Number 3

The state of Florida is known for being a breeding ground for American football players which doesn’t come as a surprise considering how popular the game is in America’s sunshine state. However one of the best female tennis players ever to play the game was also born in Florida. Chris Evert, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, paved the way for modern-day players like the Williams Sisters by making female tennis popular in the United States.

In her 17-year long professional career she assembled 157 titles, including 18 Grand Slam singles championships and still holds the record for most wins at the French Open as well as the U.S. Open. Evert’s most remarkable achievement might be her overall career winning percentage (90.05%) which is the best in the history of professional tennis, man or woman. She is definitely one of the best athletes from Florida.

Number 4

At number 4 of our best athletes from Florida we switch sports again and turn our focus on America’s pastime, Baseball. Steven Norman Carlton, admiringly nicknamed ‘Lefty’, was one of the game’s premier left-handed pitchers and ranks fourth in the list of career strikeout leaders behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens.

In 23 years as a professional player he assembled uncountable accolades, such as being the first pitcher to ever win four Cy young Awards. He is the last pitcher in the National League to win more than 25 games in one single season, is a 10-time All-Star and won 2 World Series. Despite a strenuous relationship with the media he was loved by fans and the organisations he played for, which is reflected by the fact that the Phillies named the team’s most valuable pitcher award after Steve Carlton.

Number 5

Our Number 5 of top athletes from Florida might be a controversial choice but ultimately I had to put him on here. The New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez has been in the league since 1994 and by merely crunching his numbers you really cannot leave him of this list. He is the youngest player ever to hit 500, respectively 600 home runs and ranks fifth overall in the all-time home run table. He is a 14-time All-Star, 3-time American League MVP and has fourteen 100-RBI seasons, more than any other player in the history of the game.

Yet people love to hate on A-Rod, including Yankee fans, but why? Is it because he not only signed one but two of the largest contracts in sports history (The Yankees pay him over 160,000 dollars per game which is not too shabby if you consider that a season includes 162 games)? Is it because he repeatedly came up short in big moments despite his big paychecks? Is it because he admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs earlier in his career? Or is it because in recent years he routinely made headlines for dating women like Madonna, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz rather than his on-field performances?

Fact is the Yankees would rather trade him today than tomorrow which is virtually impossible considering the size of his contract. Nevertheless Alex Rodriguez will go down as one of the best all-around baseball players of all time, despite the juicing and the controversies which is why I included him in this top 5.