May 21, 2022 3 mins, 41 secs

With that, USA TODAY Sports endeavored to identify the 50 sports figures in North American sports who matter the most – even if the term itself is impossible to quantify.

With that, a look at the greatest athletes and figures who perform at a high level – or force you to sit and watch their latest act:.

His folksy (and frequently funny) analysis on TNT's "Inside the NBA" broadcasts has made him an icon – even to those fans who don’t remember him as a tenacious, undersized and Hall of Fame power forward.

When Tom Brady departed and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it did take some of the sheen off the Belichick legacy.

Still, he’s the coaching OG until further notice, and his record six Super Bowl wins as head coach of the New England Patriots will likely never be matched.

The ESPN analyst has become the voice of reason on college sports and NIL issues as both a lawyer and former college athlete.

When he speaks on a controversial topic, sports fans listen.

The super sports agent is well-known for his off-the-wall pronouncements, hard-nosed negotiating style and very wealthy clients – which include Alex Rodriguez, Gerrit Cole, Carlos Correa and Max Scherzer.

The current face of the NFL.

After 27 years, 23 World Series and six Super Bowls with Fox Sports, Buck made the jump to ESPN this year to take over play-by-play duties for Monday Night Football.

The son of a Hall of Famer, Vlad Jr.

The former Ohio State quarterback is the leading voice in college football as the primary analyst for ESPN’s College GameDay since 1996 and ABC’s Saturday night games since 2006.

More recently, he’s called Monday Night Football games on ABC and this fall will join Al Michaels in the booth for Prime Video’s Thursday Night NFL broadcasts.

It’d be enough if he lorded over the most valuable sports franchise in the world.

Both the venue (SoFi Stadium) and the franchise (Los Angeles Rams) aren’t in position to host and win the most recent Super Bowl without him.

Ten years after her Olympic debut as a 15-year-old in London, Ledecky is a Stanford graduate, a seven-time gold medalist, holds three world records and is a 15-time world champion, with more on the horizon.

Four victories at the upcoming world championships will tie her with Michael Phelps for most by any swimmer, and her recent move to train at the University of Florida will get the consensus greatest female swimmer of all time on an even faster track for Paris 2024.

The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback already has a Super Bowl ring and an MVP award at 26.

His willingness to enact rules and equipment changes hasn’t won him many fans – except among the league’s owners, who’ve continued to prosper financially during his tenure.

The Super Bowl win sealed the belief that McVay is one of the best offensive minds in football.

The most skilled player for the men’s national team will be at the center of its success – or failure – when the World Cup commences in Qatar in November.

Whether he’s the greatest college football coach of all time can be debated, but his unofficial title of most successful in the sport’s modern era is indisputable.

He likely isn’t a household name among casual sports followers, but he is arguably the most influential figure on the administrative side of college athletics.

Since assuming the reins as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference in 2015, Sankey has helped leverage the league’s dominance of the College Football Playoff landscape with lucrative media rights deals.

Forget the Mount Rushmore of pitchers during his career – Scherzer could be the greatest, with three Cy Young Awards and strikeout titles.

The former collegiate and Olympic standout is now the face of women’s college basketball after leading South Carolina to its second of what could be many NCAA championships.

Earlier this month, NBC tabbed her as the host for Football Night in America?

The short list: Host of NBC’s Olympics and Triple Crown coverage and, beginning in September, manning the most prestigious spot behind the mic in the most popular sport: Sunday Night Football on NBC.

The greatest female athlete in history.


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