Favre one of nine athletes up for 'Greatest' honor

Discovery Channel's "Greatest American" series starts with 100 of the most renowned people in the nation's history before the list is whittled to one in a series of viewer votes.

Packers quarterback Brett Favre is among nine athletes vying for the honor. The others are Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Pat Tillman and Tiger Woods.

It's stiff competition for Favre, and that's not even factoring in the fact he's going up against the likes of George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas Edison.

Ali proclaimed himself "The Greatest," and he very well may be. He was the dominant heavyweight fighter of an era filled with superb heavyweights, despite losing the best years of his career because of his decision to not fight in Vietnam.

Armstrong is the reigning six-time Tour de France cycling champion. The six victories in perhaps the most grueling event in all of sports came after nearly dying of cancer.

Jordan arguably is the greatest basketball player ever. In his prime, he may have been the most recognizable person — not just athlete — in the world. He led the Chicago Bulls to three straight NBA championships, retired for a couple years, then came back and led the Bulls to three more championships. He was an unparalleled pitchman for products ranging from Gatorade to Nike.

Owens dominated the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The sight of an African-American winning four gold medals in track and field was appalling to Adolf Hitler, who was hoping to showcase the superiority of the Aryan race at the event.

Robinson is known most for being the first black to break baseball's color barrier, doing so in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Lost in the shuffle is the fact Robinson was a brilliant baseball player despite battling constant racism. In 10 career seasons, the speedy Robinson hit .311, posted an on-base average of .463 and led the Dodgers to six pennants.

Some 70 years after he retired, Ruth's name remains synonymous with the sport. When he retired he was baseball's single-season and all-time home run champion. Both records, though broken, stood for decades. He won seven World Series championships, three with the Boston Red Sox and four after being sold to the New York Yankees in 1920.

Tillman was a decent football player who gained fame and acclaim for leaving the Arizona Cardinals — and leaving behind millions of dollars — to serve with the Marines. The antithesis of the stereotypical selfish, greedy athlete, Tillman died while fighting in Afghanistan.

Woods joins Favre as the only active athlete to make the list. He is on pace to break the great Jack Nicklaus' record for most victories in the major tournaments. Like Jordan, he is the sport's overwhelmingly brightest star. He is the pitchman for numerous products, from golf balls to luxury cars. He made the staid sport of golf cool. When in contention on the final day of a golf tournament, television ratings soar to double and triple their typical levels.

Along with the athletes, here are the other 91 people vying to be the "Greatest American."

Maya Angelou, Susan B. Anthony, Neil Alden Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Alexander Graham Bell, Barbara Bush, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Andrew Carnegie, Johnny Carson , Jimmy Carter, Ray Charles, Cesar Chavez, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill Cosby, Tom Cruise,

Ellen DeGeneres, Walt Disney, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Clint Eastwood, Thomas Edison, John Edwards, Albert Einstein, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Bill Gates, Mel Gibson, Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Glenn, Billy Graham,

Alexander Hamilton, Tom Hanks, Hugh Hefner, Katharine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Howard Hughes, Michael Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, Steve Jobs, Lyndon B. Johnson, Helen Keller, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Rush Limbaugh, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Lindbergh, George Lucas,

Madonna, Dr. Phil McGraw, Marilyn Monroe, Audie Murphy, Michael Moore, Richard Nixon, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, George Patton, Colin Powell, Elvis Presley, Ronald Reagan, Christopher Reeve, Condoleezza Rice, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt,

Carl Sagan, Jonas Edward Salk, Steven Spielberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Sinatra, Joseph Smith Jr., Jimmy Stewart, Martha Stewart, Nikola Tesla, Harry Truman, Donald Trump, Harriet Ross Tubman, Mark Twain, Sam Walton, George Washington, George Washington Carver, John Wayne, Oprah Winfrey, Wright Brothers (Orville & Wilbur Wright), Malcolm X, Chuck Yeager.

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