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Fans often assume that you have to be the best at your respective sport in order to change or redefine the way that the game is played. And though every one of these athletes is quite gifted, they are on this list for how they play and the impact they will have on their sport, not their on-field production.
Here are the Top 10 athletes who are redefining their sports right now:
10. Jaromir Jagr (Right Wing/Boston Bruins) – Jagr is 41-years old and still playing in the NHL. Not only has his body held up well enough to keep competing in a violent sport like hockey but he’s still a very productive player (16 Goals/19 Assists). Jagr is changing the way people view the length of an athlete’s career is still sporting that mullet 23 years after the Pens drafted him.
9. Jordan Lynch (Senior Quarterback/Northern Illinois Univ.) – As a 1st year starter last season, Lynch took the label of dual-threat quarterback and ran with it. In fact, he ran for a record 1,815 yards (19 TDs). He also threw for 3,138 yards (25 TDs/6 INTs) so he’s no slouch when it comes to slinging the rock down the field. Keep an eye on him this year as you could witness the first signal caller to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a single season.
8. Inbee Park (LPGA Golfer) – Park has already won 6 times in 2013, including the first two majors, something that has only happened 5 times on in PGA history. The 24-year old Korean is excellent at recovering from the sand and is now the No. 1 ranked women’s golfer in the world.
7. Carlin Isles (Team USA Sevens Rugby Player) – Carlin Isles, a former track and football star at Division II Ashland College, is taking the United States rugby program by storm. The lightning quick Isles takes advantage of the open field in sevens and will most definitely change the way teams have to defend the United States.
6. Shaquem Griffin (Freshman Safety/University of Central Florida) – Consider him the Jim Abbott of college football, this young defensive back is proof that a physical limitation can’t stop a great athlete from making it in his sport. By Griffin making a college roster at a major school, the door will open for other athletes with minor handicaps to show their stuff in college and professional sports all across the country.
5. Calvin Johnson (Wide Receiver/Detroit Lions) – Megatron hauled in 122 passes for 1,964 yards last season (an NFL record) with multiple broken fingers. He is by far the most gifted wide receiver in the game at the moment and has almost 8,000 yards receiving in just five seasons. Though Jerry Rice’s career receiving record won’t be an easy task, you can expect Johnson to pass Terrell Owens for 2nd place without too much effort.
4. Stephen Curry (Point Guard/Golden State Warriors) – The guy is a shooting guard in a point guards body. Curry set the record for most 3-pointers made in a single season and also managed to lead his team in assists. He is the first player ever with at least 250 threes and 500 assists in a season, proving that point guards are more than just distributors of the basketball.
3. Karl Towns Jr. (Senior Center & Starting Pitcher/St. Joseph High School) – The 7’1 big man is committed to Kentucky to play basketball but he is on this list because of his two sport ability. Not only can the seven-footer handle the ball and shoot 3-pointers, but now he is returning to the pitching mound. According to Towns, he threw in the high 80s in the eighth grade and is looking forward to pitching again.
2. Brittney Griner (Center/Phoenix Mercury) – Just as she did for the college game, Griner is changing everything about the WNBA and women’s basketball. From her impressive dunks to opting to model men’s clothing instead of women’s apparel, she is truly redefining what it means to be a professional women’s basketball player.
1. Bryce Harper (Outfielder/Washington Nationals) – The 20-year old superstar is setting records, bashing homeruns and running through walls in Washington D.C. He brings an old school flare to the game with his style of play and is helping baseball find its roots again by being a young five-tool player. The only thing the kid cares about is winning and that’s made evident by his private lifestyle and intense offseason preparations. Harper truly is a once in a generation talent and is the exact type of player baseball needs after the steroid era.