School: Stanford University
Sports: Football, Baseball
John Elway avoided playing for the Baltimore Colts because he had options, namely the ability to leave the sport entirely in favor of joining the New York Yankees. After a breakout sophomore season for Stanford’s baseball team, Yanks owner George Steinbrenner envisioned a future with John Elway’s rocket-launcher arm-cutting down runners from right field. John was drafted out of college half-a-dozen slots ahead of Tony Gwynn. He spent the summer before his senior year on the other side of the country (in Oneonta, N.Y.) keeping his choices open, but returned to Palo Alto, Calif., in the fall so he could continue playing football, which is why you know him for, well, playing football.
Elway never made a bowl game in his four seasons at Stanford (it wasn’t exactly a football powerhouse in the '80s, instead flourishing at academics…or something) but he still dominated behind center. He left school third all-time on the NCAA list for passing touchdowns. As a senior he finished runner-up to Herschel Walker for the Heisman Trophy. He was a consensus All-American, and was later enshrined in college football’s Hall of Fame. When it was all said and done, Elway had compiled himself a massive list of personal milestones and, all athlete clichés aside, we all know those are what really matter.