The 9 Most Overshadowed Athletes From the Last 20 Years

In honor of Tim Duncan and all he's accomplished, this is the list of the “I didn’t realize he was that good” players from the past 20 years.

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Complex Original

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Not every dominant athlete dominates the headlines. Some are fundamentally sound without being flashy. Some give boring soundbites. Others just don’t get covered because they play for bad teams. 

Tim Duncan fits the criteria. In today’s short-attention-spanned social media age, no Vine of the Big Fundamental sinking another bank shot is going to break the Internet. And while every basketball fan knows that Duncan—who may or not be hanging up his kicks after 19 of the most impressive seasons in NBA history—will go down as one of the best ever, has his greatness truly been appreciated by us all? 

Look at the stats of some of the most popular players from the last 20 years and you’d be shocked how much some of them have flown under the radar. In honor of Duncan and all he's accomplished, this is the list of the “I didn’t realize he was that good” players from the past 20 years—The 9 Most Overshadowed Players.

Tony Romo

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Overshadowed By: His own failures

Career Stats: 34,154 yards, 247 touchdowns, 117 interceptions, 97.1 passer rating

No player has been the target of more NFL memes than Tony Romo, and perhaps rightfully so. His late-game mishaps are perhaps the most documented follies in NFL history.

But Romo is statistically elite. He has at least 26 touchdowns in eight of his last 10 seasons. He has more touchdown passes than Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Steve Young, and Terry Bradshaw. Everybody always talks about how Russell Wilson came from being drafted in the third round, but nobody ever talks about how Romo went from being undrafted to a perennial Pro-Bowler.

It’s time to appreciate Romo for who he is: A spectacular, elite talent—and punchline.

Pau Gasol

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Carlos Beltran

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Fred Taylor

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Overshadowed By: Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson, Priest Holmes, Adrian Peterson

Career Stats: 11,695 rushing yards, 66 touchdowns, seven 1,000-yard seasons.

The former Jaguars running back had more career rushing yards than O.J. Simpson or Eddie George. And somehow, he made just one Pro Bowl in 13 NFL seasons.

Zach Randolph

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Curtis Martin

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Overshadowed By: LaDainian Tomlinson, Jerome Bettis, Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk

Career Stats: 14,101 yards, 90 touchdowns, five Pro Bowls, 2012 Hall of Fame inductee

The only three players to rush for more career yards than Martin are Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders. He recorded at least 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 NFL seasons. Yet when he was playing, it often seemed that he flew under the radar. Martin’s highlights lacked the game-breaking speed of Barry Sanders or the physicality of Eric Dickerson. But he’d give you a solid four or five yards every time he touched the ball, which is equally as impressive.

Chris Bosh

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Overshadowed By: The 2003 NBA Draft class, America

Career Stats: 19.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 2 NBA titles

Chris Bosh is more than just a dinosaur doppelganger: He’s one of the best players of his generation.

His first seven seasons in Toronto made him the NBA’s most overlooked superstar at the time: He averaged at least 22 points per game from 2006-2010.  

Had he stayed there he could still probably be putting up 20 a game. But when you move to a team with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, you’re only going to get so many scoring chances—though Bosh has never averaged less than 16 points per game with the Heat while morphing into a reliable outside threat. And let’s not forget the fact that he has two rings to his name.

Marvin Harrison

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Overshadowed By: Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, his own personality

Career Stats: 1,102 receptions, 14,580 yards, 128 touchdowns, Hall of Fame finalist 2014, 2015

When did you ever even hear Harrison talk while he was playing?

He lacked the flash of T.O., the speed of Randy Moss, and the star of Harrison’s teams was the best statistical quarterback to ever play the game. So there was a lot keeping Harrison away from the spotlight.

Despite this, Harrison has the seventh-most receiving yards in NFL history and the fifth-most receiving touchdowns. Peyton Manning may not be the quarterback he is today had it not been for Harrison—who was his favorite target in Indy.

Tim Duncan

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