There is perhaps no attribute more impactful for an athlete than the clutch gene.
It’s often what separates champions from also-rans. It’s the ability to rise to the occasion in the most critical moments when everything is at stake and a win or a loss is on the line.
Few athletes have shown themselves to be consistently clutch. Those who are in that select group have left indelible marks on the games they’ve played.
But who are the most clutch athletes of all time? It’s a difficult question to answer, but Skip Bayless took a crack at it on his podcast, “The Skip Bayless Show,” picking four stars for his Mount Rushmore of clutch, aka “Mount Clutchmore.”
Skip Bayless lists his most clutch athletes of all time
Skip Bayless reveals his list of the most clutch athletes of all time, those who belong on his “Mount Clutchmore.” Bayless explains why he chose Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Bob Gibson.
Tom Brady, Tampa Buccaneers
Super Bowl titles: 7. Super Bowl stats: 3,039 YDS, 21 TD, 6 INT, 97.7 RTG
Bayless’ thoughts: “Obviously, Brady must be on the Mount Clutchmore. [He’s] Michael Jordan disguised as the corny dad next door — the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing. Cold-blooded killer who says ‘aw shucks, I just shot you dead.’ He’s actually more clutch than Jordan only because he had more opportunities to be clutch. In his first six Super Bowls, he won them with game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. And Belichick cost Brady two more Super Bowls.
“Brady has proven to be the greatest leader in the history of sports. What he did at Tampa, 7-9 the year before, and completely changed the culture during a pandemic on a torn MCL, at 43? He’s coming off arguably his greatest regular season ever. I will never bet against that man, even at age 45.”
Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
NBA Championships: 6. NBA Finals Stats: 33.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.8 SPG, .481 FG%,
Bayless’ thoughts: “Obviously, he’s the NBA GOAT. He was simply the greatest competitor, and the greatest big-game performer ever in any sport. Never been anything quite like him. He has the transcendent quality. His dominance just spilled out in sheer will, determination and dedication beyond the beyond. I’ve never seen it more than I saw it in Chicago.
“He was obsessed, to the point that he would go to any lengths to push his teammates to approximate his greatness under fire. How in my wildest fairytales could I imagine a final sequence to a career like that one: At Utah, Game 6 of the Finals, Jordan steals the ball from Karl Malone, goes down the length of the floor, little shove-off, and then he holds the pose as the ball swishes, and Utah sinks again at the hands of Michael Jeffrey Jordan.”
Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl titles: 4. Super Bowl stats: 1,142 YDS, 11 TDS, 127.8 RTG
Bayless’ thoughts: “Joe Montana was Tom Brady before Tom Brady. He was 4-for-4 in Super Bowls, that’s Jordan-esque. I was there at the 1979 Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The worst ice storm Dallas had suffered through in 30 years. Joe Montana suffered from hypothermia and the flu, missed the entire third quarter in that game, and here came Mr. Hypothermia back into the game, and outscored Houston in the fourth quarter, 23-0. That was Clutchmore.
“I was there at Candlestick Park, Jan. 10, 1982, a day that lives in infamy for Cowboy Nation. The 49ers faced a third-and-3 at the 6-yard line with 58 seconds left. Joe dropped back, and dropped back some more, and scrambled to his left, and threw a fall-away pass up into the fog, out of which it was snatched by 6-3 Dwight Clark, and pulled down what was soon to be called “The Catch.” Montana went 83 yards in 14 plays for that TD. I was there for Super Bowl 23 in Miami, 39 seconds left, Montana to John Taylor, 10 yards for the game-winner. Joe Montana belongs.”
Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals
World Series titles: 2. World Series stats: 7-2, 1.89 ERA, 81 IP, eight complete games, two shutouts.
Bayless’ thoughts: “My favorite baseball team growing up was the St. Louis Cardinals. I became the biggest fan of one Bob Gibson, the greatest big-game pitcher ever in my estimation. Remember, there were no playoffs at that point except for the World Series. Just National League vs. American League.
“Bob Gibson pitched in three, won two with two MVPs, went 7-2 in those games. Eight of the nine were complete games, he had a World Series ERA of 1.89. He pitched in three Game 7s, beat the Yankees of Mantle and Maris at old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. He beat the Red Sox and Carl Yastrzemski at Fenway in a Game 7 in 1967. He’s Mount Clutchmore, the baddest man who ever threw a baseball.”
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