Column By John Lohn
MEDIA, Pennsylvania, September 3. DURING the past several weeks, as the NFL preseason has unfolded, many fans have taken part in their Fantasy Football drafts for the 2012 campaign. That got the wheels turning a bit. How do the athletes in the pool relate to those on the gridiron — past and present? Well, let's take a quick look.
**Michael Phelps is like Barry Sanders, the legendary running back for the Detroit Lions. Not only did both men decide to leave their sport while at their peak, each guy delivered countless performances which elicited the same reaction: Did that just happen? Quite simply, they were both jaw-droppers who dominated their sports.
In Phelps' case, he was a master of pulling out victories when defeat seemed likely, such as his come-from-behind triumph over Milorad Cavic in the 100 butterfly at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. For Sanders, he was the king of producing spectacular runs after he was seemingly bottled up by the opposing defense.
**Let's compare Rebecca Soni and New England wide receiver Wes Welker. Each athlete is, as the clich? goes, a model of consistency. When Soni gets on the blocks, you know you're going to see a consistently fast performance and, in most cases, a comfortable victory. With Welker, you know you're going to see the wideout on the receiving end of a bunch of Tom Brady passes and pushing the 100-yard mark.
**Missy Franklin and Andrew Luck belong in the same realm. Franklin was the can't-miss prodigy who delivered in her first Olympiad with a five-medal performance, including four gold medals. As for Luck, the Stanford product who was the No. 1 pick of the Indianapolis Colts back in April, he is also viewed as the total package. Able to make every throw, few see Luck being anything less than a star, just like Franklin.
**Consider Brendan Hansen and Denver quarterback Peyton Manning in the same category. A three-time Olympian, Hansen capped his comeback from a two-year retirement by collecting the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in the 100 breaststroke. Manning, meanwhile, is trying to regain his MVP form after sitting out last year following neck surgery. Like Hansen, Manning should be able to pull off the comeback.
**We'll go with Frenchwoman Laure Manaudou in the same group as Terrell Owens. Before Manaudou settled down to train with Brett Hawke at Auburn, she had a reputation for bouncing around to several coaches. Owens, recently let go by the Seattle Seahawks, hasn't been an example of stability during his career, playing for San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo.
**At the 2011 World Championships, China's Ye Shiwen announced herself as a major player on the international stage when she won the gold medal in the 200 individual medley. A year later, she was the Olympic champion in the 200 individual medley and 400 individual medley. She can be compared to Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green, coming off a solid rookie campaign, but expected to surge to an even higher level for the Bengals.
**We all know Sun Yang as the best distance freestyler in the world, untouchable in the 1500 freestyle. His comparison is with Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson, a threat for a lengthy score on every snap and untouchable at his position.
**With a gold medal in the 200 butterfly and a silver medal in the 100 fly at the London Games, Chad Le Clos officially etched himself as a breakout star. His arc to success measures up with Houston running back Arian Foster, who has emerged as one of the elite running backs in the NFL and the No. 1 pick in the majority of Fantasy drafts.
**All right, there's a little bit of fun and games from our end. Now, it's your turn. Go ahead and offer up your comparisons.
Follow John Lohn on Twitter: @JohnLohn