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Ten greatest athletes in Green Bay sports history

Yahoo Contributor Network
YCN Cities Green Bay
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Brett Favre, Arron Rodgers. Yahoo! Sports Photo Illustration.

Editor's note: YCN contributor Dave Radcliffe has compiled his list of the 10 greatest athletes for Green Bay. Brett Favre claimed the No.1 spot in user poll voting. Complete list is to the right.

[Vote for No. 1: Baltimore | L.A. | Philadelphia | San Francisco | Complete series]

There is one professional football franchise in the state of Wisconsin, and when you take a step back and think about it, the city of Green Bay being the host of an NFL team is pretty unbelievable.

What's even more unbelievable is that the Packers, who play in the smallest market in football by a landslide, have more NFL championships and Super Bowl victories (13) than any other team. In order to accomplish such a feat, it takes great leadership, a great front office, and, of course, great coaches like Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi.

But we're here to talk about athletes -- those who racked up eye-popping statistics, were beloved by their fans, and played much of their careers in Green Bay. Since the Packers were and are the only professional team in Green Bay, this list will solely consist of members of the Pack, but that doesn't make the task any easier.

There are several dozen players deserving of a spot on this top 10 list, including Willie Davis and Forrest Gregg. I'll do my best to use the criteria listed above to determine the 10 best athletes to ever suit up for the Green and Gold.

In alphabetical order.:

Donald Driver (1999-2012)

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Green Bay mayor presents Donald Driver with a newly-designated street sign in the City of Green Bay. (USAT)

A career Packer who retired following the 2012 season, Driver is Green Bay's all-time leader in receptions (743) and receiving yards (10,137). He only missed four games throughout his entire career. Driver is one of the most beloved and respected figures not only in Green Bay but also across the NFL, and he was commemorated with a statue following his retirement.

Brett Favre (1992-2007)
There are some who may never forgive Favre for the way the infamous summer of 2008 played out, or how he played for the hated Minnesota Vikings, but the bridge between the organization and Favre is in the process of being rebuilt. Off-the-field problems aside, Favre won a Super Bowl with Green Bay, and there simply isn't enough time to list his career achievements, so the decision to place Favre on this list is a no-brainer.

Paul Hornung (1957-66)
A 10-year pro with the Packers, Hornung won either a championship or Super Bowl in five of those years as a halfback, safety and placekicker. As a result of his versatility, he held the NFL record for points in a season until 2006, although Hornung accomplished the feat in just 12 games. He's a former MVP, a Hall of Famer and a member of the 1960s NFL All-Decade Team.

Don Hutson (1935-45)
Back in the day, it was common for players to play on both offense and defense, and that's exactly what Hutson did with the Packers as both a split end and a safety. Hutson played 11 years for Green Bay and still holds the franchise record for touchdown receptions (99). A two-time MVP, a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and a Hall of Famer, Hutson led the league in touchdowns nine times, an NFL record.

James Lofton (1978-86)
The 1980s was a dismal decade for Packers football, but one bright spot was Lofton, who played nine of his 16 NFL season with the Packers. Lofton was the first receiver to reach 14,000 yards and was named to the 1980s NFL All-Decade Team as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ray Nitschke (1958-72)
Another career Packer, Nitschke was the best linebacker to ever play for the Packers. He's one of only five players to have his number retired by Green Bay and, along with Hutson, was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. Nitschke was also a member of the first two Super Bowl champion teams and also won three NFL Championships.

Aaron Rodgers (2005-present)
I hesitate to place someone who only has five years of starting experience in the NFL on this prestigious list, but it's unavoidable. Rodgers has already been mentioned among the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, and won a Super Bowl in just his third season as a starter. He's currently the NFL's all-time leader in career passer rating (104.9) and touchdown-to-interception ratio and also has an MVP award to boot.

[Related: Aaron Rodgers feels betrayed by Ryan Braun]

Sterling Sharpe (1988-94)
If it wasn't for a neck injury, who knows how good Sharpe could have been. But in his seven seasons with the Packers, he was as durable as they come: 112 games, 112 starts. Oh, and he has plenty of accolades to back up a great career: five Pro Bowls, three-time first-team All-Pro, led the NFL in receptions three times ('89 '92, '93), led the league in receiving TDs twice ('92, '94), and is a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.

Bart Starr (1956-71)
You want to talk about a professional -- Starr was not only one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, but it was also the way he went about his business that made him so adored by fans. He'll be remembered for being the MVP of the first two Super Bowls in NFL history. Starr shined when it mattered most and has the second-highest passer rating in playoff history behind only the man listed above him.

Reggie White (1993-98)
One of the most tenacious defenders in pro football history, White terrorized quarterbacks from his defensive end position for 15 years in the NFL. While he didn't play the majority of his career with the Packers, it's impossible to leave White off this list. Despite only playing six years with Green Bay, his number was retired following his death in 2005. Like Favre, White has far too many accolades to note.

Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.

You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .

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