12 Most Dangerous Duos in Sports

12 Most Dangerous Duos in Sports

In light of the recent Denver Broncos’ free agent signing of Peyton Manning, I began to mull over some of the best sports duos I have ever seen. I love writing these posts because I get impassioned comments regarding the people I leave off the list. I assure you this list could have been two to three times as long without a noticeable decline in competitive excellence.

I also left off some great defensive duos (Ed Reed/Ray Lewis with the Baltimore Ravens) as well as other “close but no cigar” duos that never won a championship (Jim Kelly/Andre Reed with the Buffalo Bills and John Stockton/Karl Malone with the Utah Jazz). Here are my winners:

1. John Elway and Terrell Davis

John Elway single-handedly produced enough winning magic to get the Denver Broncos to three Super Bowls in the 1980s. Those teams were destroyed by the Giants, Redskins and Giants. It wasn’t until Elway had Terrell Davis as a workhorse running back (rushing for 2,008 yards in 1998) that he made it to two more Super Bowls… and won both!

2. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison

953 completions, 112 touchdowns and 12,756 completion yards between this Hall of Fame Quarterback and Hall of Fame receiver. I know that the Rams had the Greatest Show on Turf, but this duo in Indy was silky smooth and a scoring threat on every snap. Let’s see if Peyton can add to his Hall of Fame resume with a few good years as a Denver Broncos quarterback. I assure you that Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are dreaming of Pro Bowls.

3. Tom Brady and Wes Welker

Everybody who reads my posts knows that I am not really a Tom Brady fan. I keep thinking that Peyton Manning would have at least 3 Super Bowls if he had The Hoodie (Bill Belichick) as a coach to go along with that New England defense. However, Tom Brady will legitimately go down in history as one of the most prolific and clutch quarterbacks of all time… as long as he isn’t facing Eli Manning in the Super Bowl! The Tom Brady/Wes Welker combination is one of the most feared in today’s NFL with Welker going over the 1,000 receiving yards threshold 4 out of the last 5 years.

4. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice

I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, so I hated this combination (along with Dwight Clark and his blasted “The Catch”). Steve Young and Jerry Rice had better numbers, and Young was better than Montana statistically. However, if I’m building a team, the combination of Jerry Rice’s work ethic and “Joe Cool’s It factor” puts this duo on my short list. Easy to start with a QB that won 4 Super Bowls!

5. Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin

You didn’t think I would have a Dangerous Duo post without a Dallas Cowboys tandem, did you? To be fair, The Aikman/Irvin/Emmitt Smith tandem is one of the most decorated “Triplets” in sports history (and winners of 3 Super Bowls). Take away any of the three players, and the other two may not have the Hall of Fame careers they did. Fans would watch these guys play, and they could sense the inevitability of a Dallas win. Irvin backed up his proclamation of being “The Playmaker”, and Aikman held the record for most wins by a quarterback in a decade (90 wins in the 1990s) before both Manning and Brady surpassed that record.

6. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen

This duo won six NBA championships together. Prior to Scottie Pippen coming along, Jordan was doing his John Elway impression – working astounding, individual magic and falling short to the Bad Boys Pistons of Detroit. It was this duo’s commitment to a Doberman Defense that fed to spectacular transition baskets and championship success.

7. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Magic was definitely the conductor, but this duo orchestrated the “Showtime” LA Lakers in the 1980s. They won five championships together. Kareem might be the most complete center to ever play the game, and he was frequently listed amongst the league leaders in points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage. Magic was… well, MAGIC! He once played all 5 positions in a game (no, not at the same time), and his no-look passes became the stuff of legends. He and the Boston Celtics’ Larry Bird are given credit for “saving the league” by reviving the Lakers/Celtics rivalry.

8. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker

During the Tim Duncan era, the rule is you definitely wanted to catch the Spurs in an even year. That is because Duncan-led teams won the NBA championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. Since Tony Parker came to town (along with Manu Ginobili), this potent duo of artistry and fundamentals have had 50+ wins in 8-consecutive seasons.

9. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan

Marching through my favorite sports, we started with football… took a spin through basketball…and now time for a little tennis. Since talking about duos, let’s talk about the best doubles team in tennis history — the Bryan Brothers. They are 19-2 in Davis Cup, they have 76 Doubles Titles with 11 of those being Grand Slam titles. They have ended the year as the #1 ranked doubles team 7 times so far, and they are on track for an 8th time in 2012.

10. Venus Williams and Serena Williams

The Williams sisters do not play doubles frequently enough to have a high doubles ranking. However, they are still probably the most feared doubles team on the women’s side of tennis. They have won 12 Grand Slam doubles titles, and they could easily win 3-4 more if they continue to play. They’ve just been too busy racking up Grand Slam Singles titles…

11. Yankees starters and Mariano Rivera

I do not follow baseball as much as football, basketball and tennis. However, it was always a treat to see Mariano Rivera step to the mound and slam the door on the opposing team to get another save. Yankees starters may come and go, but Rivera has tallied 603 career saves and been voted as an All-Star 12 times. The guy’s career postseason ERA is 0.70, folks!

12. Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux

I lived about 70 miles north of Atlanta during a portion of the Atlanta Braves’ great run of 14 consecutive division titles. They did not get enough World Series titles, but they were a consistently excellent team largely due to their starting pitchers. Shame to leave John Smoltz off of this list (a Cy Young winner himself), but Greg Maddux won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves and 3 consecutive Cy Young awards. He was my favorite pitcher to watch in that era. Tom Glavine won 2 Cy Young awards and led the National League in wins 5 different years. And they made a hilarious commercial together!

So who did I leave off the list? Which sport is best-tailored to creating dynamic duos? I relish the comments, folks. Let the debate begin…

Featured image courtesy of rhettandlink via Creative Commons.

Brian Vickery


I love my wife and two daughters. I am blessed in that I also love my job as a principal and EVP of the Rocky Mountain Region for Mantis Technology Group. I am very excited about our Pulse Analytics SaaS social media monitoring solution for measuring consumer sentiment and supporting social engagement. I enjoy teaching and coaching. I graduated UT-Austin.

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A) I would have put Scottie and Michael first.  B) Mo and no one - he saved those starters so many times they shouldn't even get a listing  and C) No Tebow?????


Brian, aloha. While I don't know names to add to the list, I do love your descriptions and explanations of the Dangerous Duos.  Your way with words delights me.


Saw that someone already suggested hockey. if you continue on with this series, you could also add Dangerous Duos that played in President's or America's Cup to throw golf into the equation. Some combos were dominant. 


Also, of course, soccer which is HUGE worldwide, is becoming increasingly popular in the US with some of its colorful players.Or, maybe you could get really Dangerous yourself and pick 2 stand outs from each of 6 sports. Now that, my friend, is guaranteed to get you some strong "how could leave out" comments.


Until later, aloha. Janet




Very cool list. How about sports rivalries? Come on Brian, get crackin'!


So hard to limit this to just 12.  Might be a good idea to run it as a series for several sports.  Noticeably absent is hockey.  Gretzky/Messier and Lemieux/Jagr come to mind.


 @AmyMccTobin Well, who would I put w/Tebow...unless I play off of the SNL skit with Tebow and God? Yeah, I could see Scottie and Michael first. They were incredible when they started sniffing out those turnovers! And Mo was as automatic as they come at slamming that door when he closed out a game!


 @AmyMccTobin Now I know your Boston bias may be clouding your judgment but The Yankees have had some very good pitchers to work with Mo.   I think one duo left off was Bucky Dent/Aaron Boone. Oh wait, they were only a good pair against the Red Sox. ;)


 @janetcallaway I'm glad you like the way with words. I can get pretty conversational/casual (Texan) sometimes. Interesting to make the Dangerous Duos a series!


I'd love to hear soccer, cricket, hockey...hmm, are paired ice skaters really all that dangerous ;)?


 @sharongreenthal That is an excellent idea, Sharon. I'll take a look. Interesting thing is that "regional rivalries" abound, but picking the national/international ones will be the goal.


 @JBTWEETNOTHINGS Busted! I do not follow hockey, so you got me. You could arguably have 12 dangerous duos for any team sport.