An unofficial history of dynamic duos   

Updated: September 10, 2008, 5:00 PM ET

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"Good luck seldom comes in pairs, but bad things never walk alone."
-- Chinese proverb

Umm, no, we don't know exactly what that means, either. But the injury to Tom Brady does have us thinking of what we'll miss this season: the lethal Brady-Randy Moss connection that lit up defenses like Ozzie Guillen talking about his favorite media members. Brady and Moss were the greatest quarterback-receiver combo ever -- at least for one season. Will the pair be back in 2009? How do they compare to other great duos? What about fantastic duos from other sports? OK, we're rambling. Just read the lists.

Quarterbacks and Receivers

Tom Brady and Randy Moss, Patriots
For one season, it was like Shakespeare writing with Marlowe, Einstein collaborating with Da Vinci, Hilton acting alongside Simpson. The two combined for a record 23 touchdown passes in the regular season, including seven of 35 yards or more. It was the greatest fantasy combo ever. Oh, the Patriots were pretty great as well.

Manning Harrison

AP Photo/Tom Strattman

After an injury-plagued 2007, does Marvin Harrison have anything left his tank?

Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, Colts
The two have combined for 107 touchdowns, the most of any QB-WR combo. The top five:

1. Manning/Harrison, Colts, 107
2. Steve Young/Jerry Rice, 49ers, 85
3. Dan Marino/Mark Clayton, Dolphins, 79
4. Jim Kelly/Andre Reed, Bills, 65
5. John Unitas/Raymond Berry, Colts, 63

Not listed: Joey Harrington to Charles Rogers.

Steve Young and Jerry Rice, 49ers
One big difference between Rice and Harrison: While Harrison topped 100 receptions four consecutive seasons from 1999 to 2002, he's never averaged at least 15 yards per catch; Rice did so nine times (and also reached 100 catches four times).

And where, you ask, are Joe Montana and Rice? They combined for 55 touchdown passes.

Jim Kelly and Andre Reed, Bills
Despite seven Pro Bowl appearances and ranking fifth all-time in catches and eighth in yards, Reed has yet to make the Hall of Fame. Should he be in? He never led the league in any category and reached 10 TD catches in a season just once. He finished in the top four in catches, yards or TD catches just once (second in catches in 1989). He was more consistent than dominant.


Brady and Moss? Manning and Marvin? Jerry Rice and Young ... or Montana? Vote for the best combinations in different sports.

Poll page: Best duos

John Unitas and Raymond Berry, Colts
This Colts pair was lethal in a less passing-friendly era. Berry led the NFL three times in catches and yards and twice in touchdowns. In 1960, he caught 74 passes for 1,298 yards in a 12-game schedule -- that's 99 catches and 1,731 yards over 16 games. Even more impressive, only three other receivers even topped 50 catches that year.

1-2 Starting Pitching Combos

Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, Diamondbacks
The two were together three-plus seasons, finished first and second in the Cy Young voting in 2001 and '02 and carried Arizona to the 2001 World Series title, sharing MVP honors. Most importantly, they refused to cavort with Mystique and Aura.

The Cy Young finishes are impressive, considering the only other teammates to finish 1-2 were Don Newcombe and Sal Maglie of the 1956 Dodgers and Mike Marshall (a reliever) and Andy Messersmith with the '74 Dodgers. Their stats those two seasons:
Johnson: 21-6, 2.49 ERA, 249.2 IP, 181 H, 71 BB, 372 SO
Schilling: 22-6, 2.98 ERA, 256.2 IP, 237 H, 39 BB, 293 SO
Johnson: 24-5, 2.32 ERA, 260 IP, 197 H, 71 BB, 334 SO
Schilling: 23-7, 3.23 ERA, 259.1 IP, 218 H, 33 BB, 316 SO

Greg Maddux

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Greg Maddux won three straight Cy Young Awards with the Braves from 1993-95.

Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, Braves
There was 1998, when Maddux went 18-9, 2.22 and Glavine went 20-6, 2.47, finishing first and third in the NL in ERA with Glavine winning the Cy Young Award. There was 1993, when Maddux went 20-10, 2.36 and Glavine went 22-6, 3.20, finishing first and third in Cy Young voting. There was 1995, when Maddux went 19-2, 1.63 and Glavine went 16-7, 3.08, again finishing first and third in the Cy Young vote. There was 2000, when Glavine went 21-9, 3.40 and Maddux went 19-9, 3.00, with the pair finishing second and third in Cy Young voting. There was a reason the Braves won 14 consecutive division titles and topped 100 wins six times -- and it wasn't Rafael Belliard.

Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, Dodgers
During Koufax's six-year run of excellence from 1961 to 1966, he went 129-47 with a 2.19 ERA. During the same six years Drysdale went 111-80 with a 2.88 ERA. Koufax won three Cy Young awards and an MVP trophy and Drysdale picked up a Cy Young of his own. The Dodgers won three pennants, two World Series and made the O'Malley family very rich and happy. True, they did benefit from a pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, but if you think they are overrated, Drysdale is likely to knock you down with a high, hard one thrown from baseball heaven.

Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, Braves
Made famous by the 1948 T-shirt slogan "Spahn and Sain and Make it Rain" (or was it "Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain"?), the duo led the Boston Braves to the 1948 pennant. Sain went 24-15 with 28 complete games and finished second in the NL MVP vote. Spahn went 15-12 with a 3.71 ERA (actually, his worst year between 1947 and 1963). Both won 20 games in 1947 and 1950.

Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith, Kansas City Monarchs
Complete statistics are difficult to confirm, but the Monarchs did capture six Negro American League pennants from 1937 to 1943, with Paige and Smith leading the way. Many contemporaries considered Smith the equal of Paige, and he reportedly compiled records of 25-2, 21-3, 25-1 and 22-5 from 1939 to 1942. With the opposite personality of his more famous teammate, Smith relied on a sweeping curveball and was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001.

Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw, A's
Before the A's moved to Oakland, they played in Kansas City. And before they played in Kansas City, they played in Philadelphia. In the late '20s, owner/manager Connie Mack built one of the best teams ever, the '29-31 A's, winners of three straight AL pennants (no mean feat considering the Yankees were powered by a pair named Ruth and Gehrig.) Grove -- considered by many the greatest pitcher of all time -- and Earnshaw may have been the two hardest throwers in the game, and they finished 1-2 in strikeouts all three seasons. Grove went 20-6, 28-5, 31-4 (leading the AL all three years in ERA as well), while Earnshaw went 24-8, 22-13, 21-7.

Hardwood Combos

Bill Russell and John Havlicek, Celtics
Sure, seemingly every member of the '60s Celtics is in the Hall of Fame other than the towel boy and the bus driver, but these two were the driving forces on the court. They played seven years together and won six titles (seriously, what happened in '67?). Havlicek was a 13-time All-Star and stellar defender; Russell dared you to come inside on him.

Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Lakers
How good was the Celtics duo? They kept beating this pair in the Finals. As great as these guys were (both were 10-time first-team All-NBA), they never won a title together -- Baylor was injured when the Lakers finally won it all in 1972.

Walt Frazier and Willis Reed, Knicks
This duo forged the glory days of New York basketball, winning the Knicks' only two championships in 1970 and '73. While the most famous moment in Knicks history was Reed hobbling onto the court for Game 7 in the 1970 Finals, it was Frazier who produced one of the great individual efforts in playoff history: 36 points, 19 assists and five steals in a 113-99 victory over the Lakers. Both are Hall of Famers, but let's not underestimate Frazier's other legacies: his off-the-court fashion and a broadcasting career noted by catch phrases like "movin' and groovin'" and "shaking and baking."

Magic and Kareem

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Magic and Kareem created Showtime on the court; let's not discuss that talk show, however.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, Lakers
This Hollywood duo combined to make an astounding eight NBA Finals appearances in 10 seasons, winning five championships in the process. With Abdul-Jabbar providing the sky hook and Johnson providing the dazzling passes, this tandem ranks as one of the most exciting in sports history. Later, left to his own devices, Johnson hosted arguably the worst talk show in late-night TV history. But we prefer to remember him in his prime.

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Bulls
This tandem dominated to the tune of six championships from 1991-98. They also combined for nine scoring titles as teammates -- OK, so Jordan won all nine. Pippen was named to the All-Defensive first team six times as a Jordan teammate, and raised the Bulls' profile from first-round failure to Finals contender. As good as Jordan and Pippen were together, we still wonder if they would've enjoyed the same level of success without the stylish supporting duo of Luc Longley and Bill Wennington.

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers
Who said dynamic duos had to get along? With Phil Jackson playing moderator, Bryant and O'Neal captured three consecutive NBA titles together. When their bandwagon careened off the road at Dysfunction Junction, they parted ways and threw barbs at each other. We can only hope they meet up in the playoffs next season. Or engage each other in freestyle rap. Either one.

Yes, We Even Know Something About Hockey

Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, Red Wings
The two Hall of Fame wingers played on the same line (along with center Sid Abel), and Lindsay was first-team All-NHL eight times and Howe 12 times. Both led the league in scoring -- Howe six times -- and were also legendary tough guys. Lindsay, in fact, ranked in the top five in penalty minutes several times. So they would score on you -- and then likely punch you in the face.

Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, Blackhawks
The dynamic scoring duo ranked 1-2 in points three times in the final four seasons of the Original Six, and combined to win the Hart Trophy for MVP seven times in the '60s. Trouble is, Chicago won just one Cup with the pair. We're just sayin'.

Larry Robinson and Serge Savard, Canadiens
Hey, let's show a little respect for the defense. Scotty Bowman has called this blue-line pair the best tandem he's ever seen. Makes sense: Montreal won five Stanley Cups while they were together. Robinson, a bruising 6-foot-4, was lethal on the power play (an amazing plus-120 in 1976-77); Savard, a bruising 6-foot-3, was known for his hard work and sportsmanship.

Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier, Islanders
Bossy exploded onto the scene in 1978, scoring 53 goals as a rookie. By 1980, with Trottier at center and Bossy on the wing, the Islanders were Stanley Cup champs; they'd repeat the next three seasons. Bossy twice led the NHL in goals and ranked sixth or higher in points in eight of his first nine seasons. Trottier was a two-way specialist who topped 100 points six times.

Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, Oilers
No, we don't mean their Rangers days. The two all-time greats weren't usually on the ice together in Edmonton (Gretzky's high-scoring winger was Jari Kurri), but the two combined to lead Edmonton to four Cups in five years in the '80s. Oh, and then Messier won another in 1990, after Gretzky had been traded. (And, yes, another one with the Rangers. Take that, Gretzky fans!)

Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, Penguins
They deserve mention if only for sheer combined volume of their mullets in the early '90s. Oh, sure, they could skate and pass and shoot the puck pretty well as linemates (Pittsburgh won back-to-back Cups), but it was their wonderful, glorious locks that left us in true wonder.


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