With Missouri defensive end Michael Sam becoming the first openly gay NFL prospect this week, Onion Sports examines athletes who have broken down the biggest barriers in sports.

  • Jackie Robinson: Became the first Dodger second baseman to win the MVP award in 1949
  • Kate Barber: In 1987, she became the NBA’s first female cheerleader
  • Alex Rodriguez: The first and only MLB player to take steroids
  • Jason Collins: Showed that a gay man could appear in the news cycle for a few days before never being heard from again
  • Flying Ebony: By winning the 1925 Kentucky Derby, at last prevailed against the rampant discrimination that has historically faced black horses
  • Mike Trout: With his upcoming announcement on February 17, the Los Angeles Angels star will become a major trailblazer for gay players in not only Major League Baseball, but all American sports leagues
  • Pete Carroll: Bravely defied narrow-minded regulations saying a coach can’t offer gifts to recruiting prospects
  • Danica Patrick: TBD
  • James Naismith: In 1891, became the first lifeform on earth to play basketball since the forgotten Tô-Uktül civilization in 26 million B.C.
  • Renee Richards: Made huge strides in transsexual rights after winning the right to play tennis as a woman, ultimately inspiring thousands of other men to have sexual reassignment surgery in order to gain an unfair advantage just as critics had predicted
  • Metta World Peace: Broke down barrier separating players from fans in order to punch fan