Messi kickin' it at the top
Lionel Messi has been a staple in the Cross-Sport Power Rankings with the year he's been having, and for the fourth time the Argentine footballer garnered the top spot. Messi received top billing after breaking German great Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for most goals in a year by scoring for the 86th time in 2012. The phenomenal forward tied the record with a goal in the 16th minute and then broke the 1972 milestone by netting another one nine minutes later.
Landing in the No. 2 position was Juan Manuel Marquez, who delivered a knockout punch to Manny Pacquiao in the final seconds of the sixth round, winning for the first time in four fights with Pacquiao. Johnny Manziel took the No. 3 spot for becoming the first freshman to take home the coveted Heisman Trophy.
Rounding out the top five was Kobe Bryant, who became the fifth player in NBA history to score 30,000 career points, and Giants rookie running back David Wilson, who had his own record-setting performance.
That's how our panel ranked them, but do you agree? Let your voice be heard in the comments, and if you impress the panel, you could be chosen as a guest ranker for next week.
2012 Cross-Sport Power Rankings panel: Sara Walsh, John Buccigross, Robert Flores, Michael Smith, Bram Weinstein, Mike Hill, Jorge Andres, Charissa Thompson, DJ Gallo, Jim Basquil, Kevin Connors, Jeff MacGregor and Steve Weissman
Cross-Sport Power Rankings: Dec. 4-10
|Four days after suffering a knee injury and needing to be carted off the field, Lionel Messi broke Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year. Messi netted his 85th and 86th goals in a 2-1 victory over Real Betis, a win that extended Barcelona's lead over rival Real Madrid to 11 points. The soccer superstar has tallied 74 goals for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina.|
|Juan Manuel Marquez
|A broken nose didn't stop Juan Manuel Marquez; in fact, it was Marquez's right hand which stopped Manny Pacquiao. Marquez, who hadn't won a fight against Pacquiao (0-2-1 in their previous three fights), hit Manny with a ferocious right hand, knocking him out with just one second remaining in the sixth round. It was the biggest win of Marquez's 19-year professional career and one that could change the boxing landscape.|
|The man once known as Johnny Football will now be known as Johnny Heisman. Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, drawing 474 first-place votes. The Texas A&M quarterback threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns to become the first freshman, first SEC player and fifth player to throw for at least 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season.|
|Throughout his career Kobe Bryant has been known as a prolific scorer, but now he's officially cemented his name as one of the greatest ever. The 34-year-old Bryant became the youngest and just the fifth player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points during his 29-point effort against the Hornets. And the "old man" on the court isn't letting up, as he leads the league in scoring at 28.6 points per game.|
|It was a giant day for a Giants rookie. David Wilson ran his way into the record books with a franchise-high 327 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in the Giants' 52-27 win over the Saints. A whopping 227 of those yards came on kick returns, including a 97-yard return for a touchdown, marking the highest in NFL history by a player with at least 100 rushing yards in the same game.|
|The Patriots once again looked like a team to be feared in the AFC with a 42-14 rout of the Texans on "Monday Night Football." Tom Brady picked apart Houston's defense connecting on 60 percent of his passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns, three of which came in the first half. Does Brady, an NFL MVP front-runner, have his team as a Super Bowl favorite?|
|Adrian Peterson crossed the 100-yard threshold before the end of the first quarter, making it seven straight games in which he's run for at least 100 yards. A.D., aka All Day, finished Sunday with 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings' 21-14 win over the division rival Bears. Peterson leads the NFL in both total rushing yards with 1,600 and yards per game with 123.1.|
|Marshawn Lynch didn't carry much of the work load in Sunday's 58-0 rout of the Cardinals, but he did get the job done. Lynch rushed for 128 yards on 11 carries and found the end zone on runs of 20, 4 and 33 yards. His final score, which came on the Seahawks' first drive of the third quarter, tied his career high for touchdown runs in a game.|
|Kevin Durant is leading the charge for the Thunder as they light up the scoreboard night in and night out en route to a league-best 17-4 record. Over the past week Durant averaged 31.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists in Oklahoma's wins against the Nets, Lakers and Pacers. His 37 points against the Lakers marked his fourth game of the season with at least 35 points.|
|Nick Foles' touchdown pass as time expired gave the Eagles the 23-21 victory over the Buccaneers, snapping Philadelphia's eight-game losing streak. Foles ended the day with a two touchdowns, no interceptions and a rookie franchise-high 382 yards. He also became just the second rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least 380 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a game.|
The Cross-Sport Power Rankings week runs from Tuesday to Monday, covering all sporting events in that seven-day span.
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CROSS-SPORT POWER RANKINGS 2012
Cross-Sport Power Rankings compares the best athletes across all major sports. Check out the rest of our individual sport power rankings.