Montana is rarely thought of as a mega source for professional athletes.  With that being said, Montana and Great Falls in particular, have produced some great athletes that have gone on to make a mark in their respective sport.  Here is the list I have compiled:

  • Dave Dickenson (NFL & CFL)
  • Ryan Leaf (NFL)
  • Kris Heppner (NFL)
  • Dallas Neil (NFL)
  • Jim Kalafat (NFL & American Gladiator)
  • Ron Warzeka (NFL)
  • Mal Bross (NFL)
  • Brian Salonen (NFL)
  • Jon Knutson (NFL)
  • Josh Huestis (NBA)
  • Jack Gillespie (NBA)
  • John Leister (Baseball- NFL)
  • Tyler Graham (Baseball)
  • Lones Wigger (Shooting)
  • Scott Davis (Figure Skating)
  • Terry Casey (Hockey)
  • Todd Foster (Boxing)

Rodeo cowboy and cowgirl athletes that have made an impact professionally could be a stand-alone story all its own. I didn't include them on this list, but if I were to write that story, the top of the list would probably be Rod Lyman, 16-time NFR qualifier in steer wrestling. Although Rod is in a class all by himself there are several other Great Falls ties to professional rodeo.

Who did I miss of Great Falls athletic stars?

Websites that contributed to this story are:

Montana Pro Football Hall of Fame

Pro Football Reference

Sports Illustrated 50 Greatest MT Athletes

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