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Who are Buffalo’s best athletes?

Who are the 10 best male and female athletes ever to come out of Western New York? ¶ That was the question put to sports department staffers who were up to tackling the task. And, via a departmental survey, with 10 points awarded for a first-place vote and one for a 10th, we came up with our rankings. They debut in this edition with the men’s and women’s No. 10s, and will continue daily until the women’s No. 1 is revealed on Feb. 27, followed by the men’s No. 1 on Feb. 28. ¶ The criteria? Examine the research and then vote your gut. How else does one discern between athletes in different sports with careers sometimes separated by decades? ¶ Many of us found the task much more challenging than we expected. There are very good athletes with long and distinguished careers who failed to crack the Top 10. Doubtless a strong case for inclusion could be made on behalf of each of them. What can we say? Like sports themselves, this became a game of inches. ¶ Opinion sometimes varied wildly within the department. Athletes ranked highly on some ballots were left off others altogether. But we all agreed on the No. 1 female athlete to come out of Western New York and came within a vote of unanimity on the men’s side. ¶ Will you agree with our rankings in their entirety? We certainly hope not.