Hey, I'm enjoying the thread so screw off.
When watching Pros vs. Joes they take retired pros to go up against the average guy who thinks he could be a pro. Many of these old pros still have it while many don't but they are still usually better then the average guy. When Randy Couture was on there he earned respect from the Joes and they even said as much after wrestling with him. Randy is doing this in his 40's and still kicking butt and made a comeback into the UFC and becoming the heavy weight champion. If Randy is not an elite pro athlete then I don't know who is because when Mayweather gets to this age he probably won't even have all of his faculty to even do basic reasoning.
Money is not a driver for everybody so cannot be a factor when discussing pro athletes. BJ Penn on the ground is a phenom and though I dislike the guy he is good at what he does and he's not in it for the money ... he already has money. How much a person can bench is also not a factor when discussing pro athletes otherwise 5 years ago I would have been considered a pro athlete as 225 lbs was less then my light weight before I hit the heavy weights.
I have yet to see a "WWE" star becoming an elite MMA'r. I wouldn't mind seeing some and I think many would do well, but I don't think many will make the transition. So with this said, are you saying the professional wrestlers are elite athletes? Some I agree, no actually many I do, but there are those that don't even come close. The same with NFL footballers that you brought up. Have you looked at some of the linemen, they aren't there because of their skill but only because they are huge guys and hard to move. Hardly an elite athlete or any caliber for that matter. Have a hard enough time just getting off the field sometimes.
Lance Armstrong, definitely is an elite athlete, no question and even more so than many due to the things he has had to overcome; an inspirational elite athlete. But Lance Armstrong couldn't do MMA, boxing, football or many other sports but he sure can ride like no other. Mayweather wouldn't even be able to compete on Lance' level even if he started as a child.
If you make it to the top in any sport and continually show the world that you belong there then you are an elite athlete in your sport. Perhaps you would do well in other sports and perhaps you wouldn't be able to but that doesn't take away from the sport that you are doing. The only thing that means something is how you perform. Money does not come into question nor does anything else, just how you perform. And who among us can say somebody is not elite when they can't even perform at those levels themselves.