When your job is most people’s hobby, what do you do with your spare time, frustrating paperwork?
As hilarious as that would be, the athletes we know and love (or hate) can’t just be inundated by their sport; like everyone, they need other outlets to keep a level perspective on their lives. It’s easy as a fan to sort of de-humanize your sports icons– to see them as almost an appendage of their game or franchise. But your job is what you do, not who you are. Even if that job is, well, freakin’ awesome.
Outside of torpedoing the Detroit Lions, Matt Millen is both a four-time Super Bowl champ and an avid woodworker/carpenter. Amar’e Stoudemire is a regular jack of all trades, having tinkered in fashion design and cooking/nutrition, and even acted in shows like Entourage. Chris Bosh has basically turned photobombing into a practicable hobby. Former NFL linebacker Chad Brown is a snake breeder, and has even gone so far as to sell the bred snakes to local pet stores. Never stop working, eh Chad?
The list is long and often quite strange. Karl Malone is now a trucker–not out of necessity, but out of desire. He has his own company but makes deliveries in the 18 wheeled monsters himself. My opening line isn’t that far off from the truth, it would seem.
Hereafter sits 10 of the coolest and strangest hobbies of athletes. It makes you curious as to what other strange and hilarious usages of free time athletes have. Where’s big brother when you need him?
10. Rajon Rondo — Rollerskating
Rajon Rondo never backs down from a challenge. As a Rookie in the NBA, he attended a life-altering niece’s birthday party wherein he was required to roller skate. He bumbled through the first attempt, flailing and falling down whilst expert skaters glided by. He wouldn’t suffer the same embarrassment again. Rondo regularly visited roller rinks in his hometown of Louisville until he refined his skills to perfection. Now he flows through the rink, as one of the roller skating community, in style. He may drop dimes and fake out defenders on the court, but put two pairs of wheels on those feet and he’s a man transformed. I wonder if the NBA would let him play on skates?
9. David Beckham — Fencing
As one of the most famous footballers of all time, David Beckham must have had a pretty precipitous drop in obligations once he hung up the cleats for good. Not that he’s twiddling his thumbs, his entire family has superstar status and I’m sure lacks little in the way of excitement. But what do you do to get the ol’ heart pumping again when you no longer run around the pitch? Becks does his best three musketeers impression with good friends Will Smith and Tom Cruise. Smith and Cruise introduced Beckham to fencing, and according to Smith they spar all the time, giving them time to ‘hang out’ and ‘bond’. Oh, and in a few years time he’ll have the extra hobby of owning a new MLS franchise in Miami. Hopefully Becks and the movie stars will still have time to parry and riposte.
8. Bo Jackson — Archery/Hunting
Bo Jackson has always been something of an enigma to sports enthusiasts– how could someone with such incredible talent at football and such mind-boggling athleticism (set a record 4.12sec 40-yard dash at the combine, and supposedly jumped over a Volkswagon in high school) put away the pads before his career truly got underway?
The answer is simply, he doesn’t see things the same way. Bo always was a tread your own path kind of guy, and he felt no compulsion to stay in football. He wanted to pursue other loves like cycling and hunting. Armed with a composite bow, Bo has hunted Elk, Bears, Gators, and much more. One thing is certain, Bo has left fans and observers both awestruck and puzzled over his lifetime, being the multi-talented, unpredictable character that he is.
7. Randy Moss — NASCAR Racing
That’s right, the fan-mooning, super-talented, sporadically unenthusiastic wide receiver that set a number of receiving records over his career loves. . .NASCAR. Who would’ve guessed? In fact, Randy Moss had his own Motorsports team for NASCAR truck racing known as–wait for it– Randy Moss Motorsports. Well, he’s clearly not the creative type. But he loves his racing: “To be point-blank, NASCAR is a country, redneck sport. . . And you know, that’s where I’m from. . . These are my people.” Randy joined the truck racing team in 2008 and they were rebranded to his title, but the outfit eventually shut down in 2012. Nevertheless, he went into the experience humble and ready to learn, and you have to give him credit for that. Maybe he’s got some wild plans to rejoin the racing world–he’s certainly not doing any more endzone celebrations.
6. Daniel Agger — Tattooing
This Liverpool F.C. Centerback is a fierce footballer with a well-decorated epidermis. Clearly a fan of the tattoo, Daniel Agger has sleeves and numerous tattoos in several different languages including a memento mori. With such a deep connection to his football club, he has the Liverpool anthem referenced on his knuckles, ‘YNWA’ standing for ‘you’ll never walk alone.’ Perhaps as his own curious form of motivation, he’s promised to tattoo the entire Liverpool squad with matching tattoos if they win the Premier League title. A proud Dane who also has the honor of being captain of the Danish National football team, as you might expect, he has tattoo in Danish around his elbow as well. Perhaps the guy needs some more canvas to work on.
5. Larry Fitzgerald — Photography
We all know Larry Fitzgerald as a hard-working, tough as nails, indispensable wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. What we might not know is that past the impressive NFL resume is a photographer, humanitarian, cook, and a dedicated family man. He’s traveled to 80 countries since 2005, and he carries a Canon G12 and a 5D-Mark 3 with him wherever he goes, ready to snap the shot he desires without delay. He’s range includes architectural subjects, to up-close snapshots of wild animals in Africa, and even native tribesman around the world. Oh, and if he didn’t seem cool enough as it is, he doesn’t just go on trips to snap photos; he goes to missions and charitable organizations to help citizens of the 3rd world, or even just those in poverty. Seeing people in such less fortunate states gives him greater appreciation for life, and allows him to reflect on the world with better perspective. One thing’s for dang sure, you’re making us all look bad, Larry. Keep at it.
4. Mike Tyson — Pigeon Keeping
It’s almost so ridiculous that it makes perfect sense. Mike Tyson, an unstoppable knockout machine in the ring, Heavyweight Champ, frequenter of comic movie cameos, is a devout pigeon keeper. He claims that Pigeons were his first love (not joking) and he used to follow them growing up in Brooklyn. His patient and affectionate care for pigeons is touching, if not completely strange beyond sense for a man who mashed people’s faces in for a living. He has a large coop in which he cares for pigeons in New Jersey which can hold over 400 birds. Sure enough, he is quite the animal lover. And it has supplanted his former life–he despises boxing for what it has done to him and others, and at this point is very focused on his birds. I could just picture him sitting there petting the bird with his giant hands like a nurturing sasquatch.
3. Tiger Woods — Spearfishing
Behind all the 14 majors championships, behind all the scandal and ensuing controversy, behind all the injury troubles, lies a humble. . . Spearfisher?
In his free time, Tiger Woods likes to get on a wetsuit, scuba gear, and a big honkin’ spear cannon, and float around underneath the water, waiting for an unsuspecting fish to drop his guard. I guess it’s sort of like putting. . . underwater. . . with a gun. It’s surprising this isn’t better known, he was pretty open about his hobbies, originally talking about spearfishing in 2006, but it’s easily overshadowed by, y’know, masters tournaments and cheating scandals. Hop on that boat and get away from it all, right Tiger?
2. Cristiano Ronaldo — Bingo
This is just too weird. I try to imagine Ronaldo sitting at a plastic folding table with herds of elderly folk, bursting out of his seat when he hits I-16 for bingo. He claims it helps him learn English, somehow. Sure enough, he’s such a bingo enthusiast he plays a DVD version of the game at home. That just seems crazy. “It can be very exciting because you can be there waiting for a long time for just the one number to make the game complete,” Ronaldo eloquently describes how the process of bingo works for all of us paltry normal folk. I suppose at least he’s not at much risk of injury, at least, unless he pulls a hammy jumping out of his chair. It has something of a charming humanizing effect on him though, as you picture him less living like a rock star and more living like a goofy bingo lover who plays with his family.
1. Tim Duncan — Dungeons and Dragons
As if I didn’t like Tim Duncan enough as it was, I had to go ahead and learn he’s an actual true blooded nerd. He collects swords, goes to renaissance fairs, and plays video games regularly. I mean, the guy has a Merlin tattoo. At this point, Tim Duncan holds the title of awesomest person ever. Even if awesomest isn’t a word. So in between being the ‘big fundamental’ on the court, throwing up crisp jump-hooks and snatching rebounds since 1997, he’s with his buddies, rollin’ [die]20’s casting cone of cold on a pack of goblins that are coming in hot on his buddy the Half-Elf Cleric. Supposedly as a rookie in the NBA he wanted his teammates to call him Merlin, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. So yes, this is for real, the nerd is strong with this one. Once, just once I want to see him put on a robe and wizard hat–and light it up on the NBA courts. Heck, let’s put a long Gandalf beard on him too. I bet it would be the number one all-time shaqtin’ a fool. Okay, how about this: win another title to add to your other 4, and on when Adam Silver hands you the Larry O’Brien trophy, just put a wizard hat on it and walk away. Boom.