As sports fans, we tend to take the games very seriously, investing a great deal of emotional in the wins and losses of our favorite players and teams. Occasionally, it’s nice to step away from the action and look at how silly these games really are. For decades, comedians have used athletic competition as fodder for their stand-up acts. Here’s my list of the Ten Funniest Sports Comedy Routines.
10) “Sports” – George Carlin
9) “The Silver Medal” – Jerry Seinfeld
8) “The Chair Umpire” – Joe Matarese
7) “Boxing” – Richard Pryor
6) “Golf Courses” – George Carlin
5) “Slavery and Sports” – Chris Rock
4) “Football” – Bob Nelson
3) “The Invention of Golf” – Robin Williams
2) “Baseball and Football” – George Carlin
1) “Who’s on First” – Abbott and Costello
“Golfers” – Lewis Black
“Sports” – Cedric the Entertainer
The Peyton Manning saga has finally come to an end (at least until it’s time to see whether he can actually still throw the ball) and the Colts legend will conclude his career as a Denver Bronco. If you find it difficult to picture Manning in a Broncos jersey, you’re not alone. Manning’s the latest in a long line of superstars who became so identified with the team and city they played for, only to conclude their careers in a foreign jersey.
This is a list of the 15 ballplayers who looked most out of place in new uniforms at the end of their careers.
Top 15 Strangest Looking Uniforms
15. Karl Malone – Los Angeles Lakers
The rest of the country was barely aware that there was a professional basketball team in Utah until Karl Malone and John Stockton arrived in the mid ‘80s. Malone scored more points than any player other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while building the Jazz into a perennial playoff contender. However, in ‘03, he signed with the Lakers in hopes of winning the championship that had eluded him throughout his career. Unfortunaetly, he fell just short once again as the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the NBA Finals.
14. Duke Snider – New York Mets and San Francisco Giants
The Duke was a mainstay in centerfield for the Dodgers for 16 seasons, powering the team to two championships (One in Brooklyn and one in L.A.) During the 1962 season, the Dodgers sold him to the Mets, where he was instantly a crowd favorite from his days in Brooklyn. After one season in New York, though, he asked to be traded to a contender and was sold to the Giants. Years earlier, his teammate Jackie Robinson retired rather than play for the Dodgers’ arch rival, but Snider accepted the move and concluded his career with one unproductive season in San Francisco.
13. Franco Harris – Seattle Seahawks
Harris was an important component of all four of the Steelers’ championship teams in the 1970s, and in ‘72 he won a playoff game in stunning fashion with his “Immaculate Recpetion.” The Steelers cut the popular veteran before the ‘84 season after he threatened to hold out for more money. He signed with the Seahawks and ran for a few hundred yards in his lone season with the team.
12. Hank Aaron – Milwaukee Brewers
“Hammerin Hank” smacked home runs for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves organization for 20 years. In 1974, just months after he broke Babe Ruth’s record, the team traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers so he could prolong his career in the American League as a designated hitter. His numbers significantly declined over his two seasons with the Brewers, though he was selected to his 21st All-Star Game in 1975.
11. Emmitt Smith – Arizona Cardinals
Smith ran for more yards than any running back in NFL history during his 12 years with America’s team and was arguably the Most Valuable Player on their Super Bowl teams of the mid ‘90s. After his record-breaking 2002 season, the Cowboys hired Bill Parcells to rejuvenate the floundering franchise and he promptly cut Smith, who then signed with the Cardinals where he languished behind a weak offensive line for two seasons.
10. Patrick Ewing – Seattle Supersonics and Orlando Magic
Ewing was the centerpiece of the New York Knicks franchise from the moment they selected him with the first pick in the 1985 draft. He led them to two NBA Finals, but by 2000 the Knicks had transitioned into an up-tempo team, ill-suited for his aging knees. Unwilling to meet his demands for a contract extension, the Knicks traded Ewing to the Seattle Supersonics where he played for one season before riding the bench for the Orlando Magic the following year.
9. Ray Bourque – Colorado Avalanche
The all-time leading scorer for NHL defensemen suited up for the Boston Bruins for 21 seasons. In 2000, the team was in rebuilding mode and Bourque asked to be traded to a contender. Management honored their captain’s request and shipped him to Colorado, where he capped off his career by winning the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in his final season. He brought the cup to Boston to celebrate at a rally with Bruin fans.
8. Joe Montana – Kansas City Chiefs
“Joe Cool” quarterbacked the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories while earning a reputation as one of the greatest clutch performer in football history. After he missing the entire ‘91 season and most of ‘92 with an elbow injury, the team decided to go with the younger Steve Young at quarterback and traded Montana to Kansas City. At 37 years of age, he still had something left in the tank and he led the Chiefs to the AFC championship game in January 1994.
7. Bobby Orr – Chicago Blackhawks
During his 10 years with the Boston Bruins, Orr won three MVP awards and scored the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals in ‘70 and ‘72. Then, in ‘76, he turned down a lucrative offer from the team, which included part ownership, to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Crippled by knee injuries, he played in only 26 games in three seasons with the Blackhawks and famously never cashed a check from the team, because he felt he hadn’t performed up to expectations.
6. Willie Mays – New York Mets
The “Say Hey Kid” roamed centerfield for the New York/San Francisco Giants from 1951-72. Widely considered the best all-around player in the game, he led the team to victory in the 1954 World Series. At 41 years of age, Mays was washed up when the Giants sold him to the Mets in 1972. The hearts of baseball fans sank to the floor when he misplayed two fly balls in the World Series during his final season in 1973.
5. Brett Favre – New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings
Favre wasn’t just Mr. Green Bay, he was the face of the league during his tenure with the Packers. The Mississippi gunslinger created countless indelible images in that green #4 jersey and though he began his career with the Falcons, after 16 seasons with Green Bay it seemed inconceivable that he could ever play for another team. But as Favre contemplated retirement in 2008, the Packers committed to Aaron Rodgers and shipped Favre to the Jets. He suited up for New York for one season before closing out his Hall of Fame career with the Packer’s rival Minnesota Vikings.
4. Johnny Unitas – San Diego Chargers
Unitas was the field general of the great Baltimore Colts teams of the late 1950s and one of the individuals responsible for the surge in popularity experienced by professional football in the United States. From 1956-72, he led the team to two championships and won three MVP awards. By 1973, his body had broken down and the Colts traded him to the San Diego, where he played five games for the Chargers before retiring after the ‘73 season.
4. Joe Namath – Los Angeles Rams
No athlete was more associated with the spotlight of New York than “Broadway” Joe. He was the Jets’ quarterback from 1965-76 and led the team to a legendary upset over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. By the mid ‘70s, knee and hamstring injuries had sapped him of his mobility, and in May ’76, the Jets waived him so he could sign with the Los Angeles Rams. Broadway Joe just didn’t look right in a blue and yellow jersey, playing in only three games for the Rams before calling it a career.
3. Babe Ruth – Boston Braves
Though he began his career in Boston, the Babe was so synonymous with Yankee baseball that Yankee Stadium became known as “The House That Ruth Built.” In the twilight of his career he desired that he wanted to manage, but the Yankees had no intentions of replacing skipper Joe McCarthy, so they sold Ruth to the Boston Braves in 1935. Overweight and broken down, the Great Bambino played less than two months for the Braves before walking away from the game.
1. Michael Jordan – Washington Wizards
When we envision M.J. soaring through the air with his tongue wagging or knocking down a game-winning shot, he’s wearing a red Chicago Bulls jersey. However, three years after retiring from the Bulls, discontent as co-owner of the Wizards, Jordan came out of retirement at the age of 38 to play for his new team. Though he still performed at an All-Star level, the air was out of his game, and the Wizards failed to make the playoffs both seasons he took the floor.
by Paul Knepper
Suspend reality with me for a moment and imagine that you are the owner of a new NFL franchise. You can pick any quarterback to head your team. Who would you choose?
Naturally, your first thought is Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but this isn’t a one year deal. You’re building a team and must consider both the short and long term interests of your franchise. Age and durability are important factors. You may also want to consider off-the-field issues for the face of your franchise.
Here’s my list of the top 20 quarterbacks to start a team with.
20) Kevin Kolb
Kolb has finally landed a starting gig in his fifth year in the league. During limited playing time with the Eagles he showed signs of greatness and at other times appeared lost. The Cardinals obviously think he’s the answer to their quarterback problem, trading Dominique Rodgers-Cromarte and a second round pick for him, then signing him to a five-year $63 million contract.
19) Matt Schaub
Michael Vick’s one-time backup in Atlanta has found a home in Texas, where he’s led one of the most productive offenses in the league the past few years. Of course, throwing to Andre Johnson always helps. Schaub’s not a franchise quarterback, but he’s probably in the top ten to fifteen QBs in the league and should remain so for the next five years.
18) Andrew Luck
The “suck for Luck” sweepstakes are in full swing and the Seahawks are the early favorite. He’s the consensus number one pick in the 2012 draft and the most highly touted pro quarterback prospect in years. His experience in a pro-style offense at Stanford should help him hit the ground running in the NFL.
17) Jay Cutler
For years we waited for this gunslinger to take his game to the next level. It’s not happening. At 28, in his sixth season in the league, the Bears know what they have in Jay Cutler, a good quarterback, with a great arm who still makes poor decisions and demonstrates questionable leadership ability. I’m not sure if I want to rest my Super Bowl hopes on that right arm.
16) Mark Sanchez
The verdict is still out on the Jets third-year signal caller. His completion percentage is cause for concern and he needs to continue to cut down on his mistakes over the middle. Still just 24, there’s room for improvement and it’s noteworthy that he’s played his best football in pressure-packed games, leading the Jets to the AFC Championship in consecutive seasons.
15) Tony Romo
Quarterback of “America’s team” is the most scrutinized position in sports and Romo’s schizophrenic play hasn’t helped matters. Take week one against the Jets for example. He was great for three quarters, then handed the Jets the game with two inexplicable turnovers. The most significant statistic attached to Romo is that the Cowboys have only won one playoff game during his tenure.
14) Eli Manning
Once you get past all the hype that comes with his last name, playing QB in the New York market and his recent statements, Eli is simply a good quarterback, nothing more. He’s in his prime right now and still led the league in interceptions last year. I can hear Giants fans screaming, “But he won a Super Bowl!” Yes, and so did Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson; their busts aren’t lining the walls of Canton any time soon.
13) Joe Flacco
The Ravens signal caller continues to improve in this his fourth season and the team has rewarded him with greater responsibility and a more dynamic group of receivers. He hasn’t missed a game in his career and should continue to be a dependable, if not spectacular player for the next eight to ten years.
12) Cam Newton
It’s way to early to jump to any grand conclusions, but 854 yards passing in his first two games, one of which was against the defending champion Packers, is unbelievable. Last year’s Heisman winner is also capable of rushing for 100 yards on any given Sunday. I’ll take his upside over more established QBs like Eli Manning and Cutler.
11) Michael Vick
It took many seasons, a stint in the big house and some tutoring from Andy Reid and Marty Mornhenwig for Vick to become the quarterback the Falcons envisioned when they selected him with the first pick in the 2001 draft. The Eagles QB played MVP-caliber football during the first half of the season last year, though he’s had trouble staying healthy and his legs will be less of a weapon as he ages.
10) Peyton Manning
A mysterious neck injury may sideline the Colts franchise player for the entire season, meaning he may be 36-years-old the next time he lines up behind center. It’s fair to wonder if he’ll be able to compete at the same level and if so, for how long. Given his condition, I’d take 10-12 years of some of the young guns over two or three possibly diminished years from Peyton.
9) Matthew Stafford
Stafford can really sling it. The third-year quarterback tossed seven touchdowns in the Lions first two games this season. The only question about this former Georgia Bulldog is his durability. His first two seasons in the league were cut short by injuries, including one to his throwing shoulder last year.
8) Josh Freeman
He doesn’t receive a great deal of press playing in Tampa, though to this point he’s been the most impressive quarterback from the 2009 draft, which included Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Freeman took great strides last year, playing with the savvy of a seasoned veteran on a much-improved Bucs team.
7) Phillip Rivers
The Chargers brought back memories of the “Air Coryell” days last season, with Rivers throwing for a league-high 4,710 yards. And that was without the services of stud wide receiver Vincent Jackson for most of the season. Rivers and the Chargers lack of success in the playoffs prevent him from being ranked higher on this list.
6) Sam Bradford
This Heisman trophy winner and first pick in the 2010 draft has lived up to his billing so far, passing for over 3,ooo yards in his rookie season without the benefit of a number one receiver. He’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that ended his junior year at Oklahoma and at the age of 23 has plenty of room for growth.
5) Matt Ryan
“Matty Ice” made Falcons fans forget about Michael Vick pretty quickly. The fourth year signal caller really came into his own last season, significantly improving his touchdown to interception ratio (28/9), while leading the Falcons to the number one seed in the NFC.
4) Drew Brees
The Siants QB had an off-year last season and still led the league in completion percentage. He has a Super Bowl MVP on his resume and is rightfully mentioned among the best quaretbacks in the game. At 32, he should have a few elite years left, but you may want to consider a younger option like one of the Matts (Ryan or Stafford).
3) Ben Roethlisberger
His off the field issues are well documented and there have been rumblings that he’snot the best teammate, but Big Ben has led the Steelers to three Super Bowls, winning two of them. He doesn’t have the accuracy of Manning or Brady, but he has a knack for making plays when his team needs them most. At 29 years of age, he should have several more top notch seasons in him.
2) Tom Brady
Brady brings a championship pedigree and had perhaps his finest season last year, throwing 36 touchdowns, compared to just 4 interceptions. If you were choosing a QB for one season this former Michigan Wolverine would be your guy, but at age 34 he realistically only has two to three elite seasons left. Still, I like my chances of winning a Super Bowl in that short time period.
1) Aaron Rodgers
With his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLV Rodgers secured his place among the elite quarterbacks in the league and at just 27, he’s the youngest of the bunch. He’s the complete package on and off the field. If you were starting a franchise he’d be the number one pick.
Colt McCoy, Christian Ponder, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker
by Paul Knepper
Whether it’s having a catch in the backyard or watching a football game together, fathers and sons have bonded over sports for generations. Many professional athletes still call their fathers after a big game and look to them for guidance and approval. Those athletes pass on the love of sports to their own sons. Occasionally, a ballplayer is fortunate enough to have his father or son present or even involved with the greatest moments of his career and those occasions often make for some of the most touching and memorable moments in sports.
These are the ten most memorable father-son moments in sports.
10) Robinson Cano’s father pitching to him at the Home Run Derby
The Yankees second baseman flew his father Jose in from the Dominican Republic to pitch to him in the Home Run Derby last month. Jose, who pitched six games for the Astros in 1989, clearly knew his son’s sweet spot. Robinson jacked 12 bombs in the final round, a derby record, to beat Red Sox first baseman Adrain Gonzalez and win the competition. The younger Cano was beaming as he and his father shared a victory embrace.
9) William Ligue Jr. and his son attacking Tom Gamboa
Not all memorable father-son moments are uplifting. In September 2002, William Ligue Jr. and his teenage son ran onto the field at Chicago’s Comiskey Park and attacked Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa for no apparent reason. Fortunately, Gamboa didn’t receive any major injuries.
8) Mark McGwire lifting his son after breaking the home run record
Ten-year old Mark McGwire was a part-time bat boy for the St. Louis Cardinals in the summer of 1998 when his father Mark was chasing Roger Maris’ home run record. When Big Mac hit number 62 off of Steve Traschel of the Cubs on September 8th at the old Busch Stadium, Matt was the first person to greet him at home plate. Mark hoisted his jubilant son over his head like a baby.
7) Dusty Baker watching his son almost get run over at home
Giants Manager Dusty Baker made his 3 1/2 year old son Darren a bat boy for the 2002 World Series. When Kenny Lofton tripled in the gap in the seventh inning of Game 5 with two men on, Darren went to retrieve the bat and almost got run over at the plate by J.T. Snow, who was scoring from second. Snow grabbed Darren by his jacket and carried him to safety as an embarrassed Dusty shook his lowered head in the dugout.
6) Pat Cash climbing into the stands after winning Wimbledon
In what has since become a tradition at the All England Club, Australian Pat Cash was so elated after knocking off Ivan Lendl in the 1987 Wimbledon final that he felt compelled to climb into the crowd to get to his family. By the time he reached his family’s box the entire crowd was caught up in his exuberance. Cash’s proud father was the first to greet him and gave his son a big hug.
5) The Griffeys hitting back-to-back home runs
When Ken Griffey Jr. broke into the big leagues with the Mariners in 1989, he and his father Ken Sr. became the first father-son combo to play in the Major Leagues at the same time. The two became teammates when the Mariners signed Senior in August 1990, and the highlight of the their tenure together came on September 14th when the duo became the first and only father-son combo to hit back-to-back home runs.
4) Drew Brees holding his son after winning the Super Bowl
Drew Brees capped off an M.V.P. season with a Super Bowl M.V.P. when his Saints beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. During the post-game festivities Brees’ wife handed the QB his one year-old son Baylen, who looked adorable in his super-sized headphones. Cameras caught the wonderful scene of Brees holding his son as he soaked up the moment.
3) Favre’s fantastic performance the day after his father died
Brett Favre was heart broken when his father Irv died suddenly of a heart attack in December 2003, but #4 still suited up for the Packers Monday night matchup with the Raiders the following night. He said his father would have wanted him to play. Favre channeled his emotion into one of the most spectacular performances of his career throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the first half in a Packers 41-7 romp.
2) Jim Craig looking for his father after winning gold
When the U.S. Olympic hockey team finished off their miraculous run at the 1980 games by defeating Finland for the Gold medal, the players jumped over the bench and embraced on the ice. Goalie Jim Craig stood alone looking off into the distance with an American flag draped around him. It’s become the enduring image from the most celebrated victory in American sports history. Nobody knew at the time that Craig was scanning the crowd for his father.
1) Derek Redmond finishing the race with his father’s help
When British sprinter Derek Redmond’s hamstring snapped with about 250 meters to go is 400 meter race at the 1992 Olympics in Bareclona, he refused to be carried off on a stretcher. Redmond continued the race, hopping on one leg, with a look of sheer agony on his face. His father Jim barged through security and ran onto the track to assist his son. Derek crossed the finish line with his arm around his father’s shoulders.
Manny Ramirez calling his dad with the Red Sox leading during Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (which the Red Sox went on to lose) to talk about going to World Series.
Antonio Cromartie trying to name all of his kids on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
Michael Jordan telling his children “I wouldn’t want to be you if I had to” during his Hall of Fame induction speech.
by Paul Knepper
At the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony on August 6th, inductee Deion Sanders concluded his speech by placing his signature bandana on his Hall of Fame bust. Throughout Prime Time’s career the all pro defensive back wore a bandana under his helmet during games and often kept it on for the post-game interviews.
Over the years, many other athletes have been known for their use of a specific accessory, something above and beyond the normal uniform, which they regularly wore either during competition or on the sidelines.
These are the top ten trademark accessories in sports.
10) Patrick Ewing’s wrist bands
Ewing took the phrase “breaking a sweat” to a whole new level. Minutes after tipoff, the Knicks center would be as drenched as Ted Striker trying to touch down on the runway in the movie Airplane! Some players use a headband to stem the flow of sweat, but Patrick opted for enormous wrist bands. One of the most enduring images of Ewing’s career is him standing on the foul line, dabbing his forehead with those gigantic bands, while the sweat continued to drip from his chin.
9) Pete Maravich’s socks
The Pistol was known for his flashy passing, infinite shooting range and dazzling ball-handling, though no description of the basketball prodigy would be complete without a reference to his floppy hair and scraggly socks. For a period during his time with the Utah Jazz Maravich wore high socks with green, yellow and purple bands, though for most of his career he weaved his magic in raggedy loose socks that looked like they came off the feet of Woody Harrelson’s character Billy Hoyle in White Men Can’t Jump.
8) Deion Sanders’ bandana
It wasn’t clear if Prime Time’s bandana served a purpose during the game, such as keeping the sweat out of his eyes, or was merely a fashion statement. Occasionally, Deion would change it up and arrive for an interview with a do-rag on or go Tupac style, with the backwards bandana, but he always returned to his signature look. The Hall of Fame should have left the bandana on Deion’s bust, which looks nothing like him and instead bears a strange resemblance to a mix between Vince Lombardi and Troy Aikman.
7) Jim McMahon’s shades
The colorful quarterback of the ’85 Bears developed an extreme sensitivity to light in his right eye after damaging his retina in a childhood accident. He became one of the first football players to wear a tinted visor on his face mask and often wore sunglasses on the sideline, which developed into a signature look for the rebellious signal caller. McMahon even sported his famous shades in the Bears epic Super Bowl Shuffle video (link below).
6) Bjorn Borg’s headband
Borg is probably one of the five greatest tennis players of all-time, though his personality on the court was as bland as rice cakes, especially when compared to his rambunctious rivals John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. What sports fans remember most about the talented Swede is the striped headband he wore just above his eyes to keep his long blond hair in place. The image has been imitated by everyone from Luke Wilson’s character in The Royal Tannenbaums to my lovely goddaughter Janie Paisner.
5) John Olerud’s helmet
Olerud suffered a brain hemorrhage and aneurism in 1989 while a student at Washington State University. Doctors advised the first baseman to wear a helmet in the field for protective purposes and he continued to do so for superstitious reasons long after he needed to. Over his 17 seasons in the Major Leagues, he was the only non-catcher to wear a helmet in the field.
That brings me to the funny story about Olerud and the notoriously absented-minded Rickey Henderson. Supposedly, when Henderson and Olerud were teammates with the Mariners, Rickey asked Olerud why he wore a helmet, then told him that he had a teammate the season before who also wore a helmet in the field. Olerud responded, “That was me.” Sadly, sources have confirmed that the exchange never happened, but it’s still a great story.
4) Richard “Rip” Hamilton’s mask
Hamilton broke his nose in 2002, then twice more during the 2003-2004 season, so a doctor recommended that he wear a customized plastic mask over his face to prevent it from happening again. The mask was certainly good luck, as Rip led the Pistons in scoring during the playoffs that season on their way to an NBA title. He’s worn it ever since. I always thought Jason’s mask from Friday the 13th would have been a lot more intimidating.
3) Andre Agassi’s hair piece
What makes this accessory so remarkable is that we had no idea it was an accessory at the time. Agassi’s long blond hair and his colorful clothes were the centerpieces of his rebel persona and “Image is everything” Cannon campaign. It wasn’t until the former tennis star’s autobiography Open was published in 2009 that we learned he was wearing a hair piece all along. We were duped!
2) Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ black gloves
Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos won the gold and bronze medals respectively in the 200-meter dash at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, though it was their courageous black power salute on the medal stand which lives on in the American consciousness. The black glove on their hands remains one of the enduring symbols of the African-American civil rights movement and their defiant salute was recently immortalized in the form of a statue on San Jose State’s campus.
1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s goggles
Plenty of basketball players have competed in sports goggles, though none embraced the look or became identified with them quite like Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He began wearing his specs while attending UCLA – when he was still known as Lew Alcindor – after scratching his cornea in a game against the University of Houston.
Abdul-Jabbar and his goggles reached a wider audience through his classic role as co-pilot Roger Murdock in Airplane! (Yes, that’s two Airplane! references in one article. I don’t care if I’m dating myself, it’s arguably the funniest movie ever made.)