The leading edge metrosexuals over at GQ are putting together a list of the coolest athletes of all-time. Instead of going off on one of my usual tirades about how GQ should stick to what they know (like interviews with pretentious celebrities–love ’em), I’m going to and kind of, sort of, steal the idea. But, there will be a twist. Always a twist. Naming cool athletes is simple. Watch, I’ll start: Mickey Mantle, Wilt Chamberlain, Bobby Orr, Dr. J, Bo Jackson, Fred Couples, MJ, I might even be able to think of a tennis player. Being a professional athlete gives you a certain baseline level of coolness. You are given the benefit of the doubt from the start. So, I thought it would be fun to go the other way. Who are the least cool athletes of all-time? Who are the guys that make Phil from Modern Family look smooth? I want to hear your thoughts, so I didn’t delve too far into this myself, but I’ll kick it off with some nominations of my own. Feel free to add people as you see fit.
That’s Woody in the picture. It’s hard to describe how not sweet Woody Austin is. I guess the best way to describe it would be that it is about the only charming thing about him. From his landscape polos, to his dorky looks, to the time he fell in a lake, Woody has never quite gotten it together. Even when they shine him up in a suit for the Ryder Cup or something, it is just a bit off. Throw in his legendary temper tantrums, the fact that golfers are probably at an inherent disadvantage, and I think Woody is a good place to start.
Oh, Donovan. There are Donovan supporters (though I feel they dwindle every day). There are plenty of people out there who probably think Don had a real nice career, and he did, but even among his fans I don’t think anyone has ever mistaken McNabb for cool. The guy is a goof ball. From the air guitar, to running out of bounds and picking up a phone, to the soup commercials, Donovan has never had any street-cred and never has been a guy you look at and think, “I’d love to grab a beer with him.” Seems like a nice enough cat, but forever a dork. Go hang out with Jon Gruden.
I know Hornacek isn’t terribly recent, but I don’t really “watch” that much basketball anymore. Could I list the entire Duke basketball team? Sure, I could, but that would take the fun out of you all listing your least favorite Duke players in the comments section. I hate to judge a book by its cover, but I will anyway. Hornacek may have been a hard partying, joke telling, beer swilling animal, but he certainly didn’t look it. If Hornacek had tried out for the Woody Harrelson part in White Men Can’t Jump, they would have been like…sorry, Jeff, no one is going to buy you as a basketball player, even the white one. Even his family oriented free-throw routine…soft.
If I was playing pick-up anything (aside from baseball), it could be basketball, beer pong…I would pick Eckstein last. And, that’s if I was fully aware that it was David Eckstein standing there. I think Eckstein through some magic trick of perseverance and repetition has made himself a Major League player, but I don’t think those skills translate to anything else. If you told me Eckstein was a 3-sport star in high school, I’d be shocked. Some athletes just look smooth. Things are incredibly easy for them. That is a part of why we (or at least why I) watch them. Michael Vick rifling a football? That’s a level of athleticism I can’t comprehend. Eckstein looks like a kid running for his life in dodgeball.
*Ok, here’s a lay-up for everyone. Pile on. Weak performance by me, and this should be friendly to pretty much everyone. I’m expecting some perfect scores.