When you think about it, athletes are a little bit like superheroes.
First of all, on a purely physical level, most professional athletes are nothing short of physical marvels. They’re sculpted specimens that have trained until their bodies are essentially well oiled machines. With their eight-pack abs and huge shoulders, they may as well have a red cape and large ‘S’ emblazoned on their chest. On another level, they have a lot of fans. Superheroes are meant to save the day, and accordingly have hordes of grateful citizens in every fictional world they inhabit who are there to cheer them on. In the world of sports, fans are equally important – just think of the 12th man, cheering so loudly that the players on the field sometimes can’t hear their team mates. And to a lot of fans who put all their support behind a particular team, they root for the players so passionately that they can certainly seem like genuine superheroes.
Given that many athletes in professional sports play on teams, it only makes sense to look at perhaps the best known team of superheroes – the Avengers. The release of the 2012 film The Avengers and the countless companion movies starring the group have brought these Marvel superheroes into the public eye. And it’s easy to see why – between the mischievous Loki, the wholesome Captain America, and more, they’re a group of fascinating characters.
So, in case something happened and earthly athletes had to be gathered to make up a new squad of Avengers, who would you pick? Here’s a list of 10 athletes that could very well make up The Avengers.
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10 Captain America – J.J. Watt
Captain America is an iconic member of the Avengers, best known for his patriotism and near indestructible shield. He is a sweet, wholesome guy who got some kick ass powers through an experimental serum designed to help efforts in World War II. J.J. Watt is a sweet, wholesome guy who got some kick ass powers through a lot of time in the gym and a lot of time on the field. The blond, clean-cut Wisconsin boy is as All-American as apple pie. What’s his indestructible shield equivalent? Well… his whole body. Have you seen him on the field, taking down strong muscled guys like they’re made of paper?
9 The Hulk – Marshawn Lynch
This one is easy. Bruce Banner is a fairly shy, reserved, brainy physicist who at times turns into the Hulk, a mean, green, muscled machine. While he might not exactly be a physicist, Marshawn Lynch did manage to make it at the University of California, Berkeley – not exactly a shabby school. And, like Banner, who would find speaking to the press a nightmare due to his shy nature, Lynch was once fined by the NFL for refusing to talk to the media for a period. As for the transformation into the muscled green form, let’s just remember that Lynch has a nickname – Beast Mode. If that doesn’t make him the NFL equivalent of The Hulk, what does?
8 Hawkeye – Clayton Kershaw
Hawkeye doesn’t quite have the same level of superhuman powers that some of the Avengers have. He hasn’t been injected with anything, he can’t transform into anything – what he has is a wicked arm. His archery skills are unparalleled and are his greatest asset. Like Hawkeye, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw relies on his arm. Despite his young age, Kershaw has countless awards to his name. Perhaps most coveted based on his position is the Cy Young Award, which baseball hands out to the best pitcher every year. Oh, and Kershaw won it twice. If someone gave him baseballs like they gave Hawkeye arrows, Kershaw could stop any villain with his accuracy and arm of steel.
7 Black Widow - Maria Sharapova
Black Widow, or Natalia Romanova, is a black clad Russian femme fatale who is a trained spy, sniper, and martial artist. Her body is a machine, and whatever she does, she looks good doing it. Sexy, Russian, physically fit and at the top of her game – you could be talking about Black Widow, but you could also be talking about tennis superstar Maria Sharapova. Sharpova broke into the tennis world at the young age of 17, winning a singles Grand Slam title, and hasn’t looked back in the ten years since. She’s won title after title, and her blonde good looks, accompanied by her athletic prowess, have garnered her countless sponsorship deals, magazine spreads, and more.
6 Thor – Clay Matthews
With his flowing blonde hair, Viking musculature, and intimidating hammer, everyone knows who the iconic Thor is. The son of Odin had a rough time for awhile, having been put into a frail mortal body to be taught humility, but kept fighting through it all. While he’s not the son of Odin, Clay Matthews III also comes from quite the lineage. Footballs runs in his blood, but this late bloomer didn’t get to his Asgardian proportions until a bit later in life. He didn’t let the lack of college football offers stop him, and instead walked onto a team and went on to be a first round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers. This line backer with the long blond locks would have no trouble picking up that hammer.
5 Iron Man – Kobe Bryant
Iron Man is perhaps the most average of the superheroes, weird abilities-wise. However, he’s pretty damn successful as a regular man. Tony Stark, or Iron Man, is a billionaire, genius engineer, business maven, and playboy who always has women hanging off his arm (at least until he meets someone special who spices up his life). Kobe Bryant is about as good with a basketball as Stark is in the boardroom, having racked up five NBA championships and absolutely endless awards and honors. Like Stark, he’s an international man, fluent in Italian and accustomed to representing his nation abroad in international competitions. He’s also pretty popular with the ladies – though he bumbles it a bit at times. And both men can unquestionably rock a suit when they need to.
4 Loki – Eli Manning
Loki, the younger, smaller, less glamorous brother of Thor, overshadowed by his godly brother with his rippling muscles and flowing blonde hair. There’s a pretty obvious parallel in the world of football – the Manning brothers. Peyton Manning is one of the most respected quarterbacks in the league, and no matter what team he’s on, he somehow manages to make his teammates look better by sheer virtue of being amazing himself. Enter Eli, who is probably not the first one that comes to mind when the name Manning enters the conversation. However, he has managed to snag two Super Bowl Championships to his brother Peyton’s one. Just as Loki manages to best Thor by skill rather than size, perhaps Eli will take over as reigning Manning brother quarterback eventually – he’s already got twice the Super Bowl rings. And yes, we know Loki's not technically an Avenger, but he's a major part of their universe, was involved in their first ever storyline, and the parallels were too good to pass up.
3 Nick Fury – Dwyane Wade
At S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury managed to build a team of superheroes to save the world. In Miami, Dwyane Wade managed to built a bulletproof trio of basketball players in himself, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh, that managed to take the Miami Heat to another championship. The only thing Wade is missing is an eye patch... and LeBron James.
2 Ant Man – Darren Sproles
Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym, also known as Ant Man, is known for his ability to shrink down to the size of an ant courtesy of Pym Particles. At his small size, he manages to accomplish a lot. A whole lot of power in a teeny tiny body? Well, we may as well be talking about the Philadelphia Eagles’ Darren Sproles. While the majority of NFL players clock in at 6 feet tall at the minimum, Sproles is a mere 5 foot 6 inches. Despite this, he is an absolute dynamo on the field. And if that wasn’t enough of a comparison, take a look at his nick names – during his time with the San Diego Chargers, fans cheered on the “Lightning Bug,” while his stint with the New Orleans Saints had fans cheering “noseeum,” a nickname derived from a tiny insect in Louisiana that packed a mean punch despite being too small to see.
1 1 . Wolverine – Gordie Howe
Wolverine is perhaps best known for his superhuman ability to heal his body at a rapid pace, rendering him nearly immortal. If that wasn’t enough, his skeleton contains adamantium, a fictional metal that makes him indestructible. His retractable claws are killer weapons in a fight, but his true power is his durability. What athlete is synonymous with a long career where he showed virtually no signs of slowing down despite the years rolling by? Well, Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe. Howe was an incredible player throughout his career, who won countless accolades and broke countless records. One of the most impressive, however, is his career longevity – he played professional hockey in the sixth decade of his life, stepping onto the ice with the Detroit Vipers for one shift when he was nearly 70 years old. The seemingly immortal Mr. Hockey, who played from the 1940s to the 1990s, is the only hockey player in history to compete in six different decades. While he may not have retractable claws, the things he could do with a hockey stick were pretty deadly.
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