We all love watching professional sports. Whether it be the beauty of the ballpark or gruesome gridiron glory. The intricate combination of ice and man or the pitter-patter sounds of hardwood floors. The sports we love become a part of our lives for better or worse. Sometimes, the love of a game, team, or player can border on obsession but for the most part, we watch these sports as a hobby.
The professionals of these beloved sports are paid high-premium salaries to essentially play a game for a living, or so it would seem. There are great demands involved with the professional side of sport. Players must not only remain in tip-top game shape but they are expected to perform well on a consistent basis – a few bad games and the media is in a frenzy.
The pressures of playing in the big-time game on a world-wide stage can take its toll mentally and physically on any player, in any sport. Which is why athletes must find their own balance in life. These are not pick-up games on a Saturday afternoon. These are high-level, high-stakes competitions that these players are expected to win at all costs.
Now, let’s not feel too bad for these athletes. While professional pressures can be a hassle, they are not exactly going home at the end of the day to a one bedroom apartment and a ham sandwich. However, let’s keep in mind that these are people who all live in the same world. Perhaps, their world is a little more lavish than ours, but we are still one as a human race.
In the following article we will take a look at some of these athletes – some of whom have acquired larger-than-life status within their respective sport – and the things they do outside of their professional lives. Perhaps as a way to remain zen following the madhouse rules of the ballpark, stadium or rink or perhaps as a measure of pure enjoyment.
These are the top 15 athletes with unexpected hobbies:
15. Karl Malone: Man Stuff
“The Mailman,” Karl Malone, has had a legendary NBA career and is considered to be one of the best power forwards in history. Unfortunately, he was never able to win an NBA Championship, but currently ranks second all-time in points scored.
Malone was raised in the backwoods of Louisiana and despite massive success in the NBA, he has never strayed far from his roots. Malone is an avid hunter and fisherman who has served on the board of directors for the National Riffle Association.
Malone, fascinated with long-haul trucking once owned his own company: Malone Enterprises. The Mailman is certainly a man’s man.
14. Randy Moss: Racing
The fourteen-year NFL career of wide receiver Randy Moss was an interesting and controversial one indeed. The over-the-top antics of Moss on the field were often a cause for concern and his off field antics also placed him in various degrees of legal trouble.
In 2008, Moss would launch Randy Moss Motorsports – an auto racing team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. While never getting behind the wheel himself, this pickup truck racing series had become a serious hobby for Moss, but in 2012, his team was shut down.
13. Lester Hayes: Star Wars
Retired NFL cornerback, Lester Hayes spent all of his playing years with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders franchise where he was a member of two Super Bowl winning teams.
Hayes began his NFL career in 1977, the same year of the first Star Wars film, a movie in which Hayes took a great interest. In fact, Hayes claims to have seen the Star Wars trilogy at least seventy times, once stated that Luke Skywalker could be a cornerback if he played football, and has referred to himself as the “only true Jedi,” in the league.
On the flip side, Lester Hayes having a little bit of an obsession with the Force is much better than some of the things NFL players are involved with these days.
12. Carlos Lee: Ranching
Carlos Lee spent fourteen seasons in Major League Baseball, splitting time between the Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, and Miami Marlins. Lee made a great first impression on the game of baseball by hitting a home run in his very first at bat in big leagues.
The native of Panama has a desire in raising livestock and has taken to cattle-ranching. In Texas, the ranch owned by Lee is occupied by over three-hundred cattle. The power hitter has taken his passions from the ballpark to the barn.
11. Chad Brown: Herpetology
Chad Brown was a second round draft selection out of the University of Colorado in 1993 where he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. While playing in the Steel City, the linebacker would become a part of what was then known as the “Blitzburgh” defense.
Brown has a great interest in Herpetology (the study of amphibians) and has operated his own business known as Pro Exotics – specializing in the sale and distribution of non-venomous snakes. Unfortunately, over 3,000 of those snakes were killed in 2011 due to a fire in the building.
10. Rajon Rondo: Roller Skating
Rajon Rondo was originally drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 NBA Draft before being traded away to the Boston Celtics, where he has established himself in recent years as one of the most prominent point guards in the league.
Rondo is quick on the court and moves as though he is gliding – something he may have picked up from his hobby outside of basketball: roller skating. Rondo is avid about spending time on the rink where he seems to find peace of mind:
“I zone out when I’m skating and it’s like I’m in my own world,” said the Celtic about his skating.
9. Calvin Murphy: Baton Twirling
The shortest player ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (five-feet-nine-inches) was a man from Norwalk, Connecticut named Calvin Murphy – a former member of the San Diego/Houston Rockets from 1970 to 1983.
Murphy does not only have Hall of Fame recognition to boast about but he is also a world- class baton twirler, having won national championships as an adolescent and an adult. Murphy developed such a strong reputation from his baton twirling that he was invited to perform at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
8. Herschel Walker: Ballet
This all-around athlete is best remembered for his days as a professional football player but the former Heisman Trophy winner has so much more to offer. Walker was a standout track-and-field star and even competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics in the two-man bobsled event. In more recent years Walker has tried his hand at mixed martial arts, twice victorious while competing in Strikeforce.
Aside from all these performances, Walker also performs on a more elegant stage: the ballet. While playing on the Dallas Cowboys, Walker perform a one-off-stint in the Fort Worth Ballet.
7. Tim Green: Writing
Tim Green is a former NFL linebacker who was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 1986. While his football career is far from legendary, Green has also been a radio commentator and television host.
The most impressive of Green’s accomplishments is how he turned his writing hobby into a full-fledged career following his days in the NFL. In fact, Green has made The New York Times best-sellers list for his novel, Football Genius – a story directed towards young readers.
Tim Green has come a long way from pursuing quarterbacks to penning best-sellers.
6. David Beckham: Fencing
The retired English footballer, David Beckham, is perhaps the most well-known name associated with professional soccer and a name lodged into the crevasses of popular culture.
Beckham seems to be involved in a million different things with his business endeavors, endorsements, and charity work but what about his hobbies? Well, interestingly enough, Beckham enjoys the age-old martial art of fencing – which was introduced to him by actor Tom Cruise and Will Smith.
5. Sean Avery: Fashion
Sean Avery may no longer play in the NHL but it sure is hard to forget about his career – not so much for his talents but for his outspoken personality and aggravating presence on the ice.
In 2008, Avery spent his summer offseason as an intern at Vogue magazine and has since guest-edited the website for Men’s Vogue. Following his retirement from hockey, Avery accepted a position at Lipman Agency where he worked as the Chief Strategic Officer (whatever that means in the fashion world). To go along with his fashion career, Avery has also done some modeling work.
Tough guy turned model/fashion savant? Sure, I guess.
4. Tiger Woods: Spearfishing
The modern era of professional golf can really be summed up by one name: Tiger Woods. Everybody knows Tiger Woods; even if you don’t watch golf, you know Tiger Woods. The man has raised the bar for those who will follow him in the world of golf.
So, what does Tiger do for fun away from the course? I know there is a joke to be made here but we’re going to avoid going down that route. Well, the golfer enjoys the ancient method of spearfishing, where one would free-dive into the water and attempt to spear a fish. Keep on fishing, Tiger, keep on fishing.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo: Bingo
Cristiano Ronaldo is regarded by many as the best footballer in the world at the moment and could possibly go on to be the greatest of all time. Ronaldo, only twenty-nine-years-old, has already accomplished some incredible things on the field.
Off the field and away from the pressures of the public eye, Ronaldo finds solace in playing Bingo – claiming that the game has helped him to improve his English. The young footballer is proving that Bingo is not just a game for elderly women.
2. Tim Duncan: Dungeons & Dragons
Tim Duncan is on his way to the Basketball Hall of Fame. There should be no argument made to the contrary when the two-time MVP decides to call it a career. Duncan has helped the San Antonio Spurs capture five NBA titles during his tenure.
During his down-time from basketball, Duncan enjoys Renaissance fairs and video gaming but especially enjoys the role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons.
This athlete/hobby connection was odd to discover but to each his own.
1. Mike Tyson: Pigeons
“The Baddest Man on the Planet,” Mike Tyson, needs no introduction. The former Heavyweight Champion of the World is just as much famous as he is ferocious and one of the greatest heavyweight boxers to ever step into the ring.
However, it is in the pigeon coop where “Iron Mike” finds peace of mind, having raised the birds from a young age and finding a great fascination with pigeon racing. Mike Tyson is clearly a unique man who happens to find joy in what is clearly a unique hobby.
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