The sports world is full of characters and personalities that make headlines on and off the field, in the arena and in the entertainment world. Look no further than the recent Super Bowl, one of the biggest sporting events in the world, to see Marshawn Lynch, Rob Gronkowski, and Richard Sherman. They are all great athletes and players but ones who also attract attention away from the game for various reasons.
Whatever your feelings for those guys, it cannot be debated that they are both talented and interesting characters. That is, they are not boring. For many stars, it’s important to have a known attitude or personality, to dabble in others arenas of pop culture, and essentially make a brand for them.
Now, sometimes sports stars also get themselves involved in bad things, which makes them interesting in another way and drives headlines. Alex Rodriguez, for example, was once among the great recent baseball players, but has attracted all sorts of attention away from the diamond. He’s not liked by many, but he’s certainly not a boring story.
It’s great that we have impressive athletes like Kobe Bryant, Bryce Harper, Alex Ovechkin, among others, who entertain in the game and out of competition. However, there are those stars that are quieter, more media savvy, and more careful with what is known about them and what they say. Simply, some superstar athletes don’t attract attention, good or bad, and are in fact only interesting when they are playing the game.
Here is a list of those that aren’t like Sherman or Gronkowski. They are those who are great at their sport and do what they have to do when talking to the media, but then stay out of the spotlight. Here are the most boring superstars in sports today.
20 Joe Flacco
Like a QB later on this list, Flacco’s ‘elite’ status is constantly debated. However, he does have a Super Bowl ring and an incredible playoff record. His boring personality, however, cannot be understated. While he surprised the internet a while back with goofy wedding photos, that was it. For the public, he's just a monotone professional who never really gets excited. Just ask his dad, who had this to say about his son: “Joe is dull. As dull as he is portrayed in the media, he’s that dull. He is dull.”
19 Andre Johnson
We are going to see similar traits with another talented pass catcher later in the list, because since many NFL wide receivers love being in the spotlight, it's rare to find WRs like Andre Johnson. Johnson has long been stable and mature. The only time he has really gotten any attention off the field has been when he has asked, over the last two seasons, to be traded away from the Houston Texans. He didn’t do this during the season, but afterwards, and wanting to go to a team with a chance to with a Super Bowl when his career is nearing at an end is hardly something offensive or attention-seeking. He's signed with the Colts in the hopes that he can finally achieve his dream.
18 Dwyane Wade
It’s hard to be great and boring in basketball, where live games are more intimate, so everyone can quickly recognize you. It’s easier in basketball to become a star and stand out off the court, even if you’re not that great on the court. So, for the NBA, Dwyane Wade is one of those rare great players that seems to avoid scandal and unnecessary attention while maintaining a high level of play. He is a leader, a figure in the Miami community, and has remained a mature athlete in South Beach, despite having teamed up alongside superstars and personalities like Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James.
17 Phil Mickelson
Perhaps it’s because his longtime rival captures all the attention in golf, but Phil Mickelson doesn’t often make headlines for what he does off the course. Well, there was one notable time, when the accomplished golfer was in trouble with regards to insider trading, but he was cleared of any wrongdoing. He also made comments about not wanting to pay taxes, but really, who wants to pay taxes? Anyway, Mickelson, rightly or wrongly, has often been seen as the wholesome, more familiar counterpart to the lurid Woods, and so maybe the media doesn’t poke and prod, should there be anything of note there, and Mickelson certainly doesn’t offer anything up.
16 Lennox Lewis
Lewis is a great Canadian boxer and a man who talks a lot and says nothing. When he speaks, he doesn’t seem to have the least bit of excitement or energy in his voice, which is very similar to the way he fights. It’s especially notable when you think about the charisma and ever-craziness of some other boxers. In a sport where you’re not competing as a team, and you’re not wearing helmets, it should be easy to stand out and make a name that isn’t simply associated with stats and wins. Lewis though, remains quiet and rather anonymous.
15 Jimmie Johnson
The decorated racer and perennial competitor, Jimmie Johnson has long been synonymous with exemplary NASCAR performance. He says and does all the right things, which isn’t the simplest thing to do considering how easy it is to get riled up while racing. Johnson doesn’t get embroiled in feuds, he isn't screaming at everyone around him, and he has been a great racer for many years. You have to believe that NASCAR wants impressive men crafted in the vein of Johnson – but also some wild hooligans too.
14 Henrik and Daniel Sedin
When it comes to media and fans paying attention to certain teams in sports, there is always an east-coast bias. Fewer people watch teams that play on the west coast late at night when it comes to basketball and hockey, maybe it’s because they’re in Canada along the Pacific, but the Vancouver Canucks aren’t exactly a well-known quantity. That's partly because their two stars are twin brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin, hockey greats that play better together than apart. Perhaps there are fewer characters in hockey overall, but these greats dazzle on the ice and don’t do much off it.
13 Landon Donovan
He is the best known American soccer player of all time, as he helped grow the game in the States before his retirement. Hoever, other than getting excited on the pitch, he wasn’t that particularly interesting elsewhere. During the 2010 World Cup, it was Carlos Bocanegra who got a picture with President Bill Clinton, while in 2014 Clint Dempsey became the charismatic leader of the team. That was because Donovan’s was notably left off the team. While the internet roared, all Donovan said was that he was disappointed.
12 Joey Votto
The Cincinnati Reds first baseman is so low-profile, so ineffectual, that you probably didn’t even realize how great a player he is. He’s been an incredibly productive player with a decent team, but baseball is still for the most part a regional sport and most people don’t get excited or interested in other teams. Votto signed a 10-year, $225 contract extension in 2012, but no one batted an eye because Albert Pujols got a bigger deal. Maybe it’s because he's Canadian?
11 Candace Parker
Now, this is slightly out of Parker’s hands, because while she is a superstar, she is also playing in a league that isn’t particularly popular. Still, her greatness can’t be denied. The WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2008, two-time MVP, and three time all-star is synonymous with women’s basketball and the Los Angeles Sparks. Of course, she has yet to win a championship and that’s just about the most interesting thing about her. She has kept her personal life personal and that is more than fair, but while an icon on the court, she doesn’t lit it up in the headlines.
10 Eli Manning
Yes, Eli Manning is a great quarterback. He’s not the best, but he has two Super Bowl Rings and that means something (and with a new and talented supporting cast around him, the Giants are on the upswing). Manning is also boring. Now, older brother Peyton has the same demeanor, except he has a bit of self awareness and has channeled that into a slew of commercials and TV appearances. Peyton’s lack of personality is in fact, a personality. But you can’t have two of the same thing and Eli hasn’t followed in Peyton’s footsteps off the field. He plays hard, he shrugs, and he goes at it again.
9 Stephen Strasburg
The Washington Nationals' phenom pitcher was slated to be one of the greats before being drafted number one overall. Despite injury setbacks, Strasburg has indeed been in the upper echelon of MLB pitchers, helping the Nationals to become perennial contenders. However, Strasburg says very little. He is a private man, and like some pitchers and NHL goaltenders, a bit unhinged while in the game it seems. Unlike his teammate Bryce Harper, who is never at a shortage of things to say, Strasburg stays out of the media and public light.
8 Lionel Messi
He is one of the best soccer players in the world, but nowhere near the best when it comes to talking or being exciting off the field. He is certainly a wizard with the ball, but not so much with the microphone. It may not help that he has the charismatic Cristiano Ronaldo as his main rival or that he had the chatty Diego Maradona coaching the Argentine team from 2008-10. Even superstar Wayne Rooney gets into it off the field and speaks his mind. Yet for Messi, he seems content just being incredible at playing soccer, and doesn’t need an extra attention.
7 Tim Duncan
At 38, Tim Duncan is still playing basketball and is still great. He has won an NBA Championship five times, he has two MVPs, and he has a Bronze medal from the Olympics. Who knows, maybe the aged Spurs can do it again this year. While his head coach Gregg Popovich gets all the headlines for resting players, snubbing reporters, and being an all-around curmudgeon, his players just play. Duncan never seems to get too emotional, he never gets cocky, and he never says anything out of line. Duncan has in fact admitted that while a bit of a nerd, he has consciously shied away from the spotlight and not sought fame.
6 Mariano Rivera
The best closer ever to play baseball was lights out – except a couple times against Boston. Still, Mariano Rivera was incredible, and it was dazzling to watch him play for the Yankees. Even when he retired, he was still at the top of his position. Rivera though, despite playing in New York, never took to the spotlight. He was a great teammate, great sportsman, and as a man of faith and personal responsibility, he was always in control of his words and actions. That also made him a rather boring figure away from baseball. A boring, but great one.
5 Andrew Luck
Emerging as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Andrew Luck is poised to lead the Indianapolis Colts to years of competitiveness and, hopefully, greatness. He is professional on and off the field, and like Peyton Manning before him, knows how to answer questions and be a sportsman. Luck, however, doesn’t quite do the funny commercials like Manning, who also seemed to get more candid in his later years. Still, the only thing exciting about Luck is that he gets excited when talking about football – too bad he doesn’t talk about anything else with that joy.
4 Roger Federer
As Roger Federer heads into the final years of his illustrious career, he will be remembered by greatness in tennis during a time when he reigned alongside Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. While those figures are noted for off the court behavior, both positively, Federer seems to always be a straight shooter, so to speak. He plays hard, keeps quiet, and carries on. It seems rather fitting that Pete Sampras lauds Federer, as he wasn’t the most charismatic of superstars either.
3 Reggie Wayne
Sure, it helps to play most of your career with Peyton Manning and then Andrew Luck, but the star wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts has been a well-respected professional in a position often dominated by loud-mouths, show boaters, and attention-seekers. He is, and will long be, one of the most respected players in the league. What’s more, when he got injured last year, despite a viewing public being so desensitized to injuries, there was genuine and widespread sympathy for the star. It’s saddening that the Colts did not retain Wayne for one last year.
2 Derek Jeter
The paragon of Yankee pride, greatness, and leadership, even Boston Red Sox fans came out to honour Derek Jeter when he retired. One of the all time greats, Jeter knew how to handle the NYC spotlight, answering every question right and keeping his private affairs just that- private. He was never involved in steroid talk, he never trash-talked people, and while he was seen in public with various beautiful women, the only thing we ever found out about his social life was that he reportedly gave out gift baskets to those with whom he spent the night. Hardly juicy.
1 Sidney Crosby
The Nova Scotian is among the greatest hockey players of all time, and when he finally hangs up the skates, that will be without doubt. He has a Stanley Cup ring and two Olympic Gold Medals, he’s a two-time MVP and he’s only 27-years-old, which means he may have more than 10 years left in the league. For all his greatness, Crosby does and says nothing. Well, he does say things, but they are so innocuous, so humdrum, that it doesn’t matter. He is the consummate sportsman and teammate, a leader on and off the ice. Maybe it’s because it’s hockey and they tend to have fewer egos, or maybe it's because Crosby is Canadian that he’s so polite, but the superstar is the most boring superstar player around.
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