It’s no secret that professional athletes are superhuman specimens with physical capabilities we can only dream of recreating. While they dazzle on the court or field, they’re aren’t always known for their charisma — or ability to convincingly read from a teleprompter. However, what they lack in people skills they make up for in strength or hand size.
Every generation has a big-time athletic personality (think Dennis Rodman’s colorful hair and confounding marriages). In the last 10 years, sports stars have used their popularity and charisma to book major endorsement deals and television appearances, setting themselves up for a future of TV talk shows or commercial fame. Stars like Peyton and Eli Manning are letting their own personalities shine through, and are being handsomely reward for their work. Check out our list of athletes whose personalities are worth your time, even if you can’t tell the difference between football and foosball.
Victor CruzWhile he plays for one of the NFL’s more straight-laced coaches (Tom Coughlin), the New Jersey native hasn’t been afraid to open himself up to the fans, frequently flashing his best dance moves in the end zone. Infusing NFL games with some flavor since late 2010, the New York Giants wide receiver is likely responsible for an upswing in salsa sales in the tri-state area. He’s also a clothes horse, frequently attending fashion events in the offseason, and has no problem ridiculing people for wearing tank tops. We appreciate someone who can tell it like it is.
Blake GriffinThe Los Angeles Clipper has an intimidating dunk, and has quickly made a name for himself thanks to his sense of humor. Despite an 82-game NBA season, Griffin has found the time to film commercials for Kia and AT&T. He’s got a seemingly genuine delivery and is one of the rare athletes that doesn’t just look like he or she’s reading off of a cue card — as seen in the “Drake and Blake” sketch he performed with Drake (and, er, Chris Brown) at this year’s ESPY Awards.
Chris Paul Griffin’s teammate is so likable, he has his own alter ego — strictly for State Farm commercials.
Peyton Manning Manning almost makes more money in endorsements than he does throwing the football. His fearlessness when it comes to looking silly has earned him many deals with brands like Buick, Master Card, and Papa John’s, and his ads are some of the most memorable of any athlete. He’s hosted Saturday Night Live and voiced a character on The Simpsons, but we’ll never look at him the same after he danced like this…
Eli Manning Much like his two Super Bowl wins, Eli’s comedic timing has come as somewhat of a surprise compared to that of his older brother. While beginning his career known as the quiet, youngest Manning child, Eli has let his goofball flag fly in recent years. He regularly makes us laugh, whether he knows it or not.
Nick Swisher The Cleveland Indians star always looks like he’s having more fun than anyone else. As a member of the New York Yankees, the outfielder shook up the typically reserved pinstripe locker room with his love for loud music, teammate nicknames, and shirtless interviews. His antics easily made him one of the most popular modern day Yankees and helped the team win their 27th title. Swisher also released a children’s album of David Bowie and John Denver covers in 2011, with all proceeds going to his charity.
Kevin Love The Minnesota Timberwolves superstar is the nephew of Beach Boys member Mike Love. While he isn’t musical himself, we can’t help but love his strong enthusiasm for Lisa Frank, and commitment to Throwback Thursday photos.
Steve NashLong known for his shaggy look and rugged style of play, the NBA legend is nearing the end of an epic career. He’s experimented with hairstyles (hello, frosted tips) over the years and led bus-wide team sing a-longs. But don’t worry about Steve after he leaves the NBA — he can make friends anywhere (including the freeway).
Aaron Rodgers The Green Bay Packers star has captained a slew of commercials since he became QB1, most notably coining the phrase “Discount Double-Check” for State Farm and flashing the invisible championship belt in the end zone. He can sincerely rock a mustache, and when it comes to NFL actors, he’s the closest thing Peyton has to competition. Maybe it’s all the actresses he’s been dating?
And if they’re really worried about life after professional play, they should look to Michael Strahan for advice. The Super Bowl winner has a smile that can open up even the most closed off of hearts, and has parlayed his ability to talk (and twerk) with anyone into a daytime hosting gig on Live with Kelly and Michael. [Photo Credit: DirecTV]