Special Report

Funniest Athletes of All Time

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Professional athletes are often seen as one-dimensional people, singularly focused on their sport. But when given the opportunity, players can display an amusing personality. Whether they star in a hilarious commercial, poke fun at themselves in a film cameo, or crack a joke in an interview, American athletes have shown to be some of the funniest people in the public eye.

Most of the funniest athletes of all time are typically stars of their sport. Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks and NBA legends are instantly recognizable to most fans, so they are more likely to appear in a funny commercial or host Saturday Night Live.

Many of these athletes have shown enough personality during their careers that they are now making a living by acting or hosting TV shows. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal have terrific comedic chemistry on “Inside the NBA,” TNT’s basketball analysis show. Other athletes on this list have gone on to host their own podcasts, become social media sensations for their unique posts, and even become bonafide actors, starring in films and television shows.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed media stories about American pro athletes to determine the funniest athletes of all time.

Humor is subjective, so there is no way to objectively rank the funniest athletes. A player’s brand of comedy may not amuse everyone — especially if that player just beat a favorite team. But many athletes have consistently shown their lighter side, and those are the players we selected as the funniest of all time.

Click here to see the funniest athletes of all time.

Source: NBC Television / Wikimedia Commons

21. Joe Namath
> League: NFL
> Team: New York Jets

Joe Namath was one of the great characters of the early Super Bowl-era of the NFL. Known for his braggadocious nature and flashy clothes, Namath was one of the first athletes to appear in a funny commercial. “Broadway Joe” surprised everyone when he wore a pair of pantyhose in a 1974 ad, telling viewers, “if Beautymist can make my legs look good, imagine what they’ll do for yours.”

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Source: Harry How / Getty Images

20. Brent Burns
> League: NHL
> Team: San Jose Sharks

Brent Burns gets plenty of attention thanks to his unique look — no front teeth and a big, bushy beard — as well as his stellar play for the San Jose Sharks. He’s also one to watch online, as his Twitter account was ranked as one of the best among NHL players by CBC. @Burnzie88 makes for an entertaining follow, posting hilarious photoshops and his encounters with zoo animals.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

19. Michael Jordan
> League: NBA
> Team: Chicago Bulls

Michael Jordan became a legend for his serious and competitive nature on the basketball court, but he proved he could have some fun as well. Besides hoops, MJ is probably best known for “Space Jam,” a favorite 1990s children’s film among kids across the country. Jordan also hosted a memorable episode of “Saturday Night Live” in 1991.

Source: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images

18. Boban Marjanovic
> League: NBA
> Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Boban Marjanovic, the 7-foot-3 Serbian center, has become a fan favorite largely thanks to Twitter. Marjanovic has gone viral for his dance moves with teammate Tobias Harris and an astounding photo of him standing next to the diminutive 4-foot-11 Kristin Chenoweth. Whether it’s singing Spice Girls songs, dunking the ball without jumping, or using his height to play keepaway with opponents, Marjanovic is a must-watch player.

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Source: University of Iowa / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

17. Alex Karras
> League: NFL
> Team: Detroit Lions

Alex Karras had several great careers — one as a defensive tackle in the NFL, one as a broadcaster, and another as a comedic actor. Karras has a long list of credits that includes classic comedies like “Blazing Saddles” and “Porky’s,” but he’s probably best remembered as the star of the 1980s sitcom “Webster.” Karras fittingly played a former NFL player who helps raise the orphaned son of a former teammate. Additionally, Karras was a commentator on “Monday Night Football” in the mid-1970s and enlivened the broadcasts with his humorous observations about the game and its players.

Source: Jesse Grant / Getty Images

16. LeBron James
> League: NBA
> Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Like many people looking to break into Hollywood, LeBron James moved to Los Angeles. Except James signed a huge contract with the Los Angeles Lakers as well. James already had a few credits to his name, including as himself on the HBO show “Entourage,” the host of a 2007 “Saturday Night Live” episode, and the 2015 comedy “Trainwreck.” Since coming to L.A., James voiced a character in the animated kid’s movie “Smallfoot.” He is also slated to star in “Space Jam 2,” which is currently in pre-production.

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Source: Tom Pennington / Getty Images

15. Adrian Beltre
> League: MLB
> Team: Texas Rangers

Adrian Beltre and Texas Rangers teammate Elvis Andrus were one of the all-time great sports comedy duos. The two would mess with each other on pop flies, and Beltre would always get mad when Andrus tried to touch his head after home runs. Beltre had some solo antics as well, playing pattycake with opponents during the game, putting his helmet on backward when facing a switch pitcher, and moving around the on-deck circle to get a better look at the opposing pitcher. Beltre kept the laughs coming through his retirement press conference. When asked about his legacy, the future Hall of Famer said “I don’t even know how to spell legacy.”

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

14. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
> League: NBA
> Team: Los Angeles Lakers

During his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used his proximity to Hollywood to make some of the most memorable cameos in cinema history. The lengthy center played himself in the Chevy Chase film “Fletch” and himself as Roger Murdock in the wacky comedy “Airplane!” Even after retiring, Abdul-Jabbar continued to appear in various films and TV shows.

Source: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

13. Paul Bissonnette
> League: NHL
> Team: Phoenix Coyotes

Paul Bissonnette always took his abbreviated NHL career in stride, referring to himself as a “retired NHL 4th liner” in his Twitter bio. “Biz Nasty,” as he is known, now co-hosts his own podcast called “Spittin’ Chiclets,” where he chats with other current and former hockey players and shares amusing stories from his time in the league. He also works with the Arizona Coyotes franchise as a color analyst for radio broadcasts..

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Source: Tim Bradbury / Getty Images

12. Bill Walton
> League: NBA
> Team: Portland Trail Blazers

Being a color commentator can be a tough job, but Bill Walton seems to have more fun doing it than anyone else. He is known to go on mid-game tangents on topics such as evolution, glockenspiels, volcanoes, bridges, and just about anything else. Walton and his broadcast partner Dave Pasch have become a great comedy duo, with Walton’s free-wheeling non-sequiturs irking Pasch as he tries to keep the focus on the game at hand.

Source: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

11. Terry Crews
> League: NFL
> Team: Washington Redskins

Terry Crews only played a handful of games in the NFL in three seasons, but his acting career has flourished. Crews first showed off his comedic chops by singing the Vanessa Carlton song “A Thousand Miles” in the Wayans Brothers film “White Chicks.” He’s gone on to have hilarious roles in films like “Idiocracy” and “The Longest Yard” and TV shows like “Brooklyn 99” and “Everybody Hates Chris.”

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Source: Otto Greule Jr. / Allsport / Getty Images

10. Rickey Henderson
> League: MLB
> Team: Oakland Athletics

Rickey Henderson holds the all time MLB record for stolen bases — and maybe also for the most hilarious quotes and stories. He reportedly used to check in to hotels under aliases like Richard Pryor and Luther Vandross. Another story tells that after Henderson was told he could sit wherever he wanted on the bus because he had tenure, he replied ” Ten years? Rickey’s been playing at least 16, 17 years.” Henderson was known to refer to himself in the third person, and before each game, he reportedly would stand nude in front of a mirror for several minutes, saying “Rickey’s the best” over and over.

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

9. Aaron Rodgers
> League: NFL
> Team: Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is well known for his commercial work with State Farm. His amusing spots with the insurance company have run during football games for years. But before he was even a starter, Rodgers got in front of the camera by photobombing teammates on the sidelines of Packers games. Rodgers is also quite amusing online, razzing teammates, and showing his appreciation for a good mid range jumper via his Twitter account.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

8. Shaquille O’Neal
> League: NBA
> Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Even after his retirement from the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal has remained a fixture on TV screens. Along with his ubiquitous work as a commercial pitchman, Shaq has made several cameos in films and shows, while hosting the entertaining “Inside the NBA” show on TNT. Along with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson, O’Neal breaks down NBA action with plenty of laughs, including his “Shaqtin’ a Fool” segment, which highlights the worst blunders in the league.

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Source: Jeff Schear / Getty Images for Michigan Avenue Magazine

7. Patrick Sharp
> League: NHL
> Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Patrick Sharp will always be remembered by fans as a three-time Stanley Cup winner for the Chicago Blackhawks. But his teammates may be more familiar with his impish pranks. The left winger has soaked teammates with buckets of water, had room service send absurd breakfast orders to others, and messed with rookies by relocating their luggage — and those are just the gags we know about.

Source: Jeff Carlick / Allsport / Getty Images

6. Bob Uecker
> League: MLB
> Team: Milwaukee Braves

Bob Uecker had a short-lived MLB career, but his time as a broadcaster who’s known for his quick wit has stretched nearly 50 years. Uecker broke into acting as well. Baseball and comedy fans will no doubt remember him as the incredulous radio broadcaster Harry Doyle in the “Major League” movie franchise, telling listeners at home that pitches nowhere close to the plate were “juuuuuust a bit outside.” He also starred in the family sitcom “Mr. Belvedere,” as well as a series of entertaining beer commercials.

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Source: Leon Halip / Getty Images

5. Blake Griffin
> League: NBA
> Team: Detroit Pistons

After his time in the NBA is over, former first overall pick Blake Griffin may have a career as a standup comic. Griffin worked the world-famous Just For Laughs festival in Montreal and went toe-to-toe with top insult comic Jeff Ross in a roast battle. His acting skills are top-notch as well, as proven by his memorable appearance on the Comedy Central show “Broad City.”

Source: Andy Lyons / Getty Images

4. Pat McAfee
> League: NFL
> Team: Indianapolis Colts

Former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee made headlines when he was arrested for public intoxication after swimming in an Indianapolis canal in 2010. As embarrassed as he was by the experience, he made it part of his burgeoning comedy career, talking about that and his time in the NFL in a comedy tour across Indiana. McAfee also used to host his own sports and comedy podcast. He’s still having fun on the field — he recently pranked Colts fans when he put on an old man disguise and kicked field goals during a game.

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

3. Charles Barkley
> League: NBA
> Team: Philadelphia 76ers

Charles Barkley is instant entertainment. Whether he’s playing basketball, starring in a movie, or appearing as a guest on a talk show. “The Round Mound of Rebound” is always good for a laugh. Barkley has hosted SNL four times, each episode funnier than the last. He’s also won two Emmys for outstanding sports personality for “Inside the NBA.” His scenes in “Space Jam” are still classic movie moments, especially when he promises to “never go out with Madonna again.” Though the funniest thing about Barkley may be his infamously bad golf swing.

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Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

2. Peyton Manning
> League: NFL
> Team: Indianapolis Colts

During his career, Peyton Manning may have spent more time on television screens as a commercial pitchman than as a quarterback. The former Colt and Bronco appeared in comical spots for Nationwide insurance, Papa John’s pizza, and Mastercard, among many others. Manning proved he could make people laugh on stage as well. Manning roasted Rob Lowe and drew rave reviews as the host of the 2017 ESPY awards on ESPN, and his episode on “Saturday Night Live” remains an all-time classic, named by “Rolling Stone” as the best SNL episode hosted by an athlete.

Source: Brad Barket / Getty Images

1. Yogi Berra
> League: MLB
> Team: New York Yankees

Yogi Berra may be one of the most quotable athletes — if not the most quotable person — in history. The former New York Yankees catcher gave out sage advice like “when you come to a fork in the road, take it” and “always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.” His famous Yogi-isms are still among the most well-known quotations, like “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore” and “no one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.” His quotes drew so much attention, people may have forgotten he was a three-time MVP and 10-time World Series champion.

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