Pro Athletes Playing Amateur Sports

We are seeing athletes pop up in more alternative sports today. John Smoltz stated recently that he wants to make the cut for a PGA tour event. Fred Smoot wants to be a professional bowler when his NFL career is over. And Brandon Jacobs would like to give boxing a try, as a manager. For the most part, athletes just want to compete. But as athletes get older they can no longer compete at a high level at their first sport. So they get to try out other sports, and I use the term sports very loosely.

So I compiled a list of the Top 20 Athletes playing Amateur sports.

20. Raghib Ismail – Slamball: coach and Bull Riding: The little speedy Wide Receiver/Return Man from Notre Dame, figured he would try his hand at bull riding on Ty Murray’s Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge, where he had the worst time of all the men who rode the bulls at 3.9 seconds. Vanilla Ice and Johnny Fairpaly did better, ouch. After his success in bull riding, Raghib decided to give Slamball a try. Raghib became a Slamball coach in 2008 where he lead the team to a 2-10 record.

19. Gary Anderson – Fly Fishing: Gary Anderson is a legendary kicker who played for a ton of teams. Gary loves fly fishing so much he even owns his own business. I think it is great that a long time Kicker has a hobby that really shows how athletic he is.

18. Xavier McDaniel – Slamball:
Coach: Xavier was a fan favorite when he was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in 1985. Always known for playing hard and for the love of the game. McDaniel didn’t much success after he was traded away from Seattle in 1991. The “X-man” later became a Slamball Coach for the 2002 where he lead the Riders 6-4 record.

17. Rony Seikaly – Volleyball: I guess when you are 6’11” former center for the Miami Heat, a natural transition would be becoming a beach volleyball player. Unfortunately for Rony, he was eliminated from the first round of qualifying in the 2007 AVP Cuervo Gold Crown Miami Open. Shed no tears for Rony, he is going home to 2 time cover girl of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Elsa Benitez.

16. Dan O’Brien – Hopscotch: The former world record holder in the decathlon is now the world record holder in hopscotch. O’Brien shattered the record by over 2 minutes on May 14, 2009 in New York City. What a great use of his decathlon skills, a game that kindergarteners play at recess.

15. Greg Ostertag – Hockey: Nothing about Ostertag would lead you to believe that he enjoys playing hockey. Greg is a 7’2” 300 lb former center for the Jazz, who grew up in Duncanville, Texas. You won’t be able to knock Greg down and his long arms have to generate a hard shot, so if Greg has any talent what so ever, he has to dominate his hockey league.

14. James Johnson – MMA/Kickboxing: 16th overall draft pick of this year's NBA draft. His father, Willie is a sixth-degree black belt as a Kickboxer and his mother, Vi is also a black belt. 7 of his 8 brothers and sisters have a black belt. Only his 10 year old sister doesn't have one yet, she is only a blue belt. James is 20-0 as a Kickboxer and 1-0 in MMA, win against 31 year old Damond Clark when James was only 18. I would like to see what happens the first time a guy like Ron Artest gets in his face.

13. Marcus Jones – MMA: This former 1st round pick, 22nd overall, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is one of 4 former NFL players trying out for the UFC’s 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Marcus is the highest profile player of the four. It just seems like a natural fit for a NFL player to get into mixed martial arts, especially a former defensive lineman.

12. Todd MacCulloch – Pinball: The former center for the Sixers and Nets had to retire from the NBA in 2003 because of Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP). So what was the next career step for MacCulloch…professional pinball tournaments. Because of his foot condition, Todd must play sitting down. Also the pay day is weak too, in the picture above, Todd finished 3rd in the Pinball Expo 2007, receiving a large sum of $360.

11. Michael Westbrook – MMA: Another former 1st round pick, 4th overall for the Washington Redskins. It may be hard to picture a NFL wide receiver fighting, but Westbrook did get fined by the Redskins in 1997 when he punched Stephen Davis after being called a derogatory term for homosexual in a training camp workout session. Injuries cut short his NFL career, but he is now a well respected MMA fighter.

10. Jeremiah Trotter - Dodgeball : In 2005, “The Axeman” was the captain of the Philadelphia Benjamins on Game Show Network’s Extreme Dodgeball. I can’t imagine being an opposing player to a Pro Bowl Middle Linebacker. Unfortunately like other Philadelphia teams, Trotter’s team fell short when they lost in the Championship game to New York Bling.

9. Rik Smits – Motocross: The 7’4” center that played for the Indiana Pacers for 12 seasons is now into motocross racing. Now that he is out of the NBA Smits can compete in motocross races without worrying about voiding his contract. Even with a bigger bike, Smits looks like a clown riding a mini bike.

8. Kendall Gill – Boxing: This versatile guard who was drafted 5th overall in 1990 by the Charlotte Hornets, was known for his ability to steal the ball. Now Kendall punches people in the face for a living. Kendall is not your typical athlete turned boxer, he has a passion for it and is not in it for the money. Kendall also trains with former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arolvski. In 3 fights Gill has gone 3-0, and was ranked as high as #449 in the Cruiserweight division.

7. Jeff Conine – Ironman: I don’t really consider baseball players well-rounded athletes. So, when I heard that Jeff Conine (54 Stolen bases in 17 season) finished an Ironman competition, Ford Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, I was impressed. Who cares that Conine finished 1,499th among a field of 1,731? At least he finished.

6. Robin Yount – Disc Golf: The Brewer great and first ballot Hall of Famer now plays disc golf in his free time. As a disc golf player myself, I can see how a baseball swing would translate well to throwing a Frisbee. Robin threatened to leave baseball for golf in the late 1970’s, years later he becomes a disc golf enthusiast, more proof that disc golf is better than actually golf.

5. Michael Jordan – AA Baseball: I know there are other athletes that played football and baseball but no one was as popular as Jordan when he tried out minor league baseball. The Hall of Fame basketball player was far from it in baseball. MJ batted.202 in 127 games, 114 strikeouts in 436 at bats, 3 home runs, 51 RBI and 30 stolen bases.

4. Jerry Rice – Dancing with the Stars: Jerry joined the show Dancing with the Stars right after he retired from the Denver Broncos in August of 2005. I don’t really know if adding people who were on Dancing show is right, but Jerry was the first athlete to be on the show. Since Jerry joined the show so quickly after he retired, it really shows how much an athlete really needs to compete.

3. Jake Plummer – Ultimate Frisbee and Handball: In 2007 Plummer walked away from football and hasn’t looked back. This is mostly due to his brother Eric, who has kept Jake busy with other activities. One is Ultimate Frisbee, where a former NFL Quarterback must fit in really well, and the other one is professional handball. In 2007 he entered the US Open of Hand ball with his brother Eric, but lost in the first round. He has even hosted his own pro invitational in 2008 and lost in the finals.

2. Herschel Walker – Bobsled and Tae Kwon Do: The 1982 Heisman Trophy winner strived to be the best athlete. Herschel is a sixth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and he nearly made the Olympic team in the sprint relay. In 1992 Walker joined the Olympic Bobsledding team, to help the USA finish 7th. Herschel still performs 2,500 sit-ups and 1,500 push-ups every morning.

1. Jim Brown – Lacrosse: I really didn’t want to consider what athletes did in college, but Jim Brown was a special Lacrosse player. Brown was quoted as saying “I’d rather play lacrosse six days a week and football on the seventh.” Brown was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983. Not only is he considered one of the best football players of all time, some even consider him the best lacrosse player of all time. In his final game, Brown scored 5 goals in one half in the 1957 Collegiate All Star Game. Brown was unstoppable on the football field and on the lacrosse field.


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