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Ten Funniest (Living) Athletes in the World of All Time

At its core, sports are entertainment.  It’s why a college football team can regularly draw crowds that would make Metallica blush.  It’s why 39 million households tuned into the Super Bowl this year.  It’s why the sports gambling market in the US now clears $100 billion.  Sports – and the athletes who play them – are fun to watch.

We love the stories of overcoming obstacles and fulfilling one’s potential.  We marvel at the grace and power of the human body.  We applaud when records are broken and long-odds are beaten.  We cheer for our favorite teams and players and boo the ones who stand in their way.  Sports fandom might be a one-sided relationship (we end up paying a fortune for jerseys, tickets, cable packages etc. with absolutely nothing guaranteed in return), but it’s one we end up settling for every time.

Sometimes, though, an athlete transcends the area.  He or she gives us more than what we bargained for – sometimes, an athlete is just funny.

This is the ultimate intersection of amusement and athleticism.  When an athlete is funny – not just by silly antics either – it’s like seeing a unicorn.  They must be protected and cherished.

Over the years, there have been many athletes who tried to stake their claim to fame through comedy, but few have succeeded.  Being funny isn’t something you can train for like a marathon or sumo wrestling – it’s something you have, or you don’t.  And the athletes on this list below?  They have it in spades.

Here, in reverse order from ten to one, are the Ten Funniest (Living) Athletes in the World of All Time.

(Please note that wrestlers are not included in this list.  Although many wrestlers could have an argument for being funnier than some of the athletes on this list, professional wrestling is too similar to acting to have a place on this list.  After all, if we included a bunch of comedians on this list, we wouldn’t have any athletes at all now would we?  So, sorry pro wrestling, better luck next time.)

(Also, this isn’t just for their antics on the field – this includes everything.  Every commercial, every TV show or movie, every prank they pulled in the locker room, it all counts.)

10. Mike Tyson

You can’t bring up Mike Tyson without starting with this: that one, iconic scene from The Hangover.

Gold.  Absolute gold.  And it doesn't stop there either.  For this performance alone, Tyson deserves a spot in the top ten, but he also gave the world the surreal cartoon Mike Tyson Mysteries, so Iron Mike really earned it.

9. Antonio Brown

Maybe a controversial choice, given his recent behavior suggests he may be in need of some serious psychological help, but this is the man who gave us the CTESPN hashtag and subsequent clothing line – he belongs on our list.

It doesn't stop there, though.  His meltdown on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sideline, in which he left in the middle of the game and threw his jersey into the stands, remains one of the most absurd in-game moments in sports history.

Apparently, he could be throwing his name in the ring for the 2024 Presidential election too.  Antonio Brown is one of life’s guilty pleasures.

8. Pat McAfee

Nobody has burst onto the sports media landscape quite like Pat McAfee.  His style is all his own: free-wheeling, foul-mouthed and fun-loving.  McAfee doesn’t just party – he is the party, bro.  Just watch his highlight tape from his time as a punter with the Indianapolis Colts:

Guy sure likes to show off his golf stroke, huh?

Since leaving the gridiron, however, McAfee’s star has only gotten brighter.  He’s now the host of the Pat McAfee Show on ESPN, a unique mix of sports talk radio and utter buffoonery.

McAfee might not be for everyone, but no one can deny that he’s changed sports media forever.  The days of stuffy suits and seriousness are over; now is the time for tank-tops and day-drinking.

7. Bill Walton

The most eccentric figure on our list, Bill Walton is a man of many words.  Some are wise, some are strange, some are downright incoherent, but one thing’s for sure: there’s no one else like him.

Who brings dirt from Temecula to rub all over themselves during the middle of a college basketball broadcast?  This man once changed into a tie-dye shirt while live on camera!  He once called the Portland Trailblazers a band of pranksters!  He once said Tony Parker made the worst pass in the history of Western Civilization!

Listening to Bill Walton is like being force-fed ten hits of acid.  You can’t be sure how the experience will go, but no matter what, you’re in for a wild ride.

6. Shannon Sharpe

Nobody brings the intensity quite like Shannon Sharpe.  On the field, he was going to let you know exactly how badly he was whooping your butt.

His distinctive style of speaking and boisterous behavior has led to no shortage of imitators:

Now, after a stint on Fox Sports alongside the always-insufferable Skip Bayless, Sharpe has found his way to ESPN where he’s alongside the equally insufferable Stephen A. Smith.  Expect the mayhem to continue.

5. Chad Johnson

How funny was Chad Johnson?  Where do I begin…

This is a man who used to send Pepto-Bismol to opposing cornerbacks before games because they were going to be sick of covering him.

This man once raced a racehorse.

He changed his name to Chad “Ochocinco” thinking it meant “Eighty-Five” when in fact it was “Eight-Five” – a subtle, but important, difference.

He was also king of the mic-ed up one-liners:

He could be charming and insulting.  He’s the kind of guy you want to punch one moment, but are hugging and laughing with in the next.  Oh, and his catalog of touchdown celebrations is unmatched:

4. Eli Manning

An underrated submission to the funniest athletes list, Eli has always been in big brother Peyton’s shadow.  Maybe that’s why he was so good at pranking his teammates – they underestimated Eli too…

Rule #1 of being Eli Manning’s teammate: never give him your phone unless you want to get it back with Chinese as the default language.

Sometimes he’d change the number of a teammate’s wife or girlfriend to the phone number of his head coach Tom Coughlin.

He once enlisted a couple other pranksters to box kicker Lawrence Tynes’ car in at the facility so he couldn’t leave early.

He once threw a pass with his own chewed up gum attached to the football and said nothing when the receiver showed the wad on his hand.

Now, in retirement, Eli is now out pranking college students, like his epic performance as Penn State walk-on Chad Powers.

Once a menace, always a menace, it seems.

3. Shaquille O’Neal

We’ve now reached the biggest name on our list, Shaquille O’Neal, otherwise known as Shaq, Diesel, The Big Aristotle, Superman, Shaq Fu, and Shaq Daddy.  The man of many names was a force of nature on the basketball court.  His play was what made him famous, but his ability to make us laugh is what made him such a memorable character.

Nobody enjoyed their time in the NBA like Shaq.  If there was a ranking for athletes who enjoyed themselves the most during their playing careers, Shaq would easily be in the top five.  He produced a rap album and has appeared in multiple movies (Kazaam, Scary Movie 4, The House Bunny) while he was still playing.

Shaq’s days on the hardwood may be over, but that doesn’t mean the laughs are through – instead, he’s taken his talents to television, where he continues to make us giggle with delight.

2. Peyton Manning

Ahh, here he is, the elder Manning.  Basically, take everything I said about Eli, and then crank it up a notch.

Like Eli, Peyton was fond of a good prank.  He once propped up a 50-gallon trash can filled with water and propped it up against a teammate's door so that when the door opened, it was splash city for poor Pat Angerer.

Like Eli, Peyton’s found TV life to be quite fulfilling as well.  From hilarious commercials…

To spots on Saturday Night Live…

To co-hosting the ManningCast alongside his brother during Monday Night Football games…

Peyton is living his best life, and we’re all just lucky enough to watch it.

1. Charles Barkley

This man needs no introduction.  In fact, if he wasn’t so dominant at basketball, he probably could have had a very real career as a stand-up comedian.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll just let this video do the talking for me…

Nobody can argue with that – except for those big ol’ women in San Antonio…

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