For years, Saturday Night Live has booked popular sports figures to host the comedy sketch show and let them showcase their other on-camera talents.
While none of these guys come in with the acting chops, some of the athlete performances will go down as the best SNL sketches ever. Some because of the hilarious situations these stars are put into, others because they’re just great at entertaining.
Let’s take a look at the top athlete performances on SNL:
10. Michael Phelps
After his performance at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, swimmer Michael Phelps built up plenty of capital with the American public. A month later, he hosted Saturday Night Live which allowed us to see his quirky side. He parodied multiple commercials, but nothing beats the one where he is having a little fun with the rumors that he eats 12,000 calories a day. (See video above)
9. Andy Roddick
In 2003, Andy Roddick was ranked as the number one tennis player in the world and had just won his first (and only) Grand Slam. Then, he was invited to host SNL. Unfortunately, everything has been downhill for him since then, except for his fortune of finding a wife.
His sketches include that of him stopping by the radio studio of a DJ who spends the entire time menacing him. But one of his good sketches has him being adopted as a Williams brother by his “father”. (See above video)
8. LeBron James
Before “The Decision” and all the ensuing fallout, LeBron James was one of the most liked athletes in the country. LeBron hosted SNL in late 2007 and the overall result was pretty good.
He nailed it with a parody of his own Nike commercial in his opening monologue (it was called “LeBronologue”). For me, his best sketch was the Read to Achieve commercial shoot. (See above video)
7. Lance Armstrong
Before his admission of steroid use and when the Tour de France was still the Tour de Lance, cycling legend Lance Armstrong hosted SNL and did not disappoint. He starred in one of the best sport sketches that made fun of him being a world-class cyclist who has no swimming and running abilities. (See video)
6. Derek Jeter
One of the most beloved athletes in New York, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees once hosted SNL in 2001. His hosting gig was the first by any athlete in six years. He was terrific at it making the wait for another athlete host worthwhile.
His best sketch was the “Derek Jeter’s Taco Hole” piece, where he sang about his passion for Mexican cuisine and his restaurant—the fifth-best Mexican restaurant in all of Northern New Jersey. (See video)
5. Tom Brady
Pretty boy Tom Brady withstood scrutiny when he hosted SNL in 2004. Though he wasn’t a natural in front of the camera, his discouraging manner was charming enough to make it work.
He performed well in a superb sketch, “Sexual Harassment and Me”, where he played a pretty boy in 1950s style demo video (see above) and a spin-off of Jeter’s taco commercial, “Tom Brady’s Falafel City”, where he sings his love for Arabian cuisine.
4. Eli Manning
The usually shy and reserved Eli Manning was picked to host SNL after he won his second Super Bowl. Many people challenged his episode to be as good as Peyton’s. He did not disappoint. He pulled a couple of good sketches with the motion sensors and text messaging evidence.
His best sketch was a parody commercial of a charity that supports little brothers who are often dominated by older brothers, a dig at his brother Peyton. (See video)
3. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Unsurprisingly, The Rock knocked his hosting gig out of the park. His mugging skills from the WWE coupled with his self-deprecating humor made for a winning combo. He “just brings it” in his three stints as SNL host, from his famous wrestling career to his successful transition in Hollywood.
His best sketch is where he played “The Rock Obama”, an alter-ego of the president when he goes angry, similar to Hulk (not Hogan). (See video)
2. Charles Barkley
One of the greatest personalities in basketball, Charles Barkley is always comedic gold on Inside the NBA and whenever he does commentary for NBA on TNT games. It was no surprise that he landed a hosting gig for SNL. He, along with Dwayne Johnson, have hosted the show three times (the most for a sports host.)
Among the sketches he was involved in throughout his whole three-timer gig was when he hosted a sketch where he sells a mobile app of his frankly-speaking translator of post-game interviews. But his best was SNL’s parody of Inside the NBA (See video) where Charles played Shaq. He made Shaq look boring and dull – which was derived from Shaq’s first appearances as a full-time host of the show.
1. Peyton Manning
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the general consensus pick for the best athlete host ever. After winning his first Super Bowl, Manning made a leap from good boy to a true comedic force. He was not only the best athlete host in SNL history but also one of the best all-time hosts, shocking considering he only hosted once.
His best sketch was the faked United Way ad (see video). Manning’s performance as an unfit mentor for a group of children is one of the best SNL sketches of all time.
Do you agree with our order of picks for the Top 10 SNL Profesional Sports Hosts? Are there other athletes that you would love to see host SNL? Share this article with the Top Bet social media tools provided below and let us know.
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