Ugh, I know, guys. I’m not being very diligent this year in keeping this moving along, and I apologize. You all need to rile each other up more in the comments or something, to keep me entertained and engaged!
Anyway, thought I’d come back at ya with the athletes, saving the Prince Harry + all those other guys bracket for our last round one battle. (Though I’ve now overestimated Jon Hamm and Leonardo DiCaprio, so I have no idea what to expect in this thing anymore.) Like I said in the early rounds, I could’ve easily made this an entire bracket full of NHL players, but refrained in order to give it some sport and geographic diversity. (My apologies to Ryan Kesler, Jordan Staal, and Jonathan Toews. I promise, I really really really still love you guys.) Though, as I’ve found, these guys are hard to write about. I’ve realized probably not everyone is as turned on by athletic prowess as I am, so I’ve tried to concentrate more on their personalities (or other such assets). This was pretty easy for David Beckham. I have literally never seen him play his sport.
So, without further adieu…
(1) David Beckham
Adoring father, active philanthropist, devoted husband, decorated athlete, businessman, and oh yeah, he looks like this. He’s basically a Disney prince come to life (with a few more tattoos).
(2) Sidney Crosby
Our Sid isn’t so much a kid anymore. Gracious, mature, and classy, this adorable, polite Canadian also works harder than anyone in the sport. Which means he’s good at everything he does. All that practice and hard work? Yeah, I’m willing to bet he is really good at everything he does (wink, wink). Plus his ass is amazing. Did I convince you yet?
(3) Peyton Manning
Peyton is an incredibly hardworking athlete, but that also has made him a pretty damn good one (this year’s Super Bowl notwithstanding). On top of that, he’s relatable, charming, and funny. Plus – Thanksgivings with the Manning family!
(4) Roger Federer
The epitome of class and grace both on and off the court, Federer is (at my age!) one of tennis’s most celebrated veterans. He’s also one of the most gracious and giving athletes on the planet – just check out this story as proof. (Have the tissues handy.)
(5) Drew Brees
Drew Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006, the year following Hurricane Katrina. He immediately joined the recovery effort, partnering his own foundation with those helping the city recover and making himself a home there as well. He’s as beloved by a city as any athlete on earth and has remained loyal to them, as well as to his beautiful family. And he’s besties with Harry Connick, Jr!
(6) Eli Manning
Eli is mostly famous for being Peyton’s brother (and winning more Super Bowls than him), but he’s charming and funny in his own right. And he’s won more Super Bowls. #TeamEli
(7) Mario Lemieux
Most athletes would pack it up when they’re done playing and move back home or to somewhere warm. Not Mario – he stayed in the city where he built his career and saved a franchise, turned money owed to him into ownership of the team, and then saved them all over again. All the while, his foundation has raised millions for pediatric cancer research in Pittsburgh. And he loves fine red wine, so he’s basically perfect.
(8) Henrik Lundqvist
No one should be this talented at so many things and that good looking all at the same time. This gorgeous Swede is the goalie of the New York Rangers, and a guitar player in a band, and a loving father, and a genuine fashion plate. Well-rounded, this guy.
(9) JJ Watt
They grow them big in the midwest, don’t they?! Wisconsin-raised JJ Watt is a superstar athlete who has stayed down to earth. When he isn’t terrifying NFL offenses, he spends his time supporting after-school athletic programs through his foundation… we’d bet he’s really a big teddy bear underneath that massive, manly exterior.
(10) Bill Guerin
You like funny guys? Billy G is the one for you. I run a perpetual campaign to get him on Twitter, because he was the king of one-liners while playing for the Pens. He’s not afraid to give super serious athletes a silly nickname like Doofy, because chances are he’s also making fun of himself. (Proof? It’s impossible to find a normal picture of him. Hence the one with the vuvuzela.)
(11) Andrew McCutchen
Cutch is a dynamic ball-player and an entertaining guy, with just the right amount of swagger and a smile that would melt even the hardest of hearts. He can hold his own in Hollywood at awards shows, back at work in the Burgh, or on The Ellen Show, where he proposed to his girlfriend in adorable fashion. Swoon!
(12) Zach Parise
Zach looks exactly like the boy next door and the guy your parents would love you to bring home. (Unless your parents are still bitter Devils fans.) This all-American has served as captain of the US Olympic hockey team and loves his country so much he even served as poster boy for those hideous Opening Ceremonies outfits this year. That’s patriotism! He’s also been known to do charity work with libraries – a hockey guy who values a good book? That’s the dream!
(13) Matt Cooke
Zach’s current Minnesota teammate and former Penguin Matt Cooke is probably not the guy your parents want you to bring home, on the surface at least… He plays with an edge and likes to get opponents fired up on the ice. But off the ice, he’s devoted to charity, his family, and his religion. And if that doesn’t convince you, perhaps him putting his son in a suit that matches his will?
(Side note re: Cooke’s photo… I tried to find pictures of all of these men with their current teams, but I miss him, you guys. Like a lot. So he gets a Penguins photo. Sorry to my one Minnesota reader!)
(14) James Neal
I asked a friend to help me on this one, because I’m often more angry than not at Neal while he’s playing hockey (he’s so good, but so dumb sometimes!). Her offering: he likes puppies, and he started Neal’s Neighborhood at the Boys and Girls Club. That’s not a shabby start. Plus, he has some fantastic hair, and his Twitter background is baby penguin chicks.
(15) Derek Jeter
You may hate the Yankees, but you have to respect Jeter, who has spent his entire career in New York. He’s one of the classiest athletes in the game… annnnnd yeah, I can’t do this, he’s up against Sidney Crosby. If Jeter wins that match-up, I quit this whole damn thing.
(16) Bode Miller
My love of Bode is well documented around here. He’s not the safe guy, and he doesn’t take it slow, but this is a high risk, high reward pick. I know I’d shack up with him in a cabin in the mountains any day.