The Letterman Top 10 is one of the most iconic bits in the history of television. And over the last 33 years, a number of famous (and not-so-famous) athletes have had the honor taking part in it.
Of course, most of them were pretty forgettable, because athletes are usually pretty terrible comedians. But there were exceptions, and some of them were downright fantastic.
Today, in honor of David Letterman‘s final show and the end of an late night television era, we’re going to count down the Top 10 Letterman Top 10s read by athletes.
Yeah, I know, a Top 10 list of Letterman Top 10 lists is pretty meta. Moreover, no other site on the internet has done anything like this. So go ahead, take a minute to wrap your head around the idea before getting started.
Okay, you good? Great. Then let’s start with #10…
Letterman had former Louisville guard Kevin Ware on the Late Show to deliver the Top 10 on April 4, 2013, which was just five days after he suffered that horrifying compound fracture against Duke in the Elite Eight of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. And while Ware's delivery wasn't the best—at times it was downright flat—the jokes were good enough to make us laugh anyway. So the segment went down as a success.
10. Kevin Ware
In 2009, Dave had 10 members of the New York Rangers come on the show and read "Top 10 Things Never Before Spoken by a Hockey Player." A lot of the guys had trouble getting the cadence of the jokes, just as you'd expect. And you could barely understand Marian Gaborik. But that was all part of the charm, and the success of the bit was sealed with sensitive ladies man Henrik Lunqvist delivered his quip about Jennifer Anniston finding love at #2.
9. The New York Rangers
Nobody knew who Lucas Glover was in 2009, when he came out of nowhere to win the U.S. Open. And now, six years later with only two other PGA Tour wins on his résumé, anybody who knew him after that has probably forgotten about him. However, whatever happens to Glover from here on out, he'll always be able to look back and say he totally nailedhis delivery of the Late Show Top 10.
8. Lucas Glover
Letterman made it a tradition in recent years to have the Heisman Trophy winner on his show to present the Top 10 following the ceremony. So how have they fared?
Well, Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel were totally forgettable, while Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III were merely serviceable. But Jameis Winston? He killed it, hitting his stride at #5 and peaking with an absolutely perfect delivery at #4.
7. Jameis Winston
In October 2013, Letterman celebrated the grand re-opening of Madison Square Garden by bringing in 10 famous athletes to share their (fake) fondest memories of the historic venue. Some of the jokes were hits, others were misses. But you really couldn't go wrong with that star-studded lineup, and John McEnroe closed the bit with a good laugh.
6. Career Highlights at Madison Square Garden
Earlier this year, Letterman had the entire 2015 Hall of Fame Class on his show to read the "Top 10 Things I Said When I Learned I Made the Baseball Hall of Fame." And while the jokes read by Smoltz, Biggio, and Martinez ranged from bad to okay, all three read by Randy Johnson were pure gold.
Of course, we shouldn't be surprised. Randy Johnson had already proved himself to be a pretty funny guy.
5. Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez
The star-studded U.S. men's Olympic hockey team was a huge disappointment on and off the ice at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. However, they did nail their Letterman appearance, reading "Top 10 Hockey Player Pickup Lines." In fact, this was one of the very few Letterman Top 10s in which the #1 item actually was the best.
4. 1998 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team
In 1997, the Late Show did a series of special shows in which they flew in audiences from various locales and did shows tailored specifically to them. The best one was the Minnesota show. It featured Twins legend Kirby Puckett doing "Top 10 Ways to Mispronounce Kirby Puckett," and by #9 (Creepy Pockets) you knew you were witnessing one of the best Letterman Top 10s of all time.
3. Kirby Puckett
In 1998, NASCAR legend Dale Earnardt finally got the monkey off his back by winning his first Daytona 500. To celebrate, he went on the Late Show and read the brilliantly self-depricating "Top 10 Reasons It Took Me 20 Years to Win the Daytona 500."
It was obviously the most fun any athlete ever had reading a Letterman Top 10. And it was fantastic.
2. Dale Earnhardt
The top spot? Yep, it goes to the very last Letterman Top 10 ever. Peyton Manning was the only athlete among the 10 superstar presenters, but of course that says a lot, doesn't it?
In any case, Manning presented his line as well as anybody, and the list truly does stand out as one of the all-time best.
What a way to end it all.
1. Peyton Manning...and a bunch of other famous people
David Letterman, late show with david letterman, top 10,