9 Professional Athletes With Extremely Weird Hobbies

It can’t just be about sports. It can’t. Sure you can focus on just sports, but then you wind up boring and creepy, like Kobe Bryant. Variety is the spice of life, and these guys certainly have variety in spades. It’s hard to get further away from the world of athletics than bow ties, S.W.A.T. teams, and big rig driving. Sure, these hobbies make us scratch our heads, but they also make our favorite athletes a little more than guys in uniforms and collections of stats.

9. Ryan Klesko – S.W.A.T.
During his time in Atlanta, Klesko would frequently join S.W.A.T. teams on ride-alongs, even joining in on raids. Of course, they’re not in a hurry to give him a gun and put him directly in the line of fire, but he wasn’t far off. As an observant, he was certainly in harm’s way. He insists, “There’s no doubt in my mind that this is what I would be doing if I weren’t playing ball.” While it’s uncertain that he would be as great a S.W.A.T. team member as he would a ball player, there’s no question that he’s living life, also considering himself a hunting, NASCAR, and Brooks and Dunn enthusiast. A very southern life at that.

8. Mike Tyson – Pigeon Racing/Keeping
Most New Yorkers don’t care for pigeons at all. They are dirty, they spread disease, and they aren’t particularly loyal, cute, or even attractive. In spite of these shortcomings, Mike Tyson finds that tending to his pigeons in New York City allows him reflective time, an oasis in the middle of bustling city. Tyson appreciates that the pigeons “aren’t difficult to understand,” and are “animals of habit.” As a person who feels he has been misunderstood as a monster for much of his life, it’s not hard to see the allure there. He felt a sense of purpose caring for the birds as an alienated child, a sense he still feels today. Of course, now he’s really, really famous, so he’s getting pigeon reality show on Animal Planet because, of course he is.

7. Shaquille O’Neal – Sheriff
“Don’t move a muscle, perp! I am a trained expert in Shaq-fu!”

Shaq has worked with a handful of sheriffs organizations as he has traveled around the league in the twilight of his career. He has been active in Miami, Tempe and Phoenix, and Cleveland. However, he got his special deputy badge (sounds like something they give 7 year-olds that visit the station) pulled after dropping an n-bomb on camera during a freestyle rap.

I don’t know if he joins the Staties or sheriff in Boston, but I know that if he had been in it, ‘The Departed’ would have been a WAY funnier movie.

6. Karl Malone – Truck Driver
This is, without question, the most awesome pairing of weird person and weird hobby on this list. In the offseason, the registered Republican (okay, two weird hobbies) cruises around in what is known as the Mailman’s Truck, a 72-foot 18-wheeler. What does he do with the truck? Nothing, really. He just drives around, introducing heartland to the airbrushed paintjob on the truck that features him in a cowboy hat, just lookin’ at some coyotes. No big deal. To be fair, if I was a black dude living in Salt Lake City, I too would be pretty interested in vehicles that could take me really far away from there.

5. Sean Avery – Women’s Fashion
What did Sean Avery do during the NY Rangers off season, while other players were on vacation with their families and training? Why, he was an intern for Vogue. I’m guessing that he wasn’t even the richest intern that Vogue has ever had, either. He’s world renowned for being a dick, but now he can be known as a dick with a big interest in women’s fashion. What a great dude, right? If I ever date a girl that’s wearing clothing that Sean Avery had a hand in designing, I’m cutting her out of my life. Even if it’s my mom.

4. Michael Vick – Dog Fighting
I’m not going to get in some big crusade here. Enough people have done that for an army of dogfighters. The fact remains that Michael Vick fought dogs out of Bad Newz Kennels. A search of Vick’s estate turned up over 70 dogs, mostly pit bulls, that had been trained to fight. It was alleged that he wasn’t hands-on during the operation of the kennel, but participated in fights and knew what was going on. During the trial, several lawyers argued that Vick and Co. had grown up around dogfighting, and that the fights served as a breeding ground to prove your manhood. Though Vick got hit with only a handful of charges, it’s safe to assume that he had been involved in this world for a while, if only tangentially.

It’s also safe to assume that he’s probably not going to return to this hobby anytime soon.

3. Herschel Walker – Ballet
I always think of ‘Rocky IV’ when I think of Herschel Walker. While the rest of the NFL was lifting weights and using the most cutting-edge technology (the Russians), Walker was only using his own body weight as resistance in his strength training. Push-ups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups, etc. To improve his agility and balance, he bean training with the Ft. Worth ballet while with the Cowboys. In 1988, he even danced with them for a performance. You could say he was the original Natalie Portman. Which would make Tony Dorsett Mila Kunis, I guess. Weird.

2. Curt Schilling – Role Playing Games
Schilling has proven himself to be a lot of things during his baseball career: a Republican, media mouthpiece, ace pitcher, and, above all, a big dork. In Boston, he would spend hours per week on message boards talking about virtually anything with strangers from around the world. It turns out that this was simply an extension of his other dorky pursuit: role playing games. He even went so far as to pay out of pocket to establish a convention in Houston for a board game called “Advanced Squad Leader.” Beyond that, he’s obsessed over Everquest, Everquest II, and World of Warcraft. He’s now working on developing an MMORPG code named Copernicus. Yup. Dork.

1. Dhani Jones – Travel/Bow Ties
Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones seems to have taken the Ricky Williams philosophy of “football is what I do, but it’s not who I am” to a whole new level. And he’s managed to not piss off an entire fan base while doing it. Granted, Dhani never had the expectations set that Ricky did, but that doesn’t diminish his off the field pursuits. Dhani is probably better-known for his off-the-field “Dhani Tackles the Globe” show in which he travels the world trying new, unfamiliar sports. He also founded a company that makes bow ties, which could be the strangest hobby/moonlighting gig for a 240-pound linebacker ever.

Sources: Zam.com, ABC News, New York Times

Tags: Curt Schilling, dhani jones, herschel walker, Karl Malone, Michael Vick, mike tyson, ryan klesko, Sean Avery, shaquille oneal,