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How Can Athletes Be More Awesome? Here's 15 Suggestions

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August is nearly upon us, and we're firmly entrenched in the dog days of summer. How do we combat this malaise? If you guessed "by imagining ourselves as pro athletes," then you are correct!

It's here. The absolute worst time of year to be a sports fan. The dog days. Rock bottom. Put it this way: there's a reason this is everyone's designated vacation month, and nowhere is that more true than professional sports.

It's 100-degrees hot and 100% baseball these days, and I'd prefer a vacation in Afghanistan than writing about baseball. So where does that leave us? Salvaging things with videos like the greatest soccer celebration ever. You've surely seen it by now, but even if you haven't, no need to click over to YouTube. Just read the description:

"When Halldor Orri scores a great goal he decides to go fishing and catch on his mate Johann Laxdal or Johann the salmon."

Johann the Salmon! The whole thing is just awesome. You would have thought it'd be impossible to top Liverpool's Robbie Fowler 1991 celebration, where he responded to allegations of cocaine use by snorting the endline. But alas, there's a grown man flopping around on the ground pretending to be a fish getting reeled in. And there's five men picking up "Johann the salmon" and posing while a teammate pretends to take a picture.

It's the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a college intramurals game, which is precisely why it's awesome. Pro sports needs more of this. And since most of my youth was spent daydreaming about becoming a professional athlete, and all the different insane things that athletes could and should pull off, we may as well pass that wisdom along.

We're here to help athletes be more like Johann the salmon.

With that, let's get into the first-ever bucket list for the professional athlete. What follows is an incomplete list of suggestions for superstar athletes. We're ignoring the obvious choices here (wild sexual fantasies, buying ten Bentleys, etc) in favor of the more absurd. It all stems from the the same principles: have fun, and don't take any of this stuff too seriously. Without further ado...

Spend Lots Of Money On Fireworks. This video surfaced earlier in the week, and the title's pretty self-explanatory. This is why pro athletes are awesome.

As one of his friends said of his multi-millionaire dollar buddy, "10 grand isn't really that big of a deal. ... This lasts six hours, so think of it as 10 grand that lasts six hours, makes a lot of noise, and makes a lot of flash, bright lights and stuff." Indeed.

Another friend, once the fireworks were underway: "You don't do this your front yard! This is crazy." Ah, poor naive soul. This is exactly what you do in your front yard if you a professional athlete with a curious spirit and the means to fund your pursuits.

As Kaman said afterward, "It turned out good, I just can't hear right now." Just perfect. The only way this could have been cooler is if it wasn't on the Fourth of July.

Police officer: Son, we got a call about a disturbance. What in the HELL are you doing here?

Chris Kaman: Officer, I'm worth 50 million dollars! And it's October 10th!!!! (sets off mortar rocket)

See, everyone has their own "What I'd do if I was professional athlete..." scenario, but nobody ever comes up with "drunkenly set off $10,000 worth of fireworks at my house." They should though.

Attend An NHL Bachelor Party. Earlier this week, a friend told me about a group of NHL players that got together for a weekend-long bachelor party in Vegas this summer. Upon arrival, the star of the team—and one of the more famous hockey players on earth—hired two midgets, and immediately handcuffed them to the bachelor. Real handcuffs. For 48 hours. Apparently, the bachelor had to sleep with his new companions, bring them to the casino, strip clubs, etc.

Perverse? Yeah, definitely. If you're a normal person that likes to hang out with handcuffed midgets, you probably have a mustache and a heroin problem. But it's also completely brilliant, unhinged, and ultimately, a once-in-a-lifetime story for everyone involved. And these are hockey players. Wouldn't it be more surprising if they weren't spending their fortunes to handcuff two midgets to a teammate in Vegas?

64974_stanley_cup_blackhawks_flyers_hockey_medium_medium

Be Pedro Martinez, Not Curt Schilling. Curt Schilling spent much of his career talking like a guy looking to run for political office. Post-retirement, he actually mulled running for Ted Kennedy's vacated senate seat. Purposefully vague at the time, he said, "I've thought about it."

Curt Schilling is basically Brett Favre, if Favre took an English class, started a blog, and recited talking points from Fox News. His sneering pretense is suffocating even today, and his moralizing over the steroid era remains the gold standard in douchetastic preening from an MLB'er. Did we mention he openly campaigned for George W. Bush throughout the 2004 World Series run? Ugh.

Meanwhile, that same year, Pedro Martinez adopted a midget Dominican named Nelson.

Pedro_medium

Take notes, athletes.

Make Your Offensive Line Work For Their Reward. As you know, it's customary for a running back to reward his offensive line with gifts after a good season. Most guys purchase nice watches, TVs, sound systems, etc. High-end stuff. But according to Jeff Pearlman's indispensable Boys Will Be Boys, Emmitt Smith went the other direction one year. Rather than rolexes or TVs, Smith gave each member of the offensive line a signed copy of his autobiography.

What a guy, right? Apparently he was all out of headshots. Believe me, I'm not suggesting replicating Emmitt's cheapskate move. At least not entirely.

No, a star running back should give his lineman copies of his book AND a ridiculous present. The catch is, they have to read the book and pass a quiz to find out what they get on the other side:

Minnesota Vikings lineman: "Will it be a car? A Rolex? An apartment full of prostitutes?"

Adrian Peterson: "I don't know, man. What high school did I go to? Where did I lose my virginity? Who was the walk-on receiver that changed the course of my career? What high school did he go to?"

If the running back doesn't have an autobiography, he should hand out Emmitt's book. Partially as an homage, and partially because it'd be hilarious to force someone to read The Emmitt Zone in order to collect a $5,000 watch.

Scare Your Twitter Followers. This is one of the bigger no-brainers on the list. Why don't superstar athletes screw around with the millions of people that hang on their every word? Take Reggie Bush. He's got 1,233,644 followers, and it's all on the strength of tweets like this:

At the ESPY's everyone is here! Good times!less than a minute ago via Echofon

 

And that's fine. But why not, every now and then, pepper in some messages that make people question your state of mind? You know, just mix it up a little. Keep everyone on their toes.

Skipped the ESPYs. SMH. You ever feel like no1 understands you? All alone right now. The bottle hold me down tho less than a minute ago via Echofon

 

You think Reggie care if it's 10 a.m.? Its Reggies MONEY. Reggies LIFE. Reggies RULES. #Wedrinkinless than a minute ago via Echofon

 

Feel like OJ Simpson right now lolless than a minute ago via Echofon

 

Those weren't normal mushrooms in my omlette this morning..... Chiefs game just got more interesting ;-)  #Gamedayless than a minute ago via Echofon

Imagine Trey Wingo reading that last tweet on Sunday Morning Countdown while everyone shifts awkwardly in their seat, and someone like Chris Mortensen laughs a little too hard at the joke. This needs to happen, Reggie. It needs to happen now.

Answer Questions In Rhyme For An Entire Season. This is dedicated to former Dallas Cowboys RB Duane Thomas. In 1971, after a trade was voided that would have sent him to New England, Thomas was forced to return to the Cowboys, the team that'd refused to re-work his contract, and indeed, had just traded him. How'd he react? Rather than clear the air with Cowboys coaches, management, and teammates, Thomas took a vow of silence. He put a bag over his head in meetings, refused to talk to the media, and silently anchored the offense for Dallas' first-ever Super Bowl team. "Sullen" seems like an apt description.

But in a good way! Or at least a consistent way. One of his only quotes that year came during Super Bowl week, about the big game that had all of America talking:

"If [the Super Bowl] is the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?"

Wow. Way to take the fun out of the room, huh? (Though he makes a good point.)

Anyway, Duane Thomas gets credit here because a. He was forever underrated, even though his performance in the Super Bowl was Dallas the first of what became many championships. And b. Because sticking to any policy like that takes some serious discipline (or a social disorder). However he did it, it'd be amazing if a disgruntled player in today's game paid homage by speaking exclusively in rhyme. No silence necessary if you're speaking in unintelligible jingles all the time.

For instance, the Jets are on Hard Knocks this year. Darrelle Revis still doesn't have a new deal. Darrelle Revis deserves a new deal. So what if, rather than skipping training camp, he shows up and only speaks to coaches and teammates in rhymes? It'd easily make for the most entertaining Hard Knocks in history, and Revis becomes a counter-culture hero.

Bulworth set a worthy precedent here; it's up to Darrelle Revis to match it.

(Rhyming starts at 2:10 mark)

Derek Jeter vs. Tiger Woods, An Obvious Lesson. This advice isn't directed at ALL pro athletes. We're talking superstars here. Like, top 1%. Which brings us to Jeter and Woods, two guys who've spent most of their professional lives firmly ensconced in that territory. With Tiger, it's fair to say he got married before he'd fully enjoyed the spoils of this profile. As a result, he spent the next decade with his sexual impulses coming out sideways and in the shadows. Jamie Grubbs? That's not very awesome.

So instead, superstars of tomorrow, please take note of Derek Jeter's path. Rather than get married, he set out to date just about every hot celebrity in the entire world. To date, Jeter's been linked to the following starlets:

  • Jessica Biel
  • Jessica Alba
  • Adriana Lima
  • Mariah Carey
  • Gabrielle Union
  • Vanessa Minnillo
  • Vida Guerra
  • Scarlett Johannson

Had he gotten married, this would have been impossible. Even if he had an affair, bedding Hollywood celebrities isn't exactly the most discreet strategy there. The lesson for superstar athletes is obvious: Do not get married until having sex with beautiful, famous women bores you. Only then does it make sense to settle down. It sounds simple enough, but famous people keep screwing it up.

Rather than living like Derek Jeter—the guy every man wants to be, and every woman wants to be with—Tiger got married too early, and now he's the guy with a sex addiction and $750 million divorce settlement. There's a lesson in his story.

Sabotage Your Archrival. First, a superstar secretly agrees to stage a very public falling out with his longtime team. When they release him, he pledges to make them pay for the rest of his career, and seeks out a contract with his team's greatest rival. Then, he gains 15 pounds, starts smoking cigarettes, goes out of his way to divide the locker room, and antagonizes the local press.

Pretty simple concept, but to carry it through, you'd pretty much have to be pure evil—and insanely bored. So basically what I'm saying is, this could totally happen with Kobe Bryant in five years. Keep your fingers crossed. And either way, it's the only way to explain Deion Sanders' tenure on the Washington Redskins.

Grow A Hitler Mustache, Just To See How Everyone Reacts. Michael Jordan was way ahead of me and proved that, maybe, this isn't such a good idea. Everything else on this list? Good idea. But perhaps the Hitler 'stache was pushing it.

Take Out A Life Insurance Policy. ...On the opposing team's starting quarterback. Legally speaking, I'm not sure if this would work. But for the sake of argument, imagine someone like Patrick Willis, certified ass-kicker, decided to call a press conference two days before a big game. And when the cameras get there, he's sitting at a table filling out a life insurance policy that he plans to donate to Peyton Manning's family, because, as he explains, "I might just kill the quarterback this week, and I don't want a guilty conscience." It'd be the most baller intimidation tactic of all time. 

Willis_medium

Become The Literal Worst Nightmare Of An Offending Columnist. Every athlete has one. That one writer that just hates his guts beyond any reasonable stretch of the imagination, to the point where it borders on creepy. For instance, everyone hates LeBron James these days, but there's an unnamed columnist out there who HATES LeBron James. In the truest sense of the word. It's otherworldly. The other day, he wrote that an NBA superstar had "veered the wrong way, into the wrong clutches," because of his friendship with LeBron. ... He's veered into LeBron's clutches.

So here's my solution, and again, this could work for any athlete. LeBron's just the example. Anyway, 'Bron should find out where this columnist lives, and promptly buy the homes on both sides of him. Then, go introduce himself. Bake a cake, perhaps. Keep it cordial. Later that night, the plan begins:

  • Monday: One of his friends slashes said columnist's tires.
  • Tuesday: Follow columnist to Deli, pay the Deli owners $5,000 to use paste instead of mayo on his Pastrami sandwich.
  • Wednesday: Spray paint his garage door (using Miami Heat colors).
  • Thursday: Finally, when his house is empty, break inside, and steal all of his socks. 

By Friday, this columnist will be scribbling angrily about "LeBron James, who slashed my tires and stole all my socks!" And just like that, he'll be revealed as the crazy person that we've suspected all along, and nobody will pay attention to his LeBron columns ever again. SUCCESS!

OPTIONAL: Upon completion, donate the homes to Ron Artest's Queensbridge posse

What Randy Moss Should Have Written To Terrell Owens. Not necessarily something than an athlete can "do" at this point, but think of this as a blueprint for future run-ins with overrated trash-talkers. About two years ago, when the Dallas Cowboys were about to play the undefeated Patriots in the biggest game of the season to that point, Terrell Owens left a message for media members and to Randy Moss:

Dear Reporters,

Due to the magnitude of this week's game and volume of questions for the Original 81 about the other 81, I will be taking all questions immediately following Sunday's game.

And while Randy Moss dismissed the taunt from TO, here's what he should have written on a napkin, and taped to his locker:

Dear Reporters,

R. Kelly said age ain't nothin but a number. R. Moss says a number ain't nothin but a number. I just want to smoke trees and catch TDs. See you Sunday.

BOOM.

Play Ridiculous Pranks Every Day, And Never Stop. Earlier this week, over at Deadspin, they posted a reader's hilarious account of a prank involving Charles Barkley and Spike Lee. Basically, both the Chuckster and Spike Lee were slated to be guests on a daytime talk show, and upon finding out that Spike would be there, Barkley insisted on trashing the green room that had been meticulously prepared by the show's staff, according to demands carefully outlined by Lee.

Barkley's justification? "He ain't no asshole, he'll love it!" This should be everyone's attitude.

It reminded me of what has to be one of the better prank wars in history. It involved Gilbert Arenas and Nick Young, and Gilbert was kind enough to share all the spectacular details on his now-defunct blog. Among the highlights:

  • Nick Young stealing Gilbert's Black Card and going on a shopping spree.
  • Gilbert stealing Nick Young's keys on a road trip.
  • Oh, and then Gilbert mailed the keys back to Washington D.C., had a friend steal Nick Young's car, and that had it painted pink, with lettering on the hood that read, "I love Dominic" (another Wizards rookie).

Let's just stop right there. One guy steals a black card and goes on a spending spree... the other spends another couple thousand dollars to have his buddy's car painted pink.

Guys, that's a full-fledged money fight!

Moneyfight__medium

It's the sort of thing that could only happen between a couple of young, restless NBA millionaires. Like the gasoline fight in Zoolander, except nobody dies, and it just gets more and more awesome. Anyway, let's give Gilbert Arenas the stage here. After the pink car stunt, Nick Young goes on the offensive (complete with paintball gear):

So I was sitting in my house playing Halo and I'm looking at my surveillance camera and I see Dominic and Nick creep up to my property all decked out. They parked across the street and they're running towards my house wearing masks and helmets. They came around the side of the house, jumped the wall, and came in through the garage. But by the time they did all that, I already was out of the house and jumped the other wall. They were in the house looking for me and I was across the street flattening their tires so when they decided to leave they'd be on flats....

When they left the house, they stole my daddy's toaster! I like making toast! So I told them ... that we were going to have a paintball shootout. We all went to the store... and bought all these paintball guns, like eight or nine new ones (because I already had three), then we bought the CO2 cartridges and like 12,000 paintballs and I even bought a couple paintball grenades.

We tried to make the teams fair. My team was me, my friend John and three guys who were at my house hooking up stereo equipment.

If you're an athlete making more than $10 million-a-year, and you're NOT pulling stuff like this at least once-a-week, then you'd better have a pretty good excuse. In a perfect world, we'd all be able to have elaborate paintball wars and make a habit of involving everyone in your immediate vicinity, even if they're hooking up expensive stereo equipment. Especially if they're hooking up expensive stereo equipment.

Really, guys: If you're not going to make a mockery of conventional living, what's the point of being young and insanely wealthy? (Note: Stick to paintball guns. Real guns can get... Awkward.)

Buy Two Dogs, Name One After Yourself. ...And the other after a rival. Every athlete can pull this off. A superstar could even get an entire litter of shih tzus and name each of them after one of his closest competitors. Kobe Bryant could have Dwyane, LeBron, Kevin, Carmelo... And then he'd buy the most badass dog possible, and name that dog after himself. Look:

Sharp-dogs_medium

On the left is Kobe Jr., and on the right, LeBron James.

Kobe, want to really dominate the competition? Keep the dogs separated (lest they become friendly), and then, whenever you're in need of an ego boost, release them into the front yard and watch poor LeBron scurry about for cover while Kobe Jr. terrorizes him for a solid 45 minutes. Does Kobe Sr. have hedges out there? I sure hope so. Little LeBron's going to need a hiding place...

Sometimes, even for athletes, it's the simple pleasures in life.