tom jones' two cents
Last week, Evan Longoria landed on the front page of the Tampa Bay Times sports section (and several national websites) with his arm around his new girlfriend, Playboy centerfold Jaime Edmondson. It's a good bet that Longoria is the envy of many, and not just because of who is going on dates with him to Animal Kingdom. Who wouldn't want to be Evan Longoria? • Here's a look at 10 athletes we would love to be:
He jumps over cars in a single bound. No kidding. The 22-year-old Clippers star did just that in last year's NBA slam dunk competition. His spectacular dunks land him a regular spot on SportsCenter, and they are the subject of Twitter tweets by other NBA players. When NBA players are bragging about how fly your dunks are, you are one cool dude.
Okay, besides the girlfriend thing, there's this: The Rays third baseman is 26 and already has been a three-time All-Star. He has played in a World Series, been named rookie of the year, won two Gold Gloves and hit a home run to send his team to the playoffs for the third time in his four major-league seasons. Toss in those all-American boy looks that landed him on the cover of a video game and in a famous commercial ("Hey, that guy's got my cap!"), and it's hard to think of another major-leaguer you would rather be.
How cool would it be to be 22 years old and have people say you just might be the best player in your sport. Stamkos just turned 22 earlier this month, and you could make a case that the Lightning forward is the best player in the NHL. He leads the league in goal scoring and has put up numbers so far that have drawn comparisons to the greatest players in the history of the game. To be that young and that good and only getting better? Yeah, it's good to be Stamkos.
A lot of kids dream of being a superstar athlete when they grow up. Others dream of being famous and cool — like a rock star or actor or model. Tennis star Serena Williams is the total package. She's the rock star of athletes. A spectacular athlete who is among the greatest players in her sport's history, as well as a fashion icon who designs her own clothes. She has made more than $34 million in prize money alone, which is a drop in the bucket compared to her endorsements and other work. She has written books, works with charity causes, owns a stake in the Miami Dolphins and has done a few acting gigs. All this and she's only 30.
Is there a more famous position in sports than quarterback? That's what Broadway Joe played. And Joe Montana, and Dan Marino. Do well playing QB and you end up in commercials, movies and as host of Saturday Night Live. Now imagine being an NFL quarterback, a former Heisman Trophy winner, the rookie of the year and having, arguably, the greatest season in the history of pro football for a rookie quarterback. Add all of that up, plus the fact that you're all of 22 years old. Now you know what it's like to be Panthers QB Cam Newton.
He goes by the nickname King Henrik. The New York Rangers goalie is more suave than an international spy. The Swedish-born 29 year old looks like a model you see for some exotic cologne ad in Vanity Fair. He plays guitar in a garage band with John McEnroe. He's part-owner of a restaurant in New York's trendy TriBeCa neighborhood. He's always showing up on best-dressed lists and has his own clothing line. Pretty fair goalie, too. And by "fair" we mean one of the best in the world. Yes, it's good to be king.
The most famous athlete in the world? Yeah, Messi would be our pick. Maybe not a household name among many American sports fans, but he's the best player in the world's most popular sport — soccer. Messi, a star with FC Barcelona who already has won three Champions League titles, is one of soccer's highest paid athletes, making more than $30 million a year. Now for the kicker: He's only 24 years old.
One way to get into the pages of Sports Illustrated is because of your athletic ability. Another is to have an artist paint a bikini on you so you can appear in the swimsuit edition. Or you can be soccer star Alex Morgan, who has appeared in SI for both reasons. Just 22, Morgan is set to become the face of women's soccer in this country and the idol of kids, especially little girls, across the country — just like Mia Hamm.
Not only the most famous female athlete in the world, but on the short list of the most recognizable sports figures on the planet. No question that some of her popularity is due to her looks, but she's not Anna Kournikova. Patrick is actually pretty good at what she does, which is driving race cars, and she is well-respected by her peers. That includes her new competitors on the NASCAR circuit. She's 29 years old and drives her car 180 mph. Tell me that ain't cool.
Incredibly skilled? Check. The Spanish tennis star has won 10 major tournaments. Good-looking? Check. Rich? Check. He has nearly $50 million in prize money alone. Smart? Check. He speaks several languages. Hip? Check. Shakira dedicated a song and video to him. Classy? Check. Young? Check. He's 25. One of the coolest on the planet? Check.