Saturday Night Live! 15 Of The Most Memorable Sports Figure Appearances

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Charles Barkley hosts SNL

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Photo Courtesy of SNL

Over the years, Saturday Night Live has provided us with some of the funniest moments on television. From their hilarious political satires, to motivational speeches keeping today’s youth from ending up in a van, down by the river, SNL keeps the laughs coming. As good as these skits have been, some of the greatest moments have come when some of the biggest names in sports came on the show.

From legendary names like Bill Russell and Michael Jordan, to Olympic heroes like Michael Phelps and Kerri Strug, SNL found comedic gold when they began to mix athletes and improv.

For their part, the athletes are all great sports, and seeing them step outside of their comfort zone takes the routine to a whole new level. In no other circumstances will we ever see Tom Brady dressed as though he is Ali Baba. At no other time will we see Michael Jordan get trapped in an elevator by a national anthem belting Dana Carvey.

There have been so many amazing appearances in SNL by such a wide variety of athletes, and a top ten list just would not do. Here instead are 15 of the greatest moments our beloved sports figures have had on Saturday Night Live.

Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.

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Michael Phelps

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Michael Madrid-US PRESSWIRE

#15. Michael Phelps' Mom

Michael Phelps was fresh off of his dominant performance at the 2008 Olympic games when he was invited to host SNL. Of all of our choices, Phelps looked the most uncomfortable in front of the audience, but the interaction and support he gets from his mother gives him the 15 spot.

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Jeff Gordon

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Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

#14. Jeff Gordon Fighter Pilot

There are still many who refuse to call racing a sport, but try telling that to a NASCAR fan. As the racing industry began to gain momentum, Jeff Gordon became one of the sports most dominant figures, winning the NASCAR cup series 4 times in 6 years. Gordon is still a force in the racing circles, currently 9th in the Chase for the Cup. He is definitely not the guy I would want to follow on career day.

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Wayne Gretzky

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#13. Wayne Gretzky's New Friends

Wayne Gretzky was a great sport when he came on the show as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. Hockey was still finding its way in LA, and the Great One was its great ambassador to the city. You can see what a good sport Gretzky was, and it was great just to have him join the show At the time Gretzky, was considered one of the greatest sports figures of all time...and he was still playing.

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Dwayne Johnson on SNL

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Photo Courtesy of SNL

#12. The Rock Obama

Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, has had many memorable moments on SNL, but that should be expected given his success as a comedic actor. Still, Johnson is a Saturday night success, and since the presidential election is just a few weeks away, it is fitting to have The Rock Obama on our list.

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Eli Manning

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#11. Eli In Motion

Eli was the second Manning to host SNL, following in the footsteps of big brother Peyton. The New York Giants had just won the Super Bowl for the second time in 4 years, the younger Manning was the toast of the town. A spot on SNL was simply inevitable. Eli did such a good job that #11 is just the first of his appearances on our list.

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Joe Montana

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#10. Joe Montana Is So Honest

Joe Montana started his appearance on SNL referring to the Giants, again and again and again, but it was his portrayal of the Honest Man that cemented him as an SNL star. While not as comfortable as the brothers Manning, Montana still held his own in front of the New York audience and his contribution to the Saturday night funnies earned him a place in the top ten.

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Lebron James

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#9. The Lebrons

Number Nine on our list is Lebron James, who had just been swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. James quickly brings up the elephant in the room and makes a decent joke about the Finals, and immediately making himself a likable visitor to the SNL set. The Dr. Doolittle-esq Lebrons are a perfect fit for the show.

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Michael Jordan

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#.3 MJ and the Friendly Skies

Michael Jordan shows the world how a married man is supposed to act when being propositioned by an attractive flight attendant with a sexy latina accent. More than anything, the skit proves that SNL is actually made up of fake circumstances and reactions, because there is no way...oh, sorry...anyways...His Airness soars into our list at #8.

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Charles Barkley

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@7. Charles Names That Quote

Charles Barkley has hosted the show 3 times, making him the most tenured sports figure in SNL’s history. Barkley always has something to say, and most of the time, it comes out in a way that makes normal people shake their heads and laugh. There is obviously something special there, because SNL loves him, and we love him on SNL. His performance as Sam Jefferson on Reel Quotes was classic, and it is just the first time we will be seeing Chuck.

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Kerri Strug

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AP Photo/John Gaps III
Kerri and Kippi

Another Olympic hero was the tenacious gymnast Kerri Strug. Her performance in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta was the stuff of legends. Teaming up with her brother Kippi, played by Chris Kattan for this SNL skit ensured she would be a legend of comedy as well. The best part of this skit is the look on Kerri’s face as she sits next to her doppleganger. The look alone is worthy of distinction as #6 of our list.

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Derek Jeter

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#5. Derek Jeter's Other Job

Seeing as how SNL is filmed in New York City, it only seems right that they would welcome one of the most beloved New York Yankee of all time. And just as it is no surprise to see Derek Jeter on the show, it comes as no shock to see the future Hall of Fame shortstop kill it as a comedic actor. He was funny in several of his skits, but I’m hungry, and a taco sounds good, so Derek Jeter’s Taco Hole comes in at #5.

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Tom Brady

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#4 Brady Gets Chicks

Tom Brady graced the SNL set and provided us with one of the most crucial guides for avoiding sexual harassment in the workplace. With out this skit, thousands of creepy coworkers would have crossed the line and found themselves meeting with the director human resources. Tom Terrific cast off any inhibitions and didn’t hesitate to bare it all in the name of comedy. He smiles his way in to the number four spot.

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Chuck B

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#3. Chuck Comes Out

Charles Barkley shows his face a second times, and oh, what a pretty face it is. I do not know if I could have been more shocked when I saw Sir Charles enter the scene, and the content of the dialogue was enough to have me laughing so hard I choked. Hopefully you feel the same as you watch Barkley do his thing at number 3.

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Eli Winning

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#2. Eli Volunteers For A Good Cause

Of all of the Saturday Night Live skits I have ever seen, this could have been easily come in as the best ever, but it falls just short at number 2. Eli Manning dug deep within his own life experience to become a mentor in the Big Brother Program, and the results are an instant classic SNL skit.

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Peyton Manning

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Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

#1 Peyton Helps Today's Youth

Nearly shown up by his little brother, Peyton Manning manages to secure the number 1 spot on our list with his classic United Way skit. At the time this episode of SNL aired, Manning’s United Way commercials dominated the commercial time on Sunday afternoons. To see Peyton take such a dark turn was so unexpected and so uncharacteristic, it made for the funniest moment in SNL history.


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