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20 Most Interesting Athletes Today

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The 20 Most Interesting Athletes Today

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

When it comes to athletes today, there's certainly a wide range of personality types. Athletes aren't just expected to compete in today's world, they're also expected to be entertainers on some level. They have to address the media on a regular basis and many of them double as celebrities. While sports stars don't have quite the same impact as celebrities from Hollywood, they're in the same league.

So what makes an athlete interesting?

For a lot of the people on this list, many are intriguing on and off the field. To be a top-notch interesting athlete, you first must be good at your day job. If fans watch your every move on the football field or diamond, that's one part of being truly interesting. If they watch your every move away from sports, that takes the intrigue to another level.

While there were certainly interesting athletes before him, Michael Jordan really took the athlete celebrity game to places it had never been. For awhile in the 90s, people across the globe were interested in Jordan's every move. You can only imagine what it would be like if MJ's run took place today in the craziness of social media and instant information.

Some of the athletes you'll see in this slideshow are listed because they grab attention whether they're playing sports or not, while some of these athletes are just interesting and intelligent individuals. With the many things in mind that can make an athlete interesting, let's take a look at the top 20 interesting athletes in the sports world today:

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Barry Zito

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Zito is an interesting character, to say the least. He's into music, meditation and yoga. He's known for being off-beat, but for the most part he's considered a good guy. He also founded the charity 'Strikeouts for the Troops'.

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Michael Phelps

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Even though he swore he was retiring, Phelps already sounds like a guy who's backtracking. He's going to be one of the more intriguing athletes in the world over the next couple of years while he prepares for his final Olympics.

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Shane Battier

USA
USA Today Sports

Battier is always in the discussion of smartest NBA players. He speaks German and is admittedly a tech nerd. My guess is that you could have a great non-sports related conversation with Battier anytime.

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Ryan Dempster

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Dempster is the jokester of all jokesters in MLB. He's known for great impersonations and for being a great person in the clubhouse. On top of that, he's also very active in charity work and has his own foundation.

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Russell Wilson

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Wilson is not your typical second-year NFL QB. He's known as wise beyond his years and also mature beyond his years. But Seahawks fans are more interested in whether he can QB a dynasty for them over the next half a decade or so.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Fitzpatrick makes the interesting athlete list because of his large brain. He's widely considered one of the smartest players in the NFL and he actually holds the record for finishing the wonderlic test in nine minutes. You could no doubt have a very interesting conversation with the Harvard graduate.

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Masahiro Tanaka

Getty
Getty Images

Can Tanaka be successful in America? He's clearly one of most interesting athletes to follow in 2014 and beyond while he attempts to become an MLB star.

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Myron Rolle

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Rolle was chosen as the second smartest athlete in 2010 by the Sporting News. He's currently retired from football because he's attending medical school at Florida State.

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Lolo Jones

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Can Lolo be a successful two-sport athlete at the 2014 Winter Games? Even if she can't, she'll still be one of the most interesting athletes to follow. You never know what she's going to say.

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Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston
USA Today Sports

It doesn't get much more interesting in the world of college football. Winston will be attempting to win another Heisman and National Championship in 2014.

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David Beckham

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

This guy is the epitome of an international sports star. Everywhere he goes, no matter where, people want to know what he's up to.

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Floyd Mayweather

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

You may not like him, but Mayweather is unquestionably one of the most interesting athletes in sports. Whether it's his skills in the boxing ring or his crazy bets, people want to know what Money is doing.

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Chael Sonnen

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Sonnen is the most interesting guy in UFC because you never know what's going to come out of his mouth. But Sonnen can't just talk the talk, he can walk the walk.

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Kobe Bryant

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

The biggest intrigue around Bryant right now is his return from injury. After his first comeback attempt fell short because of a broken bone in his leg, can he rally his body for one more great run in the NBA?

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Peyton Manning

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

There's no other way to put it, Manning is a mega star. He sets the standard right now for athletes that double as celebrities. You know Roger Goodell is hoping like heck that he plays for another few years. Football is simply better with Peyton Manning playing.

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Derek Jeter

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

People love them some Derek Jeter. They want to know who he's dating and what high-class things he's up to. The Yankees couldn't have had a more interesting and respectable captain over the last 11 years.

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LeBron James

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

It doesn't get more interesting when it comes to NBA players. Everyone, even non-basketball fans, seem to weigh in with their two cents on the King. But to me, he's the most interesting NBA player because he has a chance to be the GOAT.

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Richard Sherman

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

There are a lot of layers to Richard Sherman. Many wanted to just slap the 'thug' label on him after his post-game rant, but that's just unfair. He's a well-informed, well-spoken intelligent individual. Oh yeah, and he's also the best cornerback in football.

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Johnny Manziel

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

There seems to be more hate than love for Johnny Football these days, but either way he's getting a reaction. That's what the most interesting players do, they get people talking.

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Robert Griffin III

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

RG3 was the breakout star of 2012, but then he took a step back in 2013. With a full offseason to get back to 100 percent, he'll be the most interesting NFL player to follow in 2014.