Sports Illustrated recently published an issue visiting with athletes of yesteryear, stars who once basked in the limelight but have since disappeared from our collective consciousness. Cute idea, Sports Illustrated, but c’mon -- anybody can track down Mario Mendoza in the dumpster behind 7-11 and bang out a quick interview. What we’d really like to know is where today’s beloved superstars will be in the future.
Being the helpful rascals that we are, we hopped into our time machine -- it runs on stale beer, crushed dreams and an abundance of dick jokes -- and whipped ahead to the year 2025 to revisit with some of the most famous and notorious athletes of the past. Present. Whatever.
Some stories will make you smile. Some stories will make you cry. All of them will make you remember what sports are all about.
Former NFL bad boys bring inner-city youth hope with the Fifth Down Foundation
Adam Jones and Ricky Williams were always better known for their off-field exploits than on, but these days that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Williams had frequent troubles because of his marijuana use, and Jones -- who dropped the nickname "Pacman" -- was involved in the "strip club" incident.
Today, things are different. The pair met at a court-ordered rehab meeting 10 years ago and bonded. In 2016 they started the “Fifth Down Foundation,” an organization that helps inner-city youth avoid the same pitfalls Jones and Williams faced.
“In football you only get four downs,” says Jones, who remains so fit he looks like he’s only a uniform away from suiting up today. “But our foundation is all about getting another chance -- in life.”
Williams shows signs of maturity he lacked during his playing career, though it’s not so much his grey-flecked beard as his words of wisdom.
“I was high every day,” laments the former Pro Bowler. “It got out of hand. I remember this one time I was at this party, and these two midgets dressed like clowns are performing oral sex on me, and Manny Ramirez was naked and riding around the house on a pony… I just thought ‘Whoa, what am I doing with my life?’
“That’s when I got the idea for the Fifth Down Foundation.”
The foundation has thrived ever since; although Jones and Williams admit they still face temptations, their friendship gives them the strength they need. And heck, “Pacman” still makes it rain every now and then, but instead of dumping garbage bags full of dollar bills, he spreads open arms full of hope.
Spotlight still shines brightly on this former “Zero”
It’s more “where aren’t they now” than “where are they now” for former NBA star Gilbert Arenas, current host of I Can Do That Blindfolded, ABC’s mega-hit primetime game show. Contestants attempt amazing feats, such as kicking field goals or cooking gourmet meals, wearing blindfolds.
“It’s all about finding that sixth sense to guide you past adversity,” Arenas says. “I’ve seen people win hands of poker blindfolded; I’ve seen people catch giant catfish blindfolded. Former Zeros like myself are becoming heroes on the spot. Life has never been so inspiring.”
Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true. The New York Knicks finally got their wish last week when His Royal Airness, Michael Jordan, came out of retirement to don their jersey.
“Anything to keep Jason Williams on the bench,” says Knicks GM Isiah Thomas of his signing. “And let me tell you something – Michael is as dynamic as ever. The scoresheet says nine points on four of 17 shooting, but it doesn’t tell the story. If you were at
WE ARE A FAMILY
Small hockey player hid big secret
In the early 2000s, smallish superstar Sidney Crosby showed the NHL size didn’t matter. As it turned out, gender didn’t matter either. When perusing Crosby’s personal records to prepare his pension plan after the NHL folded, a league official discovered a major spelling error in
“I guess my thunder thighs fooled the boys,” jokes
“It worked for Celine and Renee, so why not us?”
“Usually, I worked with Cindy to help her get better at putting the puck in the net ,” Lemieux says. “But I guess I blasted a couple pucks of my own in Cindy’s net. By pucks I mean sperm, and by net I mean her cervix, uterus, and general baby creating areas.”
During his days manning the hot corner for the New York Mets, David Wright felt out of place.
“Even home games felt like road trips,” he says. “I missed mom’s tuna casserole. I missed fishing with my dad on Sunday mornings. I had to go home.”
Wright quit baseball and returned to the nest in 2010 after winning the NL MVP award. He now runs a hardware store with his dad.
“It’s a lot easier to enjoy mom’s cooking when I’m living in the basement at home,” Wright says.
The First Family of Football
Peyton Manning, Hall-of-Fame NFL quarterback-turned-Saturn automobile spokesperson, continued his father Archie’s trend and turned football into a family affair.
His eldest son, Cole, will start for
“What can I say? Mannings breed football,” Peyton says. “Why have ’em watching cartoons when they can punch the clock in my game film theatre?”
OUT OF THE LIMELIGHT
Making peace after a failed league
His significant weight gain is obvious, but it’s the large bags under his eyes that are most telling, making you wonder how many years of Gary Bettman’s life have been chipped away.
The former NHL commissioner -- fired in 2016 -- has stayed retired, spending most of his afternoons in the garden and trying not to think about his last few days in hockey. Bettman sealed his own fate after failed expansions into
The league was losing money quickly, and threats on Bettman’s life nearly became a reality when a deranged Canadian hockey fan dressed as Dave Hanson smashed the commissioner in the back of the head with a frozen puck at the 2015 entry draft. He still suffers headaches today but insists he’s fine; he also swears he doesn’t dwell on the fact that most blamed him for the league’s failure after it folded in ’18.
“Ultimately, I don’t feel responsible,” says Bettman. “It was a business and we made business decisions. Sometimes they don’t work out.
“They were my shots to call and if somebody has a problem with that, so be it.”
But the effects of the league’s demise linger. Dozens of hockey fans are left without a league, and Bettman’s own wife left him a few years ago after he lost money building houses in
“I do miss Shelli,” he says, staring into the bottom of his empty brandy glass. “But as they said in
Age is just a number
Back pain and grey hair came far too early for Albert Pujols, who retired abruptly in 2009 when he was revealed to be 17 years older than his listed age.
“Keeping track of age is so…American,” Pujols says. “If I’m young in my soul, what does it matter? Guess how old I am now? Not on the outside -- inside! I’m eight years old. I enjoy stuffed animals. I play ‘House.’ I like a game of Sega Gamecube now and then. What’s wrong with that?”
He now owns a
Former golf star goes from fat pig to fat walrus
Walk any golf course on the planet and you won’t find Phil Mickelson, former two-time Masters champion. After blowing eight consecutive final-day tournament leads in 2008, Mickelson disappeared, leaving his family behind.
Mickelson finally surfaced – well, washed up – on the shores of the
He made no official comment to SOJP, but his expression as he flopped about on an iceberg suggested he recognized our reporter’s face as human.
Everyone remembers the 2007 Cincinnati Bengals’ sad tale; who could forget? The franchise appeared to have reached its nadir after 10 Bengals were arrested in roughly a year, but the 2007 season brought more bad news than anyone could have imagined. Receiver Chad Johnson was the first to let on that things had truly gone wrong in “The Jungle” when he demanded a trade early in the season. He kept his reasoning secret as long as he could, but eventually admitted several of his teammates had been shaving points, something he wanted no part of.
“Ocho Cinco doesn’t play like that,” says Johnson, who now tours the country with Shaquille O’Neal as part of the popular travelling stuntman act they started a few years ago. “But that wasn’t even the worst to come.”
“Ocho Cinco” was right. Later that season most of the Bengals were arrested for their involvement in a drug dealing ring which focused primarily on
Ex Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who now manages the fourth-most profitable Burger King in
“Some people have the courage to stand up for what’s right,” says Lewis. “For whatever reason, I just wasn’t able to do that. I just hope people can learn from our mistakes."
A football legend comes to terms with his alcohol abuse and loose tongue
First came the drinking. Then came the Suzy Kolber incident. Then came the Al Michaels incident. During a 2011 Sunday night broadcast, an inebriated Joe Namath licked Michaels’ ear, telling Michaels on air, “I want to treat your body like an amusement park.” Namath was arrested, but Michaels pressed no charges, claiming he only wanted Namath to seek help.
Namath did. He shares a bunk bed with John Daly at the Gary Busey Retirement Lodge for Troubled Elders.
”In the Busey Lodge, I found salvation,” Namath said. “Plus Jell-O and Valium are a respectable alternative to Jack Daniels.”
After getting tossed from life a nearly 10 years ago, this volatile Major League manager might be back
During a 2016 Grapefuit League game, then-Florida Marlins manager Lou Pinella collapsed – and allegedly died – of a heart attack. His funeral was closed to family, but rumours persisted that no body was inside his casket. In the years since his passing, over a dozen
The reports were all similar. Each witness reported an obese, white-haired man wearing a faded Cincinatti Reds cap stumbling towards them, yelling “Umpire! Umpire!” and throwing egg salad sandwiches at them.
Pinella’s official status remains unknown today, though the state of