The 19 Boringest Athletes Of All Time

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Illustration: Sam Woolley (GMG), Photo: Getty/AP

Today, we’re talking about pistachios, cults, Costco, crying, and more.

Your letters:


Who are the top boring great athletes of all time? I’m not talking about personalities. I mean strictly based on their style of play, or lack thereof. Athletes with no flair or who actively make the games boring to watch, but are brutally effective.

I actually wanted to do this based solely on personality, but then I realized that most athletes are boring anyway, so you’d have 5,000 guys all tied for first. Even actors are more interesting people. So yes, let’s do it Kevin’s way and salute the athletes who were able to achieve immortality by demonstrating a technical proficiency so consistent and so routine that watching them made me beg for the sweet release of a sledgehammer to the temporal lobe. You will see a lot of obvious names on this list. That is because, like these athletes, I lack imagination.

  1. Patrick Ewing. No one’s even close. Frankly, the whole reason I’m doing this listicle is so I can rant and rave about how miserable it was to watch Patrick Ewing ply his trade. Do you like watching a seven-foot fella wearing 16 different knee braces take five steps to the hoop without dribbling before turning around and bricking a sad midrange jumper from the baseline? Well then, ol’ Pat was YOUR GUY. Watching him play was like watching a dick go limp. They should take all the NBA footage from the ‘90s, save the Jordan stuff, and burn the rest. Patrick Ewing was the worst.
  2. Pete Sampras. Everyone bitched about Pete Sampras’ mechanical dominance back when he was racking up titles. And guess what? Everyone was right. There’s no revising history for Pete Sampras. There’s no looking back and being oddly appreciative of him turning tennis into a rote, serve-and-volley massacre. Back in the day you could watch Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic play a match and no one would hit a forehand for a fucking hour. No thank you.
  3. Brooks Koepka. He’s young, but he’s got so much potential to be the world’s dullest golfer, which is saying a lot! He’s already spoiled so many majors already with his beefy, vacuous presence, and he’s not done. I know announcers love to fawn over bloodless athletes like Koepka who have the on-course demeanor of a claims adjuster. Jim Nantz’ll be like “Look at him! Just another day at the office for this Brooks Brother!” Meanwhile, everyone has already fled the gallery. Brooks Koepka is golfing chloroform. It shouldn’t be legal to make this sport MORE boring.
  4. Tim Duncan. Every time you complain about Tim Duncan, a basketblogger appears in your bathroom mirror to chastise you for having such an old and tired take. “Maybe YOU’RE the boring one!” they’ll say. But they’re wrong. I am rock and roll, and Tim Duncan was a bank shot-hoarding dullard with a rainy day face. I don’t care how jazzy his footwork was.
  5. Lance Armstrong. Did you ever watch Lance Armstrong race? Of course you didn’t. It’s a bike race. You’ve got a life. Even if you do watch a bike race, you still need the announcers to tell you why the guy in front is actually losing and why the dude a quarter mile behind is absolutely dominating.
  6. Peyton Manning. Again, not a new gripe. I can believe that Peyton Manning was one of the greatest passers of all time while also hating every single second I watched him play. I can do both those things, for I contain multitudes. I hated every pass. I hated every audible. I hated his fucking nine-foot long torso gamboling around in the pocket. I hated the whole package. He played in so many exciting football games, and yet I would erase his career from history in a second if I had the power. If you want to read a thorough breakdown of what made Manning so brilliant, go here. Beats watching game film of that arm flapper.
  7. James Harden. Another relative newcomer who is quickly establishing himself as one of the most turgid playmakers in human history. Dribbling down the play clock and then trying to draw a foul from 30 feet away is college shit.
  8. Art Monk. The reason it took so long for Art Monk to get into the Hall of Fame is because no one outside of D.C. remembers a single goddamn catch he made. The man averaged 57 yards receiving a game. Wow. Real kickstart to the heart right there. Fuck Art Monk.
  9. Tom Glavine. Greg Maddux at least had the courtesy to shorten baseball games with his workmanlike efficiency. John Smoltz could throw serious heat. Glavine was easily the most milquetoast great pitcher on the most milquetoast great staff during the most milquetoast run of dominance for the most milquetoast franchise in baseball.
  10. Craig Biggio. Twenty years in the big leagues, 291 total home runs. Shoot me in the nutsack. If you’re not hitting dingers, you’re wasting my time. I was gonna put Jeter in this spot but at least Jeter did the ball flipping thing.
  11. Curtis Martin. The current NFL record book is littered with guys who were essentially Guys but hung around long enough to amass gaudy career stats. Martin is probably the worst offender of that bunch, even more so than Jerome Bettis. He was a perfectly good back for a long time (unless you were starting him in fantasy), but no one is making a pilgrimage to Canton to see that guy’s Hall of Fame bust. Even Curtis Martin’s parents wouldn’t bother.
  12. Rafael Palmeiro. Even before the steroid scandal broke, Palmerio was creeping up the all-time home run chart and people were like, “Really? That guy?” Then he lied to Congress and it made keeping his forgettable ass out of Cooperstown that much easier for everyone involved. Big relief!
  13. David Robinson. I have a take, which is that the The Admiral would get absolutely ruined if he played in the NBA today.
  14. Bill Russell. Same with this guy. By the way, I was gonna add Karl Malone to this list, because no one on Earth played a duller brand of basketball than The Mailman. But he did do some cool dunks, and he did pose for this photograph, so I’m having mercy. You might look at this list and think I’m biased against all low post players, but that’s not true. I am only biased against MOST low post players. Hakeem Olajuwon was the absolute shit and a joy to behold. Everyone else can fuck off.
  15. Mark Price. Cleveland deserved LeBron mostly because they spent years and years addled with a core of Brad Daugherty, Craig Ehlo, and this man. Brutal. Even the Atlanta Hawks shudder at the idea of such competent-yet-inessential basketball.
  16. Martina Hingis. The Swiss Miss, right? No one likes the Swiss.
  17. Bruce Matthews. Offensive line is the boringest position in the four major sports, so I needed an avatar to represent ALL offensive linemen here. And I didn’t wanna choose some cool road-grader like Larry Allen or Orlando Pace. Gimme old man Matthews. He was suitably forgettable. Anyone who tells you they enjoy eating game tape of linemen is lying their ass off. Don’t trust them.
  18. Jason Witten. Witten is gonna go to the Hall of Fame despite being a glorified Jacob Tamme who amassed his gaudy career stats eight lousy yards at a time. Even his booth work isn’t as painful.
  19. Troy Aikman. Pfft, Troy Aikman. The fuck did Troy Aikman ever do? Everyone else on that team made the plays for him. He probably took a grand total of three steps his whole career. Steve Young was a wizard. Tory Aikman was a garden statue.

That’s it. That’s the list. Honestly, I should add Shaq to it. All through my early adulthood I had to hear cloying takes like “Shaq is secretly an underrated passer!” As if that guy would be playing point guard in the NBA if he weren’t the size of a goddamn sun. But Shaq also busted a lot of stanchions, and that was always cool. The truth is that I can try to base this list off of performance and not personality, but sometimes your performance IS your personality, or at least part of it. That’s why watching sports is fun, after all. Sometimes an athlete can’t help but have their style be an extension of themselves, and that’s why Patrick Ewing was a basketball toilet.


You’re NFL commish for one action and that action is to force one NFL team to sign and start Colin Kaepernick. Where do you put him?


It’s clearly between the Giants and Jags, right? I’m not putting Kap in Buffalo, because A) I like him and B) I don’t want ANYTHING spoiling the raucous comedy going on right now with the Bills. It’s killing me that Nathan Peterman is still on that roster. They started Derek Anderson Sunday and watched him drown, and when they needed a life preserver they realized the only one they had available was Nathan Fucking Peterman! Amazing. That situation is perfect as is, and I don’t want anyone messing with it.

That leaves the Giants and the Jags. The Jags are the sensible choice here, since they’re still in contention. I would shit hot knives to see Kaepernick come back, revitalize that offense (not a given by any means, but certainly not impossible). What if they finally dispatched New England in the playoffs? My dick would hit the moon if that happened. Jacksonville makes all the sense in the world, and it’s doubly infuriating that they won’t make that move because this season has already proven that the anthem “issue” was way overblown. Like, you could bring Kaepernick back and it would be a big deal for roughly three days before everything went back to normal again. It’s not some enormous risk to take him on when ratings are spiking and players are still protesting anyway.


All that said, even though Jacksonville makes more sense as a landing spot for Kaepernick, I’d rather make him go to New York. I want him to take Eli’s job and then throw 50 passes to Odell a game. The Jacksonville offense blows no matter who’s playing QB, so I’d plug Kap into a Giants offense where he’s more likely to flourish, and where it’s more likely that John Mara would have a fucking heart attack just because someone sent him a rude note about the move.


Shouldn’t they serve pistachios at baseball games instead of peanuts? They are tastier and easier to shuck.


Why not both? Who says one nut must exercise global hegemony over a single sport? Gimme bag of peanuts AND pistachios, together! I bet God would strike me down with lightning if I dared to attempt such a bold gambit.

Anyway, I assume peanuts remain the baseball nut of choice but they’re right there in the song, and because peanut shells are easy to step on. A peanut shell is basically a biodegradable net. If I step on my discarded peanut shells 50 times during the course of a game, have I REALLY committed an act of littering? I say no. I say those shells have been properly rendered into dust by the time I’ve taken my fourth trip to the pisser.


Pistachio shells are far less forgiving. If they sold bags of them in the stands at a ball park, the whole section would sound like a tap dancing recital by the third inning. I’m not saying I’d be against this, but other patrons might frown upon such a thing.

By the way, speaking of ballpark snacks, the Mariners sold grasshoppers last year and they were a huge hit. I have eaten grasshoppers and, to my surprise, enjoyed them. So I wanna know when the Frito-Laying of grasshopper snacks begins in earnest. Gimme a bag of cool ranch hoppers. Gimme nacho cheese crickets. Gimme bugs seasoned with Old Bay! Crabs are bugs too! It makes perfect sense. If you’re a billionaire, please give me the seed money I require to become a Bug Baron. Not only will we (I) become filthy rich, but… tech bro voice ENGAGE… we can change the WORLD.




What’s the best activity to do as an old person/parent that was miserable when you were young and hip? My kids and husband are at a pizza party and I’m sitting alone, at a bar, reading a mediocre book. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy. Honorable mentions of mine go to mowing the lawn (so satisfying and - common theme here? - two hrs of forced alone time) and minor home improvements. Sanding shit makes me feel like a badass.


Okay so walking is No. 1 for me. When I was a kid, my mom would invite me out for a walk and I would be like, “To where? Just to walk? That’s stupid.” Then I would go back to watching TV and she would be left wondering how she ended up raising such a lazy, disrespectful shit of a boy. Now, if I see nice weather outside, I start clapping my hands like a seal and saying out loud to no one in particular OH FUCK YEAH IT’S WALK O’CLOCK BITCHES! Every time my folks visit now, we go walking. It’s nice! I get some fresh air AND I get to hear about what movies they’ve seen lately. Now that’s real value. They told me A Star Is Born Was too long!

Here are some other old man activities that I very much enjoy now because I suck:

  • Sitting. Let me tell you something about me: I make dad sounds when I sit. I walk over to my recliner, I plop down, and then I let out a strange noise that sounds like I just took my first sip of an ice cold soda combined with someone massaging tension knots out of my buttocks. It’s a real weird sound, man. Fucking humpback whales go swimming by my window when I make it. I can’t help it. I’m finally getting to sit. Time to release all of the day’s tension into a single, garbled old man noise that scares everyone else half to death.
  • Going to the gym. Oh god, working out. That sounds like hell, right? Not with three kids, baby. I’ve said it before, but when you have kids the idea of spending 45 minutes on a treadmill seems like the easiest shit in the world. All I gotta do is run? I don’t have to wash a bottle or settle a dispute over whose Beanie Boo is whose? HEAVEN.
  • Slow boat rides. I used to be Dan Aykroyd in The Great Outdoors. I am now John Candy. Why do we need to go FAST in the water? Let’s just cruise, guys!
  • Dinner parties. I now understand that everything my parents did that seemed boring to me as a child was actually fun because of drinking.


I’m looking to you to make some sort of reason why we keep going through this weekly bullshit of going to Costco. Surely, it can’t be for all the money which we are “saving”.


I have a confession to make, which is that I don’t belong to Costco. I’ve never even been inside one. There’s one relatively close to me, but I’ve never bothered to go. I’m sure I’m literally hemorrhaging money by not having a membership, but I am put off by the annual fee. I also know that if I ever start going to Costco, I’ll never stop. I would spend 10 hours there every week to justify the fee, and I would stock up on 50,000 pounds of Italian pannetone cake and a bunch of other impulse buys I don’t really need. My entire home would become a warehouse of oversized popcorn tins and anchovies purchased in bulk. I’m not responsible enough to have a Costco membership. Also, I only own one refrigerator. If you have an extra fridge in your garage for beer and/or vacuum-sealed deer meat, a Costco membership probably makes more sense.

A friend of mine took me Restaurant Depot once and I was simultaneously overjoyed and overwhelmed. There is meat EVERYWHERE at that place. They have an entire section of that store that’s a refrigerator! They give you a jacket to wear and everything. It’s insane. I bought the smallest package of beef ribs I could find and it was still enough to feed 75 people. If I ever had my own membership, I would wind up broke and cooking elaborate banquet meals for a table of five. I’m a bad fit for that kind of store.



I often cry during movies. I don’t know why. It’s not like a cry often during other moments in my life, but damnit those Pixar nerds get me every time. I started dating a new girl and she is big time into cinema... especially the aforementioned Pixar. Sooner or later I know she will flip on Up/Coco/Toy Story and the floodgates will open. How do I avoid this? Or should I embrace it so she sees my softer side? The relationship is still super new, so it’s hard to gauge her reaction.


You’re fine. Let it rip. Who the fuck doesn’t cry during Pixar movies? Those movies are pure evil. If you don’t cry during a Pixar movie, you’ve basically failed the Turing test. You’re probably some sort of Decepticon that turns into a boat. You’re not to be trusted. Or, even worse, you’re one of those aggro dipshits who’s like DURRRR I DON’T WATCH CARTOONS AND CRYING IS FOR PUSSIES DURRRRR. It’s 2018, man. Fuck those people with a hammer.

More to the point, if you’re looking for a long-term relationship with this lady, there’s no point in being guarded. You may as well be you and see if she accepts that, and vice versa. That’s the risk you need to take if you wanna be truly happy. What are you gonna do instead, keep your guard up forever, entering into a relationship with someone who doesn’t REALLY know you, keeping up appearances until you die without ever knowing what actual, deep love feels like? You may as well live in Victorian England, amigo. Cry away. I think I cried during Hotel Transylvania 2 last week. I’m pathetic.



Let’s say you agree to join a cult for three months. They don’t get to physically coerce you, blackmail you, kidnap your family, etc. but you do take part in whatever group activities, crystal therapy, similar bullshit they have on offer. Do you wind up brainwashed by the end of this period?


No. That’s completely foolish. I’m stronger than that. You think spending three months with a bunch of insufferable hippie dippies is gonna change me and turn me into some brainless, Pavlovian dog who has no free will of his own? I THINK NOT!...

[someone on Twitter has a take that my friends and I disagree with]




Your children are obviously important to you, as is relating to other dads/parents. When you meet a couple in their 30s-40s with no children, what’s the first thing that goes through your mind? Do you think of them as aliens of some sort?


No, the first thought that goes through my mind is, “I bet those fuckers can travel.” I spent months and months planning last year’s Spring Break, and you should have SEEN some of the deals they give to couples. You can go to Punta Cana for, like, $300. Then I impute my family of five into the Expedia search engine and it bricks my PC. NOT FAIR! I played myself so, so badly. If I could just get someone to take these kids off my hands, I could see some real shit!

In all seriousness though, plenty of people my age don’t have children. Sometimes it’s by choice, and sometimes it’s due to the kind of painful fertility issues that plague millions of couples everywhere. It’s an extremely personal matter, and so I do my best to not make any assumptions, because no one wants to be asked WHY they don’t have kids. You know what I mean? That’s a loaded question, and it can come across as obnoxious if a doofy asshole like me is the one asking it. I have definitely fucked up before and been like, “So, you got any kids?” fully expecting the other person to say yes so we can bond over parenting gripes. Then they say “No” and I’m caught TOTALLY off guard, because I’m a fool. It’s a tough recovery from there. Oh, you don’t have kids? Do you… watch sports? Let’s talk sporting ball.



What is the proper way to use a Waxie toilet seat cover in a public restroom? Those infernal things cause me no end of grief every time I try and use one, and I know I can’t be alone with this problem.


Stop using them. Just sit on the goddamn toilet. You’ll live. I’ve never used a toilet seat cover and I’m proud to report that, as of this writing, I am still hepatitis FREE! HIGH FIVE! And I’ll shit anywhere, mind you. I’m no snob. I’ve shit in the woods. I’ve shit in LAX. My butt has survived. Americans collective fear of a naked toilet seat is rooted largely in myth. Between the floor, the sink, and the hand dryer, the toilet seat is arguably the cleanest part of the bathroom. People don’t shit ON the seat. If they do, you can see it. It’s shit. People think if they touch a toilet seat with the bare ass, their skin will ABSORB invisible shit particles. It’s nonsense. Do your business and then wash your hands. You’ll be fine.


Are you an asshole for using an umbrella at a sporting event?

Yes. Buy a fucking poncho, man. I didn’t plunk down $100 a ticket just to have some dandy poke me in the eye with his fucking umbrella and let it pool water directly into my seat. Umbrellas are useless and horrible and I resent their very existence. Don’t bring one to the stadium unless you want me to open it up your ass.


Email of the week!


When I was a kid my family took “The Great American Road Trip,” and it wasn’t even to a specific destination, we drove from Oregon to somewhere in Iowa and turned around and rolled back on a slightly different route.

We stopped at a point and went to this awesome “reptile farm” in South Dakota, and there was this indoor rotunda that had small snakes and scorpions and shit, and in there was a carnival type game where you played tic tac toe against a chicken. Like, there was a chicken with a feeder tray thru a glass window pecking spots on the tic tac toe board.

I played tic tac toe against the chicken and I straight up lost.

Damn. That’s brutal. I would have eaten that chicken in retaliation. Don’t fuck with me, little doodle.