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The 25 Most Boring Athletes in Sports

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterAugust 19, 2012

The 25 Most Boring Athletes in Sports

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    Like it or not, we live in a SportsCenter world. The sports media narrative is often driven by controversial soundbites, scandals and highlight-reel worthy feats of athleticism. With the rise of Twitter and the 24/7, hyper-information environment, stories about sports and the athletes who play them are compressed into little sensational nuggets accessible by any smartphone.

    This is the reality we live in, and perhaps the biggest casualty is nuance. Today, nuance is boring, and boring athletes stand out like an untouched tree after a forest fire. It's a strange paradox: Those people who shine in the spotlight and self-promotion become stories themselves by virtue of trying not to make headlines.

    While the world watched former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Chad Johnson's marriage and career fall apart in almost real time, plenty of athletes manage to win championships and build successful careers without pomp and circumstance.

    Hey, maybe boring is the new celebrity.

    These are the 25 most boring athletes.

25. David Garrard, Miami Dolphins

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    He's Boring: on and off the field. 

    I've been watching Hard Knocks, and David Garrard seems like a genuinely nice guy; not interesting, but nice.  

    Unfortunately, he's genuinely boring, too. As a starting quarterback in the NFL for nearly a decade, Garrard's performance on the field has been fine; nothing more, nothing less. 

24. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

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    He's Boring: definitely off the field, and the boringness is slowly creeping into his play as well.

    Since signing an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees in 2008, first baseman Mark Teixeira has been the antithesis of the kind of swaggering, Big Apple superstar signed by the club in the past.

    A devout Catholic who's married with three children, Teixeira would much rather catch an encore showing of Les Miserables than get involved in the type of mischief that lands some of his teammates on Page 6 of the New York Post.

23. Manu Ginóbili, San Antonio Spurs

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    He's Boring: on and off the court, but that's just the Spurs. 

    The San Antonio Spurs have emerged as a kind of anti-Heat, featuring a core nucleus of veterans who've already won…yawn…multiple NBA titles together.

    So, you can't blame a player such as Manu Ginobili for keeping his pulse rate relatively low during some of the game's biggest moments.

    There's no better example of this than his series-clinching layup in Game 4 of the Spurs' first-round sweep of the Utah Jazz last season. All alone, he could have slammed it home, but Ginobili opted to gently tap the nail into the coffin.

22. Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans

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    He's Boring: on and off the field. 

    In the instance of Titans wide receiver Nate Washington, being boring is actually a very good thing. When you're constantly dealing with the law-breaking shenanigans of Kenny Britt, quietly solid production has got to feel like a godsend in Tennessee. 

    Until 2011, the undrafted wideout out of Tiffin University has been reliable for about 600 yards and six touchdowns every year since 2006. And, more importantly, he has never missed a game due to injury or arrest in his career.

    Washington quietly doubled his production in 2011 while filling in for an injured Britt, yet it's unlikely that anyone outside Nashville could pick him out of a lineup. 

    Still…a good thing. 

21. Ernie Els, PGA

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    He's Boring: but so damn likable. 

    It's impossible to dislike South African golfer Ernie Els. He's got a friendly smile and an approachable personality that are uncommon among professional athletes. Els' manner on the green and personable ease with the media are a stark contrast to some of his PGA counterparts. 

    The characteristics that make Els among the most likable in sports are the same characteristics that also make him among the most boring. Golf fans are quick to root for Els when he finds himself leading on a Sunday, but completely forget about him when he fails to make a cut. 

20. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

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    He's Boring: as a human. 

    Reds first baseman Joey Votto is a cerebral athlete who has maintained a relatively low profile despite having three extremely productive seasons in Cincinnati.

    In fact, with all the hoopla surrounding Albert Pujols' contract in the offseason, Votto's 10-year, $225 million contact extension was all but ignored by the national media. 

    Votto is just one of those quietly productive guys you'd love to have on your team, but completely forget about otherwise. But Votto, who carried Ted Williams' The Science of Hitting with him throughout his five seasons in the minors, probably wouldn't have it any other way. 

19. Roger Federer, Tennis

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    He's Boring: on and off the court.

    John McEnroe and Andre Agassi were not just the best men's tennis players in the world at the height of their careers, they were brash and defiant—subversive characters who played and lived like racquet-wielding Lotharios.  

    So, it's not surprising that the rise of the very milquetoast Rodger Federer coincided with the relative decline of U.S. men's tennis. Federer coolly racked up Grand Slams in grayscale, rarely showing the kind of fire and emotion that defined men's tennis in the decades before him.

18. The Manning Brothers

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    They're Boring: off the field. 

    The Manning brothers have three Super Bowl rings between them and have been two of the most successful quarterbacks in the league throughout their tenure in the NFL. They've also proven their comedic chops with hosting gigs on Saturday Night Live and in an endless array of commercials. 

    But there's a reason why Eli is the third-most talked-about quarterback in New York City. If these guys aren't throwing the football or being paid to be funny, they are two of the most boring humans on the planet. 

    Between Peyton's release from the Colts and Eli's second Super Bowl, they've made more headlines than any other quarterbacks through 2011. Yet in their countless interviews, they rarely offer anything more than a list of talking points and a product pitch for whatever crap they happen to be hawking that day. 

17. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

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    He’s Boring: off the ice and boringly productive on it.

    The Detroit Red Wings are a boring team because franchises that are consistently successful and well-managed avoid the kind of pitfalls and personalities that make good headlines but bad teams.

    And there is no player who is a better symbol of the Red Wings' winning ways than forward Henrik Zetterberg.

    In a game known for grit and violence, the gently bearded Zetterberg has built a career on consistency, productivity and smart, fundamental play. He may not be featured on SportsCenter destroying another player along the boards, but he's also rarely on the wrong end of a bad giveaway.

16. Jason Bay, New York Mets

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    He's Boring: on and off the field.

    It's Jason Bay.  He's hit the third-most home runs of any MLB player born in Canada.

    However, he's not Canadian anymore; he became a U.S. citizen in 2009.  

    Bay was once the best player on a bad Pirates team, but now he's an underperforming, injury-prone Mets player who is on the verge of having his $16 million salary dumped.

    Jason Bay…is…Jason Bay.

15. Lamar Odom, L.A. Clippers

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    He's Boring: when he's not falling apart. 

    Considering the emotional breakdown that he had at the prospect of being traded by the Lakers, it's no surprise that Lamar Odom's season with the Mavericks was such an abject failure. Prior to his stint in Dallas, Odom had been a predictably solid and consistent role player for 10 seasons—not exactly a thrilling space to occupy.  

    Odom's quickie marriage to the largest Kardashian sister hasn't managed to make him anymore interesting, either. The couple has been surprisingly stable, with any hijinks being initiated by the spotlight-loving Khloe or the ever-present E! camera crew that documents her every desperate move. 

    If anything, marrying into that sickening sideshow has made him look even more boring by comparison. 

14. Michelle Wie, LGPA

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    She's Boring: on and off the green. 

    When 13-year-old golfer Michelle Wie became the youngest ever to qualify for an LPGA Tour event in 2003, she became one of the most buzzed-about athletes in the world. Wie even had a few impressive rounds in PGA Tour events as an amateur, which put even greater expectations on the young golfer.

    Wie turned professional in 2005 and joined the LPGA Tour in 2009. Despite the promising start, under the glare of the spotlight Wie has yet to win a Major and only has two professional wins. All the early speculation about her impact on golf being on par (get it?) with Tiger Woods has proved to be absolutely ridiculous. 

    Wie is still a top earner in terms of endorsements, but she rarely makes headlines anymore. There's nothing more boring than when an over-hyped athlete fails to live up to expectations.

13. Tim Tebow, New York Jets

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    He's Boring: on and off the field. 

    Jets back-up quarterback Tim Tebow is one of the most overexposed, underperforming athletes in professional sports. The Tebow hype machine was out of control in the usually tranquil mountain town of Denver, and moving it to the circus sideshow better known as Rex Ryan's Jets certainly didn't help matters. 

    The problem is that Timmy Terrific is terrifically dull. He can't throw the ball or perform the job functions of an NFL quarterback. He doesn't date or do anything interesting off the field. And the only thing Tebow ever says is that he's "really, really happy and excited" to be doing whatever. 

12. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies

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    He's Boring: in every category except wins. 

    Phillies pitching ace Roy Halladay is, without question, one of the best pitchers in MLB. He may be Hall of Fame bound, but the eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner really doesn't look like he's having much fun in the process. 

    Throughout all the strikeouts, awards and accolades, perfect games and postseason no-hitters, Halladay has rarely displayed any more emotion than his promotional bobblehead. 

11. Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimmer

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    He's Boring: when he's not swimming.

    Judging by the excessive screen time American swimmer Michael Phelps received during the Olympics, it's possible that I'm part of a small minority of the population who finds this guy inexplicably boring when he's not in the process of winning a gold medal. 

    Phelps did interview after interview, each seemingly longer than the last, while revealing absolutely nothing. He was boring, vague and dismissive throughout the Olympics, so much so that it made the maddeningly stupid Ryan Lochte look better by comparison. 

    Phelps has said he's retiring because he's already accomplished everything—and I can't really say that I'm too sad about it. 

10. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs

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    He’s Boring: on and off the field.

    Imagine you never started a single game as a quarterback in college, then got drafted late in the seventh round of the NFL draft so you could hold a clipboard as Tom Brady’s backup. Brady never gets hurt and will never get benched, so the benchwarming status quo is indefinite, right?

    Well, in 2008 the unthinkable happened, and Matt Cassel became New England’s starting quarterback after Brady went down in the season opener. Cassel's very boring career suddenly became much more interesting, and I'm not sure a bigger, more fiery personality could have handled the pressure.

    Cassel approached the situation like you and I approach yardwork, turning his serviceable performance into a starting job with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    And the football world said, "Meh."

9. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    He's Boring: off the ice.  

    Since being drafted first overall by the Penguins in the 2005 NHL Draft, Sidney Crosby has been one of the league's preeminent superstars on the ice. But unlike Capitals center Alexander Ovechkin, the offseason Russian rapper who is romancing a beautiful Russian tennis player, Crosby keeps a low profile in the summer months. 

    Crosby spent his first few years as a Penguin living with club owner Mario Lemieux and his family in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Crosby hasn't had any high-profile romances, no run-ins with the law and has given no indication that he plans to record an album—thank God. 

    Crosby's health concerns on the ice have been dramatic enough for Pens fans, it's definitely for the best that he keeps it quietly nerdy off the ice. 

8. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

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    He's Boring: always.

    It's almost impossible to make 13 All-Star appearances and four NBA championships seem kinda boring, but Spurs forward Tim Duncan somehow manages the impossible. I'm not sure if Duncan has defined the Spurs' quiet unassuming success or vice versa, but they're synonymous at this point. 

    Duncan has been one of the NBA's preeminent talents, dating back to his rookie season in 1997-98, but has never attracted the same kind of attention that the game's bigger personalities have. Duncan's hobbies (Renaissance fairs, Dungeons & Dragons and video games) aren't exactly paparazzi-friendly endeavors.

7. Mia Hamm, Retired Soccer Player

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    She’s Boring: but comforting. 

    Mia Hamm may be retired, but when you're considered the greatest women's soccer player ever, you never truly leave the spotlight. Despite being part of one of the greatest moments in U.S. women's soccer history, Hamm could not exude more of an "Average Jane" sensibility. 

    Here are Hamm's own words in describing her life with husband Nomar Garciaparra:

    "We are very boring people. To some degree we fight to be normal. We don't like being anything but who we are and that is who we are. I go to the grocery store in my sweats."

6. Deion Branch, New England Patriots

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    He's Boring: on and off the field. 

    When Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch left New England in search of greener pastures (the green I'm referring to is money) in 2006, he was coming off the best season of his career to date and had developed into one of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite targets.

    Branch was traded to Seattle and eventually benefited from one of those insanely bloated contracts the Seahawks were all too eager to bestow on any mediocre wideout who would have them in the pre-Pete Carroll era. Branch was serviceable at best as a Seahawk for a little more than four seasons and, once again, made the Patriots look brilliant for not caving to salary demands.

    Players in New England are often called "a product of the system," essentially saying they are overachieving cogs in a machine designed, built and run by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

    Branch may be the greatest example to date. 

5. Jim Thome, Baltimore Orioles

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    He's Boring: off the field and kinda on the field. 

    MLB's 500 home run club has been diluted and polluted by the steroid era. That is why when then-White Sox DH Jim Thome, refreshingly steroid-free, hit his 500th career home run against the Angels in 2007, it was certainly a cause for celebration. 

    As a long-time casual baseball fan, my reaction to the historic moment was something along the lines of, "Yay! Wait…who?"

    Despite Thome's impressive career that spanned 16 years at the time (21 now), somehow I had remained completely unaware of his existence on this planet. 

    Thome may have been invisible before 2007, but his 500th home run assured him a permanent place in baseball history alongside all-time greats such as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. 

4. Ray Allen, Miami Heat

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    He's Boring: as a human being.

    There is no questioning Ray Allen's greatness on the court. He's a 10-time All-Star, the NBA's all-time leader in three-pointers and has been one of the league's more dominant players for more than a decade. 

    So how come he's so boring?

    Maybe it's because he's played alongside Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce in recent years—not exactly wallflowers—and was overshadowed by their sizable personalities. 

    When it was announced that Allen was departing Boston for Miami, it felt anti-climactic. He may have been routinely overshadowed with the Celtics, but now a 37-year-old playing with the Heat's "Big Three," Allen is going to be an afterthought. 

    Or maybe it's because many of us expect him to live up to the persona of Jesus Shuttlesworth, the character he made famous in the Spike Lee film He Got Game. Obviously that not very fair to Allen, but there's no question he looks boring as hell by comparison. 

3. The Sedin Twins, Vancouver Canucks

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    They're Boring: in the playoffs, mostly. 

    Henrik and Daniel Sedin are regular-season warriors, exactly like the team they both serve as captains for, the Vancouver Canucks. Dating back to 2006-07, both Henrik and Daniel have been among the league leaders in scoring every season, with both cracking the top five more than once.

    Over that same span, the Canucks never failed to win their division. 

    But in the playoffs, the Sedins have struggled mightily and have a history of scoreless game streaks that can stretch the length of an entire series. They've been non-factors when it counts far more times than Canucks fans would like to admit. 

    Consistently coming up big in the regular season and shrinking when it matters most is the sports world's cardinal sin. More likable players (such as Peyton Manning) seem to get away with it for the most part, but the robotic Sedins, with their monotone voices and awkward mannerisms, haven't done much to endear themselves to the general public. 

2. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

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    He's Boring: on and off the field. 

    Is there any starting quarterback in the NFL whose name is more likely to elicit a "meh" and a shoulder shrug than the 49ers' Alex Smith?

    Despite a solid season under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh and a trip to the NFC Championship Game that left them just a play or two away from the Super Bowl, the Alex Smith bandwagon remains sparsely populated. 

    Until the 2012 season, Smith, a former No. 1 draft pick out of Utah, had been regarded as one of the biggest draft busts of the decade. However, opinions on Smith largely have been shaped by the success Aaron Rodgers, the only other quarterback selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft whom the Packers got for a steal 23 spots after Smith. 

    Like Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning, Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers will always be linked, and barring some kind of miracle, Smith always will be thought of as a "game manager."

    And today, it doesn't get much more boring than "game manager" in the high-flying, pass-happy NFL. 

1. Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings

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    He's Boring: on and off the court. 

    Former BYU standout star Jimmer Fredette was one of the most buzzed-about players of the 2011 NBA Draft. To say that he didn't live up to that buzz in his rookie season with the Kings would be quite the understatement. 

    All the Jimmermania and Fredette Fever in the world won't change the fact that he finished the season as the Kings' third-sting point guard.

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