If you're an elite athlete at any level, you're already playing with house money when it comes to stoking the perception that you're cool. You're capable of doing things that the majority of mankind simply cannot, so athletic talent is always a plus, never a minus.
So, when that capability leads to a pro career in sports and all the lifestyle changes and pressures that come with it, an athlete can sit on those chips and play it safe or try for something bigger and better.
Why take the risk? Seizing the moment and taking advantage of the access money and fame gives them can transform an athlete into a superstar, news maker and trend setter.
Joe Namath and Walt Clyde Frazier didn't help set the standard for the "cool athlete" through pleas for privacy and meek interviews. They lived life, offered candid thoughts and fully leveraged their charismatic swagger.
The downside is that absent those rare, innate traits that make "cool" effortless for a lucky few, any attempt to try to elevate their status is riddled with far more pitfalls than opportunities.
This is because being cool is largely determined by the perception that it's natural and effortless. It doesn't mean there aren't practical strategies, contrived or not, for an athlete to enhance their own standing; with varying results.
These are things that athletes do to look cool.