Coolest Dads in Sports

Eric NewmanCorrespondent IIIJune 6, 2013

Coolest Dads in Sports

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    The ideal of a stern, salary-earning, child-disciplining, tattoo-and-piercing-scorning, folk music-listening father has vanished. The patriarchs of the new age ink up and rock out.

    Many are not the primary breadwinners in the family (ahem, Tom Brady). A vast number have never and will never spank their child. Although so much has changed, not everything has.

    The scene of a father and child playing catch in the front yard is as ubiquitous as it ever was. At school stadiums and public parks the world over, dads still perch in the bleachers, focused on their child's game.

    They still get fired up at Little League coaches, refs and umps. They still take their kids out for ice cream after the game. They still nurture, guide and mentor.

    And these are the fathers of the sporting world that do it all with the most panache.

Rick Kaepernick

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    Whose dad? San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

    Cool because: 

    Loses cool points for: Being vice president of a cheese company.

Howie Long

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    Whose dad? Chris Long, a defensive and for the St. Louis Rams, and Kyle Long, a 2013 Chicago Bears Round 1 draft pick.

    Cool because:

    Loses cool points for: Firestorm; flat-top overkill.

Lionel Messi

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    Who is he? The Atomic Flea.

    Cool because:

    • He named his son "Thiago." Shortened version of Santiago. Kind of like Topher for Christopher or Liam for William.
    • He has his priorities straight. Messi said this before his son arrived: "You can no longer just think about yourself, you think about him, and how you hope he doesn't have any problems."
    • He has his son's handprints tattooed on his leg.
    • He's got four big golden orbs in his house.

Mario Andretti

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    Whose dad? Retired Formula One driver Michael Andretti

    Cool because:

    • He is arguably America's greatest race-car driver of all time.
    • At age 73, he still rocks a pair of dark shades.
    • He still attends Indy races and motivates his grandson, Marco.

Will Murray

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    Whose dad? Tennis players Andy and Jamie Murray.

    Cool because:

Calvin Hill

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    Whose dad? Seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill.

    Cool because:

    • Though he was a football star, he never pressured his son to be an athlete. In his own words, "I didn't want Grant to feel he had to be an athlete. But the fact he has turned out to be one pleases me."
    • He has always encouraged his son and watched his games closely.
    • He taught his son to be humble and give back to the community.

    Loses cool points for: That ugly sweater.

Archie Manning

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    Whose dad? NFL stars Peyton and Eli, and Cooper. 

    Cool because:

    • He groomed his sons to be quarterbacks without forcing them into it. Not an easy trick to pull off.
    • Although he was a famous NFL player himself, he didn’t want his family to get into the whole celebrity culture as the boys were growing up. In his own words: "That’s not what we wanted for the boys. We wanted them to play everything they could, be involved in as many school events as they could."

LeBron James

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    Who is he? Grand Poobah of the court.

    Cool because:

    • He "established the LeBron James Family Foundation in 2004 with his mother Gloria to help out children and single-parent families in need."
    • Despite his intense schedule and the pressure he puts on himself to be the best, he makes time to play around with his two sons.
    • The guy is a phenom. Watch Game 7 of the recent Heat vs. Pacers playoff series; you'll need no further evidence.

Anderson Silva

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    Who is he? "The Spider," arguably the greatest pound-for-pound MMA fighter of all time.

    Cool because:

    • He trains with his son daily.
    • He visited a young fan in the hospital (a boy who was suffering from a bone condition and confined to a wheelchair).
    • He is sometimes known as "the deadliest man on the planet." Pretty cool thing for a kid to tell his pals, right?

Roger Federer

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    Who is he? One of the winningest tennis players of all time.

    Cool because:

    • Though is he worth $140 million, he still changed his infant daughters' diapers himself (though he wasn't all that good at doing so).
    • Of all his championship titles, he considers "father" the best title of all.

David Beckham

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    Who is he? Husband of Victoria Beckham and former world football great. 

    Cool because:

Dwayne Johnson

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    Who is he? The Rock.

    Cool because:

    • He claims that when it's time for his daughter to date, he'll be protective, but not overprotective.
    • He's a wrestling superstar with a solid movie career.

Kobe Bryant

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    Who is he? The Black Mamba.

    Cool because:

    Loses cool points for: attempting a career as a rap artist.

Ken Griffey Sr.

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    Whose dad? Ken Griffey Jr., one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

    Cool because:

Yannick Noah

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    Whose dad? NBA star Joakim Noah.

    Cool because:

Ben Cohen

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    Who is he? Rugby World Cup champion and Hall of Famer, father of twin daughters.

    Cool because:

    • He helped to produce a guide for new (and anxious) parents. In his own words, "...spending quality time with [your newborns], learning how to cuddle, and reading up beforehand really helps to increase your confidence."
    • He is clinically deaf and "is helping to publicise a series of video clips of signing for rugby players."

Jim Redmond

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    Whose dad? Former track star Derek Redmond.

    Cool because:

    • He was the orchestrator of the greatest, most inspirational father-son moment in sporting history. 

Muhammad Ali

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    Whose dad? Former boxer Laila Ali.

    Cool because:

    • He has been ranked among the "20 most influential Americans ever last year by Time magazine for his humanitarianism and the inspiration he provided to people around the globe."
    • His daughter Hana Ali said this of him: "Helping strangers in need has always been his insatiable drive."

Dwyane Wade

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    Who is he? "Flash," a Miami Heat superstar. 

    Cool because?