Adorable isn't a word often used to describe athletes who aren't wearing leotards and chalking up their hands. In fact, most adult men and women in sports seem to go out of their way to avoid being perceived as adorable.
Who can blame them? Competition is the lifeblood of sports, and unless cradling a puppy during warm-ups has proven to provide a clear edge over an opponent, all puppy-cradling is going to achieve is giving your rival a good reason to include the puppy in all the vile, obscenity-laced things he says about you.
So, being adorable has obvious risks and more likely to give a puppy—which is in the business of being adorable—self-esteem problems.
Despite the pitfalls, there are plenty of circumstances when being adorable is not only acceptable, but a refreshing (and welcome) change. Despite what Ray Lewis would like you to think, most of an athlete's life unfolds off the field and after the game.
Thanks to wondrous magic of social media, sites and apps like Twitter and Instagram offer fans an often candid glimpse into the daily lives of our favorite athletes; even capturing those moments of dangerous adorability.
Here are 20 athletes being adorable! Enjoy.
Wow. It's nice to see Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett with something adorable that can't kill him. Or at least something that probably won't even have the inclination to kill him until he becomes a very surly teenager, and even then, odds are he'll suggest the urge and eventually grow out of it.
Dockett spends much of his free time hanging with his scary animal menagerie—like his pet tiger, alligator or pit bull. But the quality time he spends with his son is far more adorable and far less dangerous, too. Dockett shifts gears from unpredictable nut to proud poppa in his presence.
I dare any of you LeBron James haters to hate on this. Actually, never mind. If there's anything I've learned at this point, it's that LeBron haters will always find something to hate on.
King James may finally have that NBA Championship—two, in fact—but something tells me there's at least two things in his life he values far more than a couple of rings and trophies. Aww.
Apparently Niners tight end Vernon Davis has an offseason gig as a ranch hand—he's definitely dressing the part in those Brett Favre style loose-fitting jeans. Not sure what's up with the untied bow tie though.
Davis may keep busy on the farm, but he always manages to squeeze in a little bro time. He and linebacker Nathan Stupar know that the teammates who stretch together win Super Bowls together. Or something like that.
Eagles return specialist Arrelious Benn may be the most adorable dad in the NFL. Not only is he taking his little girl to the Build-A-Bear store, he's even letting her drive!
Benn also knows that Icee's are the best treat for a boring car ride. Just don't get any ideas about setting your young son up with his angel in 12-15 years, because he's got his shotgun all ready. Sike. But no...he's serious.
Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still is living the life. Getting paid the big bucks to play football in the NFL.
In February, he was hanging out on Sandals Paradise Island smooching an adorable dolphin name Tracy—who apparently had quite a thing for Mr. Still.
And he's got a kickass little boy who appreciates a wholesome day at the natural history museum. Not to mention a kickass local natural history museum to boot.
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck may be a fearsome foe on the football field, but clearly he's a big ol' softie off the field. Especially when it comes to little kids!
A few months ago, he let former teammate Ryan Grant shave his head in front of a crowd of nine-year-olds to help raise money for a cancer charity. And that book he's reading to his son? It's Tuck's very own children's book that was published in September 2011.
Maybe it's the influence of quarterback Drew Brees, or maybe Saints running back Pierre Thomas is just the same type of charity-minded individual. Either way it seems like there's something in the water down in New Orleans that attracts the do-gooder types.
Thomas volunteers his time (and maybe his money) to a master gardener who runs a rooftop garden at a charter school in North Chicago—near his hometown of Lynwood. When he's not doing that, he with his homeboy Smokey enjoy cuddling together in front of the TV.
It's always adorable to see a big tough linebacker getting emotional. Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon played his first two seasons in Atlanta with Chiefs cornerback Dunta Robinson. It looks like they became pretty tight too, because Weatherspoon was really sad to see him depart for Kansas City in the offseason.
He's gonna be just fine though—he'll never be alone because his BFF Charlie is always chillin' at home and ready to greet him at the door each night—and then immediately scarf down a bowl of food and pass out for the rest of the night.
I grew up with a Bulldog, so I know how they operate. Greet. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
Professional athletes spend a fair amount of time in the same type of freezy contraption that Wizards point guard John Wall is enjoying in that photo. You'll have to take the word of someone who spends a fair amount of time perusing their Instagram pages. Or don't believe me at all. Whatever.
The difference between them and Mr. Wizards right here is that he truly seems to be enjoying himself in that scary steaming container. Being able to turn a negative into a positive is an adorable quality in a man. So is loving his mother. Wall posted that photo of his on Mother's Day with the following message:
Happy Mothers Day to my #1 Lady...Went thru so much to make sure I had a great opportunity in Life...Wanna say Thank U and Luv Ya...I do wat I do for u !!
At least there is one thing Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire can do on those bum knees of his! Actually, there are two things.
Napping on the couch after practice and reading a bedtime story—that he wrote himself—to the little girls in his life are two things that will never be threatened by knee injuries.
Jaguars linebacker Brandon Marshall is only 23 years old and has yet to walk the matrimony plank. Which means he and his best friend Montee are enjoying the bachelor lifestyle in a house that is littered with chew toys while they still can.
Montee even helps Marshall study his playbook at night…or distracts him from studying…either way. Obviously that's not the only dog in his life—Marshall sometimes lends his Dolphins gear out to a neighborhood Pit bull. He looks pretty good in orange.
Apparently Marshall isn't a Jags fan. Can't blame him there.
Anyone who has been watching Hard Knocks, or has ever seen Bengals linebacker James Harrison play before, knows that he's a pretty scary dude. And when I say "pretty scary dude," obviously I mean "seriously terrifying beast of a man."
He doesn't talk, he doesn't like to be filmed, he doesn't sit with his teammates at meetings and he doesn't see a problem with being mildly threatening to the commissioner of the NFL in an interview with a national publication.
But apparently it's not all hunting large game and posing shirtless with his own handguns for Harrison. Even the biggest, baddest dude around is susceptible to the charms of small children ad large elephants.
A selfie is generally the least adorable form of photography. The only exception is when you've got a Care Bears-captivated little boy in the backseat behind you in said selfie.
Giants safety Antrel Rolle's seriously silly sexy face is trumped by the adorable wide-eyed stare of his nephew. He's definitely an A+ uncle who can wrangle three boys at a ballgame.
Bulls forward Taj Gibson is giving me the full court press with his adorable extracurricular activities away from the basketball court. Normally kids wouldn't win out over a litter of 14 puppies [which he has] with me, but there are exceptions to every rule.
This summer he hosted his own youth summer basketball camp—and actually showed up in the flesh! With Benny the Bull as his sidekick, Gibson also makes regular rounds visiting sick kids at a hospital in Chicago.
Life has been good to Panthers forward Scottie Upshall. He spends half the year playing hockey and the other half traveling and playing golf.
He gets pedicures, goes to wine tastings, attends rock concerts and makes enough money to have a hobby like collecting classic cars.
Upshall gets to do all that and come home at night to his trusty Beagle friend Cosmo and his beautiful sports-loving girlfriend, Melanie Collins.
He's adorable/I'm Jealous.
Recently acquired Mavericks forward DeJuan Blair's Instagram feed is a whole mess of adorable. Seriously, if he's not hanging out with his own child, he's hanging out with a whole classroom full of other people's children.
And if he's not hanging out with any kids at all, he's probably taking the lady in his life out for ice cream—or something equally wholesome. I'm not sure if he's as squeaky clean as he seems in these photos, but I would like to believe he is.
And I really don't want to know otherwise if he isn't! As far as I'm concerned, Blair's mere existence makes the world a more adorable place.
Colts cornerback Vontae Davis really lived it up during his last offseason, spending plenty of quality time with the two most important people in his life. Well...one person...one badass dog.
Davis and his wife Meg vacationed somewhere (obviously awesome) that boasts epic sink holes, perfect for patriotic couples who are brave enough to rappel down into the abyss. Side note: Sign me up for this one.
The badass dog is Iceman, the Davis family protector and Vontae's best friend. They look like quite the happy family—even Iceman looks like he's smiling!
Former WWE Diva Torrie Wilson may or may not still be dating embattled Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who is perhaps the most decidedly not adorable person in American sports.
They were spotted together earlier this summer though, so they are probably still together. But you certainly wouldn't know it by looking at her Instagram page, which is A-Rod free.
It seems the most important men in Wilson's life are the army of teenie tiny four-legged friends she spends most of her time trying not to step on. I guess you cant step on something that's glued to your face!
Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony may not be particularly fond of sharing the ball, but he's always willing to share an earbud and some tunes with his young son...his king...his GOD.
I'll tell you one thing—that kid is never going to be hurting for confidence. If Melo can pull off an adult fleece onesie covered in little yellow duckies, his son may conquer the world.
If that's the case, hopefully he's as adorable as he looks.
I don't have any kids of my own, but I've reached the age where most of my friends do. And those that don't have kids of their own yet are mostly trying to overcome the obstacles responsible for making them that way.
So I know exactly what kind of effect seeing Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan with his newborn baby girl can have on your average female. It's like opening up a can of tuna in front of a hungry and moderately aggressive cat.
I don't even want kids—but a few more photos like this and I may just change my mind. Don't tell my mother that.