Athletes the Internet Loves Way Too Much

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

Athletes the Internet Loves Way Too Much

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    Everyone wants to be the most popular kid in school—what late-20s dude didn't idolize Zack Morris growing up?

    Problem is, there can only be one true big man on campus, and the rest of us are seemingly just trying to keep up.

    The same can be said for our athletes, too, as a few of them find their names being mentioned and searched quite a few more times than their peers—and these are the ones the Internet most love.

Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn

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    When you take a gold-medal-winning Olympic athlete and pair her with arguably the greatest golfer ever, there's usually going to be a lot of press around it.

    In the pyramid of athlete power couples, Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are at the peak, appealing to sports fans everywhere.

    It's no wonder their first public appearance together was so talked about last year—because they are ringers in their respective sports.

Jack Hoffman

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    Look, I didn't say the athletes on this list had to be professional, right?

    Over the past year, little Jack Hoffman gained fame thanks to his touchdown run against the Nebraska Cornhuskers defense in the team's spring game.

    One of the best stories of the year, everyone took notice of this eight-year-old cancer patient—even getting a nod from Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated as his Sportsman of the Year.

    With some of the wrongs we hear and talk about in sports, this one was a feel-good story worth searching for.

Jason Collins

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    Although Jason Collins isn't currently on an NBA roster, his admission to being gay was the first time an active athlete had come out.

    It took courage to do what Collins did back in May, and seeing support from all types of athletes, politicians and entertainers among the general public made him one of the most searched people on the web last year.

    Cheers to the guy for being able to be himself and not hide any longer.

Danica Patrick

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    Typically, when an athlete comes in with a ton of hype but doesn't live up to the expectations, that person is ridiculed beyond belief by fans and media.

    And while there are still a number of stark critics of driver Danica Patrick, the general consensus is that she's still an overwhelmingly good thing for the sport.

    Oh yeah, and it doesn't hurt that she's pretty damn attractive, either.

Chris Kluwe

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    Currently off the sidelines and without a team, former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe isn't restricted to the bench when it comes to causing headlines.

    An outspoken supporter of the gay community, Kluwe has recently attacked his former employer for allegedly releasing him because of his views on gay marriage.

    Kluwe may have just been a punter while still in the league, but with the recent investigations, he is quietly becoming one of the biggest names in football.

Nate Robinson

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    Whether it's because of a viral video he posts on his social media, an unexpected playoff performance or a clever response to a question, Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson has proven to be quite the character.

    It's that personality which has helped him earn some love from fans who, deep down, have to like the fact he's just 5'8" and can play amongst the giants the league throws at him each night.

Maria Sharapova

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    She's talented. She's gorgeous. And she's always one of the favorites wherever she plays.

    Maria Sharapova may have dipped behind the previously mentioned Danica Patrick when it comes to the most searched women's athlete on the net between 2012 and 2013, but it's not like she fell of the face of the earth!

    With a full slate of tournaments in 2014, I think Maria will only continue to be talked about—which I'm perfectly cool with.

Dude Perfect

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    Considering my fellow B/R writers and I seem to link to these trick-shot pros a hell of a lot, I have a feeling every one of you have had your jaw dropped by them over the past year or so.

    They may not be the prototypical height or weight to play a professional sport, but the stuff they do with a piece of athletic equipment in their hands is just amazing—which is why the Internet loves them so much.

Tony Romo

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    He's never won a Super Bowl—hell, he's only 1-3 in his playoff career—he's never won a league MVP award and he's only played in three career Pro Bowls.

    So why does the web seem to love (to hate) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo?

    To put it bluntly—because he's so damn good at choking.

    Fair or not, there have been way too many times this dude gets dumped on through social media from everyone who sees him throw a late interception to cost his Cowboys a win.

    Even if he miraculously turns things around, he'll still be one of the most talked about players in the league seeing he plays for the 'Boys.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Whether you're a Lionel Messi guy or someone else is your main man, when it comes to popularity, there isn't any soccer player in the world who gets attention like Cristiano Ronaldo.

    On top of just recently winning his second Ballon d'Or earlier this week, CR7 dates one of the finest ladies on the planet—Irina Shayk—and scored himself a mega-deal with Real Madrid lat last year.

    When you couple his soccer skills with his boujis style and looks, girls love him and dudes not-so-secretly want to be him.

J.R. Smith

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    New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith may be experiencing one of his worst years statistically this season, but in an odd way he's actually helped his Internet popularity.

    Even before some of the outrageous things he's done—like arguing with his coach or voicing his frustrations with the club's release of his brother—Smith still had quite the presence online.

    For anyone who doesn't follow this guy on Instagram, it's a good idea to jump on that bandwagon to see some of the things he posts, because they earn quite the reaction.

Alex Rodriguez

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    I'm not sure there's even a reason to explain why New York Yankees clubhouse cancer third baseman Alex Rodriguez gets so much attention.

    Until recently, he was the highest-paid pro athlete ever—since broken by L.A. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw—and is finding himself in a mess of a situation with MLB over his 162-game suspension.

    At one point in his career, A-Rod was a first-ballot Hall of Famer and potentially one of the top-3 best players ever. Now he's just a laughingstock with a legacy that fans and media are sort of pushing aside.

Tim Tebow

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    Much like Alex Rodriguez, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is one of the most polarizing people in all of sports.

    From his days as a Heisman Trophy and national championship-winning player in college, to a first-round draft surprise and subsequent failed starter, Tebow has his fair share of both haters and supporters.

    For everything he does—inspire people through speeches, openly talk about pro-life, etc.—Tebow continues to burn up the Internet with people who want to see what's going on with him.

Alex Morgan

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    In my personal opinion, there isn't a sexier athlete on the planet than women's soccer player Alex Morgan.

    So the buzzkill news that she got engaged just last month was greeted with sighs of sorrow from every single bro on the planet—though I guess I'm happy for her.

    With her combination of soccer talent, looks and incredible Instagram posts, Alex just kills it on the 'net.

LeBron James

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    As the greatest basketball player and most popular athlete on the planet, there aren't too many people who compare to LeBron James.

    Take for instance his birthday card that he posted on Instagram for his good friend and teammate Dwyane Wade, which caused quite the stir because everything the guy does is analyzed or debated.

    LeBron could where a turd around his neck and people would either find it to be a new fashion trend or a sign that he's leaving Miami to return to Cleveland.

    And honestly, as a Cleveland sports fan, if wearing a turd around my neck made James return, I'd absolutely be the next person rocking the look.

Johnny Manziel

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    If there's one athlete who might rival the just-mentioned LeBron James, recently declared quarterback Johnny Manziel is it.

    Johnny Football parties like (and with) a rock star, balls like a future Hall of Famer and has the charisma of a face of the franchise—which he'll become in the next several months.

    Love him or hate him, every sports fan seems to be drawn to the polarizing athlete, and his Internet fame is just a part of it.