The 25 Luckiest People in Sports

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2013

The 25 Luckiest People in Sports

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    With tomorrow being St. Patrick's Day, we'll all be drinking our green beer and wishing to find a pot of gold.

    Though we only get one day of the year to hope for good luck, there are certain people in sports who seem to enjoy it every single day of their lives.

    But who are the most fortunate out there? We tackled the topic by offering these folks.

    May the luck of the Irish be with you—even if it is for just one day.

25. Bryce Drew

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    Though Bryce Drew may have easily been discovered as a head coach on his own, the former Valpo guard and current head coach of the men's team had a couples serious perks on his resume that other candidates didn't quite have.

    One was pretty obvious: He replaced his dad, Homer, who held the position for 22 years.

    Then there was that whole NCAA tourney moment he had against Ole Miss in 1998, which immediately made Drew a household name thanks to a single play.

    There's plenty of examples similar to Drew's, but with March Madness coming, he's at the top of our mind right now.

24. 2009 French Soccer Team

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    Though "Les Bleus" performed terribly in the World Cup in 2010 after a mutiny on their former manager, it was what got them there that earns them a spot here.

    Prized striker Thierry Henry openly admitted to trapping a ball with his hand in the final qualifying match between France and Ireland, but refs missed it, making a serious gaffe which sent France to South Africa the following summer and not an understandably ticked off Irish squad.

    It's not quite the "Hand of God," but it's still pretty lucky.

23. Albert Haynesworth

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    When a player receives a record deal, most fans and media people expect him to live up to it.

    But when the Washington Redskins showed Albert Haynesworth the money, he pouted—all the way to the bank.

    For their spending spree, the Redskins received the award of one of the worst free-agent signings in NFL history, while the massive Haynesworth enjoyed $36 million in guarantees.

    Must be nice for not doing a damn thing.

22. Lionel Rodia

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    We're betting you have no idea who Lionel Rodia actually is.

    In fact, we don't blame you if you've never heard of the guy. But as a fan, you should take notes.

    Instead of describing why he's the luckiest supporter out there, we'll just let you read about him here and tell you that he's been able to smooth-talk his way into some of the most memorable moments in Philly sports history, including partying on the field and the clubhouse with the Philadelphia Phillies after their '08 World Series title.

21. David Tyree

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    While some guys work their behinds off to try and get noticed by fans and coaches—all while secretly hoping for companies to toss marketing dollars their way—it took just one play for David Tyree to achieve it.

    Not only would his catch be almost unbelievable had it been in a regular-season game, but he of course had to do it on the world's biggest stage, on third down, to help his New York Giants upend the formerly undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.

    Not bad for a guy who had 54 previous catches in his entire career and now finds himself out of football.

20. 2011 Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Just when the country started feeling a little pity for the city of Cleveland, the Cavaliers go out and do something like this by winning the draft lottery.

    What's not to like?

    If you're a Cleveland sports fan, nothing. The team not only enjoyed seven seasons with the world's greatest player, but after stinking up the joint in the first year without LeBron, it landed the No. 1 pick to replace him with current superstar-in-the-making Kyrie Irving.

19. George Seifert

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    George Seifert inherited the reigning Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in 1989 from Bill Walsh, pretty much allowing future Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott to do the same things they had under former coach Bill Walsh.

    Then, in 1994, he had Steve Young at QB, Rice still at wideout and some guy named Deion Sanders in the secondary. 

    Yeah, each one of those guys have a bust in Canton.

    We're not saying anyone could coach those teams to a Super Bowl win, but he didn't exactly have a massive rebuilding project to do.

18. Any Sports Team Owner

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    See that picture right there? That would be Robert Kraft—worth $2.3 billion—with his Super Bowl champion Patriots and the president of the United States.

    Pretty cool, right?

    But even for an owner who isn't as successful as some others, life is pretty darn good.

    We normal fans need to play fantasy sports to call all the shots, but an owner does it on a daily basis and it actually means something.

17. Any Boise State Player in the Past 10 Years

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    Growing-up in the 1990s, we were engineered to think of the Ohio States, Floridas and Southern Cals as the blue bloods of college football.

    Thanks to Boise State's rise, though, every high school kid who thought he'd be playing in a mid-major conference with no chance at fame has gotten the opportunity to play on the biggest stages.

    The blue-turfed school still struggles with recruiting, but it continuously schedules—and beats—the big boys.

16. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    For obvious reasons, Cristiano Ronaldo makes our list.

    Not only is he tops in the world while out on the pitch, but he's filthy rich and he fools around with some of the sexiest ladies in the world.

    CR7 may not have sold his soul to the devil, but one would think he had to negotiate something to live the life he does.

15. Adam Morrison

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    It'd be easy to back this selection up with the fact that Adam Morrison earned over $16 million in his disappointing NBA career after being selected in No. 3 in the 2006 draft.

    More than him hanging around the league for far too long—though he's recently found himself without an NBA suitor—here's a point that should really piss you off: He has two rings!

    Morrison may not have made it in the league, but for riding the pine and collecting some jewelry, he's pretty lucky.

14. Vernon Wells

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    Like Albert Haynesworth, Vernon Wells makes the list because he gets paid like a top-10 player while producing like a scrub.

    When the former All-Star outfielder signed a back-loaded, seven-year, $126 million deal in 2006 with the Blue Jays, he was just coming off a 30-homer, 100-plus RBI season and had earned a Gold Glove.

    That's when he treated the Blue Jays (and later the Angels) like a bank robbery by averaging just 19 HR and 67 RBI per season while getting an annual check of over $20 million.

13. Jean Beliveau

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    Not only did Jean Beliveau enjoy a Hall of Fame career as a player for the Canadiens from 1950-'70, but he also collected a record 10 Stanley Cup titles along the way.

    That would be enough to make the list in itself, but when you realize the former center actually earned seven more rings as an executive in Montreal's front office, it's just downright crazy.

    17 total championships? That's more than three hands can even hold...aren't you impressed by our simple math?

12. Derek Fisher

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    Don't get us wrong, Derek Fisher's one hell of a leader and more than a respectable point guard—though he's been reduced to a backup at this point of his career.

    The five-time NBA champion latched on to future Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in L.A. and has recently tried his luck with current stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City to collect even more championships.

    He's had his moments, but for being the epitome of a role player who reaps the success of his star teammates, he's lucky as hell.

11. Rick DiPietro

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    Some may argue that former Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro has the worst contract in NHL history.

    It's hard to argue against that considering the team is still paying him millions, even after releasing him just a few weeks ago.

    With eight years left on his deal, DiPietro could literally sit around for the rest of the decade and still cash his checks every couple weeks.

10. Jim Abbott

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    We've seen plenty of athletes who struggle playing a sport with both of their hands, yet Abbott was fortunate enough to pitch in the bigs for 10 seasons, finishing as high as third in the Cy Young voting following his 18-win 1991 season.

9. Michael Vick

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    He may be one of the most hated athletes these days, but Michael Vick gets the last laugh for not only getting a second chance at being a starting QB in the NFL, but for having the luxury of becoming the first NFL player to sign two $100 million deals.

    Sure, his most recent one has been restructured by the Eagles, but with everything he's been through, he's lucky to even have the opportunity.

8. A Left-Handed Specialist

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    Instead of giving you a bunch of different examples of why this is one of the greatest jobs in sports, let's just take a look at one specific guy: Randy Choate.

    At 37 years old, the lefty reliever has been in the majors for 12 years now.

    Here's the best part, though: He was actually paid $1.5 million last year to appear in 80 games but pitch just 38.2 total innings.

    Choate's slated to make $7.5 million over the next three seasons for what should be about the same amount of work.

7. Phil Jackson

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    He may be considered to be the greatest head coach in NBA history, but it's hard to give Phil Jackson all the credit when he had the game's best players leading his teams.

    First it was Jordan and Pippen delivering six titles for Phil while with the Bulls. Then it was Shaq and Kobe earning him another three in the early 2000s. And lastly, Kobe and Pau Gasol got him his last two.

    If that's not enough, Jackson actually earned two with the Knicks back when he played.

6. Alex Rodriguez

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    At one point in his career, Alex Rodriguez getting paid $25 million a year could be justified.

    Nowadays, though, the argument isn't even worth having thanks to his decrease in production since the 2010 season, which was his last 30-homer, 100 RBI campaign.

    Rodriguez may catch serious heat all the time, but when a player earns $27 million and can't even jack 20 round-trippers in a season, it's a small price to pay.

5. Darko Milicic

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    Ahh, the curious case of Darko Milicic.

    At some point in his basketball career, scouts and GMs were absolutely enamored with the former teenage star. Enough so that the Pistons selected him above guys like Carmelo, D-Wade and Chris Bosh in the 2003 draft.

    He may have failed in the NBA, as he's now playing overseas, but for a while there, we honestly thought the league's mid-level exception should have just been renamed "The Annual Darko Deal," because he seemed to collect one every year, helping him earn over $46 million in his career.

4. Tom Brady

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    Ignore P Diddy's take on the "American Dream" and just look at Tom Brady as an example.

    Not highly recruited out of high school, he scratched and clawed his way to the starting job at the winningest program in college football history.

    He was an afterthought until the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, when the Patriots took a flier on the guy.

    Then he got the chance to start thanks to an unfortunate injury to incumbent QB Drew Bledsoe.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

3. Robert Horry

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    It's almost absurd to think that Robert Horry has more titles than Michael Jordan, but thanks to being on the right team at the right time, the former forward is the proud owner of seven championship rings.

    Don't get us wrong, he was a key contributor to most of those teams—helping him earn the nickname of "Big Shot Bob"—but he was far from the player you'd think of when talking about the best winners in NBA history.

2. Brian Cashman

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    Brian Cashman may have serious pressure on him since he's the GM of arguably the world's most popular franchise, but with the thumbs up from management to go out and spend like crazy almost anytime he wants to, he's pretty lucky.

    Front offices everywhere struggle with trying to keep up with the Joneses, whereas Cashman actually is the Joneses, with monopoly-like money to blow.

    He's obviously a smart guy, but for holding down his position for as long as he has and having the ability to outbid anyone for the top players, it seems like he has a rabbit's foot in his pocket.

1. Joe Namath

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    For whatever reason, Joe Namath is often thought of as being a phenomenal player. But look at the stats and you'll see that he was anything but.

    Yeah, he has that Super Bowl ring after his bold prediction, but he also boasts more interceptions than touchdown passes while barely completing 50 percent of his passes throughout his career.

    He gained popularity thanks to his brash personality and by playing in New York, but without that title, we never would have been introduced to "Broadway Joe."


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