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10 Unexpected Reasons It's Great Being a Sports Star

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2016

Connor McGregor celebrates after defeating Dustin Poirier in their featherweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 178 on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Don't get me wrong; being a pro athlete has a ton of benefits, like being paid a bunch of money to play a sport for a living, getting idolized by a bunch of fans and, sometimes, experiencing the glory of winning a championship ring.

And while that's all good and grand, there are some unexpected perks to being a pro athlete that are pretty cool, too.

Some of those reasons are things that athletes could never even think of until they actually happen, which is why I found some of the most unique to some of our favorite stars.

10. Playoff Perks/Incentives

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Look, I know that it's not all about the money for pro athletes, but one has to admit that being paid a massive monetary bonus for being part of a team that reaches the postseason is an awesome incentive to perform well.

Maybe the best part about this perk is for those players who don't often play much but still receive part of the cut—even though they just sit back and enjoy the front seat view.

The approximate payout for athletes varies, but scoring a boatload of cash for doing a job well done is good no matter who you are.

9. Getting A Luxury Box In Your Home Stadium

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

It's not uncommon for star athletes to get nearly everything they demand from an organization, but some players have found that they get a little better treatment than their teammates.

Take recent Hall of Fame inductee Mike Piazza, who, while signing his then-record contract with the New York Mets in 1998, found out that the club would hook him up with a luxury box for his friends and family to watch home games in Shea Stadium.

That may seem arbitrary for a guy who, at the time, was getting paid more than any other player in the big leagues, but it's just another way that, when reaching a superstar level, players are hooked up with privileges that most people could never imagine.

8. Deferred Contracts

Nick Wass/Associated Press

While most athletes would tell you they hate deferred contracts because they would prefer to have their millions up front, knowing that they'll actually have long-term security is something that has to be a nice feeling.

Just look at former All-Star Bobby Bonilla, who, even though he hasn't played an MLB game since 2001, will still get paid $1.19 million each year until 2035 by the New York Mets as part of a deal he signed in the '90s.

So while slugger Chris Davis just re-upped with the Baltimore Orioles and will be getting $119 million over the first seven years of the contract, he'll actually be collecting millions until the year 2037 because of deferred cash. That has to be a nice little payout for the guy when he's 50 years old and long since retired.

7. Rappers Give You Shout-Outs

NBA Memes @NBAMemes

Stephen Curry got Drake like... #Raptors #Warriors https://t.co/RspxbBZqxj

You want to know what's cool? When a person like Jay Z or Kanye West gives dap to a superstar on one of their albums/songs.

For those of us who will probably never experience something like that, I would imagine that hearing two of the biggest rappers ever toss in a superstar athlete's name during a banging hit has to be a sign of making it.

Even better than getting mentioned during a verse, though, is when a song is actually named after an athlete.

Look, sports and entertainment mesh together in a lot of different ways, but when this happens, it gives an athlete killer street cred.

6. Bowl Game Gift Bags

Morry Gash/Associated Press

Bowl season for college football teams is the best time of the year for so many reasons.

Not only does it give them the chance to travel to a destination with their teammates to play a football game, hoping to end their season on a high note, but, regardless of what bowl they participate in, they get hooked up thanks to bowl game gifts.

Of course, the bigger bowl games with larger sponsors often get the nicest swag, but don't overlook the smaller ones, too, which annually partner up with big brands to make sure the experience for college players is worth it.

5. All The Free Stuff From Sponsors

adidas Baseball @adidasBaseball

He worked. He waited. He dominated. Now we celebrate. We loaded up @KrisBryant_23 with our best gear. #teamadidas https://t.co/eSFYXp12p9

When a company pays millions of dollars for an athlete to represent it, that brand will do anything to make sure the player stays happy.

From sending gear to athletes unexpectedly—as Adidas did with both James Harden and NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant—to golfers routinely getting things shipped overnight to them by simply sending a tweet, being a star athlete means getting free stuff all the time.

It's funny, once athletes make it to where they're being paid to play a sport, they rarely have to spend cash on equipment to do their job—and we should all be jealous of that.

4. Starring In Movies

For as long as any of us can remember, there have been a handful of athletes who have had the opportunity to show what they've got as an actor/actress. 

Until recently, though, athletes were almost always limited to just short cameo appearances, often making a quick appearance and dropping a couple of lines before exiting the movie.

But when you're a superstar, say, like LeBron James, not only do you snag a role in a movie like Trainwreck, but you get a co-starring role beside actors who have practiced their craft for years—and you actually own the part!

I wonder if more and more athletes will get the chance to have more prominent roles in films now that James has started the trend.

3. Conor McGregor's Face Being Considered For A Coin In His Native Ireland

Conor McGregor @TheNotoriousMMA

Who would like 1 million of these great coins? Let's go Oireachtas! #VoteYES! https://t.co/LAzzPLLDMG

While being admired by millions of fans and having success in a sport has to be an amazing feeling, when MMA champ Conor McGregor found out that a fan-submitted drawing of his face would be considered for a coin in his native Ireland, that had to be a thrill.

McGregor, who currently holds the UFC featherweight title belt, is recognized as being one of the prominent influencers from Ireland, so the country's Parliament actually met to determine if McGregor was worthy enough to be on a €1 coin.

According to an Irish Times report, the proposal was tossed out because the fan who drew the mock-up couldn't be reached:

Committee chairman Pádraig MacLochlainn of Sinn Féin said that because the petitioner could not be contacted his idea had to be thrown out.

“Whatever the public may think of the merits of this petition I welcome the fact that it has drawn attention to our work,” he said.

Committee member Richard Boyd Barrett described McGregor as a phenomenon.

“We have no choice. There was a slight jokey element to the petition, the actual wording, so we can’t take it any further.

“There’s huge public interest in the suggestion because there’s a slightly more serious issue at stake, which is, how do we and should we pay tribute or commemorate or honour people in this country who have excelled,” he said.

Still, that's an amazing thing for an athlete to even be considered for—and nothing that would ever happen to many normal people.

2. Retirement Gifts From Nearly Every Team

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

Warriors presented Kobe with a Napa Valley vacation package & a massive (5L) specially designed bottle of wine from Amuse Bouche winery.

I'm not really sure when this practice became the biggest trend, but whenever an icon in a sport announces prior to the end of a season that he/she will be retiring, that player gets showered with gifts from every team in the league as a thank you for what the athlete accomplished.

We saw it with recently-retired New York Yankees players like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, and are witnessing Kobe Bryant get the same treatment as he makes his farewell tour around the Association.

Sure, these players have millions of dollars and can afford almost anything they want, but getting a gift from peers to acknowledge them for being great is a retirement perk that's cool to see.

1. Sandwich Busts

Darren Rovell @darrenrovell

FIRST LOOK: Subway makes Marcus Mariota out of sandwich materials http://t.co/68gUtYl9Nh

There aren't many people who have ever seen, nor wanted to see, themselves as a giant sandwich, yet that's what some athletes have had the "privilege" of getting over the years.

A few years ago, the sub shop Subway began building these busts for players, and they've seemed to just take off since, with a handful of star athletes enjoying the taste of themselves between a couple of slices of bread.

It might be weird, but, admit it, it's really kind of cool.

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