There was a time not so long ago when any association with the phrase “reality TV” was seen as a scarlet letter on one’s character. Back then TV stars weren’t made in pawnshops and on-camera weddings were limited to soap operas. Those were the good old days. Now we are handing out television shows to anyone willing to trade pride and self-respect for fame and money, and this country seems to have a never ending supply of those people.
Professional athletes are perfect reality show stars because they are already used to the scrutiny of the press, have built in fan bases, and most importantly have some wealth to throw around on screen. The wide receiver position alone has given us “The T.O. Show,” “Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch,” and “The T. Ocho Show.” Of course the athlete phenomenon has gone way past that now. Ryan Lochte pollutes the vocabulary of the country every Sunday night and Kris Humphries is heckled more about his reality appearances than his on court play. The reality genie is out of the lamp, but we can still try to direct it in positive ways. With that in mind here is a list of 10 athletes more than deserving of reality royalties.
10. David Ortiz
Already one of baseball’s all time great characters, Big Papi aced his audition for reality fame when he reminded Red Sox fans after the Marathon bombing that “this is our fucking city.” Being able to create your own viral marketing pieces is a real asset and Papi has that in spades. One negative might be his often hard to understand English, but that just gives producers carte blanche to use subtitles when he speaks, and as any reality fan knows subtitles are a hallmark of great reality television. Just think of him as the Dominican Honey Boo Boo.
9. Metta World Peace
Yes this is an obvious choice, but no one ever said reality TV was worried about being original. I would watch Peace spend most of the season explaining to the camera how he has become a changed person only to then watch him elbow a UPS delivery guy because the comic books he bought off eBay took an extra day to ship. Don’t discount how enjoyable it might be to watch Peace bring his llama with him when he goes out to eat tapas with Pau Gasol.
8. Ed Hochuli
The referee with the biggest arms in the NFL would be a perfect host for his own Biggest Loser style show where he helps overweight football fans get on the diet train. What a surprise for the fan when he answers the door to Hochuli in a sleeveless skintight referee shirt throwing a yellow flag at his feet. Call it “Illegal Procedure with Ed Hochuli” and you got a half hour of programming. Also would be cool if he calls body parts by football related nicknames.
“Today’s show is all about toning up your chest before your wake up one day to find that area intentionally grounding.”
7. Josh Hamilton
On the surface the show would be nothing more than trips to bible study and O’Doul’s product placement, but at least once a season there would be that off the wagon epic involving strippers, whipped cream, and the L.A. River. The best part is the viewer wouldn’t know when to expect one of his “Hangover” level adventures that means they have to turn in each and every week. You don’t want to be the guy who finds out everyone else at work has already seen the episode when Hamilton lights half of Santa Barbara on fire.
6. Joe Flacco
A Flacco reality show is a perfect fit to air after “Mad Men.” You already have millions of viewers who are perfectly happy with little to no plot so they might not mind when most of Flacco’s show is about him shopping at Wal-Mart and microwaving Cup O’ Noodles. We haven’t had a potential star with the charisma and excitement of Flacco since “Weekend at Bernie’s.” It will be the perfect show for insomniacs and people with a history of migraines.
5. Milwaukee Brewer’s Racing Sausages
Reality TV often trades in soft stereotypes because it makes it easier to explain the characters to the audience, which makes the Racing Sausages at Brewer games a perfect choice. There are five sausages in the race, bratwurst, Polish, Italian, hot dog, and chorizo. The Chorizo wears a giant sombrero in case you forgot he’s from Mexico and the bratwurst wears lederhosen. Throw the meat tubes a cross-country road trip and watch the sparks fly.
4. Pat Riley
The biggest reason I could see a Riley reality show working is that you might get people to believe the show is about Barry Weiss from “Storage Wars.” Then you would have that built in audience ready to go. Of course people will stick with the show when they get a glimpse at his life of expensive suits and hair gels. When LeBron James decides to op-out of his contract he could just do it on Riley’s new show.
3. Lindsey Vonn
You can almost imagine the pitch meeting going on between executives and Vonn.
“Now Lindsey we want you to know that this show is going to be all about you.”
“That’s right we want to show our viewers what a normal day is like for you.”
“Like say you just pick up the phone and called someone.”
“Yeah, like maybe your mother or your boyfriend.”
“Not that you have to call him.”
“Definitely. We don’t want you feeling any pressure.”
“You are the show Lindsey . . . so where’s Tiger at?”
“Bob, I thought we said not to mention the “T” word in the meeting. Will you excuse us for one minute?”–
2. Luis Suarez
Delusional characters always make the best reality television, and who in today’s sports landscape is crazier than Suarez? He’s already been suspended for calling another player an ethnic slur, and he’s been captured twice in glorious HD biting other players. That is a guy with a real sense of commitment. Just because he made great TV once doesn’t mean he is going to stop working for the camera. He could even set up a booth at Comic-Con where you can take a picture with Suarez pretending to bite your shoulder. Line starts to the left of the table, and pictures are only $99.99 a piece.
1. Derek Jeter
Finally ABC could have a Bachelor who actually has a day job. We see the sad lengths women go to on that show just to meet an out of work airline pilot. Can you imagine what they will do if we throw an honest-to-God Hall of Famer into the ring? We are talking thunder dome style fights between Victoria’s Secret models over who gets to go on the overnight dream date. It’s a perfect recipe.