Que Sarah, Sarah

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dancing With The (All) Stars

By Sarah Spain
Originally published on 2/25/08 on TheLoveOfSports.com

The new cast of Dancing With The Stars has been revealed, and once again the show will feature some of the best athletes in the world.

In the past, boxers, hoops stars, drivers, Olympians and NFL legends have all donned the spandex and danced the samba. Not only have the pros competed, they've dominated.

This year's crop of would-be waltzers includes Grand Slam tennis champ (and former stab-wound victim) Monica Seles, Olympic figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi and the Dolphins dashing defensive end, Jason Taylor.

Seles and Yamaguchi are the first contestants from their respective sports, while Taylor is the first active NFL player to participate (assuming you still consider Miami an NFL team after last season's 1-15 debacle). The show runs from March through May, so even if Taylor takes the top prize, he'll still be back in time for training camp. No word yet on whether Bill Parcells considers plies and jazz hands appropriate off-season conditioning.

While the NFL's schedule allows players like Taylor to heat up the dance floor, pros in most other leagues won't get the chance to compete until after retirement. So, which current athletes will the DWTS people be scrambling for when their time on the playing field is through?

10. Joakim Noah

While the sorry record of the stumbling Bulls hasn't given this rookie much to dance about, the frizzy-haired forward showed his cha-cha-cha-ing chops back when he was a Gator. I'm sure you all remember the Funky Chicken-like, shoutout to epilepsy Noah "performed" after his team won their second straight NCAA championship. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvQbQUv9qBw)

9. Miguel Cabrera

December 5, 2007: the day the music died? When Cabrera was traded from the Marlins to the Tigers late last year, the MLB broke up a dance partnership that rivaled Rogers and Astaire. Cabrera and BFF Alfredo Amezaga were known to cut a mean rug in the Florida dugout after big-time plays. Without the Grey to his Swayze, the Larry to his Balki, the Thurman to his Travolta, will Cabrera still have the heart to dance like no one's watching? Only time (and perhaps the rhythm of Placido Polanco) will tell.

8. Ronaldinho

By now, even the most avid soccer-haters know who Ronaldinho is. They may not have watched the man compete, but they've at least seen his most famous Nike commercial. The ad, which debuted in '06, features footage of the soccer star today mixed in with old home video of him as young phenom. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB-ss8hz-dU) Straight up, the guy's got hands on his feet. Take that incredible footwork, combine it with a Brazilian accent and a smile that makes Julia Roberts' yap look proportionate? Pure DWTS gold.

7. Pacman Jones

Who knows whether the troubled Titans cornerback will ever suit up for another NFL game. If Roger Goodell puts the kibosh on his career, he may decide to play for another league, like pot-smoker Ricky Williams, who hit the grass North of the border, or gun-toter Jayson Williams, who took his shots to the CBA. One thing's for certain: Pacman Jones knows him some dancin'. When you spend the amount of quality time he has in the front row at Crazy Girls, you start to pick up a few things. And really, who wouldn't wanna hear Celine Dion and the DWTS band cover "Make It Rain?" Team Jones up with blondie Julianne Hough and watch the sparks fly! (Not literally, I hope).

6. Jeremy Roenick

When Roenick was still with the L.A. Kings, they played the Frozen Fury 8 game against the Colorado Avalanche at the MGM Grand in Vegas. When one of the glass panels broke, the players had to kill time while waiting for maintenance to repair it. Rather than join his teammates on the bench, Roenick took his cue from the song playing over the loudspeaker: the BeeGees "You Should Be Dancing." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mes053P3TU) If he can move like that on ice, in skates, surely he could wow the judges with a pedestrian paso doble. Goodness knows the NHL could use all the publicity it can get.

5. Jonathan Papelbon

Whoever said white men can't dance has never seen Papelbon move. After his Red Sox won the AL East last year, the sprightly pitcher took the mound for the most unusual of celebrations. His Lord of the Dance routine swept the nation, causing even Yankees fans to let out a chuckle. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu43lbTrvOQ) The only catch? The wardrobe people might have trouble with the hurler, who prefers to do his dancing in boxer briefs and goggles.

4. Hines Ward

In October of 2005, the Steelers wide receiver followed his third quarter touchdown against the Bengals with a Running Man-like Riverdance of his own. Of course, Ward was merely copying the jig fellow receiver Chad Johnson debuted against the Bears earlier that season. In their next match-up, Ward copycatted again, busting out an old Cincy favorite: The Ickey Shuffle. Truth is, you can polish an old turd, but it's still an old turd. Ward deserves a shot at creating his own dancing legacy.

3. LeBron James

After last year's ESPYs, the Cavs superstar has solidified his position amongst the NBA's dancing elite. The 6-foot-8 small forward shimmied his way into the hearts of America, singing his own version of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv-5PgP8T94) Wearing Hammer pants and a cropped leather jacket, LeBron proved to any doubters he can pull off the sequins and spandex required by the hit show (plus that ESPN/ABC connection doesn't hurt). Some might even say he's got a better chance of getting a DWTS championship than an NBA ring!

2. Chris Berman

Alright, he's not at athlete, but you can bet he's on the DWTS shortlist. Following in the footsteps of fellow ESPN anchor, Kenny Mayne, Berman will let DWTS bring his, um, boisterous personality right into America's living room. The intense cardio workout the show requires would be a welcome change for the Swami, who's stuck behind a desk all day. The 6-foot-5 hunk (literally) of a man has been married since 1983, but even an ol' married guy (that never, ever hits on young co-eds) wants to look his best. Expect his partner, Karina "Thank you, I'll have another" Smirnoff, to be clad in all-leather, natch.

1. Roger Clemens

DWTS execs see a golden opportunity with this one. Anyone who can dance around questions from Congress that effortlessly deserves a chance to give the real thing a whirl, right? Well, to quote George Michael: "… guilty feet have got no rhythm."


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