J.J. Watt Isn't Alone: When Sports Stars Host Saturday Night Live

When J.J. Watt takes the stage in Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center as host of Saturday Night Live on Saturday, Feb. 1, he joins a long list of athletes who've put their comedy chops to the test.

By Billy Nilles 01 Feb, 2020 12:00 PMTags
JJ Watt, Kyle Mooney, Saturday Night Live, SNLNBC

Live, from New York, it's...J.J. Watt!

On Saturday, Feb. 1, the defensive end for the Houston Texans will take the stage in Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center to host Saturday Night Live for the first time, hoping to prove to the world that he has the comedy chops necessary to keep up with the cast of the late-night comedy institution.

The appearance, alongside musical guest Luke Combs, won't be Watt's first foray into acting, however. Beginning with a 2014 cameo in The League's first two episodes of season five, he's popped up as himself in a 2015 episode of New Girl and as Coach Craig in the 2016 film Bad Moms. That same year, he also co-hosted the CMT Music Awards with Erin Andrews. So, he's not exactly green, which bodes well.

As host, Watt joins a long list of (mostly male, if we're being honest) figures from the world of sports to crossover and give comedy a try as the host of SNL. Out of 32 total, only two have ever been invited back. Read into that what you will.

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Athletes Who've Acted

Here's everyone who's come before him.

Michael Jordan

The NBA legend hosted the show in 1991, five years before he went on to star in Space Jam.

John Cena

The pro wrestler-turned-professional actor hosted an episode in 2016.

Ronda Rousey

The UFC champ-turned-pro wrestler stopped by to host a 2016 episode.

Alex Karras

The defensive tackle had long-since retired from the NFL when he hosted a 1985 episode of SNL. In fact, he was two years into a starring role on ABC sitcom Webster when he took the gig.

Bob Uecker

The MLB player-turned-play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers hosted a 1984 episode, a year before taking a starring role on ABC sitcom Mr. Belvedere.

Chris Evert

The first female athlete to earn a hosting invite from SNL, the iconic tennis pro hosted an episode in 1989.

George Steinbrenner

The late owner of the New York Yankees stopped by to host an episode of another NYC institution in 1990.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

The pro wrestler-turned-Hollywood superstar has hosted a total of five times, twice, in 2000 and 2002 when he was still going by just The Rock, and three additional times, as recently as 2017, credited under his birth name.

LeBron James

Well before the NBA icon was appearing in films like Trainwreck and the upcoming Space Jam 2, he hosted an episode of SNL in 2007.

Billy Martin

Three years before his death in 1989, MLB star and five-time manager of the New York Yankees Billy Martin hosted the 12th season finale, helping facilitate a cliffhanger that saw much of the cast imperiled after he set the dressing room on fire. After Lorne Michaels saved only Jon Lovitz, the words "WHO WILL SURVIVE? TUNE IN OCT. 11" were superimposed on the screen.

Peyton Manning

The retired NFL quarterback spent his 31st birthday in 2007 as host of the show. The gig came a month after he led the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI, his first championship win.

Eli Manning

The retired New York Giants quarterback followed in big bro's footsteps when he hosted a 2012 episode.

Andy Roddick

The retired pro tennis player became the first male player and only second ever to host when he took the gig in 2003.

Bill Russell

The former Boston Celtics center hosted the show in 1979.

O.J. Simpson

Years before becoming a household name for all the wrong reasons, the NFL running back hosted the show in 1978, a year before he retired from the sport.

Jonny Moseley

The Olympic freestyle skier, who took home a gold medal in the 1998 Nagano games, hosted the show in 2002.

Derek Jeter

The former New York Yankees shortstop appeared as host in 2001.

Jeff Gordon

The now-retired NASCAR driver hosted the show in 2003.

Deion Sanders

Not only did the retired pro football and baseball player host an episode of the show in 1995 following his first Super Bowl victory with the San Francisco 48ers, but he also treated the audience to a medley of songs off his debut 1994 album Prime Time.

Tom Brady

The New England Patriots quarterback, the winningest in NFL history, stopped by to host SNL in 2005.

John Madden

The former Oakland Raiders coach and NFL color commentator hosted the show in 1982.

Fran Tarkenton

The former Minnesota Vikings quarterback hosted SNL in 1977

Walter Payton

The one-time Chicago Bears running back, who passed away in 1999 at 45 from cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile duct), co-hosted a 1987 episode alongside fellow NFL player Joe Montana.

Joe Montana

The iconic former San Francisco 49ers quarterback co-hosted in 1987 alongside fellow NFL star Walter Payton.

Wayne Gretzky

The famed NFL star hosted an episode in 1989, becoming the first and only hockey player to ever do so.

Hulk Hogan

The pro wrestler-turned-reality TV star co-hosted a 1985 episode alongside Mr. T.

George Foreman

The boxing legend hosted an episode of the show in 1994.

Nancy Kerrigan

The ionic Olympic ice skating silver medalist hosted a 1994 episode of SNL that featured Aretha Franklin as musical guest.

Michael Phelps

The former competitive swimmer and record holder for most Olympic gold medals hosted the season 34 premiere in 2008.

Charles Barkley

Beginning in 1993, the iconic NBA power forward has hosted SNL a total of four times, most recently in 2018.

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