Top moments from athletes hosting 'Saturday Night Live'

ByJeremy Willis ESPN logo
Friday, March 3, 2023

On Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will become the 34th athlete to host "Saturday Night Live." Since the show debuted in 1975, such greats as Bill Russell, Deion Sanders, Derek Jeter and Tom Brady have hosted.

The first athlete to host the show was then-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton who was the guest star on the 13th episode of the second season. He was joined by English singer-songwriter Leo Sayer who was the musical guest.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has hosted the show five times, more than any other athlete. His first turn came in 2000 with musical guest AC/DC.

Ahead of Kelce's appearance in Studio 8H, we look at some notable sketches from sports figures who have appeared on the show.

John Madden |Sept. 7, 1982

Long before the Madden Cruiser ferried the notoriously aerophobic Madden between games, he traveled by train. Look for how many times the late, great broadcaster tries to tell the story about leaving a player behind after a game.

Marvin Hagler |May 17, 1986

Just two months after defending his middleweight title with a win over John Mugabi, Hagler co-hosted the show with journalist Jimmy Breslin. In this sketch, Hagler, who won 52 fights by knockout in his career, gives viewers advice on how to get knocked out.

Chris Evert |Nov. 11, 1989

The 18-time Grand Slam winner was the first female athlete to host the show. She was joined by musical guest The Eurythmics. This is Evert's historic monologue:

Michael Jordan |Sept. 28, 1991

Just months after winning his first NBA title, Jordan hosted the premier episode of SNL's 17th season. The G.O.A.T gave an all-time showing in "Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley." Jordan, who was on the show with Public Enemy, has yet to host again.

Charles Barkley |Sept. 25, 1993

After winning NBA MVP and reaching the NBA Finals, Barkley hosted the Season 19 premier. Barkley has hosted three other times since then. He did his own "Daily Affirmation" in his first episode. However, one of the best moments was unintended and came from a promo shoot with Nirvana, that episode's musical guest.

Deion Sanders |Feb. 18, 1995

Just weeks after winning his first Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers, Prime Time took over Studio 8H. He had one notable NSFW sketch that showed a little too much of Chris Farley and, in a peak-1990s moment, Sanders joined Tim Meadows and Adam Sandler as a rap trio short on bars.

"Peace, we outta here."

Derek Jeter |Dec. 1, 2001

The New York Yankees captain went from the Bronx to midtown Manhattan for his performance with musical guests Bubba Sparxxx and Shakira. On "Weekend Update," Jeter debated noted Boston Red Sox fan Seth Meyers.

Tom Brady |April 16, 2005

Four Super Bowl wins, three NFL MVPs and two retirements ago, Brady, then just a three-time champion, took on hosting duties. He came near a funnel cake in this sketch with Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and Rob Riggle. Those cakes probably aren't allowed in the TB12 diet, but that didn't exist in 2005.

Peyton Manning |March 24, 2007

Manning hosted on his birthday, and his parents and brothers were in attendance. Manning, who had just won his first Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in February of 2007, turned in an all-time great performance, highlighted by his spoof of NFL United Way commercials.

Manning has yet to host the show again, but he did return in Jan. of 2022 for a passionate breakdown of the Netflix series "Emily in Paris" on Weekend Update.

Ronda Rousey|Jan. 23, 2016

Rousey hosted just two months after losing her bantamweight title to Holly Holm in UFC 193. Rousey became the first female combat athlete to host the show and just the third female athlete ever to take on hosting duties.