For as long as we have a recorded history of organized sports, we have a history of putting our sports stars up on a pedestal. Quite literally, in fact…

The Ancient Greeks were diehard sports fans, not surprising given that our modern Olympic games are of course a continuation of the games the Greeks created centuries ago. Individual athletes of great prowess and ability were the original celebrities of, well anything – they were the original celebrities. Even famed as the Greeks were for the pioneering work in the fields of philosophy, government, and mathematics, sport was the ruler of the day for the common Greek (in fact, even Plato was steeped in sports: his very name was actually a moniker meaning essentially “wide shoulders” or “broad shoulders” as he indeed had a big old back and was a great wrestler).

A great Olympian lived the life of luxury, and garnered the respect of their fellow Greeks. So too were Roman Gladiators held in high regard (well, the good ones) with the caveat being that even though people celebrated them, they were also pretty much hoping they’d die terrible, grisly deaths. Fortunately we’ve moved past that!

We look to our modern sports heroes both as icons of physical prowess and strength, but also as cultural icons. From culture warriors like Muhammad Ali, to cross-over sports stars and “actors” (sort of) like Shaq.

Just like it was in centuries past, there is a special place carved out of modern culture that only those who achieve in their field of sports can enter. Leave aside the fact that it would be nice if the world’s leading biologists and archeologists and whatnot got some respect and some endorsement deals, too. The fact is that great athletes become celebrities. And the next logical step for these suddenly famous folks?

Why, it’s to star in commercials, of course! What makes more sense than trusting someone who is great at basketball or soccer or golf to also have a great eye when it comes to air travel or cleaning products? Granted, some of the celebrity product endorsements do make sense, like this one:

Troy Polamalu has lots of hair, and this is a hair care product. We approve.

Now on the other hand, sometimes sports celebrity commercials make zero sense. Take this one for a spin.

We love the man’s grill, but what does he know about brakes that we don’t!?

We’ll assume our point is made. So now let’s have some fun watching some of the best commercials sports stars have ever made… that showed during the biggest sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl!

Here is a great ad in and of itself, and the more so because it is a homage to one of the greatest series of ads ever:

That spot, which showed during Super Bowl XLIV, was a nod to commercials like this one:

Damn that brings you back, huh? Back all the way to 1993, in fact. Now let’s move away from basketball and watch an ad that took on different meaning once its “protagonist” kind of “shamed himself in front of the entire world.”

Yep, we not only like to see our stars in advertisements, we also like to see them dragged through the mud. We’re the worst, aren’t we? Let’s end on a high note, though, with this commercial that is simply awesome:

Hey, we didn’t say it was simply awesome and featured another athlete, we just said it was simply awesome. (Though we suppose that among many other things, the Governator was something of an athlete in his day!)

And as a bonus, some more favorites of ours: