The 19 Most Important Animal Athletes Of All Time

And no. Air Bud doesn’t count. This is real.

1. This marten was a star defender who transcended the game, but he still always listened to his goalkeeper.

PASCAL LAUENER / Reuters

2. This bird proved that she was the greatest cricketer in all the land. (She eats crickets.)

DAVID GRAY / Reuters

3. This cat always wanted to be a striker, but ended up being a terrific defender, who won multiple World Cups.

MARCOS BRINDICCI / Reuters

4. This cat was a top prospect, who was so excited to get into his first major league game. Unfortunately he was later suspended for PEDs. Catnip.

5. This bird scored hundreds of goals in his career, but was also often ejected for attacking the goalkeeper. That’s one of the arguments against having birds play sports.

PAULO WHITAKER / Reuters

6. Here a famed striker cat makes a great run, but was called offsides. It turns out teaching cats the rules was difficult.

MIKE CASSESE / Reuters

7. This young kitten plays for Manchester United. She can’t buy beer, but she can score goals. (In fairness no cats can buy beer.)

DARRIN ZAMMIT LUPI / Reuters

8. This linebacker squirrel played in five Pro Bowls, but is beginning to get concerned about the lingering effects of concussions.

SUZANNE PLUNKETT / Reuters

9. This squirrel could hit, but his third base coach was always disappointed in his base running ability. He bounced back and forth between the minors.

Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

10. These sheep famously forgot their bikes but they didn’t let that stop them from racing. Talk about inspiration.

BOGDAN CRISTEL / Reuters

11. This pigeon’s short game was so good that golfers like Rory Sabbatini were constantly applauding him.

DAVID MOIR / Reuters

12. This cat being helped off the field by a teammate should have been one of the all-time greats, but injuries derailed his career. His name? Bo Jackson.

STR / Reuters

13. This hare was the first non-human without a car to win an F1 race. The tortoise finished 31st. True story.

14. This baboon would go on to win the Masters.

15. This dog had talent, but butted heads with his coach. Here he was sick of getting yelled at and stormed off the field. It was pretty controversial.

16. This dog was the fastest cricketer the world’s ever seen. He’s never been tagged.

Mike Hutchings / Reuters

(Do they tag people in cricket? Is that a thing?)

17. This deer couldn’t drive the ball, but was deadly from the sand.

TODD KOROL / Reuters

18. No dog has ever played third base better than Mr. McKibbles.

Morry Gash / AP

19. This dog grew up to be Leo Messi.

ENRIQUE MARCARIAN / Reuters

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