Travis Kelce is living his best life and we’re totally here for it. Just a few weeks after winning his second Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end announced he’ll be the next athlete to host Saturday Night Live. He’s set to host the March 4th episode and will be joined by Kelsea Ballerini as the musical guest.
It comes after his Chiefs – led by Patrick Mahomes – defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, which featured an incredible fourth quarter comeback. Kelce ended the night with 6 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown – an 18-yard pass from Mahomes halfway through the first quarter.
Kelce has been in the league for 10 years now and has already established himself as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. He has at least 1,000 yards in seven consecutive seasons and 10,344 career yards gained on 814 receptions – he also has 69 touchdowns to his name and, of course, two rings.
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Other Athletes to Host Saturday Night Live
Travis Kelce made the announcement on February 16 during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon – a former SNL standout. While he said he was nervous, anyone who has followed Kelce knows that he’s the perfect athlete to take center stage. His comedic personality is going to shine through.
“Growing up, I was a huge [Chris] Farley, [Will] Ferrell, [Jimmy] Fallon, kinda guy growing up. I used to watch Saturday Night Live with my mother. It’s an absolute honor and a privilege to be hosting SNL March 4th,” he said to Fallon’s audience. We can’t wait to see how SNL utilizes his talent to make people laugh.
In doing so, he’ll become the latest athlete to host the late night comedy sketch show – joining a list of several other athletes to be given the honor, though it doesn’t happen often. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the more notable athletes to host SNL over the past 48 years, since it debuted in 1975.
20. Bill Russell
Bill Russell hosted Saturday Night Live on November 3, 1979 (Season 5, Episode 3) and was joined by musical guest Chicago – it was the 89th episode of the popular sketch show. Some of the repertory actors involved were Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner.
By the time the episode aired, Russell had been retired for a decade. He spent 13 seasons in the NBA between 1956 and 1969, winning 11 championships during that time. He averaged 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in 963 total games played. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.
19. Joe Montana / Walter Payton
Joe Montana and Walter Payton co-hosted Saturday Night Live on January 24, 1987 (Season 12, Episode 9) and were joined by musical guest Debbie Harry – it was the 222nd episode of the show. Repertory actors included Dana Carvey, Nora Dunn, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Jon Lovitz, and more.
Montana had just completed his eighth season in the NFL and already had two Super Bowl victories to his name – he retired after the 1994 season with four Super Bowl rings. Meanwhile, Payton had just finished his 12th season in the NFL and would go on to retire the following year. Both players are in the HOF.
18. Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky hosted Saturday Night Live on May 13, 1989 (Season 14, Episode 19) and was joined by musical guest Fine Young Cannibals – it was the 265th episode. Repertory actors were Dana Carvey, Nora Dunn, Jan Hooks, Phil Hartman, Victoria Jackson, Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz, and more.
At the time of hosting, Gretzky had just finished the 1988-89 season that saw him get swept in the second round of the playoffs – don’t worry, he already had four Stanley Cup wins to his name by then. Known as the greatest hockey player to ever live, Gretzky retired with 894 goals, 1,963 assists, and 2,857 points.
17. Chris Evert
Chris Evert hosted Saturday Night Love on November 11, 1989 (Season 15, Episode 5) and was joined by musical guest Eurythmics – it was the 271st episode. Repertory actors included Dana Carvey, Nora Dunn, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz, and Dennis Miller.
It was quite a historical night for Evert, who became the first female athlete to ever host the show – Mike Myers, Al Franken, and A. Whitney Brown appeared as featured guests. She’s one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, having won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 157 career singles titles.
16. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan hosted Saturday Night Live on September 29, 1991 (Season 17, Episode 1) and was joined by Public Enemy as musical guest – it was the 307th episode of the show. Dana Carvey, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Kevin Nealon, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and David Spade were also there.
At the time of hosting the episode, Jordan had just won his first NBA title with the Chicago Bulls. He went on to win the next two years before retiring for the first time. He famously returned after a year off and led his team to another three-peat. His efforts on the basketball court have him touted as one of the GOATs.
15. Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley has hosted Saturday Night Live four times – on September 25, 1993 (Season 19, Episode 1) with Nirvana, January 9, 2010 (Season 35, Episode 11) with Alicia Keys, January 7, 2012 (Season 37, Episode 11) with Kelly Clarkson, and March 3, 2018 (Season 43, Episode 14) with Migos.
Barkley is one of the NBA’s all-time personalities and continues to show it on a weekly basis as co-host of NBA on TNT. He spent 16 seasons in the league and averaged 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game in 1,073 games. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
14. George Foreman
George Foreman hosted Saturday Night Live on December 17, 1994 (Season 20, Episode 9) and was joined by Hole as the musical guest – it was the 375th episode. Others included were Chris Farley, Chris Elliott, Norm Macdonald, Adam Sandler, Kevin Nealon, David Spade, Janeane Garofalo, and more.
At the time of hosting the episode, Foreman had just become the oldest heavyweight to win a world title when he beat Michael Moorer at 46 years old – Moorer was just 26. Foreman had a career record of 76-5 with 68 knockouts and was a two-time heavyweight champion. He also won an Olympic gold medal.
13. Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders hosted Saturday Night Live on February 18, 1995 (Season 20, Episode 13) with musical guest Bon Jovi – it was the 379th episode of the show. He was joined by Chris Farley, David Spade, Norm Macdonald, Kevin Nealon, Adam Sandler, Laura Kightlinger, Mark McKinney, and much more.
His hosting duties came just a few weeks after he won his first Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers – who went on to win the Super Bowl the following year, as well. Sanders is one of the greatest athletes and most versatile players the NFL has ever seen. He played offense, defense, and special teams.
12. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has hosted Saturday Night Live five times – on March 18, 2000 (Season 25, Episode 15), April 13, 2002 (Season 27, Episode 17), March 7, 2009 (Season 34, Episode 17), March 28, 2015 (Season 40, Episode 16), and May 20, 2017 (Season 42, Episode 21). He might not be done!
When ‘The Rock’ made his debut as SNL host, he was still a prominent figure in the WWE. While he was still with the WWE in 2002 (his second time as host), he had already begun his career as an actor and was there to promote his new movie. From that point on, he was best known for his acting, not wrestling.
11. Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter hosted Saturday Night Live on December 1, 2001 (Season 27, Episode 7) with Shakira and Bubba Sparxxx as musical guests – it was the 512th episode. He was joined by actors Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Maya Rudolph, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, and Chris Kattan.
At the time of hosting, Jeter had just lost a seven-game World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks – don’t worry, he already had four World Series titles under his belt by then. He retired after the 2014 season with 5 titles and went down as one of the greatest Yankees of all-time and is now in the HOF.
10. Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon hosted Saturday Night Live on January 11, 2003 (Season 28, Episode 9) with Avril Lavigne as the musical guest – it was the 534th episode of the show. He was joined by Jimmy Fallon, Darrell Hammond, Amy Poehler, Chris Parnell, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Will Forte, Seth Meyers, and more.
By the time he was selected as host, Gordon was already a NASCAR legend – despite being just halfway through his career. He’s a four-time Cup Series champion, three-time Daytona 500 winner, and has 16 Crown Jewel races under his belt – he also won three career Grand Slams and is in the Hall of Fame.
9. Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick hosted Saturday Night Live on November 8, 2003 (Season 29, Episode 5) with Dave Matthews as the musical guest – it was the 550th episode of the show. He was joined by Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Will Forte, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Kenan Thompson, and more.
At the time of hosting the show, Roddick was fresh off his first and only Grand Slam victory at the 2003 US Open – he also made it to the semifinals of the Australian Open earlier in the year. He retired from singles in 2012 with a 612-213 record and 32 career titles – adding four more career titles in doubles.
8. Tom Brady
Tom Brady hosted Saturday Night Live on April 16, 2005 (Season 30, Episode 17) with Beck as the musical guest – it was the 582nd episode of the show. He was joined by Will Forte, Rachel Dratch, Rob Riggle, Maya Rudolph, Seth Meyers, Tina Fey, Kenan Thompson, Chris Parnell, and Horatio Sanz.
A few months prior to hosting the show, Brady had won his third Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and would go on to win four more by the time he retired this offseason. He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks we’ve ever seen and has more Super Bowl wins than any other franchise in the NFL.
7. Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning hosted Saturday Night Live on March 24, 2007 (Season 32, Episode 16) with musical guest Carrie Underwood. He was joined by Bill Hader, Will Forte, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg, Kenan Thompson, Kristen Wig, Jason Sudeikis, and several others.
Just a few months prior to hosting, Manning won his first of two career Super Bowl titles – this one with the Indianapolis Colts. Along with Brady, he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time and retired with 71,940 yards, 539 touchdowns, and 251 interceptions. He led his teams to a 186-79-0 career record.
6. LeBron James
LeBron James hosted Saturday Night Live on September 29, 2007 (Season 33, Episode 1) with Kanye West as musical guest (his 2nd appearance). He was joined by Will Forte, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wig, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Kenan Thompson, and Andy Samberg.
At the time of hosting the show, James was preparing for his fifth season in the league – he had already established himself as one of the best players in the league and would go on to win his first and only scoring title that year. LeBron most recently became the league’s all-time leading point scorer.
5. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps hosted Saturday Night Live on September 13, 2008 (Season 34, Episode 8) with Lil Wayne as the musical guest – it was the second year in a row that an athlete hosted the premiere of a new season. He was joined by the same cast as LeBron, except Bobby Moynihan made his debut.
At the time of hosting, Phelps was fresh off an incredible performance at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He took home a record eight gold medals during the games, a record that still stands today, and eventually retired with a total of 23 Olympic gold medals – which is also a record that stands today.
4. Eli Manning
Eli Manning hosted Saturday Night Live on May 5, 2012 (Season 37, Episode 20) with Rihanna as the musical guest – it came nearly five years after his older brother, Peyton Manning, hosted it. In addition to the repertory cast, he was joined by Jay Pharoah, Vanessa Bayer, Taran Killam, and Kate McKinnon.
Manning was just a few months removed from winning his second Super Bowl when he made his SNL hosting debut – both wins came against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. His career wasn’t as legendary as his brother’s, but he did get his second Super Bowl before him and that means something.
3. Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey hosted Saturday Night Live on January 23, 2016 (Season 41, Episode 11) with Selena Gomez performing as the musical guest. The four other featured cast members, aside from the weekly repertory cast, included Leslie Jones, Pete Davidson, Michael Che, and Jon Rudnitsky.
She hosted the show in the midst of her downfall from the UFC, which started with a KO loss to Holly Holm on November 15, 2015 following a 12-fight win streak. She would go on to lose again on December 30, 2016 – this time to Amanda Nunes – before retiring from the UFC. She’s still an all-time great.
2. John Cena
John Cena hosted Saturday Night Live on December 10, 2016 (Season 42, Episode 9) with musical guest Maren Morris – it was the second time a wrestler had hosted the show in the 2016 calendar year. The featured guests were Mikey Day, Alex Moffat, and Melissa Villaseñor – Bryan Cranston made a cameo.
It was a special year for Cena. While he was still with the WWE at the time, he was looking to venture out into other things as he went part-time with the promotion. He was the host of the 2016 ESPY Awards earlier in the year and was even the host of a reality television competition called American Grit.
1. JJ Watt
JJ Watt hosted Saturday Night Live on February 1, 2020 (Season 45, Episode 12) with Luke Combs as the musical guest – both of whom were making their SNL debut. He was joined by Chloe Fineman, Ego Nwodim, and Bowen Yang as the featured guests and Alec Baldwin made a cameo appearance.
Watt had just finished his 9th season in the NFL, but only played in half the games that season due to injury. While his injuries ultimately led to him retiring at the start of the 2023 offseason, he still goes down as one of the greatest defenders of all-time – he won three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Athletes We Want to See Host Saturday Night Live
Many people would agree that finding athletes who can succeed on a stage like Saturday Night Live isn’t easy – in fact, many athletes have tried and failed in the past. We’ll have to wait and see how Travis Kelce does in the spotlight, but we think the SNL writers will put him in a position to succeed on March 4.
It makes you wonder – which other athletes would make a good SNL host today? I can think of two fellow tight ends that could do it in Rob Gronkowski and George Kittle – both of whom are known for their personalities. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson could also do it – preferably together as co-hosts.
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Other athletes I would consider as an SNL host include Aaron Rodgers, Blake Griffin, P.K. Subban, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Serena Williams, Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson, Draymond Green, Richard Jefferson, Russell Westbrook, and Shaquille O’Neal. Who would you like to see hosting SNL?
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