“Everyone has a podcast now,” seems to be a typical response when the topic comes up. Maybe that’s true, or more so, that the ability to have the resources to create own is easier. However, some retired professional athletes are finding a great next chapter to their career through impactful podcasts and media platforms.

Still, that does not mean anyone can do it well. The question becomes, how do you sift through and find those that are really doing it right? Aside from what is spoon fed to you through social media, certain athletes have trusted their knowledge and experience of the game to carry them to conversational success.

What Is The Criteria For Compiling This Retired Athletes Podcast List?

Well, for starters they need to be legitimate former professional athletes. Meaning, they played in their respective sport at a high-level for a long duration of time.

Next, we’re looking for athletes who do this regularly now as a consistent means. In addition, the preference is for their subject matters to have a direct focus. For example, a former NFL star talking about football.

With the exception of Pat McAfee, there are not a ton of athletes (other than Michael Strahan) that can successfully cast a wide net and engage their audience on any topic under the sun. Sure, it can be done. But for this list, the preference is largely for the premise of each show to be somewhat specialized.

Another requirement here is that the athlete has to be retired from the sport and not currently on or associated with a team. That would make someone like Micah Parson (who has a successful podcast) and Travis Kelce ineligible (even though brother and co-host Jason is now retired).

Although the sports and subject matters will vary with this list, there are still a few common themes. Each athlete demonstrates their own personality in their podcast. Sometimes being under a helmet or on the court does not allow an athlete’s true personality to always shine through. With a podcast it does.

The host also has a talent where they give the listener a great perspective on the subject at hand. Greg Olsen from Fox Sports does a great job with this on live broadcasts. He gives the audience an inside view of what a player may be thinking in that moment of the game, given he played for so long. He’ll also share what goes on inside a locker room.

Before we get to the list, an honorable mention here goes to Fox sports insider, Jay Glazer. He did not make the list because he is not a former pro athlete. However, his Unbreakable podcast that discusses mental health in the world of professional sports has proven to be very impactful.

Without further ado, here are the six great podcasts hosted by retired professional athletes who have built an impressive following with their great shows.

  • Alex Rodriguez - 'The Deal'

    With MLB on Fox and a previous stint hosting The Corp podcast with Barstool Sports, A-Rod has been no stranger to the media world since his retirement. One could argue that his new career has been less polarizing and more engaging as Rodriguez has opened himself up in great ways through the power of conversation. The Deal is hosted alongside Jason Kelly and has included riveting conversations with athletes such as Derek Jeter and Michael Strahan about how they set themselves up for success in New York sports.

  • Pat McAfee - 'The Pat McAfee Show'

    Now, this one almost did not make the list because it has blown past the success of just an awesome podcast. Airing weekly live on ESPN, The Pat McAfee Show has put on a clinic on how to be a media host after retirement from sports. McAfee is a ball of personality. He and his crew have done an amazing job tackling sports subjects at hand from a very casual, down-to-earth, and authentic perspective. Yes, some of the dialog falls into the category of them saying what everyone else is thinking. Nonetheless, McAfee is incredibly funny, spontaneous, and witty. These three qualities are not often injected into the narrative of sports but are a refreshing, welcomed change.

     

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  • Chris Long - "Green Light"

    Long, who was an outstanding defensive end in the NFL for 11 years, jumped into his Green Lights show pretty quickly upon retiring. What makes this show clever is that Long speaks as if he is still playing and sitting in his chair at his locker inside the stadium. Do you want to know how a situation feels like from a player’s perspective? He gives you an honest take. In addition, Long occasionally has guests you would never expect due to the relationships he has forged. For exmple, that time Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament from Pearl Jam were on because Long’s father, Howie Long, had befriended Ament as both were Montana residents.

  • JJ Reddick - "The Old Man And The Three" and "Mind The Game"

    Reddick also jumped in quickly after unlacing his sneakers for the last time. Reddick is very direct and articulate. He falls into a bit of a McAfee category by essentially constructing his own media company that has built into a legit source for basketball knowledge. For example, he recently unveiled a second podcast called Mind The Game, where his co-host is LeBron James. Here, these two basketball minds share insightful knowledge of the X’s and O’s of basketball and the art of the game.

     

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  • Chad Johnson and Shannon Sharpe - "Nightcap"

    “Come for the sports, stay for the stories,” Nightcap show says. Then, they completely back that up. Hosted by Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, and perhaps the most beloved athlete turned media personality, Shannon Sharpe. This show can be tuned into live on YouTube, at night as it suggests. Or catch the entire thing via podcast. Of course you can’t mention Sharpe without a nod to his solo show Club Shay Shay. His interview with Kat Williams has 62 millions views. However, it’s the entertaining dynamic of the two different personalities that will give the edge here to Nightcap. Followers know that they go be “Ocho” and “Unc.” Sharpe (Unc) usually brings his bold takes while Ocho brings his wild personality. Together, they balance quite well for a very entertaining show.

     

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