Radio show host and comedian Adam Carolla was the captain of his high school football team, has won several celebrity auto races, wrote and starred in a boxing movie, and chose his own middle name as “Lakers.”
Yes, Adam Lakers Carolla knows his sports, and he took some time to speak with ESPN Playbook about his life as a sports fan.
ESPN Playbook: What team would make you happiest if it won a championship?
Adam Carolla: Well, I’m a Rams fan, so I’d like to see the Rams do it, but it also would be kind of fun for the Cubs to do it. Although I feel it’s kind of their identity -- they would lose their Rodney Dangerfield status in sports -- but I’d go with Cubs. It’d also be fun to see the Browns win just 'cause of what they used to be and what they aren’t, and never really seem to be, and with the dive and all that stuff. So I’d go Rams for personal reasons, and I’d probably go with the Cubs and Browns overall. Look, the Steelers don’t need another ring, the Patriots don’t need another ring, Dallas doesn’t need a ring -- they don’t need it.
What is your most prized piece of sports memorabilia?
It’s a little self-serving but honestly, there are a few things I’m most proud of. One, I have a newspaper clipping from 1981 that breaks down the All-Valley first-team football players, and my name’s on it. That’s something that’s worth more than the paper it’s on for me. But, you know, no one else cares. Another is I got a nice trophy for winning the Toyota Celebrity Grand Prix last year, which feels pretty damn good. I got a nice trophy for winning the Rolex historic race at Monterey. That feels pretty good. And I have a clipping from Sports Illustrated a few years ago that my boxing movie was named the best sports movie of 2008. Those are my proudest moments in my sporting life. Oh, I should also tell you I had a little cup that I was awarded in Pop Warner, where the other team voted on the best defender on the other team. But I later used it as a kicking tee and I broke it, so that’s not in my house anywhere.
Teams vote on the other team’s best player. Didn’t know they did that.
I don’t think they’d let you do it today. This was back when people weren’t ashamed to say someone was better than somebody else. It was a totally different time.
What’s your favorite sports memory?
For me as a player, I primarily played football and some baseball. I’d say just hitting a home run in high school over the fence -- that trot, that feeling, that sweet feeling of just jogging around the bases. That felt pretty damn good. I never scored any touchdowns in football, so I didn’t get that sensation. But hitting a nice home run where you don’t have to lug it out, it’s just way over the fence, that felt pretty damn good. Speaking of home runs, Kirk Gibson hitting his for the Dodgers against [Dennis] Eckersley [in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series] was a pretty exciting moment. The Rams winning the Super Bowl, even though they were in St. Louis by then, was pretty exciting, especially because it came down to the last play like it did. Oh, and there was a minor league baseball player who played catcher who brought a potato with him out there, and then when there was a guy on third, he fired the potato over the third baseman’s head. Then, when the runner came running home, the catcher still had the ball and tagged him out. That’s one of the greatest moments in sports, in my opinion. You gotta look it up. The guy literally fired a potato over the head of the third baseman.
One would wonder how that isn’t against the rules.
Find me the page in the rulebook that says you can’t bring a potato out on the field. I learned that from the rulebook where Gus the mule kicked field goals. You have to find it in the real book -- that a mule can’t kick FGs. It doesn’t say that anywhere.
Who was your childhood sports idol?
I guess I grew up loving football, and I guess I grew up loving the Rams. I liked defense. So let’s say Jack Youngblood -- just because he’s such a badass.
If your life depended on your performance in a competitive sport, which would you choose?
Do you count auto racing? I’d say auto racing first, boxing second, baseball third.
I’d have guessed you’d say boxing.
I jump the rope and do my shadow boxing, but I don’t take it too much further than that. I hit the heavy bag a little but my hands are a little screwed up now.
Which modern athlete do you despise the most?
I would say it’s whoever has the most tattoos.
No, I’ll tell you who. There’s a white wideout for the Texans or Packers, who’s completely sleeved. He’s a white guy but I couldn’t tell what color he was because he was sleeved up and down. I can’t remember his name. It’s a sleeved guy. White wideout, NFL, completely sleeved, and he’s a starter. It’s very look-up-able. (Editor’s update: We believe Carolla is referring to Packers tight end Tom Crabtree)
If you could play the role of any sports icon in a movie, who would you choose?
The catcher who threw that potato. You think I’m kidding, but I’m very serious about that.