When you were a kid, the dream was to hit the big shot at the buzzer, crush the Series-clinching home run, toss the touchdown and jog off in triumph. And that all sounds great. It also sounds like a lot of work, especially when you can make a better-than-decent wage watching from the sidelines, playing catch, working out, and mostly just holding a clipboard for three hours a week.
Sure, the bench may not bring a windfall of money or women, but if you don't mind generally living in anonymity, not being a headline attraction, and not signing many autographs, then maybe one of these jobs are for you. You're equally qualified if you enjoy babysitting teammates, playing poker on planes, and generally sitting around and doing not much of anything at all. If so, grab a ball and an application.
Here are the cushiest jobs in sports:
The Bullpen catcher
Major League bullpens are chock-full of easy jobs, from the relief pitchers who only play an inning here and there to the actual bullpen coach, who is basically like a supervisor for a no-show construction job. Not much goes on in a bullpen outside of a lot of chewing, spitting, watching baseball, and occasionally warming up. But nobody has it better than the bullpen catcher. His job is to toss a ball with his friends for maybe 30–45 minutes a night. He won't get into a game, but he'll earn upwards of $100,000 a year to be a part-time ballplayer. Playoff shares are a nice bonus incentive, and can reach six figures.
He hasn't played a baseball game since 2001, but he still gets paid. To do nothing. Bonilla was bought out of his $5.9 million contract by the New York Mets and agreed to a deal with the team that will pay him $1.2 million every July 1 for 25 years from 2011–2035. Matt Harvey, the Mets best player, makes about half that, and he still has to actually play every fifth day.
The NBA 12th Man
If you survive your first year in the league, you're set to make a minimum of more than $800k to hang out with LeBron and company, get in great shape, stay in nice hotels, and sit in better seats than Jack Nicholson can get, which is completely disproportionate to the amount of work a 12th man does. Once in a while, usually in a blowout, the 12th man gets some burn in a game. Occasionally he'll hit a couple uncontested threes and hear the crowd chant his name. But more often than not, games are time to sit around, laugh, and sip Gatorade while his teammates are forced to break a sweat and actually compete out there.
The Guy With the Clipboard
Unless your name is Willie Beamen, the third-string quarterback on an NFL team isn't typically going to be doing much on Sundays outside of logging plays and marking sheets on that clipboard. He gets to dress in a uniform, play catch with Tom Brady, stay warm in one of those great parkas on especially cold days, and the league minimum is $435,000 for a player with no pro experience. The best part? You don't have to spend Sunday afternoons avoiding 11 maniacs trying to rip your head off. With reps at a premium in practice, you don't even have to do much during the week because the two guys in front of you on the depth chart are getting all the work. Study your playbook, keep your head down, and as long as no QBs get hurt, you can make a nice living as a bench warmer.
The Designated Hitter
There's a bit more pressure on an everyday DH than the team's ninth batter, but a lot less work involved. Way less. Almost none. Imagine getting paid piles of money to do a job that is the pro sports equivalent of going to the batting cages every day. American League designated hitters are professional batters who don't play defense, get to rest in the shade of the dugout on hot August days while their teammates are sizzling in the outfield, have little obligation to stay in shape, and typically get up to hit about four times per game. If they succeed just three in every ten tries at the plate, they can look forward to even more low-impact, high-reward jobs coming their way.
The NFL Punter
In most sports you'd be yelled at for turning the ball over to the other team. As an NFL punter, you can get paid as much as $4 million to do it on purpose about five or six times per game. And while it's terrifying to have 11 very large men trying to eat your leg off, there are actually rules against touching you, even on accident. You'll never make the Hall of Fame and your only SportsCenter highlight may be the time you tried (and failed) to tackle Devin Hester, but you can play until you're 40 and rarely have to worry about injury.
The NHL Backup Goalie
Sure, it might not be ideal to stand in front of dozens of frozen, vulcanized rubber hockey pucks being shot at you in practice, at morning skates, during warmups, etc., but once the game starts, it pays to get on a team where the starter plays every game and never gets hurt. Think Martin Brodeur in the 2000s. Once the whistle blows, you chill on the bench, check out the girls in the stands, and even get to don a cool cap while your teammates are breathing heavy in helmets. When you do get in, you have the built-in excuse for failure that comes with being a backup, and the per diem for road games is pretty nice, too.