"There's nothing that says all I have to do is play football and die," said Martellus Bennett, shortly after he signed a four-year, $20.4-million dollar contract with the Chicago Bears. Bennett, along with numerous other professional athletes, happens to have talent off the field as well.
Despite the enormous commitment that goes into playing and excelling at a sport, at any level, the following current pro athletes prove it's possible to spare time and energy for another passion or interest. Who knows, it may even help you with your game.
1. Bronson Arroyo plays guitar (and sings)
Although the Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher did not pick up a guitar until he was 22, he was a quick study. He mostly taught himself, and would play and sing in the locker room shower because of the acoustics.
He even got to go to the Grammy's one year, and allegedly jammed with Miley Cyrus's guitarist.
After a World Series title with the Red Sox in 2004, he recorded an album of covers called Covering The Bases. We're anticipating an original album sometime in the future.
2. Carlos Boozer draws doodle characters and is a serious chess player
Lakers forward Carlos Boozer has several characters he likes to draw, including a bald-headed guy and a guy with a wart on his nose.
He learned to play chess when he was 8 years old. He told ESPN that he and his dad used to play to a stalemate, "Just our kings. Our longest game lasted more than three months, and we just kept it going."
3. Robin Lopez draws
Portland Trailblazers' Robin Lopez's specialty is defense. Off the court, Lopez draws some pretty amazing portraits that, lucky for us, he posts to his Instagram. He carries a drawing notebook wherever he goes, and also has taken to doodling some incredible designs on his sneakers.
Lopez grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes, Pogo, Little Nemo, and Peanuts comic strips. If he wasn't an NBA player, he'd be designing and drawing cartoons.
4. John Denney is a violinist
Although the Dolphins long snapper's mother forced him to take lessons at age 5 (he couldn't play sports unless he played an instrument too), Denney turned out to be quite good and has continued to play since.
5. Theo Walcott is a children's book author
The Arsenal and England national team soccer star had four children's books published when he was just 21, a series starring soccer player "T.J.," based on his own experiences as a young boy.
6. Justin Tucker is an opera singer
The Baltimore Ravens placekicker was in the band and sung in high school and was actually pressured by his music teacher (rather than the football coach) to commit fully.
In college, Tucker studied opera singing under former hockey pro Nikita Storojev's tutelage. Tucker can sing in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin and Russian.
7. Serena Williams sews
Behind the tennis superstar's love of fashion are actual knowledge and skills. Williams began sewing as young as 2 or 3 years old and perfected her talents by diligently making clothes for her dolls. She even sewed up a dress in the middle of a photo shoot.
8. Tuukka Rask plays the drums
The Boston Bruins goaltender started playing drums when he was 10, growing up in Finland. Although he took a five-year break, he started again once he got to the States.
"I have a drum set, but my neighbors still like me because it's an electric drum set," Rask wrote. "I like playing Metallica."
9. Jameer Nelson cooks
The Dallas Mavericks point guard is a freestyle whiz in the kitchen.
"I'm a great cook. I can make whatever," he says. His feats include making deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving and preparing food at his home for 65 people, sides, salads and all. "My cooking skills come from my mom and my dad … my imagination is crazy when I'm in the kitchen, so I can usually figure things out when I'm going along and trying to figure out how to fix something."
10. Jamaal Charles DJs
DJ "J-Charles" is the post-NFL career plan. Quick on the field, he also can get people moving with his selections. The Kanas City Chiefs running back fell in love with music when he was a kid. He began DJing several years back and has been working on his craft ever since.
One of his more recent appearances was at the 2014 Pro Bowl in Honolulu on a stage in front a crowd packed with NFL players.
11. Antonio Brown is an incredible juggler
Pittsburgh Steelers wide reciever Antonio Brown has good hands on and off the field. Not only can Brown juggle, but he can toss around three footballs at the same time. Check out the video above to see Brown put his juggling skills to the test as he juggles three footballs while sitting.
12. Ray Allen acts (well)
In the 1998 classic He Got Game, Allen plays Jesus Shuttlesworth—a blue chip high school prospect who must choose between going to college or going pro along with mending a broken relationship with his father, played by Denzel Washington.
Although there will only be one Jesus Shuttlesworth, we wouldn't object to Allen continuing in this line of work when his NBA career comes to a close.
13. Essence Carson is a rapper and multi-talented musician
N.Y. Liberty forward/guard released a hip-hop album, Broken Diaries, under the alias Pr3pe. On the album, Carson raps primarily, but she also was the music producer for 70 percent of the album.
Carson minored in music at Rutgers University and plays the piano, saxophone, electric bass and drums—the latter two self-taught.
14. Owen Daniels can predict the weather
Nicknamed "Weather Man," the Baltimore Ravens tight end has a passion for meteorology, further assisting his teammates on the field by providing detailed forecasts.
Fascinated with the weather from as young as 7 years old, Daniels graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in atmospheric and oceanic sciences.
15. Steve McLendon is a ballet dancer
The 320-plus pound lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been taking ballet since his senior year in college. Ballet actually helps his game on the football field; it has strengthened his knees, ankles and feet.
"I work him harder than the majority of women will ever work in a ballet setting," McLendon's instructor Stephanie Kibler told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He does it well. He might have sweat dripping off him and looking at me like I'm crazy, but he does it. He really works hard. It's almost like he's mastering the craft of ballet. He's not in there just for football."
16. Vernon Davis paints
The 49ers tight end developed a love of art as a child growing up in a tough neighborhood of Washington D.C. and did not pursue it until much later in life. He was afraid of being judged by his peers.
Because of the fear he experienced, Davis formed the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts, which grants art scholarships and promotes art education and appreciation among disadvantaged youth.
17. Jon Dorenbos is a magician
The Eagles long snapper has some pretty slick magic tricks up his sleeve. Dorenbos has actually used magic as refuge in tough times and to remind him of his mother, who was murdered by his father around the end-of-year holiday season when Dorrenbos was 12 years old.
Here, he pokes a pencil through $100 bill, and then returns the bill intact.
18. Kobe Bryant is trilingual and plays piano
This Lakers' superstar known for his athletic prowess on the basketball court has a softer side. He speaks English, Italian and Spanish. He also took to piano in early 2013 as a way to relieve stress. He learned Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" and said it reminded him of "strength, fragility, joy, love [and] pain." He even had a piano fashioned for him, shaped like his logo with the words "Kobe Piano" on the front.
19. A.J. Green juggles
The wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals first started training for the NFL by honing his hand-eye coordination in the second grade. He was on his elementary school's juggling team, eventually juggling four items at once.
20. Thomas DeCoud does a great Louis Armstrong impression
At a 2013 benefit for the Children's Miracle Network and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the former Falcons safety (he now plays for the Carolina Panthers) won the crowd with his rendition of "What A Wonderful World"—in his best Louis Amstrong-voice. Watch it here (and skip to 2:27).
21. Nick Markakis can balance a folding chair on his chin
The Orioles right fielder was photographed by ESPN Magazine with a chair perched on his chin. He can also balance a number of other objects on his chin, including vacuum cleaners and shopping carts.
22. Steven Jackson is a photographer/artist
It was only earlier this year that the Atlanta Falcons RB decided both to rekindle his first love for art and to begin a new journey. At the suggestion of a friend and artist Michael Kalish, Jackson collected the best photographs he had taken from around the world and transformed them into works of art. Over the summer, Jackson showcased his work at a gallery in L.A. and has sold several pieces.
23. Connor McGregor is an Origami master
Word on the street is he got really into it when he was recovering from ACL surgery in early 2013. He landed a commercial with Heineken, in which he showcases his swan-making skills.
24. Jason Pierre-Paul can do 13 backflips in a row
Who would've thought that the N.Y. Giants running back could have been an Olympic gymnast. Just saying.
25. Martellus Bennett can paint fire hydrants and much, much more
The Chicago Bears tight end is quite the artist, a "visionary architect" as he describes himself on his Instagram. "I don't want someone to come to my funeral and say, 'Oh, that guy ran fast down the seam.' Or have somebody give me some great-*ss Any Given Sunday eulogy," Bennett says. "I want them to say, 'He helped people do this' or 'He created that.' I don't think humans are built to do one thing. You've got two of almost everything."
Bennett keeps a sketchpad and a notebook on his nightstand for writing down, for instance, his hundreds of tattoo ideas for what to get next. Bennett also goes by "Black Unicorn," "Joe Gryffindor," "Martysaurus Rex," and "Orange Dinosaur." His work is inspired by Tim Burton, Dr. Seuss, Dreamworks and Pixar. He also recently learned to sew from an online course. Mainly he just wants to keep creating.
He has a cartoon named Space Dude, a shamed astronaut who has an intellectually challenged black unicorn named Casper. Another conceptualized animation is Wanabees, a kids pop-up book about "Marty Bee" (a literal bee) and his family. Among his other ideas, he plans to write and publish a book of 365 aphorisms called Martellus Bennett: Human Fortune Cookie as well as a coffee-table book of shorts stories called Books That Make No Sense in the Place of Make-Believe: Dinosaurs, Astronauts and Cupcakes. FOX 32 News Chicago
Among his latest selfies:
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock