Professional athletes face tough opponents on a regular basis but a few of them faced the strongest opponents possible this week: sharks.
From football players to professional fighters, some of the sports world’s most popular faces took part in the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week this year. The athletes all interacted with different kinds of sharks and in different ways.
Former NBA star and the official host of Shark Week Shaquille O’Neal might have been the most entertaining athlete taking part in Shark Week – or Shaq Week – because he was almost as big as the diving cage he was. O’Neal had to use a specially constructed wetsuit and specially made diving cage because he was too big for the ones typically used.
In true Shaq fashion, the big man even took time to insult his fellow “Inside the NBA” cohost Charles Barkley during the show, describing “Charles Barkley at an all-you-can-eat buffet” as the second-most deadly animal.
O’Neal’s episode, “Shaq Does Shark Week” had him work up from touching sea lions to eventually diving with sharks in the ocean. All seemed to be going well at first, O’Neal even danced inside the cage as sharks swam around, until a small shark managed to wiggle into the opening of the cage.
As the shark experts and crew frantically tried to get the shark out, O’Neal evacuated the cage. Although he seemed rattled at first, O’Neal eventually reverted to his joking self.
“I survived a shark attack, you b——,” he yelled after the encounter.
Recent UFC Hall of Fame inductee Ronda Rousey had a few close calls of her own and followed a similar “training program” of starting small before getting in the water with dangerous sharks. In “Ronda Rousey Uncaged,” Rousey and her husband, fellow fighter Travis Browne, had to learn to dive quickly before they could even get into the water.
The pair started with bull sharks and worked up to even hand feeding them. Rousey also took part in a night dive before transitioning to swimming with mako sharks. At first, Rousey stayed in the dive cage but eventually stepped outside of it to free swim.
The rest of Shark Week is scheduled to be just as star-packed as the first night, as NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Olympic ski racer Lindsey Vonn and NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski are taking part in an episode on Monday night.
Featured Image via Flickr/Luigi Mengato