The creation of Twitter has broken down barriers between fans and athletes, allowing fanatics to interact with their favorite stars and to catch glimpses into the lives of professional athletes. Some stars like Donovan McNabb think athletes shouldn't be on Twitter (maybe Rashard Mendenhall should have listened), but most use the social network effectively.
To make this list of must-follow athletes, the tweeter needed to be interactive, informative, charitable, funny and (for the most part) not oblige his or her followers' requests for retweets because the athlete is the "fan's favorite player." Athletes, coaches, and owners were eligible to make the list.
Send your suggestions for the best athletes to follow to our Twitter account @CBSSports. You can follow all 140 athletes by checking out this Twitter list.
- Shaquille O’Neal (@Shaq): The Big Diesel set the standard for athletes on Twitter. He’s partly responsible for helping the 140-character messages go mainstream and has amassed more than four million followers on the social network. During his playing days he frequently met up with followers, and now that he’s retired (which he announced via a video he posted on Twitter), he’s tweeting videos encouraging people to come sign his leg cast if his followers see the Shaqtus in public.
- Chad Ochocinco (@Ochocinco): During the lockout, Ochocinco rode bulls, tried out for a soccer team, and declared he’d wrestle an alligator. Before all that, Ochocinco was helping establish his wildness through his Twitter account. He once challenged his coach, Marvin Lewis, to a steel cage fight. On the lighter side, No. 85 is great with fans on Twitter, frequently offering to take fans out to dinner in the cities he visits each weekend.
- Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP): Despite being No. 3 on this list, Phillips remains very underrated in terms of his presence on Twitter. With only 81,000 followers, he doesn’t have the same expansive reach as Shaq or Ochocinco, but Phillips makes up for it with incredible interaction with his fans. Earlier this year, Phillips attended the little league game of a fan who asked him to come on Phillips’ day off.
- Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins): The Florida outfielder is a self-confessed Twitter-holic who takes to the twittersphere to banter with fans. For Phillies fans to like an opposing player, you have to be doing something right on Twitter. He once invited a Phillies fan to a Marlins game after developing a friendship with the fellow tweeter.
- Gilbert Arenas (@AgentZeroShow): Gilbert calls himself the “NBA’s red headed step child” in his Twitter bio and his antics via Twitter support his claims. The Magic guard is not only outspoken about league issues, but also his dating life. Arenas live-tweeted an awful blind date and frequently gives girls tips on dating.
- Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward): Arenas and Howard in Orlando make for a terrific tweeting twosome. Together, the two of them planked practically every surface in central Florida. The Magic center also responds to many fans so if you send him a message, he might just get back to you.
- Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods): He’s a fallen star on the golf-course, but a rising force in the twittersphere. Since re-joining Twitter in November 2010, Woods has consistently made announcements about his future on the links via Twitter. Woods interacts with fans on Twitter, but he’s this high on the Twitter 140 because he’s a pioneer in avoiding the media to break news.
- John Axford (@JohnAxford): The Milwaukee closer’s tweeting has a very hairy feel to it as Axford sports one of the best moustaches in sports. He lets his followers know about it with frequent #staching jokes.
- Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft): According to his Twitter bio, the Minnesota punter’s location is “with Carmen Sandiego.” Kluwe is genuinely one of the funniest athletes on Twitter, but his humor can be a bit risqué.
- Nick Mangold (@NickMangold): His Twitter bio sums up most of his Twitter habits, “Center for the New York Jets by way of Ohio State. I try to find the humor in everything while promoting the virtues of being manly.” In addition to his humor, Mangold frequently replies to many of his followers who send him tweets.
- Dirk Hayhurst (@TheGarfoose): He’s created a fictional character (the Garfoose), he’s witty and snarky, he’s an author, and he currently blogs for Bleacher Report about being a pitcher. Hayhurst helps his followers learn the mentality of pitching through social networking.
- George Parros (@Stache16): He’s hockey’s version of John Axford. His #stache is a prominent feature on his feed, but Parros is laugh-out-loud funny with every tweet, even the ones that don’t feature his facial hair.
- Nyjer Morgan (@TheRealTPlush): One of Morgan’s followers told him to fly a kite. So he flew a kite. It’s not hard to understand why the twittersphere unofficially declared that this tweet won the Internet for the day.
- Brian Wilson (@BrianWilson38): He doesn’t tweet often, but when he does, he pleases Charlie Sheen with his outrageousness.
- Steve Nash (@SteveNash): The Suns guard announces his yard sales via Twitter and interacts with Justin Bieber (he’s a fellow Canadian who loves basketball, we’ll cut Nash some slack), but it’s this tweet that made waves on Twitter.
- Stuart Holden (@stuholden): He’s one of soccer’s most prolific tweeters who spends his tweets talking with fans and giving things away. His next give-away will be coming up soon when he hits 200,000 followers.
- Ben Crane (@BenCraneGolf): Golf Boys: The video that took the golf world by storm. Ben Crane was the mastermind behind it. The sense of humor he displays in the video comes through on Twitter as well where he tweets pictures of Golf Boys look-alikes.
- Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory): After a humbling Masters loss, McIlroy tweeted a picture of himself congratulating the Green Jacket winner, Charl Schwartzel. McIlroy finally got his moment, winning the U.S. Open and immediately tweeting this picture of the trophy.
- John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari): Few coaches have used their celebrity status to raise as much money for charity as John Calipari. He uses the 140-character messages to help raise awareness and money for a variety of causes as well as tweets words of support for his former players.
- Mark Cuban (@MCuban): The Mavs owner is rarely quieted and Twitter is no exception. Following his team’s championship, Cuban tweeted multiple pictures with the trophy including this epic one on the flight home to Dallas.
- Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay): Jim Irsay joined Twitter after Mark Cuban, but the Colts owner certainly gives Cuban a run for his money for most boisterous team-owner. He gives so many things away via Twitter that if you follow him and you haven’t won something yet, then you’re simply not trying.
- Darnell Dockett (@DDockett): Several athletes have live-tweeted car problems, but none better than Darnell Dockett’s experience. In his Twitter bio, he manages to reference Charlie Sheen, a sex tape, and Oprah in fewer than 160 characters.
- Serena Williams (@serenawilliams): The queen of tennis tweeters gives her followers an in-depth, sometimes comedic look into her life as a tennis star.
- Ozzie Guillen (@OzzieGuillen): Let’s see here…Guillen’s tweets led to his son resigning, he laughed at one his players for getting a ticket, and MLB suspended him for tweeting during a game following an ejection. That’s just a small sample of Guillen on Twitter.
- Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander): The Detroit fireballer campaigned via Twitter for his teammate Alex Avila to overtake Russell Martin in the All-Star voting. With his 22,000 followers, Verlander succeeded and is now working to help Victor Martinez win the 34th man vote.
- Arian Foster (@ArianFoster): The Texans running back is part inspirational, part comedian, part wise guy on Twitter. He’s not afraid to take on his haters.
- Tony Allen (@aa000G9): The Grizzlies guard tweets back to many of his followers, but his most memorable moment on the social network came after an elderly lady rear-ended him. Allen can be hard to understand on Twitter, which spawned his own parody account: @TonyMeantToSay.
- Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12): The Super Bowl winning quarterback is all about his “belt celebration.” If you love his celebration, then check out his Twitter feed as it’s a prominent topic in his tweets.
- John Isner (@JohnIsner): Before he was known for playing a match that seemingly spanned an entire fortnight, Isner was known by his thousands of followers as one of the best users of social media in the tennis community.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts (@CDOUGLASROBERTS): CDR might be most known for a series of controversial tweets following the death of Osama bin Laden, but usually, he’s very Shaq-like in reminding us he’s a basketball player who has a pretty fantastic job for a living. Oh, and he changed his Twitter name to Flyonel Ritchie.
- Nick Fairley (@Nick_Fairley251): Fairley holds discussions about popular topics in the news on Twitter. He held a “twitter symposium” during the State of the Union address earlier this year and more recently debated the Casey Anthony trial.
- Kim English (@EnglishScope24) Want to see what a future coach in the making is like on Twitter? Then check out Missouri’s Kim English who is one of the most articulate players in college basketball.
- Ndamukong Suh (@Ndamukong_Suh): The Lions rookie holds the world record for largest tweet-up as nearly 2,000 fans showed to meet Ndamukong Suh.
- DeMarcus Cousins (@BoogieCousins): Pretty much from the day he became part of the national scene in prep-basketball, everyone knew Cousins could be a bit of a loose cannon. That mentality has carried over to Twitter where the Sacramento forward is one of the funniest athletes on the social network.
- Jon Brockman (@MrJonBrockman): The NBA big man declared he wouldn’t retweet every nice thing said to him. That’s as refreshing as it comes as timelines have become cluttered with athletes retweeting fans who ask for retweets. It’s the new “Can I have your autograph?” -- only more annoying.
- Peter Moylan (@PeterMoylan): The Braves reliever tweeted a picture of himself in a little black dress. Trust us, his Twitter feed isn’t nearly as disturbing as that image.
- Nick Swisher (@NickSwisher): He’s got one thing on all his Yankees teammates: he’s the best tweeter on the team. Swisher’s feed ranges from motivational to interactive.
- Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0): Ohio State’s star big man uses Twitter as a source for motivation. Following big games, Sullinger frequently retweets his haters to show just how wrong they are.
- Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0): Like George Parros, Bissonnette rocks a mighty fine #stache and tweets to make his followers laugh.
- Jay Feely (@JayFeely): If you’re looking for a strong stance on a controversial topic in sports, look to the Dolphins kicker for his take. Feely’s known for being vocal on Twitter.
- Chris Mack (@CoachChrisMack): Perhaps the most sociable college basketball coach, the Xavier coach likes to poke fun at CBSSports.com’s @GaryParrishCBS and @GoodmanCBS on Twitter.
- Mark Titus (@ClubTrillion): A former walk-on at Ohio State, Titus writes his own blog and tweets candidly about former Buckeye stars like Evan Turner (@TheKidET on Twitter).
- Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch): The driver of the No. 18 car is in a hit in the twittersphere among NASCAR drivers, plus in his free time, he’s joined the planking brigade.
- John Elway (@JohnElway): The former Bronco QB turned Bronco GM is changing the way teams do social media. Elway walked his Twitter followers through the process of finding a new head coach.
- Pete Carroll (@PeteCarroll): The Seahawks coach raises awareness for charity through his Twitter account. When he's not tweeting for a good cause, you might find him tweeting at fictional snakes.
- Jeremy Guthrie (@JGuthrie46): If Mark Cuban hangs out with you, then you must be doing something right. Guthrie ranks high on the list of athletes who can make you laugh with every tweet.
- Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon): If you want a glimpse into the mind of a major league manager, then follow the Rays’ Joe Maddon. When he wrote out an unconventional lineup, he tweeted his explanation for it before the game had even started.
- Stevie Johnson (@StevieJohnson13): The Bills receiver is infamously known for this tweet, but now he’s known for a good sense of humor through Twitter.
- Maurice Jones-Drew (@Jones_Drew32): Jones went after Jay Cutler during last year’s playoffs. Now, he mostly interacts with fellow players and fans via the social network.
- Dallas Braden (@DALLASBRADEN209): Picture a Twitter feed run by a frat brother that’s a major league pitcher. That’s what you’ll find when reading Dallas Braden’s timeline.
The Best of the Rest (alphabetically by sport):
Shawn Andrews (@ImShawnAndrews)
Drew Brees (@DrewBrees)
Dez Bryant (@Dez_88)
Dominique Curry (@DomCurry_15)
Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald)
Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisNFL)
James Harrison (@JHarrison9292)
Todd Herremans (@ToddHerremans)
Clay Matthews (@ClayMatthews52)
Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow)
LeSean McCoy (@CutonDime25)
Sinorice Moss (@Humble83)
Terrell Owens (@TerrellOwens)
Troy Polamalu (@TPolamalu)
Jim Schwartz (@JSchwartzLions)
Fred Taylor (@FredTaylorMade)
Mike Vick (@MikeVick)
Leonard Weaver (@LeonardWeaver)
Roddy White (@RoddyWhiteTV)
Heath Bell (@HeathBell21)
Jose Bautista (@JoeyBats19)
Adam Jones (@SimplyAJ10)
Sam LeCure (@mrLeCure)
Brandon McCarthy (@B_McCarthy)
Corky Miller (@Corky_Miller)
Hunter Pence (@HunterPence9)
Jimmy Rollins (@JimmyRollins11)
Stephen Strasburg (@Stras37)
Mark Teixeira (@teixeiramark25)
C. J. Wilson (@Str8EdgeRacer)
Ron Artest (@RonArtest)
Da’Sean Butler (@TheDaSeanButler)
Nick Collison (@NickCollison4)
Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619)
Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5)
Blake Griffin (@BlakeGriffin)
LeBron James (@KingJames)
Kevin Love (@KevinLove)
J.J. Redick (@JJRedick47)
Nolan Smith (@NDotSmitty)
Charlie Villanueva (@CV31)
John Wall (@JimmyWa11)
Marty Biron (@MartyBiron43)
Tyler Bozak (@Bozie42)
Ryan Jones (@JonesRy28)
Jamie McGinn (@JamieMcGinn64)
Andy Miele (@Andy_Miele)
David Perron (@DP_57)
Brandon Prust (@BrandonPrust8)
Brian Sutherby (@BrianSutherby)
Mike Richards (@MRichie18)
James Van Riemsdyk (@JVReemer21)
Anthony Stewart (@Astew22)
Ryan Whitney (@RyanWhitney6)
Skylar Diggins (@SkyDigg4)
Terrence Jones (@TerrenceJones1)
Les Miles (@LSUCoachMiles)
Stewart Cink (@StewartCink)
John Daly (@PGA_JohnDaly)
Luke Donald (@Luke_Donald)
Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowlerPGA)
Natalie Gulbis (@Natalie_Gulbis)
Hunter Mahan (@HunterMahan)
Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell)
Ian James Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter)
Bubba Watson (@BubbaWatson)
Michelle Wie (@TheMichelleWie)
Marcos Ambrose (@MarcosAmbrose)
Landon Cassill (@landoncassill)
Brad Coleman (@BradCColeman)
Denny Hamlin (@DennyHamlin)
Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson)
Brad Keselowski (@Keselowski)
Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick)
Elliot Sadler (@Elliott_Sadler)
Michael Waltrip (@mw55)
Freddy Adu, soccer player (@FreddyAdu11)
Lance Armstrong, cyclist (@LanceArmstrong)
Tanith Belbin, figure skater (@TanithJLB)
Usain Bolt, world’s fastest man (@usainbolt)
Natalie Coughlin, swimmer (@NatalieCoughlin)
Landon Donovan, soccer player (@LandonDonovan)
Jennie Finch, softball player (@jfinch27)
Tony Hawk, skateboarder (@tonyhawk)
Rampage Jackson, UFC fighter (@Rampage4real)
Jonny Bones Jones, UFC fighter (@Jonnybones)
Apolo Ohno, speed-skater (@ApoloOhno)
Michael Phelps, swimmer (@MichaelPhelps)
Andy Roddick, tennis player (@andyroddick)
Kate Upton, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model (@KateUpton)
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