It is very well known that many entertainers, including professional athletes, love premium cigars. Some entertainers and athletes take the step from just being an afficionado, to having their own brand. Recently we published a list of six entertainers (actors, chefs and musicians) who had or have their own brand but for that list, we excluded professional athletes. Today we publish the first part of a three-part list of professional athletes that created a cigar after their active career was finished.
If you know any other athletes with their own cigars, let us know in the comments and maybe we get enough names to write another part.
Dale Earnheardt Jr
Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. (born October 10, 1974) is an American stock car racing driver. He competes occasionally in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro for his team JR Motorsports. A third-generation driver, he is the son of 7-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt and relative to many former and current drivers in the NASCAR ranks.
Late 2012, Earnhardt Jr and Ted’s Cigars teamed up for the Dale Earnhardt Jr cigar. This was one of the few offerings from Ted’s Cigars that wasn’t flavoured, or ‘seasoned’ as Ted Jackson likes to call his flavoured cigars. I assume that most cigar afficionados, including inspector x, won’t consider anything made by Ted’s Cigars ‘premium’, but there is a market for his products. The artwork contained the number 88, the number Earnhardt Jr was competing with. Ted’s Cigars no longer has these cigars mentioned on the website, so I assume there are now discontinued.
Could it be that Rodman is America’s most beloved bad boy? Dennis Keith Rodman (born May 13, 1961) is an American former professional basketball player. Known for his fierce defensive and rebounding abilities, his biography on the official NBA website states that he is “arguably the best rebounding forward in NBA history”. But off the pitch, he is known for his crazy lifestyle and the weird things he does. One of the things he is famous for, is his friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un aka the little rocket man. Rodman helped releasing an American prisoner from North Korea.
In 2011, WB Brand Cigars and Rodman collaborated on Rodman Cigars. The cigars didn’t become a hit and both Rodman Cigars and WB Brand Cigars are no longer on the market. Rodman did do viral with a cool and funny cigar-related video a few years back, leaving some people to believe he really had a cigar inside his arm. Cigar lovers, please ignore the horrible cutting of the cigar in the video and that he then lights the cigar from the foot, but just enjoy the humour of it.
Luis Clemente Tiant Vega (born November 23, 1940) is a Cuban former Major League Baseball (MLB) right-handed starting pitcher. He pitched in MLB for 19 years, primarily for the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox.
Tiant began working on his own cigar brand, El Tiante, in 2002, but ran into some problems with production and consistency. He and his son Daniel decided it was best to come out with an entirely different cigar, and searched out Victor Calvo, of Nicaragua’s Tabacalera Tambor, whose products they admired. “You know consistency is the most important thing,” Tiant says, “and we don’t have any problems with that now. The worst thing that can happen to you is if [your cigar] is not good week to week. The smokers won’t come back if they don’t like one.”
In 2011, El Tiante moved production to My Father Cigars in Nicaragua but in 2013, Tiant Cigar Group sort of disappeared after splitting with their former partner Mike Bellody and has not returned with any new blends on the market since.
Gary Antonian Sheffield (born November 18, 1968) is an American former professional baseball outfielder who played in Major League Baseball for eight teams from 1988 to 2009. Gary Sheffield made his Five Hundred Home Run back in 2009. He is the 25th MLB player to reach this record. An accomplished athlete and a multi-millionaire but all this was not enough. Gary Sheffield’s love and passion for cigars is driving him on his ultimate endeavor to create the best cigar. For that, he collaborated with no other than Rocky Patel.
In an interview, Sheffield remembers “I’ve been smoking since I was about 18. I used to go down to Ybor City a lot; you see those guys hanging out, those old school guys, the Cubans and the Latinos over there. I was smoking Montecristo’s, and we were getting some hand-rolled Cubans. I always wanted to have my own cigar, but I wanted to stay away from making it cool while I was playing a sport. And I felt that way about it with kids being involved. But I said once I get out, that’s when I’ll celebrate my achievements.”
Christian Adolph “Sonny” Jurgensen III (born August 23, 1934) is an American former professional football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983. Jurgensen was also a longtime analyst for Washington’s radio broadcast crew.
Jurgensen has his own line of cigars SJ-9, with his initials and his jersey number but not much can be found about these. I think these are a house blend for Old Virginia Tobacco, as it’s the only place that I could find that carries these. Quote from Sonny Jurgensen: “I’ve always enjoyed a fine cigar after a game and during other celebrations in life. I hope you enjoy my SJ-9’s as much as I do.”