Sports figures hosting “Saturday Night Live” are nothing new, not since Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton took the plunge in Season Two when he starred on the Jan. 29, 1977, episode.
But even after all these years it is extremely rare for a female athlete to do the honors. This weekend mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey will become only the third to do so — and the first in 22 years.
The others were Chris Evert, who hosted on Nov. 11, 1989, and Nancy Kerrigan, on March 12, 1994.
In Evert’s monologue, she compared tennis to SNL, saying, “Both are done in front of a live audience, and both peaked in popularity in the late ’70s.”
Kerrigan’s monologue featured fake questions from the audience that included the likes of Norm Macdonald, David Spade, Chris Farley, Rob Schneider and a rare on-air appearance for 23-year-old Sarah Silverman in her one season on the show.
So like Tarkenton, who recently had lost Super Bowl XI to the Raiders, none of the three women athletes appeared after a sports triumph.
Evert had recently retired from competitive tennis, Kerrigan was coming off a second-place finish in the Olympic figure skating competition and Rousey, you might recall, had a spot of trouble against Holly Holm in November.