The singer scores unanimous raves as a first-time host of the sports awards show

By Beth Perry
July 17, 2008 08:20 AM
Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Self-proclaimed sports junkie Justin Timberlake had his idols rolling in the aisles Wednesday night, as he hosted the 2008 ESPY Awards.

The singer earned raves as he alternated between self-deprecating humor (at one point, he poked fun at his infamous 2004 Super Bowl performance with Janet Jackson, saying “I wanted to be the only guy at a football game to get to second base”) and playfully mocking audience members (he lowered his nose to one of David Beckham‘s Tom Ford shoes and proclaimed, “Smells like $250 million to me!”). He also performed a sports-themed rock opera.

“If I made the decisions, I’d ask Justin to be [our] entertainment every week,” Monday Night Football host Stuart Scott told reporters during the show. “After what he’s putting down tonight … Justin can come hang out with us on the set anytime.”

Seconded snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, who won best female action sport athlete: “Not only is he funny, but he obviously knows [the sports] he’s talking about. I was here two years ago when Lance Armstrong was hosting and he did a great job, but JT is ruling it.”

Even the athletes he poked fun at seemed impressed. “It’s all in good fun,” said Terrell Owens, whose emotional news conference after the Dallas Cowboys’ season ended was spoofed during the show at L.A.’s Nokia Theater. “He’s had some funny dialogue; his interaction with the crowd is good. He’s an entertainer, and he did a great job.”

The ESPY Awards air July 20 on ESPN.