So, without further ado, here are the sixteen athletes I’ve chosen for the poll:
Bob Gibson, Baseball
Ray Lewis, NFL
|Ray's Senior Picture. I kid.|
|Robin Ventura getting a beatdown.|
Ryan’s Express was the most feared pitcher of his generation, with 7 no-hitters on his resume. Sure, he could throw 100+ miles an hour. Problem was, once in a while a he let one get away from him. Whether this was done intentionally or unintentionally, no one was sure. His image was only enhanced when, in 1993, Robin Ventura charged the mound and was promptly grabbed by Ryan, who proceeded to get him in a headlock and pop him on the top of the skull seven straight times before they were broken up. No backin’ down from this Texan.
Brock Lesnar, Mixed Martial Arts
|He got a real pretty mouth, ain't he?|
Jack Lambert was, quite simply, one mean son-of-a-bitch. As leader of the Pittsburgh Steeler’s notorious Steel Curtain, the man with no teeth would jump, twitch, and chomp at the bit before the snap as opposing QB’s would look nervously in his direction. And oh yeah, his nickname? Jack the Ripper. Perfect.
George Foreman, Pro Boxing
|Foreman, pre- 5 little Georges.|
|The original LT.|
LT was an absolute menace on and off the football field. For over a decade opponents had to account for his presence at all times. He was fast, big, mean, and changed the way people looked at the linebacker position forever. None other than Joe Montana once said that LT was the only football player he ever feared. Lawrence Taylor was a badass.
Maurice Lucas, NBA
|One bad mofo fo sho.|
|Must be a league game.|
No one in the history of professional football played with more maniacal intensity than Butkus. He didn’t just hit people, he meant to destroy them. Those who played against him learned to fear this monster, a bringer of pain, a harvester of ruin. Butkus admittedly played every game as if it were his last. He also once stated that his dream was to kill a guy on the field. He also once famously said, “When I played pro football, I never set out to hurt anyone deliberately - unless it was, you know, important, like a league game or something.” Yikes.
|Circa '87. One bad man.|
Kids, forget the face tattoo and the biting off of people’s ears. Forget the prison stint for rape and the goofy quotes about eating your children. OK, maybe you should remember that last one. The point is that from 1984 to 1990 Mike Tyson truly was “The Baddest Man on the Planet.” He not only beat people, he destroyed, embarrassed and disgraced them. He wore no robe or socks, just black trunks and shoes. Most boxers were finished before the fight started. He was simply a devastating puncher and relentless boxer that rarely experienced a fight past 3-rounds in his prime.
|"The Spin Cycle."|
Domi may have been the most feared enforcer in the history of the National Hockey League. This menacing cutthroat was famous taking on anyone, anytime. Once, he aquirted a fan with water and the fan foolishly jumped into the penalty box after him. By the time security arrived Domi had beaten the guy senseless. And get this, Domi’s fighting style even had a name – it was called “The Spin Cycle.” Classic.
|Ronnie "9-Finger" Lott|
Here’s all you need to know about Ronnie Lott’s toughness – he once had a finger amputated rather than miss playing time. Vince Carter just read that sentence, pissed his pants, and passed out. I remember his hit in Super Bowl XXIII that nearly killed Ickey Woods. You could feel it through the TV set, and Woods was lucky his head stayed attached to his neck. Guys who played against Lott still consider him to be the most brutal hitter in NFL history.
Al was known as “The Mad Hungarian” for good reason. This Fu Manchu wearin’ maniac would stomp around behind the mound, muttering to himself, shake his long unruly hair, go to the mound, stare the hitter down, then promptly deliver his 98 mph fastball. He threw the fastball 90% of the time, and even though hitters knew it was coming there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot they could do about it. The pitch was rendered even more effective because it would occasionally be aimed right at the batter’s ear.
|Looking for a QB to destroy.|
Deacon Jones was a member of the famed “Fearsome Foursome” who played for the Los Angeles Rams, and is credited with inventing the term “quarterback sack.” He hated quarterbacks and revolutionized the role of pass rusher in the league. Recently Jones was asked who is the toughest athlete in sports today. Here’s his answer: “I'd have to cast the vote for myself. Because No. 1, I'm probably the toughest motherfucker here. Ain't no question about that with me. I'm the toughest guy here. If you want to eliminate me from the pack, you can pick somebody normal. Of course, quarterbacks are eliminated. We definitely don't want none of them in that mix.” Kids, Deacon Jones is 72-years old.
|"The Big Unit"|
At 6’10”, Randy Johnson is one of the tallest baseball players ever. With a fastball that’s routinely clocked at 100 mph, his mullet and goatee, and a downright vicious demeanor, Johnson cuts an imposing figure on the mound. Add to this a notorious early-career perception of a stunning lack of control, not many hitters have felt truly comfortable guarding the plate with “The Big Unit” throwing fastballs. Everyone remembers the All-Star Game when Johnson faced off against John Kruk. You may also remember the look of sheer terror in Kruk’s eyes as a pitch smoked wildly over his head. Randy Johnson, in his prime, terrified hitters.
|Woody taught him well.|
Jack Tatum’s autobiography is titled “They Call Me Assassin.” In his first pro game after graduating from Ohio State, he knocked the Baltimore Colt’s John Mackey and Tom Mitchell out cold. Jack Tatum was ruthless, and he and George Atkinson anchored one of the most vicious and feared defenses in football history for the Oakland Raiders. In a 1978 preseason game Tatum caught the Patriot’s Daryl Stingley with a brutal hit, paralyzing him for life. Sad story, but it defined Tatum’s career of bone-crushing hits.
So there you go. Who ya got?