As kids, we were all taught about the importance of good sportsmanship. Some kids listened and took those lessons to heart, others just didn’t give a fuck.
Today, we remember those athletes.
The biggest hitters. The best on-field fighters. The players who pushed the boundaries so far it forced their league to change the rules. The players who just ignored the boundaries entirely. The dudes you simply wouldn’t want to fuck with.
Here’s Rounds 3 & 4 of the official Fancy Boys Club draft of the meanest, dirtiest, toughest son of bitches to every play sports. (For Rounds 1 & 2, which came out last week, click here.)
11. Bob Probert | Matt Drufke
Left Wing, 1985-2002
Teams Played For: Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks
Bob Probert played hockey the way he lived life: hard, fast, and out of control.
He first came onto the NHL’s radar in the 1986-1987 season, where the forward only accumulated 24 points but racked up 221 penalty minutes. These are the kind of stats for defenders, but Probert was playing a position where you were expected to score goals. That didn’t seem to bother anyone, though. Not the Red Wings or the city of Detroit, and certainly not Probert.
The next year would be Probert’s only All Star year, and in it, he racked up 398 penalty minutes, the sixth most in league history. It was as if the league said, “We know this is who you are. Good on ya, Probie.”
Two things stand out in Bob Probert’s career. The first is a lifetime career of getting in trouble off the ice due to alcohol and cocaine. But it’s the second thing which puts him on my list: a history of making enemies. If Probert fought you once, he was probably going to fight you a second time. And third. And tenth. Bob Probert had a long memory and never forgot and never forgave. Guys like Tie Dommi and Wendel Clark and Stu Grimson knew that if they were facing Probert, they weren’t getting out of there without a few bruises.
Once Bob Probert hated you, you stayed hated. Which puts him an easy selection on my list.
12. Marvin Barnes | Brandon Andreasen
Power Forward, 1974-1980
Teams Played For: Spirits of St. Louis, Detroit Pistons, Buffalo Braves, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers
Full Stop: Marvin Barnes is a cautionary tale. He is also one of the great all time bad asses and crazy men to ever step foot on an NBA court. He once refused to get on a flight from Louisville to St. Louis because of the time zone switch causing the plane to land at an earlier time than when it took off. He said he didn’t fly in no damn time machine, and rented a car and drove instead. He once told a young Bob Costas that, after Costas was late for calling a game and afraid of being fired, Barnes would hire Costas because “he was looking for a tiny white guy to drive him around in his Rolls Royce.”
He once lit into his teammates about not playing as a team, because, as he said, he had 48 points with 2 minutes left and none of his teammates would pass him the ball so he could get to 50. After drugs washed him out of the league, the legend of Barnes grew. He essentially disappeared off the face of the earth and stories started to circulate. He had given up on basketball to become a pimp. He was actually an FBI spy. He was really an A-Team style mercenary who was killed in a jungle trying to kill a warlord.
The fact is, these stories only existed because Barnes was so crazy, and such a bad ass, that people were actually willing to believe it.
13. Bill Laimbeer | Jack Baker
Center/Goon/Bad Boy, 1979 – 1993
Teams Played For: Basket Brescia Leonessa, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons
Bill Laimbeer was the baddest of the Pistons’ famed Bad Boys.He was rough, dirty and no one played with more intensity.
In his career, he fought Charles Barkley, Robert Parish, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and many more. Chances are, if you played basketball in the NBA during the 1980’s Laimbeer wanted to punch you in the face. And that’s what he did here to Brad Daugherty.
In an era of basketball defined by physical play, he was the game’s most physical player.
He was even the star of a Super Nintendo game called Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball. Now that’s badass.
14. Tie Domi | Michael Grace
Goon/Enforcer, 1980 – 1995
Teams Played For: Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets
There are hockey goons, and then there are Hockey Goons. Tie Domi, the cement head, was a top-shelf piece of shit for a quarter-century. He left in disgrace after no one gave a shit about him anymore. In his NHL career, Domi spent more 37 hours and 45 minutes in the penalty box.
Thirty-seven hours and forty-five minutes.
One time he sprayed a fan of an opposing team with a water bottle. Another fan climbed up the wall of the penalty box and started heckling Domi. The fan fell in, and well, Domi beat the shit out of him.
One time Tie Domi elbowed an opponent in the head, nowhere near the in-play puck. The player, Scott Niedermayer, was knocked unconscious by the blow. Domi was suspended for the remainder of the playoffs.
Here’s a video of this supreme asshole fighting two guys at the same time because he’s just that fucking stupid.
15. Marty McSorley | Jake Breunig
Defense/Right Wing: 1982 – 2001
Teams Played For: Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins
Okay, fine. I’ll play by the rules now.
What athlete fighting force is complete without a lean, mean goon to lay a mother fucker out? Luckily for my team, Marty McSorley was one of the meanest. Sure, Marty had a handful of accomplishments in the NHL, having led all defensemen in shorthanded goals in the 92-93 season. However, his most infamous accolade was first bestowed after being traded to Edmonton in 1985, where he became one of the most important enforcers of all time.
Why? Because his main task was to protect Wayne Gretzky. At all costs.
This position lifted McSorely to fame and carried on as they were both traded to the LA Kings in 1988, and it was quite the position to hold. Being tasked with protecting one of the most valuable players in NHL history by any means necessary is the hockey equivalent of a license to kill.
That might explain why he wasn’t afraid to use his stick. Just ask Donald Brashear.
16. Ted Williams | Jake Breunig
Left field/Manager, 1939 – 1942, 1946 – 1960
Teams Played For: Boston Red Sox
The Man. The Myth. The Legend. The Kid.
Athletes don’t get much tougher than Teddy Ballgame. Though Williams had an incredible career in the major leagues, he made a habit of cooling off from America’s favorite pastime by participating in America’s other favorite pastime; war.
Two time MVP, six time AL batting champ, two time Triple Crown winner, a top ten spot in all-time best batting record, and recipient of 11 different Navy and Marine Corps service medals from World War II and the Korean War. The man is more decorated than the Mall of America in December.
What does that all add up to? A dude you don’t fuck with, that’s what. Eat shit, Quaker Oats.
17. Kermit Washington | Michael Grace
Power Forward, 1973 – 1988
Teams Played For: Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors
Honestly, this is all you need to see. Maybe the most brutal punch in American sports history. Poor Rudy Tomjanovich didn’t see it coming. Lol Kermit could have killed him.
18. Albert Haynesworth | Jack Baker
Defensive Tackle, 2002 – 2011
Teams Played For: Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Albert Haynesworth will long be remembered as the worst free agent signing of all time and the career leader in opponent’s heads stomped on.
The defining moment of Haynesworth’s career came during the Titans October 1, 2006 game against the Cowboys. After the Cowboys scored a touchdown, center Andre Gurode fell to the ground, and Haynesworth pulled off his helmet. He tried to stomp on Gurode’s head, missed, but got it the second time, opening up a huge gash that required 30 stitches. Because this was 2006, he was somehow only assessed a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. He was only ejected from the game after protesting that 15 yard penalty. The NFL used to be wild.
Not to be outdone, he also kicked a teammate in the chest and was later fined for body slamming Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew on what was assuredly a Thursday Night Football game.
Because they are the worst dumpster fire of an organization in all of sports, Washington signed him to a $100 million dollar contract with $41 million guaranteed. Haynesworth took his money and did the most badass thing he could do, immediately stopped giving a shit about football. He showed up to camp out of shape, failed conditioning tests, and feuded with the coaching staff. He only practiced when he felt like it and rarely put forth any effort during games.
While his career was filled with some truly horrific behavior, he took over $41 million from Daniel Snyder for doing absolutely nothing, and for that he should be celebrated as a hero.
19. Dick Butkus | Brandon Andreasen
Linebacker, 1965 – 1973
Teams Played For: Chicago Bears
“Butkus was a well-conditioned animal, and every time he hit you, he tried to put you in the cemetery, not the hospital.” -Deacon Jones
Dick Butkus was an old school bad ass in every sense of the word. In high school, he had 70 percent of his team’s tackles…over an entire season. He was named the most feared man in the NFL back in a time when every player’s goal was to paralyze each other. He once chased an opposing player into the stands at Wrigley Field during a game because the player called him overrated.
One of his most badass moments wasn’t even on the football field. During a team flight, the plane de-pressurized and the oxygen masks fell from the ceiling. Instead of putting on a mask, Butkus simply punched out a window on the plane, in mid air.
20. Wayne Shelford | Matt Drufke
Position #8, 1974-1991
Teams Played For: Auckland, North Harbour, New Zealand National Team
Sometimes, one moment is all it takes to define you as one of the toughest sons of bitches alive. And, for all of the stories you’re going to see in this series, none is going to be better (worse?) than the main reason that Wayne Shelford has to be on this list (and is probably a steal in the fourth round).
In 1986, France was playing the New Zealand All Blacks. Both teams were known for their tough, dirty, and scrappy play in rugby, a sport entirely defined by these characteristics. The All Blacks were notorious for being the toughest sons of bitches around. The French were later found to be taking every kind of amphetamine known to man. The match would be called “The Battle Of Nantes”, and if something like this happened in a NFL game, they would probably cancel the entire sport forever.
In only his second match, Wayne “Buck” Shelford found himself on the wrong end of a Frenchman’s shoe. By that, I want to make very clear what happened: Shelford had a shoe stud reach his groin, tear his scrotum, and leave a testicle hanging out.
Take a minute a re-read that.
Buck headed to the sidelines where, if this were you and me, we would probably be asking the doctor to shoot us and put us out of our misery. But Shelford did something that only a badass would do: he made the doctor stitch him up and re-entered the game.
Oh, and he later got hit in the head and played the rest of the game with a heavy concussion. He has told reporters that he has no memory of any of the game.
Anyone here want to fuck with Wayne Shelford after this story?
I didn’t think so.