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.
In making our list, we only had one rule: we weren’t going to include any athletes where fighting is a primary function of the sport. No boxers, MMA fighters, or wrestlers.
21. Juan Jose Padilla | Matt Drufke
Bullfighter, 1994 – 2018
In hindsight, it’s hard to believe that I didn’t choose this guy first. For all of the players in other sports mentioned so far are tough, but all of their competitors are just other dudes. Padilla’s career involved him fighting bulls. Jack’s first pick is Ronnie Lott, who is a tough dude, no doubt. But Ronnie Lott only had to tackle receivers, and none of them weighed over a ton and had horns on their helmet that could gore a man alive. We made a rule to include no boxers or MMA fighters on the list, but I think Padilla would be tougher than any of those sissies, also. Who would Evander Holyfield rather face: Mike Tyson or A FUCKING BULL?
And Juan Jose Padilla isn’t just any old regular bullfighter; he is considered to be the greatest bullfighter of all time. When he was 21, he became a “matador de toros”, which literally translates to “killer of bulls”.
For over 20 years, Padilla faced death every time he entered the ring, and death almost one several times. In 2011, he almost died from injuries when, and I am not exaggerating, a horn went through his skull. Five months later, Padilla would return to the sport, the only signs of his injury being an eyepatch he would wear for the rest of his career.
A horn. Went through. His. Fucking. Skull.
If this had been the only injury he received, that would be enough. But Padilla also suffered a punctured lung in 2017 and received another head injury in 2018 when he was scalped by a horn.
This is probably a good time to remind you that Jake’s first pick is a dude who rides a fucking skateboard.
Viva Juan Jose Padilla, killer of bulls.
22. Evel Knievel | Brandon Andreasen
Stunt Man, Timeless
The first stunt Evel Knievel ever did was jumping two mountain lions and a box of rattlesnakes. He clipped the box of snakes with his rear tire. I’d like to say things got better but part of the infamy of Knievel was the fact that he nearly died so many times. He broke damn near every bone in his body. He was in comas. He was in body casts.
But for an entire generation of kids and adults, he was the absolute definition of a badass. He was always must watch television. Children owned his toys. People had his poster on their wall. He risked life and limb for the entertainment of others. Well, that and money. Lots and lots of money. He is in the Guinness Book of World Records for most broken bones. Also, he was willing to go to war with the Hells Angels, which will always be the epitome of crazy/cool.
23. Ty Cobb | Jack Baker
Centerfield / Manager, 1905 – 1928
Teams Played For: Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics
Ty Cobb is the dirtiest baseball player of all time.
Before games, he would sharpen his spikes so he could later use them as weapons when sliding into bases. He one time fought umpire Billy Evans in the grandstands after a game. His teammates hated him so much they once sent a congratulatory gift basket to an opponent who they thought beat out Cobb for the batting title. Cobb won the batting title after all, one of an MLB record 12 he won in his career.
But the incident that really sets Cobb apart occurred during a game against the New York Yankees. A fan named Claude Lueker heckled Cobb from the start, at one point calling Cobb “half-Black.” Because nothing could be more insulting to a racist piece of shit like himself, Cobb charged into the stands and promptly beat the shit out of Lueker. Oh also, fun fact: Lueker had lost one hand and only had three fingers on the hand he still had left. When the crowd got mad at him for beating up a handicapped spectator, he said that he didn’t care if Lueker didn’t have feet either.
Matt Drufke chose Ron Artest with the first overall pick in this draft largely based on his role in the Malace at the Palace. But to be frank, Ron Artest ain’t got shit on Ty Cobb.
24. Bo Jackson | Michael Grace
Outfielder/Runningback, 1986 – 1994
Teams Played For: Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Raiders, Chicago White Sox, California Angels
Bo Jackson ran on a wall. Bo Jackson ran through a wall. Bo Jackson could have probably been a top ten athlete in any sport. Multi-sport athletes are unthinkable now, but back in the day guys like Jackson and Deion Sanders divided their time and energy and doubled their salaries.
Bo was special though. He’s not badass because he can beat the ever-living-fuck outta someone (he still can) or because he was a mean-spirited asshole. He was badass because he was, at one time, the most dangerous man in two sports.
After his body was shattered and football career abruptly cut short, he went back to college and finished his degree, all while still playing baseball and appearing on like every tv show in the early nineties. Listen, before Michael Jordan became next to God in American sports culture, Bo Jackson was the whole fuckin show.
He broke a baseball bat over his head.
He ran the fastest 40-yard dash ever.
Bo Jackson was a lightning bolt of destructive power we had never seen before, and will likely never see again.
He wouldn’t break your legs for looking at him sideways, he’ll just dismantle your sense of self worth by being better than you at everything.
25. Karl Malone | Jake Breunig
Power Forward, 1985 – 2004
Teams Played For: Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers
Karl “The Mailman” Malone delivered a lot of things: two MVP titles, 14 All-Star appearances, and 11 NBA First Team nominations. His consistent delivery puts him at the second most career points in NBA history.
There was one other thing The Mailman liked to deliver: an elbow to the dome.
Malone was an incredibly physical defender and rebounder, and is well-noted as one of the most durable dudes to ever play the game. He played hard until he was 40 and even became the oldest player to get a triple-double under his belt and start on a Finals-bound team. This man is an absolute tank and would be a strong asset to any athlete fighting force. Michael Jordan and Isaiah Thomas would surely vouch for him in that regard.
26. Terrell Brown | Jake Breunig
Offensive Line, 2013 – Present
Teams Played For: Los Angeles Rams
Okay, not gonna lie here; this pick is based purely on size.
Terrell Brown is an offensive lineman drafted by the Rams in 2013. His career is relatively plain, really only being noted for two things:
- He’s 6’10” and weighs almost 400 pounds. Getting hit by him probably feels like getting hit by a fully-loaded Ford F-150. You know, America’s truck!
- He is an enemy of chairs:
I’m honestly just putting him in the scrap to throw dudes around and maybe sit on someone.
27. Bobby Knight | Michael Grace
Head Coach, 1965 – 2008
Teams Coached: Army, Indiana, Texas Tech
Bobby Knight is an abusive prick and a self-righteous defender of the old (read: dogshit) ways of doing anything. He choked a student once, probably dozens of times. He threw tantrums and intimidated everyone and probably threatened referees too. He was fired in disgrace and the dumbass kids at IU burned an effigy of the school’s president in front of his home. He’s a genuine, honest-to-goodness piece of human garbage and the world will be a better place when he’s dead.
Jack, you’re up.
28. Bill Romanowski| Jack Baker
Power Foward, 1985 – 2004
Teams Played For: Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers
Linebacker, 1988 – 2003
Teams Played For: San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders
Bill Romanowski is a bad dude. Both in the way that people use that as a compliment, and in the sense that he’s a huge piece of shit and pretty racist.
He once said about his football philosophy, “It’s about trying to make big hits, like when you hit someone so hard, he doesn’t get up. Those are the kind of hits you like.” He regularly applied that philosophy outside of football as well.
During his career, he kicked Arizona Cardinals fullback Larry Centers in the head, spit on 49ers wide receiver J.J. Stokes, and broke Carolina Panthers QB Kerry Collins’ jaw with a helmet-to-helmet hit during a PRESEASON GAME.
All the NFL media people who were freaking out after the recent Myles Garrett Mason Rudolph fight seems to have forgotten about the practice in 2003 where a roid rage fueled Romanowski confronted his teammate Marcus Williams, pulled off his helmet, and punched him so hard that it broke left orbital bone, nose and a tooth. He punched a dude so hard it broke his tooth!
When current Oakland Raider linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the rest of the 2019 season after his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle, everyone in the NFL world agreed with the punishment…except Romanowski, who called it bullshit. Proving that he is just as big a piece of shit in retirement as he was during his playing days.
29. Michael Jordan| Brandon Andreasen
Shooting Guard, 1984 – 2003
Teams Played For: Chicago Bulls, Team USA, Washington Wizards
Part of the reason that Michael Jordan was the greatest of all time was his competitiveness that bordered on psychotic. He fought anybody and everybody in practice. He played with an edge that could never be replicated. Nobody was better than Michal Jordan. He mentally broke down Kwame Brown so badly that Brown’s career never recovered.
Beyond that, there is the whole part of his life about his dad being murdered because of a gambling debt that Jordan had, and then commissioner David Stern telling him to go away for awhile after that, only for Jordan to come back and win three more titles just to spite everyone.
Hell, the coolest thing about Jordan might be the fact that he used his Hall of Fame induction speech to salt the earth and take shots at everyone who ever doubted him in life.
30. Pete Rose| Matt Drufke
Outfielder/Infielder, 1963 – 1986
Teams Played For: Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos
It’s hard for me to have Pete Rose on my list, because I aggressively dislike the son of a bitch and I really hate the people who love Pete Rose. People who believe Pete Rose should be in the Hall Of Fame are everything that is wrong with baseball fandom, and I would like to put them all in a rocket and shoot them to the moon.
But, as a player, Rose was one of the toughest dudes to ever put on a uniform. So, on the list he goes.
You don’t get called “Charlie Hustle” (Rose got the nickname from Mickey Mantle after he sprinted to first base after drawing a walk) without playing the game hard and fast and with all your spirit. But, what puts Rose on this list is the ability to do whatever it takes to win.
In 1970, Rose barrelled into Indians’ catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run, dislocating his shoulder. And this would be the sign of a tough player. But, what makes the story extra special is that this wall the All-Star Game, a meaningless exhibition game. But Rose’s brain is unable to understand what a “meaningless game” is. He saw a shot to win, and took it, Ray Fosse’s shoulder be damned. Rose would have to miss three games with a knee bruise, and Fosse never fully recovered; his career was forever damaged due to an exhibition game. But this is all just collateral damage to Charlie Hustle.
Pete Rose chased after baseball the way heroin addicts chase after their next fix; allowing nothing to get in the way and never stopping to rest. He’s like the Terminator. That gets him a place on this list. I hate Rose, but he’s one of the most determined and ruthless dudes to ever play the game.