Tomorrow is Halloween, but we’ve been getting into the mood all week with spooky-themed content. For sports fans, though, Halloween doesn’t really offer much to the landscape — at least on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving, there are actual games to look forward to, which makes them days to mark on your calendar.
Perhaps one of the few parallels that can be drawn between sports and Halloween is the fact that they both encourage the element of scariness. Contact sports like football and hockey demand individuals aren’t scared to throw their body around and elicit fear in their opponents.
With that being said, the world of sports has seen some terrifying athletes over the years and to celebrate the spookiest time of year, here are the ten of the scariest. Don’t test these athletes.
10. Ron Hextall
Starting off a list like this with a hockey player may turn off some people but you’re going to have to bear with me on this one. Sure, the Hip-Hop audience probably doesn’t watch much hockey but when you consider the type of goalie Ron Hextall was, you’ll see why I included him on this list.
While playing for the Quebec Nordiques and Philadelphia Flyers, Hextall was consistently one of the best goalies in the NHL. However, it wasn’t his ability to stop pucks that made him so intimidating. In fact, it was his Jekyll and Hyde personality that would have his opponents on edge for an entire game. Whether he was slashing players in the calf, starting fights with the other team’s goalie, or rushing out of the net to deliver body checks, Hextall was a certified savage.
If you followed hockey in the late 80s to early 90s, then you got to see Hextall at the peak of his antagonistic ways. He was a sight to behold that you really don’t see in hockey anymore.
9. Tom Brady
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Realistically, there is absolutely nothing scary about Tom Brady the person. He can barely run the 40-yard dash in under six seconds and looks like he’s never been in a physical altercation in his life. While this may be true, there is no denying that what he can do on a football field should terrify opposing defenses.
For 20 years now, Brady has been showcasing his abilities at throwing the football into tight windows while also demoralizing teams at the end of a game. If Brady is down by 5 and needs a touchdown to win the game, you better believe he’s going to go down the field and get that touchdown. There is nothing scarier than a pissed off Tom Brady in crunch time as he will burn you each and every time.
After making it to nine Super Bowls and winning six of them, Brady has certainly earned his reputation as being one of the most dominant players in any sport, ever.
8. Barry Bonds
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Barry Bonds was an easy choice to put on this list because he’s arguably the greatest hitter in the history of baseball. He finished his career with 762 home runs and despite all of the steroid chatter, Bonds is highly regarded as one of the most feared batters to stop in the box.
At any given time, Bonds was a risk to score a home run and teams always took notice of it. Pitchers were so worried about giving up runs to Bonds that one time, he was walked with the bases loaded. Teams would rather give up a free run than risk him hitting a four-point Grand Slam. When your opponents are willingly giving up free points just so they don’t have to deal with you, it means you’re doing something right.
Even if you feel like Bonds may or may not be a cheat, you have to respect what he did to opposing pitchers.
7. Dale Earnhardt
Talking about NASCAR on a hip-hop website is probably going to be a cause for some head-scratching. There are probably many you out there who don’t even look at NASCAR drivers as athletes. With that being said, this list is supposed to showcase competitors that made their opponents fearful. When it comes to Dale Earnhardt, he certainly fits the criteria.
Earnhardt was given the nickname “The Intimidator” thanks to his aggressive driving style that more often than not, left fellow drivers in the wall while he piloted the car to victory. The seven-time Winston Cup champion won countless races and made numerous enemies on the track as he was notorious for spinning people out of the way on the final lap. If you were in first and Earnhardt was right behind you in second, then it was all but confirmed you weren’t going to finish the race with a clean car.
6. Zdeno Chara
Don’t worry guys, this is the last hockey player on this list. Still, it was important to include Zdeno Chara because of his sheer size. At 6’9”, Chara is one of the tallest players to ever step on the rink and when he’s in skates, he’s 7’0”. The Boston Bruins legend and Stanley Cup-winner is known for brutal hits and the ability to drag people all over the ice during a fight.
Chara is a defenseman which makes sense when you consider how long his reach is when poking the puck away. During his prime, it was practically impossible to get around him and if you dared try, he would put you right into the boards. Not to mention, his slapshot clocks in at over 108 MPH which is insane. Goalies are known for being fearless but even Chara’s shot elicited a few flinches back in the day.
When you consider factors like size, competitiveness, and just sheer savagery, it’s clear that Chara is the scariest hockey player of all-time.
5. George Foreman
George Foreman is the first boxer on our list and he definitely deserves the acclaim. At the time, Foreman was considered to be one of the heaviest hitters in the sport and when he beat Joe Frazier in 1973, the whole world took notice. The boxer took the heavyweight division by storm and amassed a record of 76 wins and just five losses. Perhaps the best indicator of his brutal force was the fact 68 of his wins were knockouts.
Unfortunately, Foreman was dethroned by Muhammad Ali in 1974 and was never really able to get his mojo back after that. He won fights but couldn’t get his title back. Regardless, Foreman’s prowess in the ring was never up for debate and the way he made opponents fear him speaks for itself. If it weren’t for that loss to Ali, we can just imagine what would have become of his career.
Perhaps he’d be further along on this list.
4. Dick Butkus
When your name is Dick Butkus, you better be good at what you do. Fortunately, Butkus quickly became one of the most beloved legends in the history of the Chicago Bears.
If you were to go and look up Butkus’ stats, you would realize that he didn’t play for very many years. Not to mention, his stats aren’t as impressive as linebackers such as Lawrence Taylor. Despite this, Butkus was the most feared LB of his generation thanks to his devastating hits and fire in his eyes that made him seek and destroy every single player in his path. No one embraced destruction more than Butkus and it shined through in his playing style.
Don’t let his name or the era he played in fool you. Butkus was a bad man.
Much like Tom Brady, Michael Jordan wasn’t exactly scary in the traditional sense. MJ was frightening because of what he could to you on the basketball court at any given moment. Jordan was a prolific scorer who helped the Chicago Bulls win six championships in as many trips to the NBA Finals. His accomplishments alone are a reason to give pause.
In addition to his talent, Jordan’s trash-talking abilities are the stuff of legend. If he didn’t like you, you would know about it, and to rub salt in the wound, he would drop 50 on your head. When it came time for the playoffs, Jordan would reach even deeper into his bag of tricks and make your team look like a bunch of fools. If you couldn’t stop Jordan, there was no way you could come away with a win.
Jordan will most likely go down as the best basketball player to ever do it and as far as athletes on this list, he is well-deserving of the third spot.
2. Lawrence Taylor
There have been some pretty phenomenal linebackers to play the game of football over the years but none of them had the same effect on the game as Lawrence Taylor. Simply put, if you were an opposing quarterback and LT was on the other side of the line of scrimmage, you were going to get tackled. Taylor made opponents fear him by wracking up unheard-of stats, all while delivering some of the most crushing blows you’ll ever witness.
After 13 seasons with the New York Giants, Taylor came away from the game with 1,089 tackles, 132.5 sacks, 56 forced fumbles, and a whopping nine interceptions. Any young linebacker in the NFL today will tell you that Taylor was one of their biggest inspirations as he set the gold standard for the position. Offenses couldn’t stand him and when you think about his hit on Joe Theismann, all you can do is shudder.
If it weren’t for the next athlete on this list, Taylor would have been the most obvious choice here.
1. Mike Tyson
What more can be said about “Iron” Mike Tyson? The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world was highly considered by many to be the hardest punching boxer of all-time. If you stepped in the ring with Tyson, your entire life was at risk. His punches were brutal and unrelenting while his competitiveness had fellow boxers on notice.
Tyson was one of those athletes who blurred the lines between his persona in the real world and his temperament in the ring. Thankfully, Tyson has mellowed out quite a bit these days but back in the 80s and 90s, he was loose cannon who could wreak havoc at any given time. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable, but it’s clear it worked for him. Put any boxer in front of prime Tyson and you’ll see them hiding just how scared they are for what’s to come.
If there is any athlete who embraces the spirit of this list, it would most certainly be Tyson.