In most sports, the only thing that really matters is winning. Personal achievements by athletes are all well and good, but they are almost always diminished if they come during a losing streak or while playing for a team that's a perennial bottom feeder. As the professionally loud person Herm Edwards famously said, "You play to win the game."
But it ain't always easy to win the game. When an athlete heads out onto the field of play to do battle with the opposition, he or she has to be prepared to bring the mean. Which means losing the smile, because intimidation is half the battle—assuming you can sell it. And there's really no excuse because getting angry is easy.
Right now there is so much to be angry about. Like the oppressive heat wave that currently has most of the country gripped by the balls, for instance. How about the presidential campaign that has been going on for well over a year already and will continue polluting our televisions with vile attack ads for another five months? Or the fact that ESPN aired college wrestling all morning because there is literally nothing else going on?
But that's all just fuel on the fire. There are plenty people in sports, including the media, that don't even need a reason to be angry. There are plenty that wake up every morning with a grimace and go to bed each night with a scowl.
Let's take a look at 25 of the meanest mugs in sports.
Even when things are going well for golf legend Tiger Woods, he doesn't look particularly happy to be dealing with cameras or reporters.
Come at him when he's having a bad day and he's got a stare that can cut straight through your soul.
Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett never looks happy to be engaging in any kind of human interaction—he's just kind of a sour dude.
Naturally, when things are going Beckett's way, he can get a whole lot more sour.
Legendary boxer Mike Tyson used to be the type of character that threatened to eat your children in public.
Iron Mike has come a long way since those days and, despite the face tattoo, has managed to reinvent himself as a relatively-likable human being. But it's hard to forget the old Tyson, despite the changes.
Footballer Joey Barton was born with a mean mug—his family is stacked with wayward hooligans serving time for various offenses.
Barton has miraculously managed to avoid long stretches of imprisonment, but serves suspensions on the regular for his conduct on the pitch.
Serena Williams recently said that tennis wasn't her first love and that she only became an athlete because of her ability, which would lead one to believe she's not that passionate about the game.
But considering she's about to compete in the 2012 Wimbledon finals and the hot temper that has gotten her in trouble in the past, it's pretty clear she's pretty serious about the game.
Former Braves manager Bobby Cox is the most-ejected manager in the history of MLB. Over his managing career, Cox racked up an epic 143 ejections—not counting his World Series ejections—for countless offenses.
Finding a picture of an angry Bobby Cox wasn't exactly a lengthy chore.
Problematic, but prolific, wide receiver Terrell Owens actually has one of the best smiles in the history of sports. Which is why it's such a shame that because due to problems of his own making, he doesn't have a lot to smile about these days.
Owens' megawatt smile often gives way to his menacing stare.
If you've seen him on ESPN lately, you know that legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells smiles a lot more these days—thank goodness he didn't take the interim Saints coaching job!
Before hanging it up though, Parcells' old-school coaching philosophy wasn't the player-friendly style of the Rex Ryans of the world. Parcells demanded that everything be done his way, and if players didn't fall in line, they were subjected to healthy doses of this angry mug.
Nyjer Morgan, the Brewers resident eccentric head case, has got a lot of different personalities and you never know what you're going to get day-to-day—or even inning-to- inning.
Sometimes Morgan is one of the more likable players with personality in the game, but things can get hostile when Tony Plush shows up.
He regularly pulls this angry monster-esque pose out of his bag of tricks and it never fails to freak me out.
The Ravens future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis has been one of the most dominating physical presences and psychologically intimidating players in the NFL for well over a decade. Early in his career Lewis earned a reputation of being a bit of a thug off the field, but has managed to reinvent himself as one of the league's most respected elder statesmen.
Lewis may have changed his off the field life dramatically, but on the field he is still every bit the intimating force of nature he has always been. Lewis is about to embark on his 16th season in the NFL and that angry stare is going to frighten a lot of rookies this year.
ESPN's resident "draft expert" Mel Kiper Jr. has a unique distinction of looking angry even when he's happy. Kiper doesn't smile much, but when he does, it looks so painfully forced that I always assume someone has a gun pointed to his head right outside of the camera frame.
Thankfully, it's a rare occasion when he even attempts to look like someone other than a cartoon villain, so we're not often subjected to that awkwardness. Kiper's stone cold "I hate you Todd McShay" angry stare is his signature look.
Machester City's volatile striker Mario Balotelli is well known to wear his heart on his sleeve. Say what you will about Balotelli, but at least you always know what's on his mind.
Like in this photo, he's thinking that he wants to go to the home of the cameraman, fill his bathroom with fireworks and then light the fuse.
Retired NFL bad boy Warren Sapp may be giving it a go in broadcasting, but it's hard to separate his new professional image from the one he established over his 12-year career in the league.
Sapp may be smiling on the outside, but I always imagine he's making this face on the inside. Which is why, even though he never said it, I bet Jeremy Shockey was pretty scared when Sapp recently threatened to fight him.
Don't let the fact that long-time Rangers agitator Sean Avery quit playing hockey to pursue a career in being a bitchy fashion diva fool you. Avery is an ice cold mean girl who will cheapshot you in the back of the head and insult your mother as he skates away.
That's actually what's probably going on in this photo. The referee is doing his best to keep the offender and the offended apart, and Avery is probably telling them both he's disgusted by their "cankles."
This was supposed to be just Kevin Garnett in this spot, but plans changed after I came across this hilarious photo. KG's insanely menacing mug haunts the dreams of anyone who has ever encountered it, that's just a given.
I had no idea that the adorable, if a little moody, Rajon Rondo could go toe-to-toe with the Celtics big man in terms of facial intensity. Rondo is truly the gift that keeps on giving—unless he drops a triple double on your favorite team.
Former NFL player and coach, and current ESPN analyst, Mike Ditka only has one look: Mean.
What else is there to say really—he was obviously born with an angry scowl on his face...and probably with that mustache too.
Unlike Dwight Howard and LeBron James, Lakers big dog Kobe Bryant doesn't care one bit about being liked. Bryant is a killer (not in the OJ sense of the word, obviously) and if you make him angry, he's going to let you know all about it.
Kobe enjoys yelling almost as much as he enjoys winning. The Lakers may have had their asses handed to them by the Thunder in the 2012 playoffs, but at least Kobe had plenty to scream about.
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch is one of the angriest fellas in professional sports. In fact, unless he's sweaty, red-faced and screaming at someone, I don't even recognize him.
Busch is in the business of rage—and business is booming.
I'm not going to get into the whole "dirty/not dirty" debate about Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. It always gets contentious, which really bothers me because I could not possibly care less either way.
One thing that's not debatable is the fact that you won't like Suh when he's angry. Imagine that face being the last thing you see before he starts stomping on you. Yikes!
Skip Bayless is ESPN's undisputed queen of mean and he absolutely relishes the role. There's truly nothing in life that bring joys to Skip than being a condescending meanie who gets to scream on live television.
Remember when your mom used to say "stop making that face or it'll freeze that way"? Well, that really happened to Skip...poor thing.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison is one of the scariest people on the planet. As if his on the field presence didn't speak for itself, Harrison's cover of Men's Journal in the summer of 2011 really upped the ante with the intimidation factor.
I'm not sure what's scarier in this photo: Harrison's intensely-chilling stare or the two guns across his chest that he pulled out of a drawer at his house to pose with.
Andy Roddick has only won one Grand Slam in his career and that was nearly a decade ago at this point. Which probably explains his penchant for unhinged freakouts and racket smashing over trivial things like disputed faults and dampness on the court.
Yeah dude, because it's the damp court's fault you suck at tennis. Anyway, it's no wonder Roddick makes faces like these—losing sucks, and that's all he does.
The Ravens and Steelers are stacked with players who could make a grown man cry with little more than a scowl. Their rivalry is fueled by bloodlust and rage, which is why it's one of the greatest in all sports.
Of all the mean players on the NFL's two meanest teams, no player can say more by saying absolutely nothing than Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. Oh, and as a Steelers fan, that is a very hard thing to say.
Don Cherry is like the Skip Bayless of Canada. Only he's older, meaner, with a much wider audience and much uglier clothes. If Cherry is breathing, he's probably angry about something.
And that something is more than likely foreigners and/or French Canadians. Cherry is probably staring down one of those "lazy Russians" in this photo.
I like to think that Ron Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace because couldn't resist the delicious irony of the whole thing.
But, I think we all know that just isn't true.