If you have seen the 80's classic Revenge of the Nerds, you know that jocks and geeks are natural enemies whose worlds have traditionally clashed. It's very rare to have a crossover, which is why there aren't all that many geeks in professional sports.
Though elusive and scarce, there are a few geeky athletes surviving, and even thriving, in the world of professional sports. Many of whom are giving hope to geeks around the globe who dream of one day stepping away from the books, or the Xbox, to become a golden god.
Let's take a look at some of these heroes.
Retired big man Shaquille O'Neal is one of the biggest, baddest and most dominant players in NBA history—and he knows it. It's that kind of confidence that allows him to be simultaneously one of the coolest guys in sports and one of the biggest geeks in sports.
Shaq obviously loves pandas, and his absolute obsession with Superman is well-known; he didn't take kindly to Dwight Howard moving in on his man. And, unlike his TBS counterpart, Charles Barkley, Shaq is a role model…at least most of the time.
Seriously, how many professional athletes go back to school to earn a PhD?
Retired NFL linebacker Dhani Jones turned his love of the bow-tie, the ultimate geek accessory, into a successful post-football career. While many retired players struggle to find life after football, Jones transition into the real world was seamless.
In 2010, he opened the Bow Tie Cafe in Cincinnati. It's an actual cafe, and it remains open today. Jones also started BowTieCause.org, a philanthropic organization that serves as a platform for people to design bow-ties to promote and support causes they believe in.
Bow-ties to save the world. That's heavy.
Let MMA fighter Ryan Bader be an example to all the awkward junior high geeks out there. He proves that just because you're a geek, doesn't mean you can't be a complete badass and all-around kickass human being.
When "Darth" Bader isn't doling out bone-crushing beatings, you may find him playing video games or crafting his Halloween costume; in recent years, he's dressed as a Smurf, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and, obviously, a Care Bear.
If Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are Batman and Robin, then I guess Miami Heat big man Chris Bosh is Aquaman, one of the lamest superheroes of all-time. I know that sounds a little harsh, and I really don't have anything against Bosh, but everything about him screams geek.
In his defense, most people look like geeks next to the super-suave D-Wade. But Bosh doesn't want, or need, to be defended; he's a self-proclaimed nerd. Not that there was any question about that when he failed to connect on a high-five with teammate Ronny Turiaf after Game 2 of the 2012 NBA Finals—one of the most epic high five fails of all-time.
The high-five fail is a patented geek move.
Everyone knows that geeks have strange hobbies like writing erotic fanfiction, collecting memorabilia or breeding exotic reptiles.
In case you couldn't tell, retired NFL linebacker Chad Brown's post-football passion is writing erotic fan fiction.
Brown has devoted his life to the kind of wildlife that most of us spend our entire lives trying to avoid: snakes. He collects snakes, breeds them, sells them and apparently spends plenty of quality shirtless time hanging with them.
Brown even does interviews with people at sketchy-sounding websites like KingSnake.com.
I realize that the world is really sick of Magic superstar Dwight Howard at the moment, and understandably so. I really can't defend Howard's ridiculous year of diva demands and indecision, so I'm not even going to try.
What I can do is remind everyone of the goofy, geeky, likable prankster that is just below the surface. Over the years, many NBA players have made ill-conceived forays into the worlds of rapping, acting or criminal activity. Howard has stayed above that fray, favoring superheroes and focusing on his comedic stylings.
YouTube is a treasure trove of Howard's antics, and watching the delight he takes in prank calling and pulling the old "knock and run" routine on his teammates at hotels is truly hilarious.
I'm not sure if any quarterback in the NFL has it harder than the Ravens' Joe Flacco. He's the best quarterback the Ravens franchise has ever had, but despite his successes, he's routinely dismissed, and sometimes flat-out mocked, by the local and national media. And it sure doesn't help matters when his teammates do the same thing.
The issue here isn't Flacco's performance, which has been solid, but the fact that the Ravens are considered one of the grittiest, toughest and most feared physical teams in the NFL—Flacco just doesn't look the part. Flacco is tall, lanky and socially awkward; basically, he's a geek, and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed just don't respect him.
If Flacco were playing on any other team in the NFL, excluding the Steelers, nobody would even notice that he's a geek—being an NFL quarterback usually supersedes geekiness. But in Baltimore, he sticks out like a Trekkie at a Wu Tang concert.
First of all, the Rockets' newly-acquired point guard Jeremy Lin's geek status has absolutely nothing to do with him being a Harvard grad. Sure the Ivy League churns out plenty of certified geekburgers, but it's never good to make sweeping generalizations about things.
Truth be told, I don't know all that much about the man who launched "Linsanity." But I do know that he and former Knicks teammate Landry Fields had a hilariously geeky pre-game handshake that they spent time crafting and perfecting, and that's all I really need to know.
There's nothing typical about Texans running back Arian Foster. Compared to some of the other players at his position like Titans' Chris "Golden Teeth" Johnson or the Steelers' Rashard "Osama bin Laden is just misunderstood" Mendenhall, Foster looks downright geeky.
A self-proclaimed "math nerd," UFC heavyweight fighter Shane Carwin has got to be the most physically intimidating geek on the planet.
Not only can Carwin kick your butt through your skull and splatter your brains on the wall, but he can also bend your mind into a pretzel with his advanced knowledge of mechanical engineering and environmental technology.
I always give Lakers big man Andrew Bynum a hard time for being one of the least enthusiastic athletes in all of professional sports. Bynum often looks disinterested during games and routinely displays little regard for the game during media interviews.
I used to think he was just lazy in life, but it turns out he's a major geek and the whole jock thing just doesn't do it for him. Bynum let his geek flag fly in a 2011 interview with Sports Illustrated, revealing his passion for electronics and engineering and the fact that he still lives at home with mom.
Bynum is a man with many hobbies: remote-controlled cars, building computers, training and breeding Labrador retrievers, and eventually, he'd like to open up his own auto-body shop.
After years of talking smack about him, I officially like Andrew Bynum now.
Panthers enforcer George Parros certainly doesn't look like a geek, but don't let that intimidating mustache fool you. On the ice, Parros may be a goon, the NHL's term for face-smashers, but off the ice, he's far less frightening.
He enjoys kicking back on the weekends with a good crossword puzzle, preferably from USA Today; the New York Times is too literature-heavy. Parros also enjoys the vocal stylings of barbershop quartets; he even had one at his wedding.
I was completely unaware that Nuggets center JaVale McGee was a geek until I stumbled upon Buzzfeed's list of "21 Reasons You Should Be Following The NBA's Weirdest Player on Twitter" in April 2012.
Before then, I just knew McGee as the guy who used to make DC's local sports anchors beat their heads against the desk on a nightly basis for nearly four years.
It turns out that there's more to McGee than wildly inconsistent play on the court. For example: He's a germaphobe, he's got a cartoon alter-ego named Pierre, he loves Frosted Flakes (then again, who doesn't?), he brags about his mommy and he's frustrated about the inaccurate physics portrayed in cartoons.
All in all, dude is pretty much one of the goofiest, and geekiest, people in professional sports. Check out the list over on Buzzfeed to see some more of the world according to JaVale.
Looking at him now, it's pretty hard to believe that retired pitcher Curt Schilling was ever a dominant professional athlete in any sport. Considering his ballooning weight, Schilling's semi-athletic endeavors were the only thing standing between him and 300 pounds.
That's because he isn't a ball player at heart; he's a video game geek. After retiring from the game, Schilling spend years building a massively staffed video game company while railing against welfare, government handouts and entitlement.
Unfortunately for his investors, it turned out that old Curt Schilling wasn't much of a business man. With 400 employees, his operation was ridiculously over-staffed, the overhead from which contributed to 38 Studios filing for bankruptcy in June 2012.
The company had assets of $21.7 million, which didn't do much to cover the $150 million in debts. Schilling's investors called the company a Ponzi scheme that cost Rhode Island taxpayers $75 million when all was said and done.
A hypocrite and a geek.
Since being drafted out of Arizona in 2003, Bears linebacker Lance Briggs has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times and is a three-time All-Pro selection—not typical geek material. But that's on the field; off the field, he is a bonafide comic book geek and proud of it.
Briggs has been collecting comics since he was a kid and more recently became the author of his very own book "Seraph."
Aspiring to be Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons assures him official geek status for life.
The Celtics' superstar point guard, Rajon Rondo, has earned a reputation as being a little bit difficult and very moody. In fact, it got to a point in 2012 that the very aged Celts were actually considering trading away one of the greatest young talents in the game just because they didn't like his attitude sometimes.
Maybe Rondo is a bit temperamental, but it doesn't come from a place of malice; he's just kind of an odd duck. His eccentric fashion sense suggests he isn't afraid to swim against the tide. And so does his love of one of my favorite 80's pastimes: roller skating!
It's hard for most people born after 1990 to understand the important part that the local roller rink played in the social lives of the generations of Americans before them—nothing was the same after the roller blade. But Rondo is an old soul and has embraced the tragically unhip roller-skate, determined to bring it into the the lives of as many children as he can.
French Canadian UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre is definitely a geek, but you probably wouldn't want to say it to his face—just in case. The man that Spike TV named the "Most Dangerous Man of 2010" may be a Grade-A badass, but he's not even all that into sports.
St. Pierre has said that he'd much rather spend some quality time watching the Discovery Channel than taking in a football game. He may be a skull crusher on the surface, but he's a science nerd at heart. A dinosaur enthusiast, St. Pierre is seriously in paleontology and a know-it-all when it comes to anything you'd find in your local natural history museum.
Padres pitcher Ross Ohlendorf isn't your stereotypical dumb jock; actually, he's quite the opposite: A geek to the core, who just so happened to be good at baseball.
Ohlendorf majored in financial engineering and operations research (what the what?) at Princeton and used his senior thesis to prove the return on investment of MLB draftees via sabermetrics (what the what??).
Oh, and Ohlendorf doesn't spend his offseasons lounging around the pool and chasing girls. His idea of a laid-back offseason involves interning at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, tracking the migration of cattle diseases.
What the what!?!?
There may be no better defining "geek" activity than the notoriously nerdy fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Not all geeks play D&D, but everyone who plays D&D is a geek. Which means there's absolutely no question as to the geek status of Spurs forward Tim Duncan.
Duncan is an avid gamer and enthusiastic hobbyist in general. Aside from D&D, he loves playing video games, paintball, collecting swords and knives and attending Renaissance fairs. If you aren't convinced, all you need to see is Duncan's ridiculously geeky tattoo: Merlin the Magician.
Doesn't really get much geekier than that.
The Vikings famously mouthy punter Chris Kluwe is, hands-down, the biggest geek in sports history. A loud and proud geek, Kluwe's Twitter (@ChrisWarcraft) page reveals his plethora of traditionally geeky interests.
He may have a wide array of hobbies, but Kluwe's try passion is video games, particularly World Of Wacraft. In fact, he's so devoted to the game that when then-Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson changed his name to Chad Ochocinco years back, Kluwe said he considered changing his name to Chris World of Warcraft.
Kluwe also has spent more time playing Guitar Hero than any human should, and in 2008, speculated that he was probably one of the "top 100 Guitar Hero players in the world."