As the Internet has grown from a niche and a novelty to a ubiquitous platform for communication, media and business, it's inevitable it would begin to influence pop culture in ways no one could have envisioned during those heady AOL days.
There's no better example of this than the rise of the Internet meme. Fueled by an explosion of social media applications, any person with Internet access can turn an absurd moment into a viral craze. Nyan Cat, Prancing Michael Cera, LOLCats—snarky observations are now democratized.
So, it's no surprise that sports and people who play them are not immune to the power of the meme.
Poor Tony Romo! Ever since the Cowboys quarterback bobbled that snap in the playoffs against the Seahawks in 2007, this dude just hasn't been able to catch a break.
Sad quarterbacks, particularly Romo and Brady, are a persistent theme among NFL memes.
NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson created some confusion when he ripped off French footballer Zinedine Zidane's famous move and used it to assault his wife.
It certainly didn't help Johnson's career, but it puts Zidane's headbutt in better perspective.
Anyone who watches ESPN programming with any regularity can relate to this confusion. I'm not sure if I've ever seen the network literally celebrate an athlete's birthday before.
Yet, that's exactly what they did for the Jets backup quarterback who completes about 20 percent of his passes.
The confusion is understandable, but just to clear things up, whenever there is A+ women's basketball being played, it's more than likely a UConn reunion.
Sometimes it just happens to overlap with other occasions, such as the Olympics.
Remember after the Mavericks won the NBA championship in 2011 and Dallas suddenly became a potential destination for every free agent in the league? Nothing definitive, but the Mavs were suddenly in the discussion.
Boy, what a difference a year makes. Not only have they failed to land any top free agents, they haven't even managed to hang onto anyone of significance within their own organization aside from poor Dirk Nowitzki.
I guess when you score as infrequently and punt as often as the Jaguars, taking a punter in the third round seems slightly less stupid than if a team that isn't doomed to a miserable existence and eventual relocation took one.
Even so…still a pretty pathetic state of affairs down in Jacksonville.
If you think Metta World Peace wouldn't take a shot at a junior high nerdlinger, then obviously you don't know much about Metta World Peace.
This kid should probably avoid all contact with the Lakers rageaholic.
Poor Orlando! That city just cannot catch a break these days. I've actually been there before, and it's not half bad…for Florida.
Not sure how it became the ultimate fail destination.
Ha. If you managed to miss the year-long Dwight Howard-to-anywhere-but-Orlando saga, well then the rest of the sports watching world is completely jealous.
At least the mess is temporarily on hold with Howard now traded to the Lakers.
"Just Try it They Said" was the official fail meme of the 2012 Olympics in London. This poor guy looks more like the victim of a mob hit than an Olympic athlete.
I'm not a weirdo, so I didn't watch any of the meaty weightlifting extravaganza at the 2012 Olympics. But I imagine this scene isn't entirely uncommon when rotund human beings are lifting excessive amounts of weight above their heads.
No word on whether or not this guy survived…so let's just assume he didn't. R.I.P.
Who knew water polo was such an intense sport?
Well, it's either crazy intense, or the girl in the green swim cap came to rescue the girl in the white swim cap and is being drowned by the trashing woman.
Considering it's the Olympics, the latter is a much more reasonable assessment.
The "Too Damn High" meme is a good way to put a funny spin on one of the latest positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs that have plagued MLB.
The true cause of Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs' torn Achilles has been the subject of much public debate throughout the NFL offseason.
Despite Suggs' denials, the common belief is that he injured himself in a game of pickup basketball—or maybe a game of Horse.
Can't blame Mets fans for trying! The Dodgers seem eager to take on bloated contracts from under-producing veterans, so why not try asking them nicely to rid New York of Jason Bay?
Bay's descent from Pirates up-and-comer to the bane of fans' existence has been a long, boring ride into the gutter. He is a frequent target of meme mockery.
Fans of every team in the NBA (minus the Lakers) were pretty thrilled when David Stern inexplicably vetoed the trade of New Orleans Hornets superstar point guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles in 2011.
Unfortunately for them, Stern was unwilling to go out on a limb again to stop the Magic from trading Howard to the Lakers in 2012.
As someone living in D.C., I can tell you, without a doubt, that this is the overwhelming sentiment in the Washington Metro area.
The South Park "Bad Time" meme takes on the tragedy that befalls most players who have the "honor" of landing the cover of EA Sports' Madden.
If you are anything like the people with whom I watched the Olympics, you probably found yourself laughing at the misfortune of other nations and spontaneously chanting, "USA! USA! USA!" at least once an hour.
Condescending Wonka gives us all some perspective.
Honestly, I had no idea what the whole "Pizza Rolls" meme was all about for quite awhile. I assumed it had something to do with the Thunder's James Harden confessing his love for the little squares of pizza heaven.
But apparently it wasn't Harden-specific and had more to do with OKC's youthful exuberance.
The "Pizza Rolls" meme carried over to the relatively young Team USA at the Olympics.
And then to other Olympic athletes in general.
It looks like they are literally running on water to get to a treasure chest full of pizza rolls.
If there's anything I learned through my sports meme research, it's that people on the Internet love NBA free agent Brian Scalabrine.
He's not very good at basketball, but his sarcastically fanatical fanbase represents asses in the seats and should be enough to help him land a job!
See this feigned outrage about Brian Scalabrine's player ranking? It's the same feigned outrage that is going to spark countless comments singing his glory and correcting my assessment of his playing abilities.
I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you.
Apparently the Bobcats' Kemba Walker is on board with the "Scalabrine is Lord" bandwagon.
The South Park "Aaannnnddd He's Gone" meme is the perfect meme for all the temporary athletes in sports.
Terrell Owens has been coming and going from NFL teams for years and more recently has been coming and going from the NFL in general.
Has there been anything more temporary than the health of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick over the last two seasons?
Every time he comes into a game, it seems he leaves with a rib injury.
After the season that Chad Johnson had with the Patriots after leaving the Bengals—the only team he had played for in his career—few had super high hopes for him in Miami.
Low expectations aside, Johnson still managed to surprise with his departure on the heels of an arrest for domestic violence.
"Spain Sucks at Basketball" was an Olympic meme that permeated the interwebs in the wake of Team USA's defeat of the Spanish national team.
Although, considering they only won by seven points, saying they didn't put up a fight isn't entirely accurate.
But again, they only lost by seven points.
This meme made the rounds during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London. Queen Elizabeth II looked less than thrilled for most of the ceremony, and I think we know why now.
The ridiculous circus freak show that has been the Jets' 2012 offseason has inspired countless memes, most of which revolve around the inadequacy of the quarterbacking abilities of starting quarterback Mark Sanchez and his bumbling backup, Tim Tebow.
The whole "YOLO" thing is played out, but "YOCO" is just taking off.
Any time Nicolas Cage is involved in making fun of you or your football team, things have gotten completely out of hand.
I actually have said this once a day almost every day since the Jets began their slow descent into irrelevancy last November, but I'll say it again: I am so glad I'm not a Jets fan.
Sorry, Jets fans, but this is going to be you every Sunday for the next five months.
The "Y U No" guy is the voice of NBA fans in most cities outside Los Angeles and Miami.
Oklahoma City, Chicago and Boston are still doing pretty well, despite not being beach destination cities that attract the big free-agent talent.
This nice young man asks the question everyone in America under the age of 50 asked themselves during the 2012 summer Olympics in London. While all the good races were happening live in London, we were stuck watching equestrian events.
The Jackie Chan "WTF" meme is one of my favorites, and this is one of the best applications of it I've seen. Kazakhstan didn't exactly light it up at the 2012 Olympics in London, but they had a pretty good start!
They didn't continue their gold medal pace, but Kazakhstan's seven gold medals were more than the Netherlands, Jamaica, Spain and Brazil, and they tied with Japan and Australia.
The fact that Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant doesn't like to pass the ball is an ongoing joke among anyone who has ever seen him play and is also a recurring meme.
Here he is teaching some hot ladies, among them Australian Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice, a little about his game.
Naturally he goes on to explain the numerical logistics of his game plan.
Probably his most convincing argument yet. I mean, Kobe does have a point about the title of his position. If you want the man to spread the ball around, it should be reflected in his job title.
Next time you smack your head because Kobe held onto the ball too long and took an ill-advised shot, just remember he's doing his job.
I imagine the guy in this Olympic meme definitely has had manlier moments in the pool. The text is actually so on the money that it's hard to imagine he's saying or thinking anything else.
Maybe, "OMG you guys! Michael Phelps is so much hawter in person!"
This wasn't exactly a widespread meme, but it's hard not to appreciate clever wordplay!
I'm not sure if this is going to appeal to a large audience, but it really made me laugh.
Yes, I do realize that I'm kind of a nerd.
The sad Keanu meme wasn't mildly entertaining for awhile, but it certainly was no Tom Selleck waterfalls and sandwiches.
I'm not impressed either, McKayla.
Personally, I can't really blame McKayla on this one. I've always thought the wonders of bread slicing have been over-exaggerated.
I can cut my own bread, thank you very much.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Now we're getting into some dicey territory.
The sliced bread and sad Keanu leave a bit to be desired, but a dog riding a horse?!? Does it get much more impressive than that?
This girl is a tough nut to crack.
Oh girl, c'mon now. This isn't Kobe Bryant's 81-point game against the Raptors!
If you aren't impressed by 100 points in a single game, what are you impressed by?
I'm not sure if we're going to find anything more impressive than Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points.
I stand corrected. How about an Olympic victory so magical and improbable that it was dubbed the "Miracle on Ice." Divine intervention.
Basically the hand of God reaching down from the heavens and nudged the Americans to victory over the Soviet Union and the eventual triumph of capitalism over communism.
Jeez. First she shrugs off divine intervention, and now she shrugs off a chance meeting in heaven with Jesus Christ Himself.
There's only one thing in the entire world that impresses McKayla...
Well...homegirl has good taste. You gotta give her that.