The subtle art of cleverly disturbing another's peace—dubbed trolling—has become a worldwide phenomenon. The term was once used primarily for web users who deliberately posted incendiary remarks in forums, chat rooms or blogs to either cause a ruckus or simply annoy the public. Now, however, the craft is weaving its way into the sports realm, an industry that hosts some of the most eccentric and unabashed individuals on Earth.
Legendary photobombs and iconic fan-made signs are only the tomato-and-mozzarella appetizer to a meal of porterhouse entertainment. These athletic trolls have achieved the type of raw comedy few can even muster up the courage to discuss.
These trolls don't dwell in isolated caves, and they're very essential to human enjoyment. They have given us the greatest moments in the brief history of sports trolling. Here are the various types.
It took three minutes for this audacious reporter to elude the herding tailgaters, but she surely finished the report. And don't call her Shirley.
While standing smack in the middle of this Dutch soccer explosion full of fearless trolls, she never really had much of a shot. Yet she hung in there and escaped treachery in epic fashion.
When he's not pillaging backfields and tossing his soaked hair back in slow motion, Packers backer Clay Matthews is perfecting the Aaron Rodgers photobomb.
Trained by the former MVP himself, Matthews weaves in and out during times of seriousness. He's always hoping to land that perfect bomb. Pure success.
In an attempt to startle the Devils, Los Angeles fans hoisted cardboard cutouts of a more famous New Jersey crew during their first home game of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.
And for once, Snooki and The Situation were effective, as the Kings trounced the Devils in six games. Although we doubt most of the Devils even understood the joke as Matt Anderson was the lone Devils player from the New York area and 18 of his teammates weren't even American.
Getting under an opponent's skin is Floyd Mayweather's forte. But as British pugilist Ricky Hatton perfectly notes, he doesn't have to keep telling us about how good he is. We know, Floyd.
And then came the colorfully dictated assault...
"Ricky Hatton ain't nothing but a fat man. I'm going to punch him in his beer belly. He ain't good enough to be my sparring partner. I'm retiring in America, that don't mean I'm retiring in the UK," he said. "When I retire, I'll get Ricky Hatton to wash my clothes and cut my lawn and buckle my shoes."
After beating Hatton in a 10-round TKO, however, Mayweather preciously changed his tone. "Ricky Hatton is one tough fighter. He is still a champion in my eyes and I’d love to see him fight again. He is probably one of the toughest competitors I’ve faced. I hit him with some big ones but he kept coming and I can see why they call him the 'Hitman.'"
And on your left, you'll see a Chris Bostrich. A rare breed, they have been known to spawn in hardwood biomes and embrace any opportunity to disrupt a high-profile interview.
These regal creatures are graceful and friendly, always chirping in at the right moment. Since adopting his Bostrich, LeBron James has been revered for his crafty taming of the beast.
Following a fierce battle for Deron Williams' love, which the Nets won, a subtle animosity between billionaire owners Mark Cuban and Mikhail Prokhorov was reportedly sparked. However, Cuban and his Mavericks got the last laugh.
During the busy summer, the Brooklyn billionaire forgot one minor detail to completing his team: a domain name.
In a humorous twist, Cuban bought the rights to Nets.com, immediately pasting his face on the page. Adding salt to the wound, he even had a Russian statement marked on the bottom of the page that noted Prokhorov's 2007 arrest on suspicion of arranging prostitutes for his guests at one of his trademark parties, which he was acquitted of. Cuban remains ruthless.
Rarely is fiery forward Kevin Garnett missing in action, and Rajon Rondo found that out the hard way when his media day interview was interrupted by the next-door shouting of his motivated teammate.
We can only imagine what the finished pump-up videos looked like. Something along the lines of this.
Scripting possibly the greatest tale of tomfoolery, cool and calm Eli Manning embraces an affinity for changing teammates' phone language to anything but English.
Hakeem Nicks was the victim last year when he found his phone stuck in Japanese. "I had to get somebody's help," said the star receiver. "Steve Smith. I think me and Steve figured it out—because Eli did it to him before."
It wasn't the first prank, but it was perhaps the most iconic representation of Eli's leadership qualities. Giant trust.
Known colloquially as hockey's most notorious interview bomber, Canucks center Ryan Kesler never denies an opportunity to take the stage. The dude is everywhere: eating pizza crusts, trying on helmets and otherwise disrupting the order of things.
A mix between awkward and audacious, Kesler keeps teammates watching their backs and reporters stifling their laughs as he climbs the comedy ladder.
On CNBC's Squawk Box where they apparently ask the tough questions, Jets owner Woody Johnson was in for a routine team-related discussion. Harmless dialogue about his New York franchise somehow segued to Tim Tebow's sex life. "Inquiring minds" reportedly wanted to know.
According to Woody, the girls in the makeup room were somewhat fond of the southpaw. Although maybe that's because the media poured his shirtless, rain-soaked chest all over us as if it was real breaking news.
Forget Tebow, give us a break.
When MMA icon Chael Sonnen opens his mouth, there's a chill in the air that can't be dismissed. He aggravates stone-cold competitors, irks even the most focused wrestlers and apparently motivates the most already-dominant fighters. But at least he's honest.
And he seems honestly unimpressed with Jon "Bones" Jones, better known as the youngest UFC title holder in history. Sonnen's climactic interviews rarely disappoint, and this is yet another example. The need-to-want-to quote at the end cemented Sonnen as the ultimate troll.
As Terrell Owens and Emmitt Smith, both in their illustrious prime, battled for star-studded position, only one man could possibly slice the thick piece of tension sitting at center field.
It took three ball slams between Owens and Smith before safety George Teague leveled the man dubbed T.O. Many still believe Teague didn't hit Owens hard enough.
Ed Reed, Da U. Billy Cundiff, Shank-last-second-field-goals Community College. Terrell "Sizzle" Suggs, Ball So Hard University.
These 2011 Ravens, excluding the fictional yet ideal Cundiff prose, revolutionized the all-mighty pregame introduction.
Imagine a world in which Tebowmania ringleader Skip Bayless wasn't allowed to utter the very name that seemingly defines his existence. Well, we got nearly 60 minutes of that when ESPN First Take realized a sports-wide dream.
Teee-ago Splitter. Teee-m Duncan. Teee-nage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Like a drooling teenage girl at a concert, Bayless couldn't hold himself back any longer.
Plucked straight from the Ochocinco news network...
I know it has been a rough week, so I wanted to reach out. Players dying, players suing and on top of that my peers are just going off on you in the media. It does not help that ESPN has all of a sudden become Medical TV with damn near every brain expert on the planet. This has got to be the worst week ever. Since no one is showing any support, I figured I would be the first. You are in one big ass catch 22 and quite frankly, I am not sure there is any solution. One thing I think can help is killing the NFL PR machine.
Y’all do a darn near perfect job at portraying this game as one played by heroes.
But let’s be real dad. This is a nasty, dirty and violent game with consequences. Sign up or go get a regular job. Watch it or turn off the TV and go fishing with your kids. It is really that simple. I know there are probably legal and financial implications that prevent this blunt depiction, but am not sure if you have a choice. If you don’t say it now, the mounting evidence being revealed publicly will say it for you very soon. In all, I love you and if anyone can lead us out of this mess, it will be you. Oh by the way, I have a deal for you. Am having a rebound year and plan to do a lot of celebrating in the end zone. Can my fine money go to supporting ex-players suffering?
Tony Gonzalez puts Al Pacino to shame during this crafty impersonation of fictional Cuban drug lord Tony Montana. However, right tackle John Welbourn does a better Ted Danson than Ted Danson himself.
Enthusiasm officially curbed.
After winning the 2012 U.S. Open, American golfer Webb Simpson naturally prepared for a thorough exchange with omnipresent broadcaster Bob Costas. But a routine, rain-sprinkled interview was soon interrupted by the notorious Quail Man.
Of course, he was immediately tugged to the side by security, but not before a trio of harmonic squawks was shrieked throughout the forest. Simpson was still doing better than Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs.
The fine art of ruining another's camera time was fully mastered by a 49ers fan looking like Bill Belichick on a rainy day. Awkward trolling, the best kind.
Epic effect often comes with subtlety, and this fan's otherworldly ability to stand there weirdly and say and do nothing for two minutes is quite impressive. Just another day in the life of a legendary video bomber.
Straight out of the 1920s, reporter Scoops Callahan—dubbed a linguistic genius—has been seen at various press conferences asking brain-scrambling questions to baffled sportsmen.
Naturally, Eli Manning is unfazed, Mack Brown understands the lingo perfectly and Phil Mickelson is, once again, a pompous buzzkill. Way to go Scoops, you're our hero.
The king of subtle humor, Wes Welker decided to poke some fun at Jets coach Rex Ryan when details of the latter's foot fetish flooded the web. Turns out, even Gang Green fans were entertained (in case Maximus was still wondering).
Instead of benching his speedy wideout for the start of the Pats-Jets 2011 divisional matchup, Bill Belichick should've epically listed him as questionable on the injury sheet due to athlete's foot.
Follow me on Twitter for more trolling attacks. Follow @z_pumerantz