35 Most Intense Struggle Faces in Sports

Eric NewmanCorrespondent IIIDecember 13, 2012

35 Most Intense Struggle Faces in Sports

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    In few other areas of life are human emotions more transparent than in sports. With the ups and downs comes a great palette of countenances: the beaming smiles of victory, the contorted grimaces of pain, the wide eyes of hope, the slack jaws of disbelief...

    But schadenfreude dictates that it is the faces of struggle we love best.

    A victory for the home team just isn't 100 percent satisfying until the cameras switch over from the jubilant winners to the forlorn losers. Their misery, our pleasure.

    Click on to see 35 of the most penetrating struggle faces that sports have churned out in recent times.

35. Matthew Stafford

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    December 2, 2012 - Lions vs. Colts

    Lions QB Stafford watches his near-certain win lose all certainty as the Colts score with no time left on the clock.

34. Alexander Ovechkin

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    May 12, 2012 - Capitals vs. Rangers - Game 7

    Here is Ovie frozen in carbonite, soon to be hung as a trophy on the walls of MSG.

33. Alabama Fan

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    November 10, 2012 - Texas A&M vs. Alabama

    As Crimson Tide fans realize an upset is in the making; their spirited face paint wears more like nasty sunburns.

32. M.J.

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    A widely tweeted pic of His Airness watching his beloved Bobcats choke.

31. Bryce Harper

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    The Washington Nationals slugger was having a hard time of it in the 2012 postseason. 

    The heavy application of eye black... was it reflective of his dark and tormented soul?

30. Matt Schaub

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    December 10, 2012 - Patriots vs. Texans

    The world of NFL fandom wanted to know how the mighty Texans would match up against the Patriots.

    If you tuned in late, no worries; when the score wasn't displayed on screen, it was there on Schaub's mug.

29. Jordyn Wieber

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    Sunday, July 29, 2012 - London Olympic Games

    Champion gymnast Wieber was a huge favorite in the 2012 games. Things didn't go her way.

    In a dignified manner, she described the outcome as "disappointing."

    A NBC commentator went the more histrionic route, declaring, “Quite honestly, it’s horrific.”

28. Jack Nicholson

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    The Lakers' greatest fan is fiendin' for a title. All fizzle and no ring makes Jack a very dull boy.

27. Cam Newton

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    September 20, 2012 - Panthers vs. Giants

    This struggle face reaches beyond the walloping that was in progress. It was at this moment that Cam must have realized it'd be a long, painful season.

26. Tiger Woods

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    August 12, 2011 - PGA Championship - Round 2 - Atlanta Athletic Club, John's Creek, Georgia

    Here's Tiger wiping away sweat but not sorrow in 2011 amidst  "his worst ever major performance."

25. Andre Berto

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    November 24, 2012 - Guerrero vs. Berto, Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California

    Robert Guerrero (picture left) may be on the receiving end of a wicked blow in this pic, but the real struggler here is that zombie-like creature on the right. 

    Minutes before, the aforementioned creature had been two-time former world champ Andre Berto. But two rounds of punishment from Guerrero transformed him into this manifestation of the living dead.

24. Jets Fan on Thanksgiving

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    Thanksgiving Day, 2012 - Jets vs. Patriots

    When the Patriots carved up the Jets on Thanksgiving Day, the mood was oh-so glum in MetLife Stadium.

23. Another Jets Fan on Thanksgiving

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    Poor Fireman Ed. So much fervor, so little to be fervent about. After the Thanksgiving Day rout, he decided to step down as the team's No. 1 cheerleader.

22. Robert Ayers

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    October 12, 2012 - Broncos vs. Patriots

    Hey, if you are going to wear your struggle face, might as well accessorize, right?

    Neon mouth guard by TapouT®

21. Wales Rugby Fan

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    October 15, 2011 - Wales vs. France - Rugby World Cup Semifinal - Auckland, New Zealand

    This pretty Welsh lass is caught in that twilight between struggle and despair.

20. Lions Fan

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    November 22, 2012 - Lions vs. Texans

    Some struggle faces are just too hideous for the world to see.

19. Roger Federer

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    June 30, 2010 - With the press after Wimbledon Quarterfinals

    As mentioned, some struggle faces are just too hideous for the world to see.

    But hey, take a peek if you dare (scroll down):


18. Spike Lee

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    April 24, 2011 - Knicks vs. Celtics - Game 4 - First Round Eastern Conference Playoffs

    The struggle face of an epic fan; poor Spike watches his beloved Knicks get swept out of the playoffs after a seven-year-drought.

17. Danica Patrick

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    June 26, 2010 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway

    Here rookie NASCAR racer Danica uses her Jedi training to peel her wrecked Chevy off the wall. 

16. Mike Brown

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    Mike Brown, perhaps the only man with more struggle faces than Eli Manning. 

    After leading the Lakers to a 1-4 start this season, his next struggle is likely to be finding gainful employment.

15. BJ Penn

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    January 31, 2009 - UFC 94 - St-Pierre vs. Penn 2

    Penn spent a lot of time studying the ceiling of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the final three of the four rounds he lasted against GSP.

    Here he is getting ready for another little lie down.

14. The Phoenix Suns

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    Capturing four struggle faces in one frame is like winning a superfecta. Like netting a quartet of yellow fin tunas with one cast of the net. Like witnessing four planets perfectly aligned.

    Marvel and enjoy.

13. Eli Manning

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    Eli is a true maestro of the struggle face. One might even go so far as to call him a genius of that look.

12. A-Rod

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    The 2012 postseason wasn't kind to Rodriguez.

    Here he is warming up to become the most expensive bench warmer in baseball history.

11. Daniel Sturridge

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    August 4, 2012 - Britain vs. South Korea - Olympic Soccer

    Sturridge tries to keep his brains from erupting out the top of his head after his game-deciding penalty kick is saved by the South Korean goaltender Lee Bum-young.

10. Michael Phelps

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    July 27, 2012 - Day 1 of the London Olympic Games - 400m Individual Medley

    Phelps tries to hack up a mouthful of Ryan Lochte's wake.

9. Venus Williams

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    August 30, 2012 - US Open - Day 4 - Williams vs. Kerber

    Poor Venus. This is the type of frustration that quickly decays into insane maniacal laughter.

8. Eric Staal

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    Here, Staal puts the ug! in struggle amidst an ugly slump in 2011 in which his plus/minus rating tanked.

7. Bryce Brown

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    December 2, 2012 - Cowboys vs. Eagles

    Eagles rookie Bryce Brown had a lot to celebrate at the time this struggle face was captured on camera. With 169 rushing yards and two TDs, it had been quite a game for him. What's more, a week earlier, he had set a team rookie record with 178 yards. 

    So why the sour puss?

    Despite Bryce's stellar performance on this day, the Eagles added an eighth notch to a closing streak (snapped the following week).

6. Marshall Newhouse

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    Struggles faces should be avoided. Though they seem harmless, they are, in fact, gateway faces that can lead to seriously hardcore faces.

    Like the face of utter terror.

5. Maradona

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    Diego's coaching days have been far, far less stellar than his playing days.

    In July 2012, he was axed as the manager of United Arab Emirates' Al  Wasl after just 14 months at the helm.

4. Mike D'Antoni

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    December 11, 2012 - Lakers vs. Cavaliers

    Here, D'Antoni visits his happy place (the bunny slopes of Aspen) while his Lakers lose to the lowly Cavaliers.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Has Ronaldo just been shot in the back of the neck? Isn't that the bullet about to exit at his throat? 

    So dramatic is this struggle face, those were my thoughts on first glimpse.

2. Lance Armstrong

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    July 9, 2012 - Federal District Court, Austin, Texas

    Here is Armstrong learning that his motion, which sought a court order to halt the U.S. Anti Doping Agency's doping case against him, would be dismissed.

    It's a downhill course from here, Lance.

1. King James

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    June 12, 2011 - Mavericks vs. Heat - Game 6 of the NBA Championship

    After James ingested his upper lip, he went for his cheeks. Luckily, teammates intervened.