Ranking the Coolest Sports Masks

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2014

Ranking the Coolest Sports Masks

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    Whether needed or not, there have been a number of different masks in sports over the years.

    With nearly every single hockey goalie adding personality and a unique style to their masks by getting customized graphics on them, the game has definitely stepped up.

    But they aren't the only ones who are protecting their faces these days, as there have been a number of other athletes who have done the same.

    And even if it's just for a short period of time to protect themselves—as was the case for LeBron James—here are the coolest masks in sports.

15. Penn State Halo-Like Mask

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Although I'm an Ohio State Buckeyes fan from birth, I can appreciate this rival Penn State fan's ability to pull off quite the head accessory.

    Similarly designed like the Halo mask, it blends great school spirit with a visor that looks like the dopest pair of snow goggles.

    Nittany Lions might still wear their Joe Paterno masks, but I vote for this one to get more popular.

14. Jessie Vetter

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    As I mentioned in my opener, goalie masks in hockey have become the filet mignon for athletes to express themselves, adding personal flair and creativity to the ice.

    And this mask that U.S. women's goalie Jessie Vetter wore during the recent Sochi Olympics is one of the coolest, as it brings together some of the best aspects about being an American.

    Of course, the IOC wasn't too pleased with all of Vetter's patriotism—as they made her remove the Constitution on the back of it—but just like to think they're just jealous of the red, white and blue.

13. LaDainian Tomlinson

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    While there have been crazy facemasks in the NFL over the past few seasons—and I'll show you more as you continue reading—one of the originators of the trend was former running back LaDainian Tomlinson as he used this ridiculous mask during the 2008 season with the San Diego Chargers.

    L.T. may have been a bit undersized as a running back, but he ran—and looked—pretty damn intimidating with this industrial-like mask.

12. Martin Demichelis

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    Daniel Maurer/Associated Press

    Soccer players aren't really thought of as being tough, but you'd have a hard time convincing current Manchester City and Argentine national team defender Martin Demichelis of that.

    Demichelis may have looked a bit goofy by wearing this mask on a soccer field—helping to protect his mug following multiple facial fractures in 2010—but the dude looked intimidating as hell, too.

    Plus, he showed he was a trooper by even playing with a face that had several broken bones, so that earns him points.

11. Mankind

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    One of the most charismatic and insane wrestlers ever, Mankind proved that he was willing to absolutely torture his body for the sake of his job.

    And although he had a number of different personas during that career—Cactus Jack and Dude Love, among others—he's best known for being Mankind.

    It was that leather-masked man who finds himself on this list, because as nuts as the guy was internally, his look made him damn near psychotic.

10. Galen Rupp

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    There probably aren't too many people who are afraid of a guy who runs as a profession, standing at just 5'11' and weighing 134 pounds.

    But that doesn't mean he can't look intimidating.

    That's what 2012 Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp thought, sort of, when he wore this custom mask during a race in 2011 to help protect him from allergens in the air.

    Looks like it helped, as Rupp won the 10,000-meter final.

9. Justin Tuck

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    With over 60 career sacks, I'm not sure that any of those happened because an opposing blocker was afraid of New York Giants defender Justin Tuck's facemask, but it might have played a factor?

    Using the transformer-like looking mask to help protect him from opposing players from yanking on it, Tuck has seemed to inspire other players both on his team and around the league to wear the same type of thing.

    But deep down, Tuck has to know that it helps him look like a complete beast, too.

8. Dave Parker

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    Dave Arrigo/Associated Press

    You don't see too many baseball players wearing protective masks—though former infielder Kevin Seitzer used one all the time—but former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Dave Parker had one of the scariest I've ever seen.

    After fracturing his jaw following a collision at home plate, Parker rocked this very yellow, Jason Voorhees-like mask in 1978 for a few games.

    Thankfully, MLB has cracked down on crushing hits at the plate, so thankfully no fans or players will have nightmares with other guys wearing something this freaky.

7. Warren Skorodenski

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    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    I really hope no one reading this gets scared easily, because if so, you might want to skip over this slide of former NHL goaltender Warren Skorodenski.

    With one of the most creative and terrifying masks to ever show up on the ice, Skorodenski wore this skull designed mask throughout his career, no doubt scaring the hell out of other players—and probably some of his teammates, too.

    The fact that it hugs his head as if it were his real skull makes this extra disturbing.

6. Kobe Bryant

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    Dan Lippitt/Getty Images

    Before all the hoopla of LeBron James' recent black mask, L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant showed one off a couple years ago after breaking his nose.

    The one difference between the two?

    While Bron looked more like a superhero who was about to stop crime in the world, Kobe looked more like Zorro, about to save his lady from a villain in an old Western film.

5. Bernard Hopkins

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    I'm seriously still trying to make sense of 49-year-old boxer Bernard Hopkins wearing an alien mask, but to each is own, I guess!

    Trying to intimidate his opponent before a match late last year, Hopkins not only wore these bizarre masks when given the chance, but he also proclaimed that he was an alien.

    Looks like he might have been hit in the head too many times.

    Still, he has done stuff like this before—wearing an executioner's mask prior to a 2011 bout—so it looks like it's just his thing at this point.

4. Marc-Andre Fleury

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Confused?

    No, that's not Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger disguised as the goalie for the city's NHL team, but instead actually Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury showing his pride for the Steel City.

    Wearing a Steelers designed helmet for the Stadium Series game just a few weeks ago, Fleury gets a solid round of applause for the move.

3. Ryan Miller

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    As I've shown you throughout this piece, hockey goalies seem to be #winning when it comes to having the best masks—and U.S. men's hockey goalie Ryan Miller earns stripes for his Sochi Olympics helmet.

    Showing he is a real American, Miller definitely fought for the right of every man—and woman—by protecting his face with this super patriotic designed mask.

    The dude even made it a family affair, with his wife and pup painted on the back in the style of Russian dolls.

2. LeBron James

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    Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

    What? Did you really think I was going to leave off LeBron James?

    There's no way I could do such a thing seeing how the Internet just about blew up after seeing the Heat superstar run around for a game in this black mask.

    Looking as if he was the most powerful and dangerous man on the planet, James saved the day for the Heat, dropping 31 on the New York Knicks in a 108-82 win.

    His powers didn't rub off on the NBA office, though, as the league demanded he switch to a more traditional, clear mask.

1. Darnell Dockett

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Sitting atop my list is Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett—and it's because he looks both badass and frightening with this thing on.

    With the multi-colored lens to cover his eyes and the Bane-like, diagonal design on the mask, Dockett should require a warning label with this on, because he can probably make the earth shake and pick up buildings.

    Sadly, the mask was limited to just training camp, with the league refusing to let Dockett wear it during the season.