Here it is, the people's choice award show. This group was selected by readers who responded to "Who's the most intimidating athlete ever?" The title ended with a question mark, and there were great answers given.
Here they are.
The SI cover is enough to do it, but he had the numbers to back it up. Frank Thomas finished his career with a .300 batting average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks. The only other players to post similar career numbers are Babe Ruth, Mel Ott and Ted Williams. Add in the fact that he is 6-5 and 275 pounds...no doubt he made many pitchers sweat bullets.
His abbreviated name sounds scary enough. Then you have to deal with the fact that he can dunk...and he's 7'1 325 pounds. Good luck. Even the backboards took out life insurance policies.
While we are on the subject of "big," enter Bob Sapp into the equation. The proportion's are a little different than Shaq, Bob is 6'3 375 pounds, and the intimidation level may be a little different too, as Sapp in not going to shoot hoops with you, he's going to beat you up.
Michael Schumacher holds Formula One records for the most championships, race victories, fastest laps, pole positions, points scored and most races won in a single season. As icing on the cake, in 2002 he became the only driver ever to finish in the top 3 in every single race during that season. Formula One's website says that Schumacher is "statistically the best driver the sport has ever seen." And if you don't agree, he'll run you off the track.
The reason is very simple, Deion was worth $35 million because he cut the football field in half. Few QB's would even throw his way. He was known for letting WR's get a step on him to dupe the QB into throwing to a seemingly open target. Sanders ran track in college and had the closing speed to catch up to the receiver and head the other way with the interception.
Chris Pronger has a long resume. He was the second draft selection in 1993, he won the Hart Trophy in 2000 (first defensive player since Bobby Orr,) appeared in Stanley Cup finals with 3 different teams, won it in 2007, and has won 2 gold medals in Olympic play. By the way, he is 6'6 and over 220 pounds. That's a lot to see coming at you on ice skates and a big stick.
Too Tall Jones was 6'9 275 pounds. The Defensive End was the number one selection in the 1974 NFL draft and played 15 years for the Dallas Cowboys. He was selected to 3 pro bowls, was first team all pro 3 times and won a super bowl. He finished his career with 106 sacks, 3 interceptions and countless offensive linemen who didn't get any sleep the night before playing against him.
One thing about George Foreman, he was not only intimidating, he was not intimidated. He fought and knocked out some of the greatest heavyweight of all time. Fighters remarked of his huge size, massive punching power and physical dominance in the ring. His pet lion and tiger probably thought the same thing.
They say a picture is worth 1000 words. This particular one was worth at least 100... On March 2, 1962, Wilt scored 100 points and broke 5 other NBA records which still stand to this day. In the seasons in which Wilt averaged 50 points per game, the opposing teams center had to imagine that if Wilt scored only 25 against him, he would potentially have a 75 point game to even out his average... that would be intimidating hoping you would be the 25 point opponent.
Albert Pujols has been as all star 8 times, MVP 3 times, World Series winner once and feared by many pitchers because of his tremendous hitting and base running ability for a decade. Plus, he's 6'3 and weighs 230 pounds, that is a big hitter and a big intimidation factor.
Regarded by many as the first global superstar of the Rugby world, Jonah Lomu brought record crowds where ever his team traveled. At 6'5 265 pounds, seeing him running at you or through you, with the ball, would certainly be intimidating.
Scott Stevens never had a negative plus/minus in any season he played in the NHL. He captained his New Jersey Devils to 4 Stanley Cup finals and won 3 of them. He was well known for his huge body check on his opponents and at 6'2 215 pounds, laid a big intimidation level on them also.
Mike Singletary played linebacker for the Chicago Bears and was nicknamed Samurai Mike. Between the name and being one of the most feared linebackers ever, you can bet that when he tells players on the 49ers to do something, they do it.
Ayrton Senna was known for his records for pole positions, lap speeds, is the 3rd most succesful driver in terms of wins and had a great ability to drive in inclement conditions. On these notes, he was well respected and feared. Another great intimidating factor was racing collisions, which he was sometimes criticized for causing. He was a man who backed down from no one and was not afraid to tell people his reasons for what he did. Sadly, he died in a racing accident in 1994.
What does the all time home run leader plus an ongoing accusation of steroids equal? Major intimidation for any pitcher standing on the mound in front of him... A big reason it was so hard to pitch to Barry was his bat speed. Even the tiniest fraction of a second longer a batter gets to look at an incoming pitch greatly increases his chance of making good contact with it. Barry was great at this, hitting many baseballs into the bay and made it frustrating for the opposition.
On the flip side of the plate, we have the mound. And packed inside a 5'11 195 frame is Pedro Martinez. Although he is smallest athlete on this list, he has the "snarl" of Rocky Balboa and the stats of a hall of fame pitcher.
Pedro has won 3 Cy Youngs, has over 3000 strike outs and at one time held the highest winning % for a 200 game winner. He also has been an 8 time all star, world series champion, won the 1999 triple crown, and has pitched in over 2800 innings.
Bill "Romocop" Romanowski was big, strong, determined, played dirty and he didn't care who knew it. In 1995, he was ejected from a game against the Cardinals for kicking Larry Centers in the head. In 1997, he broke Kerry Collins jaw with a helmet to helmet hit that he recalled as "one of my best hits ever." That same year, he retaliated to a J.J. Stokes taunt by spitting in his face. 1999 saw a $42,500 fine placed on Bill for numerous illegal hits and a thrown punch at Tony Gonzalez in the same game.
But, the moment that will ever incase Bill as an intimidator was when he injured a Raiders teammate, during a practice session. The players injuries, which included a punch to the face, were so severe, it forced his retirement.
On the other hand, Bill has won 4 superbowls and is the only linebacker ever to start in 5.
Personally, this picture is enough for me, "ok, I believe you, now don't kill me please. Along with 4 Superbowls and 11 years of terrorizing opposing offenses, Jack Lambert was one of those players who just "had it." He had the intimidation factor, he had the look, he had the skill to play middle linebacker and stay on the field to cover receivers, he had missing teeth, he was the leader of the "Steel Curtain," and he would knock your head off.
Dick Butkus... enough said.