In the minds of some, athletes are superheroes. We grow up as kids idolizing these athletes who can do things on the playing field that are seemingly impossible. How can Lebron James jump so high? There's no way anyone could throw as far as Peyton Manning, right? I'll never be able to hit a ball as far as Albert Pujols.
With that in mind, a question came to me. What if athletes were superheroes? Calvin "Megatron" Johnson notwithstanding, there is an unlimited amount of possibilities to match up athletes and superheroes. I'll give it my best shot here.
These are 15 superheroes, and their current athletic counterparts.
Where Calvin Johnson is the Decepticon leader, Megatron, Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots. Though not a "superhero" in the strict sense of the word, he still is a character looked up to, both physically and mentally, by many.
He has the advantage of being bigger, stronger and faster than almost anything around him, and his weaponry can pack a punch.
Come on, it had to be him! If Calvin Johnson is Megatron, then Andre Johnson is Optimus Prime. He is every bit as talented as Megatron, and they are both viewed as the most powerful and capable receivers in the NFL.
The way this season is going, there is an outside chance we could even see them matched up in the Super Bowl.
Anything you can do, Flash can do faster.
The Flash can think, run, act and live at superhuman speeds, allowing him to have a distinct advantage over anyone, no matter how strong they may be.
He is faster than Superman, and has reflexes like you've never seen.
Try and race Flash and you probably won't even move before he crosses the finish line.
It was a tough choice here. The final three were Bolt, Vince Wilfork and David Ortiz.
We all know about Storm's powers: She has the incredible ability to alter the weather at any time. One minute it could be sunny, while the next minute would be a raging thunderstorm. She is truly a powerful superhero.
On the personal side, she is dark but also a bit of a romantic. She knows how to get people to the point of opening up, then unleashing the fury of Mother Nature on her enemies.
Just like Storm can change the weather, Serena Williams can change the course of a tennis match or her mood with one swing of a racket.
Her mood swings are almost as well-known now as her tennis ability, but either way, you never know what to expect from Serena.
She is edgy, fierce and a real wild card of an athlete.
Mr. Fantastic can do it all. He is an absolute genius, and knows enough about science that he built the spaceship that caused the Fantastic Four to get their powers. He is the unofficial leader of that group, and has great mental skills.
Mind control is ineffective against Mr. Fantastic, as he does not get scared, intimidated or anxious. He can stretch his body wherever it needs to go, but his greatest power is his intangibles.
He may never be considered a great superhero like Superman or Spiderman, but he deserves much respect for his mind.
Think what you want about Tebow, but he is Mr. Fantastic. Just think about it. He may not have any awesome powers, and he won't dominate any opponent by himself, but he has the intangibles to make him a great leader and superhero.
People hate on Tebow because they say he is too hyped, but the reality is that he is a born leader that has commanded the respect of his teammates at every level. That also happens to epitomize Mr. Fantastic.
Don't be fooled by Black Widow's good looks and sassy attitude—she will kick your butt.
Straight out of Russia, she was engineered to be a powerful superhero who could combine martial arts prowess with a variety of weapons to subdue her enemies.
Many may be distracted by her looks, but her powers should get even more attention.
Looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to Danica Patrick. Appearing to be just a marketing ploy, Patrick actually packs quite a punch on the race track.
Whether in an IndyCar or NASCAR, Danica Patrick is one of the superstars of racing.
Don't write her off because of her looks. She has attitude and ability. You can't ask for much more than that from the Black Widow, Danica Patrick.
He's big, he's green, and he gets angry easily.
No, not Rex Ryan.
The Incredible Hulk is a gigantic and destructive superhero, who is known for his short temper. Once he gets mad, watch out. He is fearless, aggressive, but also somewhat misunderstood.
He fights for good, but he can be bad while fighting.
Who needs Mark Ruffalo when you can have Brock Lesnar playing the Incredible Hulk? Lesnar is no scientist like Bruce Banner, but it sure does look like he was exposed to some gamma radiation as a young child. (Side note: can you imagine Lesnar as a child? Neither can I.)
When Brock Lesnar gets angry, he does everything but turn green.
Thor is a superhero that has been largely unnoticed until recently, when a movie detailing his life was released over this past summer. Now, many know the power of Thor and his mighty hammer.
He is the son of a king, and wields a hammer with which he has almost limitless power. It takes him a while to get used to Earth, but once he does, he is able to make his mark.
Thor is a natural leader, and has the personality to take control of his team and lead them to victory.
Jared Allen may not actually have a hammer, but he sure hits like he does. There may not be a more feared defensive lineman in the NFL, and it is all too fitting that the NFL's equivalent of Thor plays for the Minnesota Vikings.
When you consider his hair, his demeanor, and the Thor-like horn he wears on his helmet, Jared Allen plays a convincing role as the Norse god of thunder.
Green Lantern is a superhero who can, at times, hold the fate of the universe in the power of his ring. He may not have been much before getting this ring, but now that he has it, his power can be almost limitless.
This ring enables the Green Lantern to protect all that is important and just in the universe, and it signifies having the strength and willpower to be able to wear such a ring.
For Lebron, it's all about the ring.
At this point, Lebron is nothing more than an All Star forward who happens to be on a lot of commercials. But once he gets an NBA championship ring, the hype about Lebron will be justified. The Green Lantern's ring holds the power of the universe. For Lebron, it would elevate him to elite status among the basketball gods.
Now, about that ring ...
Wolverine is a fierce superhero. He is relentless in all that he does, and will let no one stop him until he gets what he wants. Because of that, he is not exactly the friendliest or most well-liked superhero.
But when it comes to beating the bad guys, Wolverine does his job quite admirably. He may not always play clean, but he never fails to make sure that all threats are eliminated.
Ferocious, aggressive, and relentless: That is Wolverine in a nutshell.
There are few players in the NFL more universally feared than Ray Lewis. Forget meeting him in a dark alley— meeting Ray Lewis on a crossing route across the middle is scary enough as it is.
He is an absolute beast of a human being, and he plays with a mean streak.
He fights for good, but I can't say there are many NFL players who like Ray Lewis.
Wonder Woman is one bad girl. You do not want to mess with her. Not only is she the most powerful woman superhero, but she's one of the most powerful superheroes, period.
She cannot be harmed by bullets, thanks to her bulletproof bracelets. She is highly trained in all forms of fighting, and her talents are wide-ranging. She never backs down from a challenge, and is always ready to fight for justice.
After watching her magical goals in the 2011 Women's World Cup, there is little doubt in anyone's mind that Abby Wambach is Wonder Woman.
She did the wonder of all wonders in the final minute of stoppage time against Brazil, scoring on a miraculous header like only a superhero could. That goal, and her efforts, will live forever in the minds of those who were watching.
Spiderman started out as just a normal guy until he was bit by a poisonous spider. It turns out that this bite was a blessing in disguise, and he began to gain the ability to fling himself around cities and climb buildings that no human would normally be able to climb.
He is a very family-oriented man, using his powers in part to avenge the death of his uncle. He has a soft side, but typically, he is a crime-fighting hero who works to keep the streets clean.
It may be a bit tough to see, but for Josh Hamilton, a bad bite is what turned him from normal to a superhero. When Spiderman was bit by a spider, no one know who he was.
When Josh Hamilton's life spiraled out of control because of addiction to drugs and alcohol, baseball would soon have forgotten him.
But like Spiderman, a simple change made Josh Hamilton into who he is today. He is a man of high character and great ability, and someone to be admired for how far he has come. Peter Parker went from nobody to Spiderman.
Josh Hamilton went from nobody to, well, Josh Hamilton.
We all know Captain America. He is the pride and glory of the United States of America, and represents the Land of the Free with all his heart.
He was an underdog at first, but once he was able to show that heart is the biggest asset a man can have, he became a powerful hero capable of helping to defend freedom. He wears the red, white, and blue all the time, showing that he is truly committed to America.
He is a leader, a fine soldier, and a great hero.
The parallels between Tom Brady and Captain America are uncanny. They both came from humble beginnings. Brady was a sixth round pick out of Michigan, hardly expected to become one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in NFL history.
Yet when he blossomed, he became the symbol of the sport—a great leader, a great player, and a proven winner. Best of all, just like Captain America, he represents the red, white, and blue.
Batman is an interesting superhero. He is mysterious and often lives in the shadows, rarely taking credit for the work that he does. He is a man who tries to live a normal life, but few people know who he actually is.
He faces a new challenge almost every day from a different villain, whether the Joker, Penguin, or Two-Face. Regardless, he always seems to swoop in at the right time, take care of the problem, then go right back out of sight.
When the Yankees need help, Mariano Rivera is always there. For the last decade-and-a-half, the New York Yankees have had the ability to call on a hero to shut the door on almost any villain the team encounters.
They may not have a special light to shine, but when "Enter Sandman" blares over the Yankee Stadium speakers, people know that it is time for baseball's Batman, Mariano Rivera.
He's rich, brilliant, and quite the playboy.
Iron Man is one of the most popular superheroes because he is entertaining. He cracks jokes, flirts with women, and has a sense of cockiness.
However, when it comes to business, he is very powerful. He can fly, shoot lasers out of his hands, and pretty much does whatever he wants.
Now that Shaquille O'Neal has retired, the world of sports has a new face of entertainment. This eccentric personality comes with the dark, bushy beard of Brian Wilson.
The San Francisco Giants' closer may not be the billionaire genius that Tony Stark is, but the two have similar personalities.
And much like Iron Man, when Wilson suits up, he is one of the best at what he does. His nasty fastball and crazy demeanor on the mound make him one of baseball's best closers.
Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Yep, that's Superman.
He is the original superhero, and one of, if not the most, popular superheroes of all time. He is universally respected and always seems to be able to save the day. By day, he is just another civilian. But when he finds a phone booth, he can instantly change into one of the most effective heroes.
This had to be it.
Not only is Dwight Howard "Superman," but he is almost as athletically gifted as the superhero. Part of me actually thinks Dwight could jump over a building, and he is certainly powerful in the paint.
Though he hasn't quite figured out how to score or stay out of foul trouble, Dwight has all the physical characteristics of Superman. Not many people, if any, dislike him, and when all is said and done, he could be among the greatest big men ever.