Biggest Anti-Heroes in Sports

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2014

Biggest Anti-Heroes in Sports

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    In sports, we all have heroes.

    Athletes who always do the right thing and have an enormous fanbase behind them following their every move, cheering with the sweet nectar of approval.

    The best example in recent times of a true hero, of course, is New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

    But for all of those classic heroes, there's another breed of hero we can't help but root for: the anti-hero.

    Anti-heroes follow their own set of rules, but thanks to their skill set or demeanor, they are still fun to root for.

    We've come up with 25 names for sports' biggest anti-heroes. Start the slideshow and find out who made the cut.

Richard Sherman

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    In the NFL, anti-heroes like Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman don't come along very often.

    The outspoken, wickedly talented defensive back is as vocal on the field as he is off of it—he has even eloquently voiced his opinion in the articles he's penned over for The MMQB.  

    Talk like that can sometimes bother people. It's like enduring routine beatings on Xbox Live and having to listen to the same guy spew Oscar the Grouch-like trash over the headset.

    Whether you love him or can't stand him, branding Sherman as one of the league's biggest anti-heroes goes down easier than Garfield housing a piping hot dish of lasagna

Yasiel Puig

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    Los Angeles Dodgers superstar outfielder Yasiel Puig is a swagger monster.

    Playing for a surging Dodgers club, he has proved to be one of the game's brightest young talents.

    He has more strength in his arm than a prime Dolph Lundgren had in his entire body and has turned into one of the top hitters around.

    Off the baseball diamond, Puig has gotten in trouble with the law for driving Italian sports cars like he was playing Need for Speed.

    His backstory leaving Cuba for the United States reads like a blockbuster movie. Puig is also the type of dude who comes with no apologies.

    A classic anti-hero with a remarkable amount of ability at his disposal, Puig's legacy is going to be compelling to follow over the next decade.

Floyd Mayweather

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    When you win all 46 of your professional bouts and verbally abuse opponents as much Floyd Mayweather does, you are going to have your fair share of detractors.

    Money Mayweather—as he likes to call himself—is still the best boxer on the planet even past his prime at 37 years old.

    The more wins he racks up and the more bravado he expels will continue to make Mayweather one of the most prominent anti-heroes in all of sports.

Darnell Dockett

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    Even if you aren't the type of person who uses Twitter on the regular, you have to appreciate its greatness.

    Twitter allows us to vocalize our opinions without fear of consequences, giving our friends and family enough fuel to shame us on something we wrote years prior.

    Twitter has also given even more power to professional athletes.

    Before this was an actual thing, the opinions we got from players usually came from a rant or a filtered press release.

    Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is a Twitter lord. His escapades have gone from controversial to downright ridiculous.

    Cardinals fans love the guy, but for everyone else, Dockett is an anti-hero who emerged from the smoldering hot rubble that is social media.

J.R. Smith

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    New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith has become the quintessential anti-hero when it comes to the game of basketball in Madison Square Garden.

    Two seasons ago, he was everyone's favorite tattooed scorer, finishing as the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year and turning heads.

    Regressing this season was a given, considering how poorly the Knicks wound up playing.

    Smith is a social media maven who loves untying opposing players' shoes. You either love Smith's antics or think he's too outlandish for his own good.

    Either way, it looks like he's going to be part of Phil Jackson's new-look Knicks in 2014.

Jared Allen

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    Cowboy hats, attacking quarterbacks, swinging around invisible lassos, it's all in a day's work for Chicago Bears edge-rusher Jared Allen.

    Before he took his talents to the Windy City this past offseason, Allen had been planting quarterbacks in the ground with the Minnesota Vikings since 2008—and with the Kansas City Chiefs prior to that.

    Allen's tomfoolery on the field is just part of what makes him an anti-hero. He's also the type of guy who boasts a strong personality in the locker room.

    The Bears got one heck of a player, and Chicago fans will get to sit back and enjoy it this season.

John Daly

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    You can have Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. I'll take John Daly every time.

    Daly has made a career of being golf's most interesting man.

    His wardrobe is just about as eccentric as his personality, plus it doesn't hurt that he can hit a golf ball beyond the moon.

    There will never be another Daly. He isn't the best player in the world, but man, this guy looks like he knows how to have a good time when he's out there cracking balls on the links.

Serena Williams

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    Serena Williams is one of the best tennis players this world has ever seen.

    Over her career, she has won 60 singles titles and has compiled a record consisting of 658 wins to just 117 losses. 

    Off the court, she's vocal and doesn't care what people think of her.

    But her trump card for being an anti-hero is the fact that she's close friends with Kim Kardashian. Yes, the one and only Kim Kardashian.

    Can anyone top that? I don't think so.

LeBron James

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    LeBron James is the sole name on this list who has a chance to wipe his anti-hero status clean and start fresh.

    After abandoning the Cleveland Cavaliers and heading down to South Beach to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James went from being the NBA's golden child to its very own version of Darth Vader.

    He went to Miami to win championships and contend for titles. From that point of view, the decision was successful.

    But now the King is home—home to the city that started it all: Cleveland.

    It's the only place where he has a realistic shot to reclaim his squeaky-clean, Captain Planet image by helping a young Cavaliers team prosper.

Luis Suarez

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    It's a shame that Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez has made it a habit to bite opposing players.

    On the pitch, he's an astounding goalscorer who lit up the Premier League while playing for Liverpool last season.

    Now that he's been transferred over to FC Barcelona, fans of the superteam will have to root for Suarez while they deal with his past transgressions.

    One thing you can be sure of is that fans of Real Madrid won't be impressed with Suarez next season.

Johnny Manziel

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    Did you not expect Johnny Manziel to show up on this list?

    The prodigal son of Tyler, Texas—and now quarterback for the Cleveland Browns—joins LeBron James, turning this once quiet sports town into a destination for TMZ.

    Manziel's anti-hero status has been cultivated through his wild play on the football field and his partying lifestyle.

    It's easy to forget that Johnny Football is just 21 years old, and sometimes, that's just what 21-year-olds do.

    However, if you go by what his teammate Andrew Hawkins said on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Brad Hopkins and Phil Savage, Manziel is "all business" when it comes to football.

Lance Stephenson

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    Minus the colorful hair and bromance with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Lance Stephenson is slowly turning into the second coming of Dennis Rodman on the basketball court.

    His decision to try and get in LeBron James' head—and blow in his ear—during the 2013-14 NBA playoffs was the stuff that legends are made out of.

    Not to outdo himself, Stephenson has become a crucial part of the Internet.

    The memes created from his antics on the hardwood may go down in history as some of the most important work mankind has ever constructed.

Novak Djokovic

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    Early on his career, Novak Djokovic was all about that anti-hero life.

    He got into scuffles with Andy Roddick, was accused of faking injuries and even was booed by the fans.

    Luckily for the sport and fans everywhere, as he's gotten older, Djokovic has settled down—even if his father refuses to.

Rob Gronkowski

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    New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski makes Johnny Manziel's partying habits look real childish.

    Picturing what Gronkowski does in the offseason usually results in some sort of cross between John "Bluto" Blutarsky of Animal House and Frank "The Tank" Ricard of Old School.

    On the field—when he's healthy—the guy is one of the most lethal offensive weapons the National Football League has seen in quite some time.

    He's as big as Paul Bunyan and just about as strong as Babe the Blue Ox.

    Being a member of the Patriots is reason enough to generate mixed reviews. Partying like Studio 54 is still around also isn't going to win over the majority of fans, but it's still fun to hear about.

Dwight Howard

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    At one point in time, Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard had a chance to be the next great Los Angeles Lakers big man.

    The 28-year-old tortured the Orlando Magic for a while before he was shipped off to Los Angeles for a one-year run as the Lakers centerpiece.

    Instead of re-upping his contract and sticking around the sunny skies of Southern California, Howard bolted and opted to sign a free-agent deal with the Rockets.

    His anti-hero status mainly comes by way of burning two fanbases on his way to Texas.

Jay Cutler

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    Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has a done a lot of questionable things that have turned fans off since joining the team in 2009.

    He's been voted by Forbes as one of the "10 Most Disliked Athletes in America" because he is "standoffish with teammates and the public."

    It's difficult to decipher whether that's true or not, but one we thing we know to be true is that Cutler proposed to his wife Kristin Cavallari during a text message exchange.

    The Bears obviously don't care what some fans may think of their franchise quarterback. This past offseason they rewarded him with a seven-year deal that could potentially earn him a cool $126.7 million.

P.K. Subban

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    P.K. Subban is a fierce defender for the Montreal Canadiens whose imposing skill on the ice matches his machismo off it.

    Subban clearly gets under the skin of the guys he plays against.

    This past season, Boston Bruins winger Shawn Thornton even sprayed him with a spout of water during an actual play.

    It's OK, though; Subban is one of the most talented defenders in the NHL, and no one can take that away from him.

Marshawn Lynch

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    Beast Mode does what Beast Mode wants.

    The bruising Seattle Seahawks running back, who helped carry the Birds to a Super Bowl win last season, isn't the poster child for the position.

    Unlike Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch is reserved, keeps to himself and doesn't really like to talk. 

    His desire to keep away from the media leading up to the Super Bowl was one of the highlights of the entire process.

    We don't need to hear from Lynch if he doesn't want to talk. Just let the man eat his Skittles in peace and continue to run through oncoming defenders like a freight train. 

Metta World Peace

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    Basketball may have no greater anti-hero than Metta World Peace.

    The artist formerly known as Ron Artest has built a career off doing controversial things. His melee at the Palace of Auburn Hills kicked off one of the most outrageous tenures in NBA history.

    Perhaps World Peace played at the wrong time.

    He was a savage defender in his prime. There were moments on the court when you could envision him playing alongside Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars in the Motor City.

    World Peace was a quality player in his own right. He was always a lockdown defender who could score the basketball and make a team tougher.

    He won't be remembered for scoring 15-plus points per game for eight consecutive seasons.

    No, what World Peace will be remembered for is his bad-boy image and the fight that changed the way some people look at the NBA.

Ronda Rousey

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    Even Floyd Mayweather has to understand that UFC fighter Ronda Rousey is someone you don't want to mess with.

    At 135 pounds, she's a one-woman wrecking crew inside of the Octagon.

    She's unbeaten and has been barely challenged. It's hard to picture her losing a fight at this juncture. 

    She an anti-hero mainly because she speaks freely, talks smack and takes names when she leaves the cage.

Carlos Gomez

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    Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez plays the game of baseball with no regrets.

    He has provoked bench-clearing brawls and expressed his opinions with no qualms.

    For all of the trouble he brings with him to the field, over the last three seasons with the Brewers, Gomez has been a fantastic addition to the club.

    Don't let his bravado fool you—this guy can play the game.

John Calipari

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    Coaches have been known to get under people's skin, but no coach has achieved that feat more than Kentucky lead man John Calipari.

    Coach Cal has become college's basketball best recruiter, helping the Kentucky program claw its way back to greatness with a cast of rotating freshman stars.

    When you look back at what Calipari has done over his career, it's pretty staggering.

    He has used his brilliant skills of persuasion to build young teams filled with NBA-caliber talent.

    If you aren't a Kentucky fan, you probably don't care much for Coach Cal. I mean, why would you like a guy who gets to dine with Drake and stroll around campus like he's Julius Caesar?

Arjen Robben

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    You can't knock Arjen Robben's hustle. We all knew when this guy started playing soccer that he was the real deal.

    But there's one thing Robben does better than anyone else: flop.

    He took a beating from the media during the 2014 World Cup because of his intricate flops.

    Robben even admitted to taking a dive against Mexico.

    The Bayern Munich star will always be considered a quality player, even if his legacy is tarnished due to his propensity to flop on the pitch.

Terrell Suggs

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    Ray Lewis may not play in a Baltimore Ravens uniform anymore, but the defense that struck more fear into the hearts of people than Freddy Krueger still has Terrell Suggs.

    T-Sizzle—Suggs' nickname—will talk, talk and talk some more if you give him the chance.

    His most famous rant has to be the ongoing beef he has with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady—he hates Brady's flowing locks.

    Suggs is one of the most dynamic pass-rushers in the game today. When he gets it going, it's hard to put a lid on T-Sizzle.

Hall of Fame: Hulk Hogan

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    When Hulk Hogan was revealed as the third man during WCW's legendary Bash at the Beach pay-per-view in the summer of 1996, he successfully became the greatest anti-hero of all time.

    Hogan helped guide the New World Order to the top of pro wrestling, leaving fans no choice but to respect the industry's greatest heel.

    Had it not been for Hogan's heel turn, LeBron James would have never left the Cleveland Cavaliers—all right, that's not true.

    Thank you, Hollywood Hogan, for making it possible for all of us to cheer for "bad guys" in sports. A Derek Jeter-like hat tip goes off to you, sir.