50 Most Punchable Faces in Pro Sports
Recently I read a hilariously unforgiving list by Matt Ufford at Warming Glow about television’s most punchable faces. It got me thinking about punchable faces in professional sports.
We all know the sports world is second only to the political world in sheer volume of smug mugs a lot of us would like to take a shot at, so throwing together a top 50 wasn’t a difficult chore.
Should you encounter your favorite athlete on the list and find yourself filling with rage and the intense desire to rattle off some hate mail, I only ask that you keep the following three things in mind:
1. These guys are professional athletes with piles of money who, because they have heard a lot worse, can probably take a joke. Plus, if you were included on this list, there is almost no chance that Terrell Owens would step in to defend you.
2. Although there are some universal standards, overall punchability is largely subjective. For example, I think Cortland Finnegan is adorable and decidedly unpunchable, but he made the list because Andre Johnson, along with the vast majority of the population, disagrees.
3. I haven’t been in a fight since a hair-pulling brawl with my friend Sarah in fourth grade—a fight in which I got my ass handed to me—meaning that my assessment of the retaliation threat posed by these guys is based on a purely fictional world where television shows about puppies don’t make me cry and my tiny fists and athletic shortcomings carry a bit more weight.
The above disclaimer probably isn't necessary, but as someone who has written her fair share of belligerent emails to sports reporters (heck, I’ve written a lot of people’s fair shares), I’m keenly aware of the passionate response that anything sports-related can elicit.
Now let’s count down the 50 most punchable faces in the sports world and determine how likely they are to make you regret throwing that drunken punch you've always dreamed of delivering.
50. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
Assessing Punchability: Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum has gone all-in with his Mitch Kramer homage. The long hair, the hemp necklace and the vacant stare make this string bean hipster exceedingly punchable.
Regrets? Only if your knuckles bruise easily. Lincecum might be the most unimposing figure in the most unimposing professional sport.
49. Bruce Boudreau, Washington Capitals
Assessing Punchability: Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau isn’t afraid to slop around in the trash-talking muck with players and hurl insults at opposing teams, opposing fans and opposing venues.
His strangely awkward profanity-laced tirades on HBO’s 24/7 Pens/Caps really put Rex Ryan’s appearance on Hard Knocks in perspective. Watch this clip of him screaming nonsense at his players and see if you aren’t left with the overwhelming desire to punch his baby face.
Regrets? None. Even the slowest among us (me) could beat this dude in a footrace.
48. Plaxico Burress, New York Jets
Assessing Punchability: With the guidance of the NFL's most successful snake oil salesman/agent Drew Rosenhaus, recently sprung irresponsible gun enthusiast Plaxico Burress has been following the road to redemption recently carved by Eagles QB Michael Vick.
Unlike Vick, Burress’ contrition feels phony, and his consistently grotesque facial hair, big mouth and bad attitude (and the fact that he thinks it’s acceptable to wear sweatpants to a nightclub) are just a few examples of why Plax is cruisin' for a bruisin'.
Regrets? Defcon 5. Big guy, big reach. Skinny guys fight ‘till they’re burger, but his recent stay in the crowbar hotel might inspire him to avoid the further legal troubles beating you down might bring.
47. Jeff Reed, NFL Free Agent, and Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings
Assessing Punchability: As the
proud owner of a Jeff Reed jersey (not a joke) and someone who found Chris Kluwe’s open letter to Nate Jackson both biting and hilarious, accepting and assessing their punchability is difficult. Since I seem to have a thing for goofy guys who kick things, I will leave the assessment up to you.
Regrets? Maybe. Kluwe would probably just write a strongly worded letter that makes you feel like less of a man, but Skippy would whale on you like the paper towel dispenser he confused for people when he was sporting his vodka goggles.
46. A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox
Assessing Punchability: A.J. Pierzynski has a reputation for being the kind of guy that people want to punch in the face. He’s also got a reputation for getting punched in the face. Because of these facts, he received an automatic bid to this list.
Regrets? Surely Michael Barrett has no regrets. Why should anyone else?
45. Notre Dame Athletics
Assessing Punchability: Notre Dame’s willful ignorance about the state of its program after decades of decline is irritating enough by itself.
Couple that with its refusal to join an NCAA conference, a revolving door of coaches since Lou Holtz and its undeserved contract with NBC that subjects the rest of the country to its mediocrity weekly, and you’ve really got something worth taking a swing at.
Regrets? Nope. A collective sports entity offers little threat of retaliation.You're next, Duke basketball.
44. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
43. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Assessing Punchability: New York City native Joakim Noah and his hair are endlessly punchable. His desire to play for the French national basketball team, fluency in French, French citizenship and his French sponsor, Le Coq Sportif, are also contributing factors. I kid. France is lovely.
Regrets? No. Napoleon once said, “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.”
42. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
Assessing Punchability: Tim Tebow seems nice—actually, he seems too nice—but is anyone else sick of hearing about his “intangibles?”
Last time I checked, you need more than unbridled enthusiasm to play quarterback in the NFL, and every time someone (Herm Edwards) says “he knows how to win ballgames,” I want to punch Tim Tebow (and Herm Edwards) in the face.
Regrets? Probably not. The Bible verses on his face suggest that he’d turn the other cheek. Sucker.
41. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Assessing Punchability: Kevin Garnett is one of the most prolific and entertaining trash-talkers in the history of sports. KG also happens to be one of my favorites, but even I wanted to punch him last November when he called Charlie Villanueva a "cancer patient."
40. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, and Woody Paige, Denver Post
Assessing Punchability: Bill Plaschke and Woody Paige are painfully irritating fixtures on ESPN’s Around the Horn. If you have seen the show, you know what I mean. If you haven’t seen the show, count your blessings.
Regrets? Heck no. Worst-case scenario is Plaschke calls you a “hater” during his unearned face time and Paige writes something tragically unclever about you on his chalkboard.
39. Albert Haynesworth, New England Patriots
38. Johnny Damon, Tampa Bay Rays
Assessing Punchability: It’s challenging to find a 37-year-old with a faux hawk who isn’t punchable. Johnny Damon said he was going to prove all the people wrong who said he was too old to pull it off just by looking good. Fail.
Regrets? On the fence. Sure, I could buy the fact that he could make you sorry, but he’s just not selling it.
37. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox
Assessing Punchability: There are some things that will never fail to incite fantasy violence in me: a soul patch, a hemp necklace and being a condescending a-hole are just a few examples. Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett brings this unholy trinity together.
Regrets? Probably. Lying in the fetal position while a maniacal Josh Beckett unleashes a never-ending barrage of fastballs at your head, as Red Sox fans pelt you with pizza slices, is no way to spend an afternoon.
36. Maxime Talbot, Philadelphia Flyers
Assessing Punchability: How about the fact that I bought a Maxime Talbot jersey last year, which cemented my nickname, “Jersey Curse?” I don’t want to make this personal, so just the facts: He’s an overrated, overpaid, ridiculously greasy and disloyal turncoat who is going to look ugly in orange!!!!!!!!!
Regrets? Yes. I regret that I didn’t get a classic Kevin Stevens jersey before Talbot tainted the number of a legend.
Okay. Maybe this was a little personal.
35. Tiger Woods, PGA
Assessing Punchability: Tiger Woods’ sulky demeanor and sour disposition are his trademarks. Well, surely you can understand why he's down; he’s only one of best golfers in history, filthy rich and up to his Nike visor in hot broads. Poor thing.
Regrets? Potentially. Tiger isn’t physically imposing, but his behavior on the golf course might be indicative of rage issues.
34. Mel Kiper, ESPN
Assessing Punchability: The first two sentences of his bio: “Contrary to popular belief, Mel Kiper was not born on the fifty yard line of the local college football field. But Mel's in-depth knowledge of the nation's most talented collegiate football players has enabled him to accurately predict as much as 80 percent of first-round draft selections.”
If there is something on earth that is more punchable than Mel Kiper’s giant, shouting face, it has yet to be discovered.
Regrets? Maybe. He’s from Baltimore.
33. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts, and Eli Manning, New York Giants
Assessing Punchability: Listen. Everyone on the planet wants to punch at least one Manning, and most people want to punch all of them.
Regrets? Yes. Something tells me Archie still has the stones to make you pay for dishonoring the family name.
32. Keyshawn Johnson, ESPN
Assessing Punchability: Keyshawn Johnson isn’t quite as punchable today as he once was; problematic receivers all lose their magic eventually. Johnson’s years as a disgruntled, barking malcontent ultimately eclipsed his talent.
Regrets? Let me consult my Magic 8 Ball.
Me: Would Keyshawn Johnson kill me if I punched him in the face?
Magic 8 Ball: Absolutely!
31. Don Cherry, Hockey Night in Canada
Assessing Punchability: If you know anything about hockey (which I hope you do, but assume you don’t), then you probably recognize the Technicolor freak show pictured left. The Hockey Night in Canada host is such a bile-spewing bigot that his broadcasts require a seven-second delay.
Regrets? Generally I do not condone punching the elderly, but this crotchety old loon is the exception. Remember that crazy trumps old, so Cherry would probably come back at you with as much force as a 77-year-old who runs on hate and stupidity could muster. That, and the fact that the sheer flamboyance of his apparel would distract you enough to give him a legit chance.
30. Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants
Assessing Punchability: There are four kinds of people in the world: those who want to punch Brian Wilson now (with the beard), those who want to punch Brian Wilson then (with the faux hawk), those who have always wanted to punch Brian Wilson and those who wonder when Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys started playing baseball.
Personally, I wanted to punch Brian Wilson then and am obsessed with Brian Wilson now.
Regrets? No way. Recounting the story of the time you were beaten up by a man in a spandex tuxedo will never fail to impress drunks at a bar.
29. Gilbert Arenas, Orlando Magic
Assessing Punchability: Gilbert Arenas is pretty much everything people dislike in a professional athlete. He acts entitled, he’s selfish, he’s lazy, he’s a bad teammate and although he’s talented, he's not quite talented enough to forgive him for pulling a gun on a teammate.
Imagine if Michael Jordan had pulled a gun on Dennis Rodman; any chance that would end in a suspension? It would have been more likely to end in a parade.
Regrets? A mountain. Gilbert Arenas had no problem pulling a gun on teammate when he asked about a gambling debt; any chance he won't straight-up shoot you for punching him the face?
28. Skip Bayless, ESPN, and Cris Collinsworth, NBC
Assessing Punchability: Cris Collinsworth and Skip Bayless are virtually interchangeable members of the sports media: they’re both blond, smug blowhards with the face of Skeletor and the body of Screech Powers.
Regrets? Nope. Unless being disappointed that you didn’t get the whole incident on video so that you could watch it when you’re feeling down counts as regret.
27. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
If you are a Steelers fan (like me), chances are you spent the entire night after the last Super Bowl blackout drunk, telling strangers on the metro (in Washington, DC) a wild conspiracy theory about how the Steelers lost (to Green Bay) because of Tom Brady (of the Patriots) and that someday you’d make him pay.
Okay, maybe that was just me...
Regrets? My head says yes, but my heart says no. Sure, he and his golden flowing locks would beat you down, but it would be sooooooo worth it.
26. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins
Assessing Punchability: Reggie Bush is (arguably) a draft bust who has been masquerading as “a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare” for years.
Guess what? If an undersized, ineffective, injury-prone running back with limited scoring ability and questionable character is your defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare, you need a new defensive coordinator.
Regrets? No. He’d probably blow out his knee trying to hit you back.
25. Glazer Brothers, the Worst Owners of Anything in the Entire World
Assessing Punchability: In the United States the Glazers are the notoriously cheap but relatively quiet owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In England they are soulless American billionaires who slowly bought up enough shares of Manchester United to warrant a takeover bid and then leveraged the club to secure a billion-dollar loan.
Regrets? Sure, it’s not our beef, but don’t we owe England a solid after that whole Revolutionary War thing?
24. Vince Young, Philadelphia Eagles
Assessing Punchability: Obviously it’s kind of mean to hit an emotionally fragile crybaby. It’s less mean to hit an emotionally fragile crybaby who gets into brawls at strip clubs.
Regrets? Undetermined; this guy is an emotional roller coaster. Maybe he’d cry—maybe he’d kill you. Maybe he'll freak out and go missing. You may not get hurt, but you're guaranteed to be traumatized.
23. Kyle Busch, NASCAR
Assessing Punchability: The NASCAR fans in this video insist that Kyle Busch is a douchebag, and the picture supports the charge. Who am I to argue?
Regrets? Have you ever encountered a passionate NASCAR fan? Imagine thousands of them raining down hell on you for your malfeasance. You’ve got your answer. At least your life would be immortalized by a windshield sticker that depicts Calvin urinating on your name.
22. Lane Kiffin, University of Southern California
Assessing Punchability: To say that USC coach Lane Kiffin is not well liked would be an understatement. To say that USC coach Lane Kiffin is an abrasive toolbag who lacks loyalty, integrity and a record of success to justify his employment—well, that would also be an understatement.
Regrets? No freaking way. You’d be a national hero, and you’d get to punch Lane Kiffin in the face. Classic win-win situation.
21. Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs
Assessing Punchability: Maybe you don’t want to punch Cubbies pitcher Carlos Zambrano, but there’s a pretty decent chance that he wants to punch you. Actually, he probably wants to punch you, spit on you, kick dirt at you and call your mother a nasty name.
I'm sure you want to hit him now!
Regrets? Yes, lots of them. Nobody fights harder than a hothead with a few loose screws, and you don't have a bench to clear.
20. Mike Mizanin, WWE
Assessing Punchability: If you recognize Mike Mizanin, it’s because he’s built a very successful career of being one of the most irritating people on the planet. He got his start on MTV’s The Real World and during subsequent appearances on the booze-fueled Real World/Road Rules Challenge, which he parlayed into a career in the WWE.
Regrets? Likely. Wrestling may be fake, but The Miz and his considerable size are not.
19. Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans
Assessing Punchability: I defer to Andre Johnson on this matter.
Regrets? Totally! Sure, Andre Johnson embarrassed him, but you, sir, are no Andre Johnson.
18. Apolo Ohno, Olympian
Assessing Punchability: Olympic speed skating champion Apolo Ohno is, quite simply, irritating. His long hair (and soul patch), obnoxious Twitter account and the fact that Cris Collinsworth compared him to Tom Brady are just a few of the attributes that make him punchable.
Regrets? Maybe. He is an American Olympic hero, after all. Just make sure he's not wearing his skates. **Warning: Video clip is not for the faint of heart.**
17. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Assessing Punchability: As one of the NBA’s premier whiners, Carmelo Anthony has no problem holding his breath and stomping his feet until he gets his way. Maybe it’d be less irritating if he wasn’t hovering one or two steps above mediocrity.
Regrets? Probably, but at least you’d get in a few solid blows because you know he won’t play defense.
16. Roger Goodell, NFL, and Peter King, Sports Illustrated
Assessing Punchability: You probably recognize Roger Goodell as the NFL’s unlikable overlord and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King as the homer he shares a luxury box with. If you are not convinced King is carrying the water for Goodell, you haven’t read the profile he published in February.
Regrets? Nope. Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute have been asking for this for a long time.
15. Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers
Assessing Punchability: Unless you’re a Steelers fan, or a Steeler, chances are there is no face in the NFL that you’d like to wipe the smile off more than Hines Ward. He is routinely ranked amongst the dirtiest players in the league, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Ed Reed.
Regrets? Yes, a few. Ward can take whatever you’ve got and then give it back 10 times worse; at least he’ll do it with a smile (and possibly from your blind side). If it makes you feel any better, your beating will result in Roger Goodell levying a hefty fine on Ward, followed by the swift implementation of the "Ward Rule."
14. Usain Bolt, Olympian
Assessing Punchability: Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, tends to incite a strong, negative response in most people thanks to arbitrarily applied standards of sportsmanship. However, when a loser publicly complains about the winner’s display, you have to wonder who the real poor sport is.
Regrets? Yes. He'd probably knock you out and run around your limp lifeless body wearing the Jamaican flag as a cape.
13. Rafael Nadal, Professional Tennis
Assessing Punchability: This golden god’s absolute dominance over Roger Federer, who...in turn...absolutely dominates Andy Roddick, is a stark reminder that America does not absolutely dominate everything all the time. Nobody wants to be reminded of that.
Regrets? No way! Not punching Rafael Nadal would be a national disservice that you would have to atone for on your death bed.
12. Phil Hellmuth, Professional Poker
Unfortunately, Hellmuth, known as the “poker brat,” would rather speak for himself and does so in the most obnoxious and condescending way possible. His childish temper tantrums are legendary, and he’s become the poster child for how not to behave after a loss.
Regrets? Absolutely not. Imagine you just won a poker tournament and knocked out a legend in the process. Now imagine that legend publicly berates you by insisting your win was nothing more than an inexplicable fluke: a product of your vast ignorance as an amateur.
Is there any retaliation, outside of one involving a firearm, that would make you regret throwing that punch? In fact, you'd probably punch him again, after he angrily derided you for throwing the less statistically probable left hook instead of the right uppercut any real professional would have thrown.
11. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
Assessing Punchability: The fashionable and bronzed Cristiano Ronaldo, who carries a purse in public, probably isn’t the best ambassador to sell soccer to the American masses. His metrosexual style is directly at odds with American ideals about sports glory and tends to evoke fairly strong opinions.
Regrets? This is a baseless determination formulated on the superficial assumption that he’d rather take a punch than risk messing up his hair in a fight. Either way, he'll end up taking a dive, and you'll get a red card. I could be wrong, but I'm usually right.
10. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Assessing Punchability: It’s pretty easy to hate Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, or so I’ve been told. For whatever reason, sometimes being a cocky grandstanding ball hog in the NBA is completely embraced (Michael Jordan), and sometimes it’s completely derided (Kobe Bryant).
Regrets? Yep. Kobe’s ego wouldn’t allow him to be bested by some bum. Bryant vs. You = an 81-point game. Don't worry though—plenty of aging white NBA retirees would complain that his performance was too selfish.
9. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, and Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
For Rivers it’s because the level of unbridled enthusiasm he displays is only tolerable when it’s coming from a member of your team. For Cutler it’s because he routinely looks about as thrilled to be playing quarterback in the NFL as you looked taking a high school algebra test.
Regrets? Rivers would make you regret it. Cutler would take a nap.
8. Manny Ramirez, MLB Retired
Assessing Punchability: Is there anything in sports history that inspires more generalized outrage than "Manny being Manny?"
"Manny being Manny" is the nicest possible way of saying that an ungrateful douchebag is behaving like an ungrateful douchebag.
Regrets? Mmm...hmm. Plus there’s a decent chance that he’d be juiced up at the time of impact, further skewing an already uneven playing field when he comes back at you like a honey badger. The coroner's report would list your cause of death as "Manny being Manny."
7. Rory McIlroy
Assessing Punchability: Rory McIlroy is better known by his legal name: The Next Tiger Woods. Maybe the sports media jumped the gun on his coronation after his spectacular win at the U.S. Open, but what doesn’t the sports media jump the gun on?
For his part, McIlroy embraced his newfound star status but followed it up with a 25th-place finish at the British Open, which the Northern Ireland native blamed on weather.
Regrets? Not technically, because you would almost certainly take him in a fight, but a better person (than me) might feel guilty about picking on the kid.
6. Dan Snyder, Owner, Washington Redskins
Assessing Punchability: According to Sports Illustrated, billionaire Dan Snyder is the third-worst owner in the NFL who runs the Redskins like a “first-time fantasy football manager” and seems to be on an unending quest to become the absolute worst.
His epic football/personal failures have been well documented, but my personal favorites are: dropping by Redskins practice in a helicopter; a commemorative hat to honor victims of 9/11 that cost $23.99; and a racially insensitive Six Flags marketing plan that ultimately bankrupted the national amusement park.
Regrets? The only regret would be the guaranteed lawsuit this litigious fanboy would slap on you.
5. Sean Avery, New York Rangers
Assessing Punchability: Sean Avery’s on-ice ability is unremarkable, unlike his ability to create a scene and make people angry. He’s most famous for: calling actress Elisha Cuthbert his sloppy seconds, accepting a summer internship at Vogue magazine and the inexplicable on-ice behavior that ultimately led the NHL to implement a rule in his honor.
Regrets? Yes. Don’t let his three-piece plaid suit fool you; Avery is one of the finest agitators in NHL history and doesn’t mind taking a hit. Dude is tough enough to make you cry, and after a fight he has absolutely no problem throwing a sucker punch and smirk for good measure.
4. Terrell Owens, NFL Free Agent
Assessing Punchability: There is an ever growing population of people who would love to see Terrell “I love me some me” Owens take a hit outside the confines of the game. T.O. is an arrogant and unpredictable showboater who has yet to leave an NFL team in better condition than he found it.
Regrets? What do you think? At the moment there are a lot of legitimate questions being asked about the value that an aging and injured T.O. offers, but the fact that he possesses the mental state and physical ability to make you pay remains an uncontested reality. Pick a fight in his driveway at your own, well-televised risk.
3. Colin Cowherd, ESPN
Assessing Punchability: ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd is the less enjoyable half of SportsNation’s hosting duo. Cowherd courts controversy and rarely passes up an opportunity to say something offensive, including some particularly harsh comments in the wake of Redskins safety Sean Taylor’s tragic death.
Regrets? Not a one. Cowherd is probably bigger in person than he looks on television, but a weasel is a weasel, and even if he unexpectedly threw down, nobody is going to regret smacking someone around who defines his own success by the amount of hate mail he receives.
2. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
Assessing Punchability: A-Rod is one of the best players in the history of baseball; he also happens to be one of the most reviled figures in professional sports. Fair or unfair, have you ever met anyone who wouldn’t like to see this guy take one on the chin?
Regrets? Neah. Obviously A-Rod is a fit and sizable guy who could theoretically put your butt in a sling, but I think he lacks the fire to actually make that happen. Just remember to hit him in October.
1. LeBron James, Miami Heat
Assessing Punchability: Something tells me that the punchability of King James doesn't require a lengthy explanation. The national elation following the Miami Heat’s defeat in the NBA Finals pretty much tells the story without having to delve into the familiar details.
Regrets? Yep. Although the Akron Hammer has a habit of taking the fourth quarter off, his growing resentment about the flak he takes from the fans/media is bound to manifest itself at some point, and The Hammer is one big dude.