If you grew up a sports fan in the 1990s, images of Steve Young, Emmitt Smith, and a Ken Griffey Jr. probably run through your head. Those babyface 20- and 30-somethings helped lead their team to greatness, cementing their legacy in the record books. We all know those iconic images of Jordan sticking out his tongue en-route to a monster slam, the "Big Hurt" crushing a long ball, or even young Tiger winning his first Master's championship in 1997. Recognizing these athletes during their heyday is one thing, but after two decades of aging, do you think you could recognize them today?
Well, you are in luck, because TheSportster did all the hard work for you, and compiled a list of 90s athletes who have drastically changed since their playing days. No, not everyone looks like they are nearing the end, and some even have aged like a fine wine. In any event, humans are all going to age and it's only natural that some of these former athletes won't quite look the same way they did when they were in their physical prime. So turn back the clock, and get ready for 15 athletes from the 90s you wouldn't recognize today.
15 Mark Schlereth
Hey, I didn't say all these unrecognizable athletes aged in a negative way! Mark Schlereth is looking handsome these days as an analyst for FS1 (after recently leaving ESPN in 2017). The former two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman has slimmed down since his playing days in Washington and Denver, dropping down from a whopping 300 pounds. While his current weight is unknown, I'd say he's sitting at healthy 250.
Known by his teammates as "Stink," Schlereth maintains a low-carb diet to keep the pounds off. After enduring over two dozen surgeries in his career, the three-time Super Bowl champion has famously stated, "I don't know anything other than pain." Luckily for Schlereth, he's maintained his diet and stuck around to see his daughters blossom in to some fine women!
14 Mookie Blaylock
The years have not been kind to the former NBA All-Star. Mookie Blaylock was known for his defensive prowess on the court, making two NBA All-Defensive First-Teams and currently sitting at number eleven on the all-time steals list. He was so popular among fans in the 1990s, that Pearl Jam originally named their band, Mookie Blaylock, but were forced to change it, even though Blaylock remained a fan.
After retirement though, Blaylock struggled with alcohol addiction. In 2013, his wife left him, and he was driving recklessly in Georgia when he struck another car, eventually killing the passenger. Cops determined that Blaylock was sober during the collision, and despite a history of seizures, no evidence is known if he was experiencing one at the time of the crash. Blaylock was sentenced to 15-years for vehicular homicide in 2014, but will only serve four of those years in prison. It's an unfortunate story, but you won't be recognizing him on the street anytime soon.
13 Jeff Bagwell
Another 90s era athlete that you wouldn't recognize today is Houston's former first baseman, Jeff Bagwell. The four-time All-Star spent his entire 15-year career with the Astros, and along with Biggio, Bell, Berry, and later, Berkman, made up the famous "Killer B's."In 1994, Bagwell won the NL MVP, and was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2017, despite rumors surrounding his alleged PED use.
As pictured, you can see that Bagwell used to be a clean-shaven rookie, with nothing but innocence. Through his playing years, he started developing a gnarly goatee, and nowadays, he looks like a cool college professor who drinks with his students. Well, maybe we won't go that far, but at 49 years old, Bagwell isn't getting any younger, and he as definitely changed since his early years.
12 Patrick Ewing
I always knew that Patrick Ewing was hiding something under that flattop, it was that oddly shaped dome! Back in his playing days, Ewing was a perennial All-Star, dominating the paint for the Knicks in the 90s. He sits 25th on the NBA all-time leading rebounder list, and has received countless other accolades.
Now that Ewing is chubby and out of shape (no we aren't being harsh, just look at the picture), he has tried his hand in coaching. After bouncing around the NBA as an assistant since his retirement in 2002, Ewing finally landed his dream job in 2017. The Georgetown Hoyas announced that "The Beast From The East" would be their next head coach, the team that Ewing led to the NCAA title in 1985. Now if only we can do something about that cone head of his!
11 Bernie Williams
I guess the post-retirement life has one big feast for Williams. No, not the metaphorical feast, it looks like Bernie ate half of the Yankees roster. They say the camera adds 10 pounds, let's hope in the former New York outfielder's case, it adds more like 80. We shouldn't be making fun of Bernie though, he already has enough on his plate.
Okay, all jokes aside, Williams was a five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover, and four-time World Series Champion. There is no doubt that he was an integral part of the Yankees dominance in the 90s, but if you just showed me a picture of him today, I guarantee you I would not recognize him. Fortunately, Williams has kept busy by pursuing a music career as a jazz musician.
10 Dennis Rodman
Imagine if you were a Detroit Pistons fan, who went into a coma in 1992, only to wake up and see Dennis Rodman befriending a North Korean dictator. Nowadays, it seems like "The Worm" has wiggled himself into a completely different personality since his early years. Whether it's stories of Madonna forcing Rodman to impregnate her, a brief marriage to Carmen Electra, or even a brief marriage to himself, Rodman's weirdness is on a completely different level.
Now, when we say "weirdness," we don't mean it in a negative way, the guy is just unique. He's struggled with alcohol and depression his whole life, and lived a path that nobody paved. Most recently, he's become good buddies with Kim Jong Un, and hopes to bring peace between the USA and Korea through basketball. Nowadays, tatted and pierced, we just view his odd antics as Rodman being Rodman.
No, no, no, this is not today's Ronaldo, it's the previous generation's Ronaldo, who rose through the ranks in Brazil to be one of the best footballers (for you non-Americans) of all-time. Actually, Bleacher Report has him ranked as the 6th-best player of all-time, while Ranker has him at number eight. With 62 international goals, Ronaldo will always be a legend in Brazil.
Through his career, "O Fenômeno" (The Phenomenon), played with European clubs such as Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and A.C. Milan. He finished up his career in 2011 back in Brazil, but has since put on a significant amount of weight. Former teammate, Michael Owen, even joked on Twitter about recently seeing Ronaldo, saying “I thought I was putting the pounds on until I saw my old mate Ronnie!” The legend did not like that too much, but hey, I'm surprised Owen even recognized him.
8 Alexi Lalas
While soccer is the most popular sport in the world, many Americans fail to recognize it as nothing but European drama queens faking injuries and running around the pitch playing pinball for 90 minutes. But, the 1994 World Cup helped bring soccer to the mainstream in the USA. Not only did the US host the tournament, but they had a standout defender named Alexi Lalas, manning the defense. With his signature flowing locks and six-inch goatee, Lalas became the face of American soccer.
Nowadays, Lalas works as a commentator and analyst for Fox (and previously ESPN). He recently opened up about the USA's failed qualification for the 2018 World Cup, stating they are are bunch of "soft tattooed millionaires." If you saw Lalas on the street today, you would have no clue he used to sport the grunge look.
7 Ozzie Guillen
Many younger fans will only remember Guillen for his time as manager for the White Sox and Marlins, but we can't forget that Guillen played 16 years of major league baseball. The Venezuelan shortstop was known for his great fielding and fiery persona. Never a long ball hitter (only 28 career homers), Guillen used his speed to slap singles on his way to three All-Star games, finishing his career with 1,764 hits.
After his playing career, Ozzie went on to manage the White Sox to the World Series, and moved his talents to South Beach in 2011, where he would be fired the following year. We won't get into all of the crazy antics and sayings Ozzie has provided us with over the years, but you can see the years have taken a toll on Guillen. Several experts believe the MLB should give him another chance, but no one would probably recognize him!
6 Lenny Dykstra
Dykstra, who makes our list at No. 6 of unrecognizable 90s athletes, has not aged like a fine wine, but more like whole milk. In his heyday, the former Silver Slugger played several seasons for the Mets and Phillies, but was forced to retire in 1996 due to some nagging injuries. He finished his career with three All-Star appearances, and a World Series Championship.
After retirement, Dykstra fell into a deep spiral in his life. He made several bad investments, was charged for fraud on occasion, and even was suspected of Grand Theft Auto. The shocking news from all this is that he was outted as steroid user, and used to proxy bet on games he was playing in, a big "no-no" in the MLB. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2012 (where he got his teeth knocked out), but has since put out a memoir, House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge.
5 Nate Newton
Okay, after a few entries where these former athletes are unrecognizable because of their weight gain, it's nice to see an athlete shed some pounds after their playing days. The two-time All-Pro tackle, Nate Newton, made a name for himself on a dominant offensive line down in Dallas. Along with Mark Stepnoski, Larry Allen, and Erik Williams (among others), Newton helped bring the 90's Cowboys O-line to legend status, bringing home three championships in the process.
After retiring in 1999, Newton's little physical activity dwindled, and he balooned up to 400 pounds on a steady diet of french fries and malt liquor. Fortunately for the six-time Pro Bowler, he underwent gastric sleeve surgery in 2010, more specifically a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. He ended up dropping to 220 lbs. in just six months. Newton's health is doing great, and you would never think he was once part of "The Great Wall of Dallas."
4 Paul Gascoigne
Alcoholism is a scary disease. Former England footballer, Paul "Gazza" Gascoigne, was popular back in the 90s, known for his eccentric personality and goal scoring ability. Internationally, he played in 57 caps, and scored 10 goals. For his club career, he bounced around Europe, but eventually retired with Boston United in 2004.
Throughout his career though, Gazza struggled with alchohol addiction. He first sought counseling in 1998, after putting back 32 shots of whiskey in one sitting! Since then, he's relapsed several times, even being placed under watch for attempted suicide. From drunk driving arrests, to several overdoses, Gascoigne's health declined, in which he looked like a ghost the above 2014 pictures. Nowadays, with love and support from his reality star daughter, Bianca Gascoigne, Paul is regaining some of his strength, staying sober, and trying to improve his health. We hope for the best!
3 Tonya Harding
Oh, Tonya! What have you done! Harding really let herself go. We all remember that dreadful attack against Nancy Kerrigan, Harding's teammate and main competitor, back in 1994. Those blood-curdling screams could be heard around the world. Tonya eventually plead guilty to being involved in the Kerrigan incident, and was stripped of her 1994 title.
Harding was banned from figure skating and her career fell flatter than Kurt Browning attempting a triple axel. She dabbled in boxing in the early-2000s, but the stigma of a jealous rival always loomed over he head. n 2017, Margot Robbie played her in the tell-all movie, I, Tonya, portraying he side of the story. Her story shows that behind some cute faces, lies a twisted mind.
2 Diego Maradona
There is nothing more polarizing than a "greatest of all-time" debate. In the NBA, we have both MJ and LBJ, with arguments for both sides. Down in Argentina though, they have the same debate between current footballer, Lionel Messi, and "The Golden Boy," Diego Maradona. During his younger years, Maradona hoisted the World Cup trophy and won the hearts of everyone down in South America. He finished up his career in 1997, yet remained in the game as a coach.
Since retiring, Maradona has blown up! No, not in popularity, he's literally packed on the weight. In 2005, he got gastric bypass surgery to control his obesity. Unfortunately, he still suffers from weight issues, as well as alcohol and substance addictions. To make matters worse, Maradona got a facelift in 2016, making him even more unrecognizable!
1 Sammy Sosa
Unless you have lived under a rock the past few months, you've seen fans go crazy over Sosa's "race-change." The former NL All-Star noted that his skin-lightening is due to a moisturizer he was using, but there is no doubt that he has been bleaching his skin. Why? Some people think it's because of self-hate, but down in the Dominican Republic, and across the Caribbean, it's a huge trend! Reports even have the skin bleaching industry reaching $32 billion by 2024.
The internet has gone off the deep-end with the Sosa's appearance, but if you haven't seen him since his home-run race with McGwire, you wouldn't recognize him at all. The seven-time All-Star is one shade away from Michael Jackson, and only getting lighter. Take some time and check out these savage tweets about Sosa's "race-change"; it's worth a few minutes.
So, how many of these 90s athletes did you recognize? Five? Ten? Maybe all of them?