Top 15 Bad Boys in Sports History

There have been many bad boys in the world of sports. The competitive nature of sports in general seems to bring out the worst of some competitors who feed on anger or negativity to raise their level of play. To many of these athletes, the fuel of negative thoughts can make the difference between being good or being great. Unfortunately, there can be moments when anger can spiral out of control. It is during these moments that nasty, aggressive and intimidating players become "bad boys".

To some athletes, being bad might have translated into penalty minutes or technical fouls, while others went to the extreme of throwing punches, kicks or stomping opponents who were on the ground. These acts of despicable behavior and overzealous play were often emotional outbursts gone awry, but ultimately they served a purpose to intimidate opponents and even officials during a game. Kermit Washington was labeled a bad boy for throwing one punch, while Bob Probert had to throw hundreds of punches to make this list. John McEnroe would argue, rant, and go ballistic to let umpires know he didn't appreciate their calls, while Rasheed Wallace only needed to give a few choice words and a signature glare. Alex Karras was a master at intimidation, but he was even so bad that he once took it out on his own coach.

The following 15 bad boys are the nastiest, most careless and argumentative players in their respective sports. It takes lots of cockiness and mettle to be this bad, but that's also what made many of these players so great at playing sports.

15 Kermit Washington


Kermit Washington might have been lacking in talent, but he used grit and determination to make up for his lack of offensive skills. He was big and quite muscular, using his size and strength to be a rebounding machine. He was also known for being a physical presence on the court, and the perfect complement to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his early years with the Lakers. Washington played in one All-Star game and averaged 9.2 points and 8.3 rebounds throughout his career.

14 Lyle Alzado


Lyle Alzado was a fierce competitor who used intimidation and a nasty disposition to gain an advantage over the offensive tackles that he had to face. Alzado stepped in as a rookie in 1971 and immediately made an impact with the Denver Broncos by finishing with 60 tackles and 8 sacks. Although Alzado was well known for being nasty and mean, he was also talented enough to earn two trips to the Pro Bowl and was All-NFC four times. A

13 Rasheed Wallace


It is almost unfair for Rasheed Wallace to make this list, because his reputation was much worse than his bite. Wallace was a solid player, averaging 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in his 16-year NBA career. He was good enough to land on four NBA All-Star teams and did win a championship with Detroit in 2004. Despite his success on the court, Wallace was better known for his short fuse that often led to technical fouls and even ejections when he couldn't calm down. He once had 41 technical fouls over a span of 80 games, and finished his career with an NBA best 317 inglorious infractions.

12 Brock Lesnar


There is something about Brock Lesnar that simply makes him bad to the bone. Maybe it's his determination and the way he responds when people tell him there is something that he can't do. It could also be his huge size and strength, coupled with his inability to keep a smile planted on his face. Lesnar was an NCAA Heavyweight champion at Minnesota, using his wrestling skills to sign with the WWE. He became the WWE Champion in 2002, eventually departing to pursue a career in the NFL two years later. That never materialized, but Lesnar did take a stab at MMA and became the UFC Heavyweight Champion in 2008.

11 Bob Probert


Although hockey has forever had its share of fights, Bob Probert managed to get involved in 283 of them throughout his career. The 230 pound enforcer amassed 3,300 penalty minutes playing for both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, racking up 398 minutes in the 1987-88 season alone. He was half of the "Bruise Brothers" on the Detroit Red Wings, teaming with Joey Kocur to form one of the most formidable fighting tandems in league history.

Probert ended up scoring 163 goals and 384 points in his NHL career, but his offensive output was only a minor part of his game. Probert was a nasty boy who helped keep other players clean, but what really made him trouble was the fact that he was such a good fighter who had no problem showing just how bad he could be on the ice.

10 Jack Tatum


Jack Tatum was one bad dude out on a football field with the reckless way he played. He was so bad that he was nicknamed "The Assassin" for the way he went out of his way to deliver a big hit. Tatum roamed the Oakland Raiders secondary with the intent to let every receiver and ball carrier be perfectly aware that he was there. He went to three Pro Bowls and was a Super Bowl champion too, but his game was centered around intimidation and fear.

9 Bill Laimbeer


In many ways, Bill Laimbeer probably was given a bad rap that overshadowed his many accomplishments and contributions to his sport. Laimbeer was a rich kid from Palos Verdes High School outside of L.A. and yet on the basketball court, he played like he was on a prison team. There was no foul or deed that Laimbeer would shy away from. He loved to set picks, thoroughly enjoyed trying to take a charge and was unparalleled at making sure a foul did not yield a three-point play.

8 John McEnroe

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

It might seem a little odd to have a tennis player make this list, but John McEnroe was far from being an average tennis player. McEnroe was good enough to win seven singles Grand Slam events as well as nine doubles Grand Slam events and the French Open in mixed doubles. He also won over 80% of his matches in singles and doubles and even had a ridiculous record of 82-3 in 1984, one of the best seasons ever in the Open era.

7 Mike Tyson


Mike Tyson was one bad man who was so wickedly bad that few could even stay in the ring with him past the first round. Tyson was so good that he won his first 19 fights by knockout, with 12 of them coming in the first round. He had superior quickness for a heavyweight with a signature defensive crouch and a fierce knockout punch. He was intimidating and mean, making his appearance into the ring without a robe with muscles flexing for all to see.

6 Bill Romanowski


There were many tough football players who were bad enough to make this list, but Bill Romanowski was borderline psychotic as well. "Romo" once kicked a player in the head, broke the jaw of Kerry Collins in an infamous helmet to helmet hit two years later, spat in J.J. Stokes' face after being taunted, and even took a swing at the all-world tight end Tony Gonzalez during a game. He even punched a teammate, Marcus Williams, in the eye socket, leading to a lawsuit and further disgrace.

5 Ndamukong Suh

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There is something that happens to Ndamukong Suh when he steps out on a football field. The rather calm and composed man simply can't contain himself between the white lines. Although Suh is probably the best defensive tackle in the league today, he is also the NFL leader in fines drawn from inappropriate conduct on the field. Suh has been to four Pro Bowls and has been All-Pro four times as well, racking up 36 quarterback sacks, 15 pass deflections, and 239 tackles, in his five-year NFL career. He certainly has the ability and talent to dominate in games.

4 Dennis Rodman


Dennis Rodman was extremely talented and competitive, but his disruptive behavior on and off the court ultimately made him bad. Rodman was nicknamed "The Worm" in part due to his ability to crash the boards at both ends of the court as well as his ability to get under an opponents skin on the defensive end. He was a five time NBA champion, two time All-Star and a member of the first team NBA All-Defensive team seven times. He also led the NBA in rebounding seven times throughout his career.

3 Conrad Dobler


2 Dave "Tiger" Williams


1 Alex Karras


Alex Karras was easily the baddest player of his time.  Due in large part to the way the game of football was played at that time, he lands at the top of this list. He was talented and yet extremely intimidating in the trenches. Ndamakong Suh's stomps to the head and groin and Bill Romanowski's rage were all child's play compared to the way Karras played. He might have been nasty and mean, but he did have enough talent to earn the Outland Trophy in college, while at Iowa, and four Pro Bowl selections as a member of the Detroit Lions. Karras was also tough, missing only one game due to injuries in his 12 NFL seasons.

Despite being so good, Karras was the epitome of bad. He once had a physical altercation with his coach in college, while also investing in a bar that was known to have gambling and ties to organized crime when he first entered the pros. He always did his best to be disruptive to the league and his own coaches, but to players he was simply bad.

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Top 15 Bad Boys in Sports History