Happy Halloween: Scary athletes throughout history
In keeping with the Halloween spirit, here is a list of 10 of the scariest athletes in history, with spooky nicknames to add to the intimidation factor.
Happy almost Halloween! To get into the Halloween spirit, we’ve made a list of some of the scariest athletes in history, who earned their intimidating nicknames. I would not want to get on these people’s bad side.
Dick “Night Train” Lane
NFL cornerback - 14 seasons - 1952-1965 (Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions)
What this man did would definitely not fly today. With a nickname like “Night Train”, you know you’re in for some horrors. Dick “Night Train” Lane even had a move called “Night Train Necktie” (head-and-neck clothesline tackle) in which he would pull players down by the facemask. He famously said “There’s nothing I hate worse than a first down. It means I have to stay out there for three more plays. I grab them around neck so I can get back to the bench and sit me down.” Laziness converting into scariness. Spooky indeed.
“Concrete Charlie” Chuck Bednarik
NFL defensive linebacker and offensive center - 14 seasons - 1949-1962 (Philadelphia Eagles)
Concrete is not something you want to run into, or to have run into you. Also known as the devastating tackler, “Concrete Charlie” is known for his 1960 hit on New York Giants Frank Gifford, which knocked him out of football completely for a year and a half. He was photographed celebrating with an unconscious Gifford lying underneath him. Though he defends that he was celebrating the fumble, I still wouldn’t want to encounter a dude like that. Oh yeah, and he is also the reason the NFL has a rule which penalizes defensive players if they don’t allow an offensive player to get up after he remained atop Green Bay’s Jim Taylor during the 1960 NFL Championship Game.
“The Baddest Woman on the Planet” Ronda Rousey
MMA 2010-2011, UFC 2012-2016, WWE 2014-2019
Ronda Rousey earned her nickname and was seen as one of the most terrifying women in the world in her prime. She became even more feared when she knocked out opponent Alexis Davis at the UFC 175 in a whopping 16 seconds. She was a pioneer of Women’s MMA and holds a title in both UFC and WWE. She would give her opponents an intimidating look before taking the ring and came out to Joan Jett, setting the tone.
“The Smiling Assassin” Steve Atwater
NFL safety - 11 seasons - 1989-199 (Denver Broncos, New York Jets)
Destroyer of running backs and receivers, “The Smiling Assassin” led the Broncos to 129 tackes in his rookie season, showing absolutely no mercy with his hits. He famously sent the Christian Okoye, aka “Nigerian Nightmare” (another intimidating NFL player at 260 pounds) flat on his back. The smiling part might make him seem less intimidating, but actually it’s even scarier, because you’re all the less suspecting, and then BOOM, lights out.
“The Undertaker” Mark William Calaway
I mean honestly, just look at this guy. He’s had several character identities over the years, and all of them were scary and intimidating. Now listen to the names of the moves this man is famous for: The Chokeslam, The Last Ride, Hell’s Gare, and The Tombstone Piledriver. He also did this creepy eye roll to the back of his head.
“Big Oak” / “Oak Tree” Charles Oakley
NBA power forward - 20 seasons - 1985-2004 (Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, and Houston Rockets)
When you hear “enforcer”, you usually think hockey. But Big Oak was just that in basketball. He is a terrifying man who would rile up his opponents and get into regular fights. He was given the name “Oak Tree” for his solid form and rough attitude.
“The Assassin” Jack Tatum
NFL safety - 10 seasons - 1971-1980 (Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers)
Tatum, appropriately named “The Assassin”, brought fear to every wide receiver he came in contact with. You had to pay attention to this man on the field, because if not…you’d pay for it. He was one of the hardest-hitting football players in the NFL. He would hit anyone with the ball so hard that you really didn’t want to get near him. He even, unfortunately, paralyzed New England Patriot Daryl Stingley. Though he felt bad, he basically considered that it was his job to hit hard and stop the play, and that he did.
NFL defensive end - 14 seasons - 1971-1985 (Los Angeles Rams)
Any name with blood in it is a little creepy, right? But this dude…he was 6’4” Ironman. He was tough and he was frightening. He had a mental toughness that most sane people can’t even fathom. He played football with a broken leg for crying out loud. Masochistic? Perhaps a bit. Intimidating? Very. He played in the entire 1979 playoffs AND the Super Bowl with a broken leg.
“The Octopus” Antonio Alfonseca
MLB pitcher - 1997-2007 (Florida Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, and Philadelphia Phillies)
The nickname comes from the fact that he has six fingers on each hand and each foot. It’s a condition known as Postaxial Polydactyly, and it’s actually pretty intimidating to see. It was more of an advantage than a burden for “The Octopus”, also sometimes known as “The Dragonslayer” or very cleverly, “Six-Fingers”. But the scariest thing about this one was when he would come in for a save.
“The Intimidator” Dale Earnhardt
NASCAR stock car driver - 1975-2001
“The Intimidator” was known for his aggressive driving style. He was also sometimes referred to as “The Man in Black” and “Ironhead”, but really “The Intimidator” is the most fitting. He would sooner crash his own car than let his opponents win, and they could sense it. Many of his former competitors said they could sense his confidence and ease, watching him perform tricks that would have sent most others crashing into a wall.
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