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They've got personality

Jets coach Rex Ryan has a big mouth. He talks a lot, brags a lot, jokes a lot. Some say he's full of hot air. What do we say? We love Rex! Where's the fun in the same, old boring quotes and tired cliches? At least Ryan has personality, a little charisma. Think of Muhammad Ali. He floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee and talked faster than an auctioneer. He was the greatest. He told us so. Today's 2C is dedicated to those who have followed in Ali's footsteps and made sports what they are — fun. Here's a look at our favorite, most charismatic, most entertaining personalities in the sports world right now.

Rex Ryan

Many want to criticize the Jets coach for his swagger and tough talk. But be honest, who would you rather listen to, Ryan or Patriots coach Bill Belichick? Besides, Ryan's trash talk is playful stuff, and he takes as many shots at himself as the other guy. When the game is over, he flashes a smile and essentially says he was just clowning around. He showed an impressive display of profanity skills during the HBO series Hard Knocks. But before you criticize, know this: His players love him. Look at it this way: NFL games are played once a week. We need something to keep us interested during the other six days. Ryan keeps us interested.

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq is one of the best basketball players of all time, but what we love about him is he doesn't take himself too seriously. He is extremely fan friendly, often giving away tickets and gear through Twitter. He'll tell fans to show up at a certain spot at a certain time, and he will appear, handing out T-shirts. Once, he tweeted that in one hour, he was going to be in Boston's Harvard Square to pose for photos with anyone who showed up. Sure enough, an hour later, O'Neal arrived and stood like a statue while fans climbed on him and had their pictures taken. How cool is that? And we like how he has a new nickname — Shaq Fu, Big Diesel, The Big Aristotle, The Big Daddy, The Big Shamrock — every week.

Ted Leonsis

When you have a few free moments, do yourself a favor and check out the blog of the Capitals and Wizards owner. Ted's Take, found at TedsTake.com, is constantly updated (sometimes as often as five times a day) with Leonsis' quick thoughts of the moment. It can be movies, the Internet (he's a former president of American Online), politics or music. But it's mostly his way of talking to the fans about his teams. One recent post about the Capitals read, "I hear it when you boo. I read your e-mails. I empathize. I understand. But still we have 57 points to date and we are fifth in the East and tied for first in the division. It could be worse. It should be better. But enjoy a win. Thank you.'' Another about the Capitals was brutally honest: "To be frank, our youngest and first-year players are our best players right now. It is odd to see our core players being so unproductive.'' What other owner communicates to the fans like that?

Charles Barkley

The former NBA star has turned into a superstar broadcaster because of how unaffected he is on the air. You get the feeling he doesn't even realize the cameras are turned on or he's even on television. He doesn't have a shtick. There's nothing fake or premeditated about his style. He just talks. Along the way, he really doesn't always care about grammar or the censors or whom he offends. That's why we love him so much. He has no agenda other than telling people what he honestly believes. Plus, for as carefree as he is, he actually makes sensible points and does it in a funny manner. Heck, he's one of our favorites just because when he says "terrible," it comes out as "tuuurible.''

Floyd Mayweather

If you're going to talk trash, you have to do two things: back it up and be funny. No one backs it up better than Mayweather, who has never lost in 41 professional fights. And this is funny: Before fighting Ricky Hatton in 2007, "Pretty Boy" Floyd said, "When I retire, I'll get Ricky Hatton to wash my clothes and cut my lawn and buckle my shoes. Ricky Hatton ain't nothing but a fat man. I'm going to punch him in his beer belly. He ain't good enough to be my sparring partner." Not only is that hilarious, Mayweather knocked out Hatton in the 10th round. But then he showed class after the fight by calling Hatton one of the toughest fighters he ever faced. We'd like Mayweather even more if he would get into the ring with Manny Pacquiao, but he's still our favorite trash-talker.

Don Cherry

The legendary analyst of Hockey Night in Canada might be the most politically incorrect sports broadcaster of all time. It's a small miracle he has managed to keep his job for 30 years at Hockey Night. Cherry, 75, has lobbed verbal bombs at French Canadians, Europeans, Americans and anyone he doesn't deem a manly man. In Cherry's mind, the media is made up of a bunch of "liberal pinkos," and anyone who disagrees with him, especially about fighting in hockey, is just plain wrong. He believes in three things: God, Canada and Bobby Orr. Sooner or later, every person watching him will be offended by something he says. But if you get beyond the blustery personality and wild suits, you will find two things: He is highly entertaining, and he is an old softie. Each week on his must-see "Coaches' Corner'' segment, Cherry chokes up talking about a Canadian solider killed overseas or a young child battling some life-threatening disease. At those moments, you realize what a treasure he is.

Chad Ochocinco

The dude changed his name to a number … in Spanish … and it's not even the proper Spanish word for 85. The Bengals receiver has taken trash talk to another, more imaginative level. He once posted on the wall outside the visitors locker room a new NFL policy that made it illegal for him to be covered one on one. The policy was put in place "for the safety of embarrassment to all defensive backs.'' Another time, he sent a case of Maalox to a defensive back because he knew the opponent had an upset stomach worrying about covering Ochocinco. Another time, he sent deodorant to a team's secondary because it stunk. You have to admit, that's better than, "Your mother wears Army boots!''

Brian Wilson

Can we admit something? The Giants closer frightens us a little bit. He is baseball's version of Christopher Walken (right). We're not sure if he is being funny or the men in the white coats are about to haul him off to the mental hospital. Those who have seen his sidekick, The Machine — the leather-hooded, chain-wearing man who resembles The Gimp from Pulp Fiction — know what we're talking about. That might be the most bizarre thing we've ever seen from an athlete. It's either really funny or really scary. Throw in the Mohawk haircut, long, dyed beard and the fact he was the lights-out closer for the world champions, and you have one of the most mesmerizing figures in sports. Just don't let him get too close to us.

Brian Wilson

Can we admit something? The Giants closer frightens us a little bit. He is baseball's version of Christopher Walken. We're not sure if he is being funny or the men in the white coats are about to haul him off to the mental hospital. Those who have seen his sidekick, the Machine — the leather-hooded, chain-wearing man who resembles The Gimp from Pulp Fiction — know what we're talking about. That might be the most bizarre thing we've ever seen from an athlete. It's either really funny or really scary. Throw in the Mohawk haircut, long, dyed beard and the fact he was the lights-out closer for the world champions, and you have one of the most mesmerizing figures in sports. Just don't let him get too close to us.

They've got personality 01/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 9:37pm]
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