The 10 Most Badass Nicknames in Sports History : #10 to 5

Some athletes, due to a competetive spirit, tenacious attitude, or general ability to kick the shit out of everyone, earn a nickname that sends shivers down opposing players spines.  This list commemorates some of sports biggest ass-kickers and the names that made them famous.   

10. Stu Grimson aka “The Grim Reaper”

Grimson was one of hockey’s greatest enforcers during the 1990’s, and his imposing frame (6′ 6″ 240 lbs.) demanded immediate respect from anyone stupid enough to get in his way.  The Reaper compiled over 2,000 penalty minutes in his career, and sent many opponents to the ice with a well-timed haymaker.

9. Jack Tatum aka “The Assassin”

Tatum, revered and reviled for dirty play, earned this nickname for his ability to become one of football’s most feared head hunters.  The Assassin anchored a stingy Raiders secondary, and is most remembered for the hit that left WR Darryl Stingley paralyzed from the chest down, in a PRE-SEASON game.  To this day, Tatum refuses to apologize for doing his job.

8. Shaquille O’Neal aka “The Diesel”

Shaq earned this nickname for his ability to dominate the paint and score at will.  Diesel attacking the basket resembles a 60 mph runaway Mack truck, so the name is certainly fitting.  On a side note: If O’Neal is “The Diesel,” then shouldn’t Steve Nash be “The Hybrid?”

7. Ted Williams aka “Teddy Ballgame”

Immortality has been achieved in the highest sense when the sport you helped define is named after YOU.  “Teddy Fucking Ballgame” is light years ahead of the new installment “Donnie Baseball” (Don Mattingly). .400 will live on forever, just like Full House’s “Jesse and the Rippers.”

6. J-Bob Kelly aka “Battleship”

Like Grimson, Kelly was a feared enforcer in the NHL.  Battleship more than adequately earned his name by punching the lights out of opposing goon after goon.  One of the only times I ever saw Kelly get the short end, was against legendary Bruin John Wensink.  Wensink is best remembered for kicking the shit out of a Minnesota North Star player, then their ENTIRE bench

5. Craig Heyward aka “Ironhead”

You knew Steelhead would include this one.  Heyward was a goddamn wrecking ball at Pitt, running over guys so bad you thought you were watching Tecmo Bowl.  His career in the NFL fizzled out after a few mediocre seasons.  My two fondest Ironhead highlights:

1. The Zest body wash commercial that was absolutely fantastic.  I can’t find it, but did find this

2. When “Baconhead” showed up to Bears training camp 50 lbs. overweight.  Dude was already thick to begin with.

Other great sports nicknames with metal in them are Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain,” “Iron” Mike Ditka, and Mike Tyson’s Punchout character Von Kaiser aka “The German Steel Machine.”  Kaiser easily cracks just about any Top 10 video game character list. 


german-steel-machine.gif Von Kaiser 23-13, 10 KO 

“I will teach you a lesson…You will fall down!!!”

“I was a boxing teacher…At the military academy!”

“I give mustache rides for a nickel.”

Click here for #4-1


  1. Comment by Eddie on January 25, 2009 12:39 pm

    “The Diesel” belonged to John Riggins about 30 years before Shaq never even deserved it

  2. Comment by Slide on October 7, 2009 8:51 am

    If Tatum played nowadays, he’d probably be fined and suspended for these kind of hits. The NFL has become such a pussy league. It’s really a shame we’ll never see football played this way again.

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