Athletes are preternaturally competitive beings.
During the heat of competition, the passion that courses through combatants can sometimes take a turn into uglier territory.
The brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier back on December 10 demonstrated an example of athletes allowing their pride and passion to overcome common sense and respect for the game, their organizations, their teammates and obviously, their opponents.
Nine days later, Arizona State and Southern Miss had a skirmish between players on court – including a punch thrown – as a result of a battle for a rebound.
Sometimes, however, athletes and sports figures fight for the same reasons that anyone else fights – someone pissed them off or they don’t like someone. Plenty of bad blood exists between players, coaches, commissioners and even officials, and while it doesn’t always end in fisticuffs, it can be very entertaining when it does.
Although it’s not very “Tebow” of me, I will admit that I treat fights – especially those between wealthy, famous people – like a car crash; I just can’t look away.
Here are some sports feuds that deserve to have a resolution, and I think that the most fascinating way for that resolution to come about is a pay-per-view style mixed martial arts event featuring all of the sports figures who despise each other. In my dream fight scenario there would be a referee so that things would remain safe (for example, we wouldn’t want an enraged James Harrison to actually tear Roger Goodell’s head off were they to wage war in the octagon) and standard UFC non-title fight rules would apply (three 5-minute rounds).
Here are some battles I would definitely pay to see:
Yancy Gates vs. Kenny Frease (the rematch)
- Height: Gates – 6-9 / Frease – 7-0
- Weight: Gates – 260 / Frease – 275
- Age: Gates – 22 / Frease – 22 (Gates is 3 days older)
Since Gates landed sort of a sucker punch the first time, I’d like to see him face off against Frease again.
Both of these guys are huge, but Frease is truly a behemoth. Gates obviously has knockout power, however, as we saw during the infamous brawl on December 10. It would be interesting to see if he can go all LeGarrette Blount on Frease without the distraction of a benches-clearing brawl interfering.
Rex Ryan vs. Brandon Jacobs
- Height: Ryan – 6-3 / Jacobs – 6-4
- Weight: Ryan – A LOT / Jacobs – 264
- Age: Ryan – 49 / Jacobs – 29
Following the Giants’ 29-14 thrashing of Ryan’s Jets on Christmas Eve, Brandon Jacobs had some words for Ryan.
Of course Ryan is no stranger to trash talking, whether it be about football or fighting. He famously taunted former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder in the media, and he is known for his boastful declarations about the Jets’ on-field prospects.
Jacobs may be much younger, but I have a feeling that Rex’s mouth has gotten him into plenty of brawls before, and he seems like a pretty confident fella.
Nyjer Morgan vs. Chris Carpenter
- Height: Morgan – 6-0 / Carpenter – 6-6
- Weight: Morgan – 175 / Carpenter – 230
- Age: Morgan – 31 / Carpenter – 36
T-Plush and Carpenter had a dust-up back in September as the NL Central race was heating up. Plenty of trash talking from Morgan and Carpenter ensued, and since-departed Cardinals Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa even got involved.
Morgan and his flamboyant alter-ego Tony Plush did little to squelch the flames of the rivalry, taunting the Cardinals by bragging over the Brewers’ standing atop the division, but the Cards ended up with the last laugh by improbably winning the World Series a few weeks later.
Baseball feuds can run for years, so it will be interesting to see if 2012 delivers another chapter in this feud. For now I can only wish for a score-settling face off between the smaller, quicker Morgan, and the towering Carpenter.
Kyle Busch vs. Kevin Harvick
- Height: Busch – 6-1 / Harvick – 5-10
- Weight: Busch – 160 / Harvick – 175
- Age: Busch – 26 / Harvick – 36
When NASCAR VP of competition Robin Pemberton issued the statement “Boys, have at it” in 2010, fans of old-school contact racing and the fisticuffs that sometimes follow were elated.
In May 2011 at Darlington, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick’s growing feud came to a head, with Harvick throwing a punch at Busch after what he deemed over-zealous driving by Kyle. Later, Harvick’s car owner, Richard Childress, reportedly tried to physically fight Busch as well.
Harvick is known as an instigator, and over the past few years he has been involved in incidents and trash-talking with Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Busch and others. But given how close Harvick and Busch always seem to run, the potential for an explosive fight is always present.
Shaquille O’Neal vs. Kobe Bryant
- Height: Shaq – 7-1 / Kobe – 6-6
- Weight: Shaq – 325 / Kobe – 205
- Age: Shaq – 39 / Kobe – 33
What can I say about this feud that hasn’t already been said?
Shaq and Kobe feuded publicly for years, and even though they have played nice on camera in recent years, there is no doubt that some lingering animosity is shared by both. Their sparring was so prevalent that there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the feud.
I would imagine Shaq would be a difficult guy to beat up no matter who you are, but if anyone has the tenacity and killer instinct to do so, it is Kobe. To see Shaq come into the octagon joking and playing around, maybe rapping “Kobe tell me how my ass tastes,” only to see Kobe enter with that scowl of his would be magical.
Would’s O’Neal’s “Shaq-Fu” be enough to take down the “Black Mamba?” We’ll probably never know, but I would pay a decent chunk of money to know for sure.
Roger Goodell vs. James Harrison
- Height: Goodell – 6-0 (est.) / Harrison – 6-0
- Weight: Goodell – unknown / Harrison – 242
- Age: Goodell – 52 / Harrison – 33
I hinted at it in the opening, but this fight would definitely need to be governed by strict UFC-style rules.
The size differential isn’t alarming, but one would have to figure that Harrison is the stronger man. Still, l can’t help wishing that the NFL head honcho, who also performs duties of judge, jury, and executioner in all things disciplinary for the league, would agree to physically brawl with his most troublesome employee.
And who knows? Maybe Goodell is some sort of secret martial artist, and his whole reign of tyranny over the NFL is unimpeded because most players, coaches, and executives are terrified of him. If that is the case (and I certainly hope it is), then I would love to see him go at it with this guy:
Mike Piazza vs. Roger Clemens
- Height: Piazza – 6-3 / Clemens – 6-4
- Weight: Piazza – 200 / Clemens – 205
- Age: Piazza – 43 / Clemens – 49
No catcher ever hit for power like Mike Piazza, and few pitchers during the era spanning the 1980s-2000s instilled as much fear in opposing hitters as Roger Clemens.
The two became enemies when Clemens drilled Piazza in the head with a pitch in an interleague game in 2000. Later that year, in the 2000 “Subway” World Series, Piazza broke his bat while hitting a grounder off of Clemens, and in a bizarre sequence, Clemens picked up the splintered bat and threw it back in the direction of Piazza, who had begun running the bases.
Four years later, Piazza caught for Clemens during the first inning on the All-Star game, and Clemens allowed six runs. It was alleged that Piazza was tipping Clemens’ pitches to American League batters as a way of retaliating for the previous incidents.
I would like to see these two settle their old score, and just in case, I’ll allow PEDs for these two fighters only. You know, just for old times’ sake.
Jim Harbaugh vs. Jim Schwartz
- Height: Harbaugh – 6-3 / Schwartz – 6-0 (est.)
- Weight: Harbaugh – 215 / Schwartz – unknown
- Age: Harbaugh – 48 / Schwartz – 45
Back in October, head coaches and Jims Harbaugh (49ers) and Schwartz (Lions) got into a bit of a scuffle following the 49ers win in Detroit.
Harbaugh’s exuberance in the aftermath led to some (probably) over-enthusiastic celebrating and a pretty firm handshake with Schwartz. Schwartz, obviously upset about losing the game, became enraged by the handshake, and chased Harbaugh down, yelling at him all the way. Schwartz had to be restrained by players and team personnel.
Since these two teams could meet again in the postseason, we can only hope for more fireworks, but what I truly hope for is being able to watch them compete in an actual fight.
Tim Duncan vs. Joey Crawford
- Height: Duncan – 6-11 / Crawford – 5-8 (est.)
- Weight: Duncan – 255 / Crawford – unknown
- Age: Duncan – 35 / Crawford – 60
Duncan and Crawford have some history, most notably in 2007 when Crawford ejected Duncan for laughing at a call from the bench. As ridiculous as the ejection was, things became even more strange when the typically reserved Duncan said Crawford challenged him to a fight, and different accounts reported that the two exchanged profanities. Crawford was suspended for the remainder of the season and the playoffs (breaking a 21-year streak of working NBA Finals games), and Duncan was also fined.
As any avid NBA fan knows, Crawford is a particularly animated referee, and he has been criticized (by me and others) for being too showy while making calls and for being contentious with players.
I would like to see this fight for a number of reasons, chief among them the hilarious spectacle that the age and size differentials would create and the fact that Crawford deserves some comeuppance for his antics over the years.
Reggie Bush vs. Miles Austin vs. Kris Humphries with Special Guest Referee Ray J.
- Height: Bush – 6-0 / Austin – 6-2 / Humphries – 6-9
- Weight: Bush – 203 / Austin -215 / Humphries – 235
- Age: Bush – 26 / Austin – 27 / Humphries – 26
As far as I know, none of these guys has any problem with the others. But the fact is that they are all jilted exes of one Kim Kardashian. So what would be more fun than a three-way dance in which the winner gets to reclaim Kim’s heart?
Since Ray J. is the co-star of a certain X-rated home video that broke Kim’s career, he can officiate the brawl. Given the Kardashian clan’s penchant for cashing in on ill-advised television programs, this would seem to be right up their alley. Of course, given the success that Bush, Austin and Humphries have experienced, they might not be too excited about this.
This one might have to wait until they are all retired.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao
- Height: Mayweather – 5-8 / Pacquiao – 5-6.5
- Weight: Mayweather – varies / Pacquiao – varies
- Age: Mayweather – 34 / Pacquiao – 33
While we’re on the subject of dream fights that will probably never happen, we might as well throw in the boxing superfight that everyone seems to want except the two guys who would be fighting.
Pac-Man v Mayweather has been speculated about for years, but as of now there are no indications that they will fight any time soon. I would surely pay for this fight, as I’m sure millions of other sports fans would, so hopefully they find a way to make it happen before the two fighters get much older and have their substantial skills deteriorate.
What sports figures would you like to see fight each other? List them in the comments below!