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2/06/2008 01:11:00 PM

Five characters who are missed

Bobby Knight
Go ahead, admit it. You're going to miss Bobby Knight.
Matthew Stockman/AFP Getty Images
By John Rolfe, SI.com

It's going to be awful quiet now that Bobby Knight has resigned after almost 42 beet-faced, chair-throwing, ref-baiting, player-choking years as a head coach. Love him or hate him, you couldn't ignore him. Even if you deplored his borderline nuthouse intensity, things certainly won't be quite the same without him around. Here are five more certifiable characters who left a void when they left the spotlight:

1. Mike Tyson: Yeah, he still emerges from time to time, but since his formal retirement from the ring in 2005, he's been little more than a small-time carnival sideshow act. In his days as a relevant fighter, he had the big top to himself with his acts or threats of cannibalism, psychotic rants, divorce from Robin Givens, battles with Don King and stretch in the pokey for rape. It wasn't pretty, to be sure, and it earned Tyson ESPN’s title of Most Outrageous Character in modern sports history, but it was hard to look away. Boxing, while better off without him, isn't as compelling.

2. Dennis Rodman: Like Tyson, he's occasionally seen on commercials, in nightclubs, at the scene of a motorcycle spill, and making the odd comeback attempt. But in his heyday as a wedding-dress-wearing, cameraman-kicking nutjob with a different color hairdo every night, he was a headline-grabbing spectacle. Nothing quite like him now in the NBA.

3. Howard Cosell: If you recall the early days of Monday Night Football, you know Cosell was the definition of nasal, opinionated broadcasting bombast that brought out the masochism in viewers who just had to tune in if only to infuriate themselves. In Woody Allen’s classic comedy Sleeper, there's a scene in which Allen wakes up 200 years in the future and is asked by authorities to explain an old clip of Dracula-lookalike Cosell. "We can't figure out what this is," they say. "We think it was a form of horrible punishment for people who committed crimes."

"Yes, that's exactly what it was," Allen replies.

4. Bob Probert: The NHL is always queasy about over-the-top goons, and few have ever been as wild-eyed or feared as the longtime enforcer for the Red Wings and Blackhawks. Probert's brushes with the law for drug possession (he served time) and DUI only added to his menace. According to legend, he told a Chicago cop, "Just arrest me for the usual" after crashing his motorcycle in 1994. Current NHL enforcers look like choirboys by comparison.

5. George Steinbrenner: He mellowed in his later years and has faded from sight, leaving son Hank to do his best Boss impersonation. But no one will ever top George's almost daily firings of managers and coaches, his stream of fines and suspensions, his disastrous feud with Dave Winfield, or his declaration that, "I'll never have a heart attack. I give them." The Bronx isn't quite the same Zoo without him.

That's our five. Who else do you think has been, or will be, missed -- for better or worse?

posted by SI.com | View comments |


Posted: February 6, 2008 3:36 PM   by Anonymous Mark The Shark
What, no Dale Earnhardt??? Have you been hitting the sauce??? Nascar hasn't been the same since "The Intimadator" left us!
Posted: February 6, 2008 3:45 PM   by Anonymous big ghi
Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez always made golf tournaments fun. I can't believe that Tyson is #1. Missing a convicted rapist?!?!
Posted: February 6, 2008 4:10 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How about Michael Jordan? The NBA has been garbage ever since he left.
Posted: February 6, 2008 4:14 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Thw WWE has not been the same since The Rock left and Eddie Guerrero passed away. Those guys were what personifies the WWE. A guy that left and changed the face of a franchise if not the league is Barry Sanders. Your list is horrible, you should do some serious research before you put your list together, otherwise you might end up on this list as people who are no longer in the business of journalistic writing. And to think, we hardly knew you at all, not even your name ... **sniff**
Posted: February 6, 2008 5:14 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Who I miss is the broadcast team of Pee-Wee Reese and Dizzy Dean. They just announced the game, without a lot of boring asides about nothing and useless stats about everything including the height of the grass on the infield. An added treat was when Diz who burst into "The Wabash Cannonball."
Posted: February 6, 2008 5:19 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Eddie Shack
Posted: February 6, 2008 5:20 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Dave "The Hammer" Schultz
Posted: February 6, 2008 5:26 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Respected Knight and didn't mind Cosell. Other than that, I won't miss any of the clowns you listed. There've been hundreds of "characters" in sports' history more worthy of listing here.
Posted: February 6, 2008 5:40 PM   by Anonymous tbone
Baseball- Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, Bill Lee

Football- Barry Sanders, Jerome Bettis, Lester Hayes

Basketball- Dr. J, Darryl Dawkins, Dwayne Schintzius (for the mullet alone)
Posted: February 6, 2008 5:51 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Wayne Fontes. Even those who annually called for his head, must admit that he was like no other NFL head coach. Truly an original.
Posted: February 7, 2008 6:55 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How about Ali?
Posted: February 7, 2008 9:40 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Only an idiot would miss Tyson and Rodman. How's this:

1 and 2: Woody and Bo
3. Arnold Palmer
4. Jack Lambert
5. Joe Namath
Posted: February 7, 2008 11:59 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I miss Jim Mora for his hysterical post game press conferences as well as the beloved Phil Rizzuto and Harry Carey in the play by play booth.
Posted: February 7, 2008 12:52 PM   by Anonymous beedub
Connors and McEnroe for the competitive spirit they displayed on every point. Federer is certainly terrific but a bit of an automaton. To suggest Trevino though is a bit much, there was nothing merry about the "Merry Mex",just ask Jack or Arnie. Pele and Jean Beliveau not only excelled at their respective sports but displayed a quiet grace that transcended their playing careers. Beliveau regarded himself so humbly he turned down a patronage position in the Canadian senate.
everyone here has been hitting the pipe.....REGGIE WHITE????? one of the greatest atheletes/people of our time.
Posted: February 7, 2008 9:10 PM   by Anonymous dave
Definitely Ernie Harwell. Broadcasts aren't the same without him.
Posted: February 8, 2008 12:12 PM   by Anonymous Bkinzer
What about Harry Carey and his daily mispronunciations of players' names and beery comments from his days broadcasting from the bleachers? I wonder how Harry would pronounce "Fukudome"? I miss him still

Life-long Cubs' Fan...Bill Kinzer
Posted: February 8, 2008 12:45 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Leo Durocher
Posted: February 8, 2008 3:16 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
NASCAR = not a sport
Posted: February 8, 2008 3:25 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
About Probie...true, true. I don't think it's the people we miss so much as the atmosphere. For all the politically correct talk about weaning the NHL off fighting, I believe Bettmann and his cronies over -sanitized the game. It was much more fun when Tiger, Cementhead, and the Hammer prowled. Intimidators kept things honest. I hope we don't have to miss their kind a whole lot longer.

Tie Domi - there's another character who's sorely missed.
Posted: February 8, 2008 3:27 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Dave "the Hammer" Schultz...
Dave "Tiger" Williams...
Dave "Cementhead" Semenko...
...what is it about hockey players named Dave?
Posted: February 8, 2008 3:33 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Jack Buck and Harry Caray, the yin and yang of broadcasting. Each a catalyst for the other. Didn't get along yet brought out the best in each other. Neither was as good alone.
Posted: February 9, 2008 12:56 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Who would have guessed- Bob Knight as SI's #1? Your favorite whipping boy? I don't know if our magazine can keep going now that Knight retired. How else are you going to keep your holier-than-thou "journalist" employed?
Posted: February 10, 2008 9:35 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
In the late '70's, Ted Turner seemed to be everywhere, including the America's Cup Yacht races. His antics (and victory) earned him the nickname "Captain Outrageous".
Posted: February 11, 2008 11:01 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
As far as the injuries go does anyone remember whenever Dave Dravecky's arm snapped when going through his delivery? I remember Roger Craig saying that he heard it over the crowd from the dugout.
Posted: February 16, 2008 6:26 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Muhammed Ali
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