Playbook shows love for the sports nerds

It really is Revenge of the Nerds.

Movies such as "The Amazing Spider-Man" to key characters in "Skyfall." TV shows such as "The Big Bang Theory" and Jon Cryer's character on "Two and a Half Men." Don't forget the "Harry Potter" phenomenon.

And now sports?

Check out the nerd/geek T-shirts worn by top golfer Rory McIlroy and his girlfriend, top tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, around the holidays.

That says it all.

"It shows that it's OK to be nerdy," said actor Robert Carradine, who is hosting a new reality competition series called "The King of the Nerds" that debuts on TBS tonight. "Athletes are showing they can do a better job relating to people instead of just pounding the crap out of them like before!"

Carradine, who starred in the 1984 movie "Revenge of the Nerds," is joking a bit, but he knows the world has changed. And he credits the nerds for making it happen.

"I attribute it to the success of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to Steve Jobs to Bill Gates," Carradine said. "Remember, having a smartphone and an iPad is slightly nerdish."

Curtis Armstrong, who also starred in "Revenge" and is helping co-host "King of the Nerds," said athletes today can have "nerd tendencies" without being ostracized.

"Today, it's all about toleration. Nerds are being accepted in all walks of life. It's the changing culture," Armstrong said. "Remember, there is an explosion of these fan-based groups where nerds gather. It's no longer a solitary experience."

That sounds a bit like a football stadium.

New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley enjoys being a nerd and sports a onesy everywhere he can get away with it. Yes, that's an outfit normally adorning a baby.

This weekend, Ridley's Patriots are playing the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, and Ridley might be wearing an interesting onesy.

"I'm breaking out the Bill Belichick edition," he said.

Seems like the Patriots have more nerds than most NFL teams, with Belichick, Tom Brady dancing, Wes Welker and a host of others. And Ridley doesn't have a problem with that.

"If being a nerd gets you in the Hall of Fame," he said, "count me in!"


(We take liberties on the definition of a nerd!)


CLAIM TO FAME: He's the defending Sprint Cup Series champion for NASCAR and is only the second driver (joining Bobby Labonte) ever to win a title in Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: He said the love of his life is his smartphone and actually Tweets while on the track. Also, reeking of beer and champagne that was poured on him after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, he went on ESPN's "SportsCenter" for a memorable interview. He was buzzed, and the sports world loved how natural he was.


CLAIM TO FAME: The Texas A&M quarterback returns for his sophomore season after becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. He also led his team to a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: The Sports Pickle website found this wonderful photo. He loves to flash photos of money. He partied with his mom on New Year's Eve.


CLAIM TO FAME: He is a four-time NBA champion, has been an All-Star for 13 years and has been named league MVP twice.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: The future Hall of Famer was nicknamed "Dr. Spock" in college and loved "Dungeons and Dragons." He loved it so much that he has a tattoo of Merlin on his chest and a jester on his back. He also attends the Texas Renaissance Festival, where the 16th century come alive.


CLAIM TO FAME: He is currently the welterweight champion in the UFC and is in the top five fighters in any class in the world.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: He readily admits that he is a nerd. He loves science. He watches the Discovery Channel. He talks about dinosaurs. "That's why most of my friends are not fighters. Most of my friends are nerds like me," he told ESPN.com two years ago. "That's why I have a hard time finding a girlfriend. I need someone to talk science with."


CLAIM TO FAME: The Houston Rockets point guard signed a three-year deal for $25 million last summer and is averaging 12 points and 6 assists this season.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: He went to Harvard. He slept on his former NBA teammates' couch. He did a ridiculous handshake. And who can forget this video on how to get into Harvard?


Rory McIlroy on WhoSay

CLAIM TO FAME: He just signed a five-year contract to represent Nike and is one of the top golfers in the world, and she is competing at the Australian Open and is the former No. 1 player in the world.

WHY WE LOVE THEM: Those T-shirts say it all.


CLAIM TO FAME: The outspoken punter for the Minnesota Vikings has been playing in the NFL since 2005.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: He loves "World of Warcraft" and reached the "Loremaster" achievement. He would play for hours, bringing his laptop on the road. In fact, check out his Twitter name.


CLAIM TO FAME: He plays goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers and has been in the league since 1999.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: He must love science because he talked about the size of the universe in HBO's "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic." He says the solar system is "big."


CLAIM TO FAME: Drafted out of Arizona, he has been named to the Pro Bowl team seven times for the Chicago Bears.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: He has loved comic books since he was young. He oversees a comic-themed social media site, called "Lance's Comic World." And last year he created his first comic book, called "Seraph." "Any comic book reader has a great imagination," he said. "I imagined writing things back when I was a kid in high school, in college."


CLAIM TO FAME: The New England Patriots running back is playing this weekend against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship with a chance to head to the Super Bowl. He had a combined 95 yards in the Pats' victory over the Houston Texans this past weekend.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: He is in love with that aforementioned onesy. In fact, he wore one in a car commercial in Boston. And he loves candy. "I still eat Gushers to this day!" he said.