ESPN has narrowed the field to the 25 most outrageous characters in sports of the past 25 years. Of course, the Page 2 staff had to weigh in on the topic ...
Let's ear it for Mike | David Schoenfield
The most outrageous character of the last 25 years?
Easy. Mike Tyson. As far as I know, he's the only human cannibal on the list, and that's good enough for my vote.
The King of outrageousness | Michael Philbrick
I'd have to go with Don King. As far as I know, he's the only one convicted of manslaughter on this list. And the only one to take an age-old international sport and turn it into a cauldron of corruption.
At one time "the sweet science" made legends and heroes out of its champions. That is until Don King turned the whole thing into some plotline from the WWE. Only difference, the wrestlers make up that stuff up. This is real.
Forget about belts and exclusive deals on Showtime. In the fight game today, it seems you haven't truly made it until Don has stolen a few million dollars from you.
Finally, in the seedy world of boxing -- anyone who can strike so much fear as to assure that only the cleanest of his dirty laundry gets exposed? Well, that person gets my vote. And only because I'm afraid if he finds out that I didn't, he'll kill me, too. Only in America!
A pair made for each other | David Schoenfield
Here's the deal with Don King: I think he's perfectly aware of what he's doing. He's smart crazy, you know what I mean. Like Jim McMahon, who knew exactly what he was doing with the headbands and the helicopter mooning and such.
But Tyson. It's not planned with him. I don't think Tyson entered the fight with Holyfield thinking he'd chomping on ear for a little in-fight protein.
Of course, maybe that makes it more sad than outrageous; after all, there is nothing outrageous about rape, either. Maybe outrageousness implies a certain amount of awareness -- that you do know what you're doing and do it anyway.
So I change my vote to George Steinbrenner. Tied with Billy Martin, the manager he hired, fired and re-hired numerous times. Plus, one of them once beat up a fan and another once beat up a marshmallow salesman.
There's something about Tonya | Jeff Merron
I'm not a rah-rah fan of the Olympic ideals of amateurism and fair play and all, but still, there's something about Tonya Harding. She's a perfect anti-role model, someone who you can point to and say, "See, see how she did it? Do the opposite."
The whole pre-Olympic Kerrigan saga was like something out of a 1940s boxing movie; half-wit gangsters and thugs trying to take out a competitor, and creating a situation that made it harder for their girl to win. And then the broken lace, the on-ice histrionics, the wedding night video, the divorce, some fight involving hubcaps, jail time, and the attempt to come back as -- how appropriate! -- a made-for-TV boxer.
Ten years after her famous interview with Connie Chung ("just between me and you ..."), the bizarre thing is that she still keeps popping up, in the news, on cheap TV -- she's a classic D-list celeb of our times. And what makes her truly outrageous is that she's like a real-life comic-book villain, hatching schemes with a stunning regularity, schemes that then backfire in such a predictable fashion.
Dennis the Menace | Kieran Darcy
My vote goes to Dennis Rodman, for his unique blend of on-the-court excellence and off-the-court antics. Whether it was wearing a wedding dress, marrying Carmen Electra or having various run-ins with the law, Rodman could always be counted on for a steady dose of entertainment.
And a guy concerned only with rebounding and defense, who couldn't care less whether he ever got to shoot the ball?
Now that's outrageous. And refreshing.
Captain Outrageous | Michael Knisley
Make mine the man they called Captain Outrageous. Until somebody comes up with a Colonel Outrageous or a General Outrageous, doesn't Ted Turner outrank everybody else? Shouldn't that be the end of this debate? He was, you'll recall, also the "Mouth of the South." He was Steinbrenner when Steinbrenner wasn't cool.
I'll take an owner with the brass to make out his own lineup card -- and do it openly, in uniform, on the bench, in plain view of God and Dale Murphy. I'll take an owner who gave this as a reason for the surprising success of the 1982 Atlanta Braves: "We have no crazies or flakes or drug addicts." I'll take an owner who authorized the sending of the following little ditty to Braves' season-ticket holders in February of 1990:
Rose is a Red.
Morgan's one, too.
They finished first
Like we wanted to.
But last year's behind us
We're happy to say.
Now we're tied for first,
Happy Valentine's Day.
And finally, I'll take an owner who once said, "If I only had a little humility, I'd be perfect."
The finally tally | Graham Hays
Ted Turner is the Dale Murphy of outrageousness; he was terrific in his prime but didn't have the staying power to rank among the all-time greats. Or maybe I'm just too young to appreciate him as more than a guy with a big checkbook and a lot of bison.
It seems like all of these folks are caricatures of themselves and spend a great deal of time working on shocking and annoying the public. Mike Tyson comes the closest to being unintentionally outrageous, and he's just nuts. And if being outrageous really requires a degree of skill, training and practice, then I say give the award to the most blatant practitioner: Don King. Only in America.