There have been some tough guys in Houston sports history -- native sons George Foreman, Nolan Ryan, and Roger Clemens (even if you factor in his chemically-aided roid rage) -- all come to mind. Anybody can rattle off a list of ten of those guys -- and we might just do that next week -- but we were thinking today of the least toughest, most unintimidating athletes in Houston sports history, and without further ado, here they are:
10. Ernest Givins, Oilers: We'll give Givins some credit -- he kept on ticking after many a licking. But the fact remains that he was the human punching bag for the Oilers' Run-N-Shoot years, and it didn't surprise us to be able to find, all these years later, a YouTube clip of Givins getting lit the fuck up again and again.
9. Charley Kerfeld, Astros: Kerfeld is listed in the record books as having stood 6'6" and weighing 225 pounds. And then he put his other foot on the scale...At any rate, vast bulk does not equal badassery, as the goofy Kerfeld amply proved in his brief career with the mid-'80s Astros, which found him showing up at the ballpark in pink Chuck Taylors and donning a Conehead mask in the bullpen. Here he is in all his orange rainbow, drunken, man-child glory, finding out that you just can't dump a can of Busch on Nolan Ryan and get away with it.
8. Bill Virdon, Astros. Virdon was the skipper of the Astros first playoff team in 1980, and Billy Martin he was not. In fact, he looked less like a hard-bitten Leo Durocher type than he did MASH's Father Mulcahy.
7. Moochie Norris, Rockets: The pint-sized point guard with the wild 'fro was born to be a bobblehead and is thus easily the least intimidating Rocket point guard ever, outpacing even Ivy Leaguer Matt Maloney by a huge distance.
6. Kaz Matsui, Astros. It's not just that he's always hurt. It's the nature of those injuries, with his anal fissure topping the list.
5. Ralph Sampson, Rockets. Despite his huge size, strength, and agility, Sampson decided at some point that he was not a hard-in-the-paint guy and tried to make his way as finesse-based, Euro-type player. And then he failed to kick Jerry Sichting's ass, despite the fact that Sichting was 18 inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter.
4. Billy "The Whopper" Paultz, Rockets. The NBA's version of Charley Kerfeld, a big, goofy-looking guy packing a few extra pounds. We like the amusingly jaunty music that provides backdrop to this South American-produced clip of Paultz's thunderfooted, sky hook-heavy game:
3. Toni Fritsch, Oilers. Kickers are not badasses as a rule, but few in the history of the NFL have been less intimidating than Fritsch. Even in his Oilers uniform, this roly-poly Austrian somehow appeared to be wearing lederhosen, quaffing a beer, and yodeling.
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2. David Carr, Texans. Another guy who took a lot of abuse, albeit with less-distinguished results than Givins. Carr's on-field wussery set back the cause of California pretty-boy QBs by decades, undoing all of John Elway's hard work for the cause.
Here's Carr testifying about what God has done for him, and how many tough Christians there are in the NFL. That may be, but Carr isn't one of them:
1. Tracy McGrady, Rockets. You would think a guy with a name like Tracy would be tough -- or at least that's what Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" would have us believe -- but McGrady's brittleness, arrogance and petulance has marked him as the queen bitch of the NBA. Anybody who is known as both "She-Mac" and Tracy McLady just has to top this list.