Sean Pendergast

Six Houston Athletes You'd Least Like to Encounter During Road Rage

Brian Cushing is someone you would not want to make angry.
Brian Cushing is someone you would not want to make angry. Photo by Eric Sauseda
One of the detrimental side effects of the strange world we've been living in over the last couple years is that people have much shorter metaphorical fuses. We are a more uptight society, ready to rumble at the drop of a hat. I saw a statistic recently where it indicated passenger conduct issues on flights have practically quadrupled. People are tense, man!

I don't know if it's the pandemic, or if it's the economy, or if it's social media causing all this, but people are just way more testy, and it spills over into our conduct on the roadways. Road rage is a real thing, and you need to be careful on those Houston streets, as Texans right tackle Tytus Howard recently learned:
Now, I'm glad this ended without incident for Howard. He just recently had his fifth year option on his contract exercised, and was therefore guaranteed another $13.4 million in future income. Howard is entering the prime of his career, and something senseless happening in a road rage incident would have been a real travesty, considering he has a family to take care of.

To be clear, unless a firearm was involved, I am taking Howard as my pick in a fight against "random, angry, car driving civilian" every day of the week. Howard is well over 300 pounds, and he is a professional athlete. Chances are "random civilian" works in a cubicle, and was just leaving McDonald's. That said, Howard is one of the more pleasant and affable professional athletes you'll ever meet. He is a very nice guy, more  likely to quell a road rage incident than start one.

Historically, though, there are former Houston athletes that would make me wet my pants the second I got out of the car to confront them in a road rage incident. Without further ado, here are six athletes that I would be terrified to confront on the shoulder of any Houston roadway:

VERNON MAXWELL, former Houston Rocket
They called him "Mad Max" for a reason. Vernon Maxwell was a hell of a basketball player, but he was probably best known for his temper, with the height of the "hand to hand combat" portion of his career coming on February 7, 1995 in Portland, Oregon. That was the night that Maxwell went into the crowd and broke the jaw of a fan named Steve George, who'd been making tasteless remarks about Maxwell's wife having a miscarriage:
Maxwell received a 10 game suspension, and a then record $20,000 fine. He also cemented his legacy as someone who was not to be messed with in any way, shape, or form.

RON ARTEST, former Houston Rocket
Artest was only a Rocket for one season, in 2008-2009, but he was very popular in that one season, a season that was derailed by injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. By the time Artest got to Houston, he was a more mature, calm human being than he was earlier in his career, but there was a time when Artest was at the center of the greatest melee in NBA history, the "Malice at the Palace" in November 2004, during a game between Artest's Pacers and the Pistons.

Artest would go on to change his name to Metta World Peace in 2011, but there was a time where he was not very peaceful at all.

AKEEM OLAJUWON (i.e. the young version before he went to Mecca, found inner peace, and changed his name to “Hakeem”)
Because he is such a dignified, almost bubbly, gentleman, people forget that Olajuwon had a wicked temper when he was a young player. Back when he went by "Akeem," THAT version of Olajuwon would just as soon tear your head off as he would dunk on top of you. Observe the belligerence of the great one:
Poor Billy Paultz.

BRIAN CUSHING, former Texans linebacker
Brian Cushing cam range anywhere from ruthless bully, to legit psycho bad ass: He also violated the league's steroid policy twice. Just stay away from him.

ANDRE JOHNSON, former Texans wide receiver
Two words — Cortland Finnegan.....

NOLAN RYAN, Astros legend and Hall of Fame pitcher
Two words — Robin Ventura.....
So, I type all this to say "Let's be safe out there, people. I don't want to lose you as a reader or lose you as a fellow Houstonian."

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast