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Scary good or just plain scary?
Daily Herald Staff Report

Illinois basketball recruit Brandon Paul of Warren Township High School


Courtesy of and the Paul family

Retired baseball player Jose Canseco


Associated Press

Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano


Associated Press

Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace


Associated Press

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols


Associated Press

U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps


Associated Press

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen


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Published: 10/29/2008 1:08 PM

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With Halloween on Friday, we asked our sports writers to pick the scariest people in sports today. It could be someone who intimidates or is physically imposing. It could be someone whose skills are so good it's frightening. It could be someone you don't want to hit against, or be hit by. It could be someone who has nasty stuff, or is just plain nasty. It could be someone who's hurting the team or ruining the sport, which is scary in itself. Or it could be someone with a move or a shot that can't be stopped.


1. Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys

Scary because his type ruins the game by making it an individual sport. "It's all about me." Can ruin team chemistry all by himself.

2. Ted Washington, retired

A former Bear, he was one of the most unpleasant and menacing athletes to be around. Once accused another reporter of hanging around his locker because he wanted to see him "nekkid." As if a 400-pound tub of goo is an attractive sight.

3. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots coach

He actually thinks, as a football coach, he is an integral part of society and that what he does matters to the world.

Chicago pick: Olin Kreutz, Bears

The Pro Bowl center has broken the jaw of a teammate twice, but he'll take a grenade for his teammates and talk after a tough loss. Don't ask stupid questions, unless you like being embarrassed.

- Bob LeGere


1. Rasheed Wallace, Detroit Pistons

He's always among the league leaders in technical fouls, so he must be scaring referees.

2. Ben Wallace, Cleveland Cavaliers

In these times, what's scarier than bailing out of an expensive investment?

3. David Stern, NBA commissioner

The league laid off dozens of employees, but so far the commissioner hasn't rolled back ticket prices.

Chicago pick: Benny the Bull

He does wear a costume and performs plenty of tricks.

- Mike McGraw


1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

There's nothing the Capitals' winger can't do in the ice - he skates, he scores and he hits. His talent level is truly scary.

2. Charles B. Wang, New York Islanders

This hockey club owner has run a great franchise into the ground. How do you give goalie Rick DiPietro a 15-year contract anyway?

3. Derek Boogaard, Minnesota Wild

The 6-foot-6, 249-pound Minnesota enforcer loves to fight and actually ran a camp teaching guys how to do it better.

Chicago picks: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks

Not only are they scary good on the ice, their contracts expire at the same time after next season. Now that's a frightening prospect for GM Dale Tallon. Can you say $7 million a year? Each.

- Tim Sassone


1. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

Year after year, he's among the leaders in all key categories. He's frighteningly consistent.

2. Scott Boras, super agent

Owners and GMs shudder in fear when Boras talks dollars for his clients. Some pull up the covers and pretend he doesn't exist.

3. Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers

It's like playing with fire. He'll either light the way or burn his own house down.

Chicago pick: Carlos Zambrano, Cubs

His stuff is scary, no-hit scary. But so are his antics. Will he ever grow up?

- Bruce Miles


1. Jose Canseco, retired

He made millions from a book that blew the lid off the steroids scandal. Now, he's upset over causing such a stir. Scary sad.

2. Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians

The left-handed starter is a lock to win the AL Cy Young Award after going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA. In 2007, Lee was 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA and spent time in the minor leagues. Scary good.

3. Detroit Tigers

After landing Edgar Renteria, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in the off-season, they were being fitted for World Series rings. Then they went 74-88 and finished last in the AL Central. Scary bad.

Chicago pick: Ozzie Guillen, White Sox manager

Deep down, he has a heart of gold. But get on his bad side, and it's under the bus you go. Can be scary in English or Spanish.

- Scot Gregor

College/local athletes

1. Juice Williams, Illinois football

His massive orange helmet (a XXL Schutt Pro-Air) can be confused for the Great Pumpkin. But what's scary about Juice is the rare combo of powerful arm (he can throw 80 yards) and physical running style (Big Ten's sixth-leading active rusher with 1,810 yards).

2. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina basketball

College basketball's reigning player of the year freaks everyone out with his boogly eyes. He's a perpetual ode to Cookie Monster. Oh, and he can scarf up the points and rebounds, too.

3. Bruce Weber, Illinois basketball coach

A tape of his everyday speaking voice would be a great soundtrack for a haunted house. And when he's angry? Last season at Purdue, he screamed so loudly at one of his players after a loss that his voice traveled through two thick cement walls.

Chicago pick: Brandon Paul, Warren Township HS

Don't try to take a charge from this high-flying guard, a national top-50 recruit who'll sign with the Illini in two weeks. This kid (see picture) learned the hard way at a holiday tournament last winter.

- Lindsey Willhite


1. Ronaldinho, AC Milan

Knowing his team will have to play the best in the world would make any coach quake over his game plan.

2. Dema Kovalenko, Real Salt Lake

The former Fire midfielder has broken enough legs to make any mob boss happy.

3. Shalrie Joseph, New England Revolution

His crunching tackles make him one of the most feared players, and most successful, in Major League Soccer.

Chicago pick: Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Fire

Even at age 35, he can still embarrass the best of defenders with a simple touch of the ball.

- Orrin Schwarz

Women's sports

1. Pat Summitt, Tennessee women's basketball coach

If you're on the wrong end of those piercing, icy blue eyes, watch out. Summitt is a wonderful ambassador for the sport but is good at intimidating refs, other coaches and even her own players.

2. Serena Williams, tennis

Injuries and her passion for fashion have sometimes sidetracked her, but winning the U.S. Open showed she's still got it.

3. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks

Parker is just 22 years old. She's already won 2 NCAA championships and an Olympic gold medal, and she's dunked on numerous occasions. What's she going to do when she hits her prime? Scary.

Chicago picks: Sylvia Fowles (Sky), Jennie Finch (Bandits)

Any woman who stands legitimately 6-feet-6 and can dunk with ease (Fowles) is a bit scary. And major-league baseball players say Finch's underhanded pitches are scary fast.

- Patricia Babcock McGraw


1. Chinese "women" gymnasts

Yeah, right, some of the medal winners were really at least 16 years old ... and I'm next in line for the British throne. Scary young, but scary good.

2. Michael Phelps, swimming

Eight gold medals? Eight gold medals? Performance in Beijing: Scary great. Performance on SNL: Just plain scary.

3. Usain Bolt, track and field

Two steps out of the blocks, he had the field beat. Six steps later, he was crossing the finish line. Or at least that's how it appeared for the talented sprinter from Jamaica with the 9-foot stride.

Other Olympic picks ...

Opening ceremonies: Scary cool, even if they were partially computer enhanced. Hearing but not seeing the little girl singing in the opening ceremonies: Scary sad and scary wrong. Jimmy Page playing guitar during the closing ceremonies: Scary awesome.

- Mike Spellman

The rest

1. Big Brown

Finally, after decades of waiting, he was going to be the next Triple Crown winner. Then came the mysterious Belmont performance. Then came the controversies. Then, ultimately, came the injuries and forced retirement. Scary unfulfilled potential.

2. Tiger Woods, PGA Tour

I know, I know ... enough already about Tiger. You must admit his numbers this year were beyond scary: 6 starts, 4 wins, including the U.S. Open (on a bum knee), 1 second and nearly $6 million in earnings. Scary to think what he might be like next year.

3. Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR

What, talking NASCAR north of the Mason-Dixon Line? That's right, and who better to talk about than Johnson, who is well on his way to winning his third consecutive series title. Anyone who saw Johnson motor through the field in the final laps last Sunday in Atlanta saw exactly how scary good this guy is.

Chicago picks: Tony Schumacher and Earlie Fires

Top Fuel's top dog, Tony Schumacher of Long Grove, for his scary consistency. He's this close to winning his fifth straight NHRA crown and sixth overall. Jockey Earlie Fires, for his scary longevity and success at Arlington Park and across the country. Fires won consistently for five decades before retiring at 61. Amazing.

- Mike Spellman

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