Sports fans come in all shapes and sizes. Even if you play the sport or not, there is a never-ending spectrum for just how different a sports fan may be. Sports are definitely different for everybody, but when it comes to actually playing sports, I've noticed that often times a person's physical makeup can dictate just what their role would be. Could be for a tactical advantage, or even just trying out something that will hopefully stick, but if you're a big guy there's usually a set scenario for you in a game. There's nothing wrong with this being implemented, but I think there is one thing that most sports fans can all agree on; the big guys need some love and support too.
As a bigger individual myself, I've always enjoyed the pure shock and awe in someone reacting to a particular performance in a game usually being done by smaller players. Run back a kick return for a touchdown? Wonderful. Leading the team in minutes played? Phenomenal. Inside the park home run? Incredible. While these may seem routine for every star athlete, they are that much more impressive for the heavier guys. So this one goes out to anyone that may consider themselves a heavyweight. I'm not saying these guys are out of shape, just giving them the recognition they deserve for inspiring husky fellows like myself.
Let's start off with one of the more obvious choices. David Ortiz was a hero to so many baseball fans. Hell, I think the man could have run for mayor in Boston and he would win in a landslide. This guy earned the nickname Big Papi, as he was the definition of clutch in the postseason for the Red Sox. He was pivotal in the memorable run in 2004, and contributed to two more World Series titles in his career. Never forget the stat line this guy had in his last World Series. What was most ridiculous was him batting .688 against the Cardinals at age 38. The man was an absolute monster.
I may have a little bit of personal bias here, but let me explain. When playing flag football in the summers, I would sometimes line up as a running back purely to be utilized in the same way Bettis was by the Steelers. Mind you, I am nowhere near the skill set of The Bus, but every big guy that lines up for a run play always has that mindset. Bettis was no slouch on the field, racking up over 13,000 rushing yards in his career, including almost 700 in the playoffs. 6 Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl win under his belt, and it's no wonder he is a member of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
Big Buff may have gotten leaner in recent years, but the guy has been a tank for a good while now. Whether he's a bruising defender or a hard-hitting power forward, he is definitely the type of big man you want on your team. The best example of that being his playoff runs with the Blackhawks where he would terrorize goaltenders with his immovable play down low near the crease. Roberto Luongo may be the first person to attest to that. Byfuglien can play both a skilled game as well as some truly physical hockey. While he has been named to the NHL All-Star game on three separate occasions, he has also finished in the top 10 in penalty minutes four times. Without a doubt, Buff was pivotal in Chicago's 2009-10 Stanley Cup victory.
While I may have fallen out of the loop with MMA over the last few years, one name has definitely stuck with me ever since, and that's Mark Hunt. The Super Samoan shows off some incredible striking and the power of his strikes really shows it as well. At 44, he may not have a glorious record at 27-12-1 (more impressively 30-10 in kickboxing), but even so Hunt is still wildly popular the world over. This guy also competed in the unforgettable Pride FC, and has mastered one of the most badass aspects of mixed martial arts; the walk-off KO.
This one was a bit of a homer pick on my part. I became a New York Mets fan as a child, and it just so happened to be the final team Mr. Vaughn played for. Bias aside, Mo had some ridiculous power. While he is most remembered for his days with the Red Sox where he was a three-time All-Star and won the AL MVP in 1995, he's one of those fan favourites that are remembered for hitting absolute bombs. One such instance was when he hit the second longest home run in Mets history at Shea Stadium, a whopping 505 ft. during the awful 2002 season. It's no wonder he earned the nickname 'The Hit Dog'.
'Big Country' Roy Nelson has lived up to that name for an impressive 14 years now, debuting in 2004. Fighting in almost every notable MMA promotion you could think of in North America, it's no surprise that he has found a modicum of success everywhere he has competed. A former heavyweight champion of the old IFL, as well as winning the Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights season back in 2009, he has amassed a decent record of 23-15. But don't let the glorious beard and immaculate mullet fool you, he is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and has proven that his ground game is nothing to scoff at.
Sir Charles put together quite the playing career, winning numerous awards, as well as an Olympic gold, but the one thing that eluded him was an NBA Championship. A great power forward, Barkley had an incredible 16-year career, earning him two separate inductions into the Basketball Hall Of Fame. But even after almost two decades of retirement from active competition, he has gone on to become a fan favourite analyst on TNT’s Inside The NBA, along side fellow big man Shaquille O’Neal. His legacy as a big man was solidified not just by his physical prowess on the court, but by also being given arguably one of the best nicknames a big man can get, being christened as the 'Round Mound of Rebound'.
What I would consider the godfather of the big man in sports. Perry is a cult icon in the sports world, with his running touchdown in Super Bowl 20 being the stuff legends are made of. But when you've got the momentum and size of a locomotive, you are going to scare the living hell out of defenders when you're rumbling through the line. Bonus points for being the last player left standing in a WWF vs NFL battle royal at WrestleMania 2 in 1985. When two of the last three guys to outlast you are Bret Hart and Andre the Giant, you get some respect.
The man has become a worldwide treasure lately. 'Big Sexy' Bartolo Colon has had a long career of varying success, and has managed to become the last remaining player to have been on the roster of the greatly missed Montreal Expos. In what is possibly the most memorable moment of his career, Colon became the oldest player of all time to hit their first career home run. 'Earth's Greatest Athlete' hit it when playing for the Mets in 2016 at the ripe old age of 42.
-Eric 'Butterbean' Esch
Now, I could go on and on, as there is no shortage of professional athletes that embody a sort of every-man presence the big man brings. These are just some of the first names that came to mind. If there was ever a Hall of Fame for heavyweight athletes, some of these guys would definitely be in the running of first-ballot inductees.