Marvel’s “Deadpool” opens in theaters today and at long last comic book fans will see the famous Merc with a Mouth dishing out graphic punishment, foul-mouthed one-liners, and fourth wall-breaking quips on the silver screen. It’s safe to say the R-rated movie starring Ryan Reynolds will carve out its own spot among the ever-growing and immensely popular offerings from Marvel Studios.
For those who aren’t familiar with Deadpool, he is a trash-talking, chimichanga-eating anithero who made his first appearance in February 1991. The creation of comic book artist (and die-hard UCLA Bruin supporter) Robert Liefeld, Deadpool possesses an accelerated healing factor, which comes in handy in his line of work. In other words, no matter how much punishment he takes, he cannot be ‘unalived’ in any capacity.
But this mercenary and assassin by trade is not all work and no fun, as Deadpool is better known for running his mouth. To put it succinctly, he never stops talking, as evidenced by his propensity to have ongoing conversations with the readers themselves, also known as breaking the fourth wall.
Trash talking is certainly not a new development when it comes to professional sports, so in the spirit of Deadpool finally being unleashed on the silver screen here are 10 athletes who can hold their own when compared to the Merc with a Mouth. When it came to whittling this list down to just 10 the criteria was pretty straightforward: the athlete had to be as deadly with their skills as they were with their mouths. Remember, no one cares what you have to say if you don’t win.
— Written by Josh Webb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @FightOnTwist.
Disclaimer: My personal knowledge of Deadpool has been refined over the years by my friend David “Soupcup” Rodriguez. Soupcup is a walking Deadpool encyclopedia. Thanks for fact-checking my comic references, David.
10. Conor McGregor, UFC featherweight champion
Not everyone is a fan of combat sports, but any list of Deadpool-like athletes had best include one or two people capable of k-word’ing a few dudes in combat and then running their mouth after. Nobody does that better than McGregor. Undefeated, the champion of one weight class, and fighting for the title in another, McGregor already has developed a huge following for his ability to run his mouth as dominantly as he runs his sport.
9. John McEnroe, tennis legend
McEnroe may the least recognizable name on this list to younger readers, but anyone over the age of born yesterday should remember his antics. Few athletes ran their mouths as publicly or as abrasively as McEnroe. More than that, he did so in a sport that was largely governed by “proper” authorities and he was a thorn in their side from day one. But he was also one of the greatest players of a generation, and possibly all-time. More than his amazing volleying skills, McEnroe was an elite trash-talker and never shied away from a great argument involving insults.
8. Tony Stewart, NASCAR driver
This might be another unfamiliar name to non-racing fans, but anyone who has watched a decent amount of racing in the past decade or so will be familiar with the antics of Stewart. He has gone into the stands after fans, had incidents with photographers at races, and had run-ins with just about every driver in the industry. The only driver in history to win an IndyCar and NASCAR title, Stewart is one of the most accomplished and troubled drivers of his era. If there’s a way to have a confrontation with someone or something in sports, Stewart likely tried it and likely came up with it first. He has even taken a shot at a tire manufacturer (around 2:00 mark in video below).
7. Terrell Owens, former NFL wide receiver
No list of athletes famous for running their mouths would be complete without Owens. One of the best wide receivers to ever play in the NFL, the only thing more astonishing than Owens’ ability to create excitement on the field was his propensity to manufacture drama off of it. At one point in his career, T.O. dominated every headline in the nation with his antics on a training bike... a training bike. The crown jewel of T.O.’s trash-talking legacy came at the expense of a team he would later go on to destroy from the inside, the Dallas Cowboys.
6. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
One of the greatest NBA players of all time, Bryant also is one of the best trash-talkers of all-time. Bryant’s inclusion on this list shouldn’t come as a surprise to some fans given who will appear later on, but anyone familiar with Bryant’s mouth should already be nodding their head in agreement. Bryant modeled most of his game after one of the greatest trash-talking athletes of all-time and came within one championship ring of matching his accomplishments on the court, too. Bryant would even clown his own teammates.
5. The Diaz Brothers, UFC
This is technically cheating, but if you think that Nick and Nate Diaz do not belong on this list, then you don’t know your trash-talking athletes. There are too many instances of either Diaz brother doing or saying so extreme that people question the sanity of the individual involved for me to pick just one. Run through Nick or Nate’s Twitter account at your own risk, but definitely don’t do it at work. In fact, there isn’t much work-appropriate footage of either Diaz brother, so we’ll just drop a UFC promotion video of the time Diaz no-showed for his own press conference and pre-fight obligations for a title fight to send a statement about pointless press conferences.
4. Deion Sanders, former NFL cornerback, member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
If Terrell Owens was a handful, Prime Time was the whole arm. The Hall of Famer’s on-the-field accomplishments speak for themselves, but his ability to change a game with his mouth was second to none. Whether it was as a defensive back or as an offensive weapon, Prime Time’s mouth was one of his biggest weapons among a skill set that included superhuman-like speed, agility and awareness. This video alone highlights Deion’s HOF-level trash-talk backed up by his ability.
3. Muhammad Ali, boxing legend
The Great One is known around the world for his ability and his mouth. An oft-overlooked quality of Ali’s trash-talking is that it was during a time when running his mouth also came at great personal risk. A black man running his mouth to the best athletes in the world during the 1960s was a dangerous proposition, but so wondrous and graceful was the sight of his craftsmanship that he could not be denied. Nor would he. Ali still stands as one of the greatest heroes American sports has ever known, but part of what makes his legacy so rich was his ability to mentally beat his opponents out of the ring before beating them up in it.
2. Michael Jordan, NBA legend
Regarded by many as the greatest to ever play the game, his Airness dominated the NBA like nobody had ever seen before. More than winning championships and inspiring a generation, Jordan elevated trash-talking on the court to an art form. He even ran his mouth at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony because he has to be the best at everything. Jordan’s ability to place the final dagger on and off the court would have earned him the highest of honors from the Merc with a Mouth.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimović, soccer
My list, right? If you don’t follow soccer, then you’re likely unfamiliar with the quote goldmine that is Ibrahimović. So confident in himself and his abilities, the Swedish-born striker actually speaks about himself in the third person. An absolute ox on the pitch, Ibrahimović physically abuses his opponents on the field and off. He hosted a Q&A on Twitter titled and hashtagged as ‘Dare to Zlatan,’ the results were as expected. He basically told everyone on Twitter to try their hardest to be him, literally. Then there was the one time a Spanish reporter decided it would be hilarious to ambush Ibrahimović about his sexuality.