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6 Types of Cult Heroes You Meet in Sports

These are not your heroes. These are a little more ragtag.

Jim Leonhard is a cult hero. But what kind?
Jim Leonhard is a cult hero. But what kind?
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

I know a thing or two about the cultish side of entertainment. I was one of the few who watched "Enlisted." I was one of the few who watched "Terriers." Let me just say if you missed these shows, watch these shows. They're great and you really aught to treat yourself.

But that's an aside. We're talking the most Vince McMahonish of entertainments: sports entertainment. If you say to yourself, "Rosin, there can't possibly be any sort of cult heroes in sports," you'd be wrong. Also, you'd likely be reading this while on the job scaring birds away, strawman. Because clearly, you saw the title, you know I'm about to show my work.

So get ready to get learned.

The one shining moment

This is usually a player who comes out of nowhere to have a big day, or even a mere big play to get a win for the team. It's usually along the lines of some utility infielder/backup quarterback slash random bench guard that comes up big and gets you through a big game or playoff series. You're not likely going to see them again, and in some cases you wish you wouldn't. But on that day -- on that day -- they are legends.

Synonymous professional sports figure: David Tyree. You know, they guy with the catch that put the one in"18 and 1?"
Synonymous Wisconsin sports figure: Matt Schabert is the best of those figures. I mean, he beat an Ohio State University with that crazy 79-yard touchdown pass.

The initially scrappy walk-on

It's not just that Wisconsin has fed into this. There are plenty of teams where you see a player come out of nowhere and become a key contributor. But at Wisconsin, it's actually a part of the tradition. Jared Abbrederis was the latest to find success. I'm sure he won't be the last.

Synonymous professional sports figure: The Green Bay Packers have two superstars who were college walk-ons. Jordy Nelson received no initial scholarship to Kansas State, and neither did Clay Matthews with USC. 
Synonymous Wisconsin sports figure: Clayton Hanson's sharpshooting helped lead the Badgers to the 2005 Elite Eight. Jim Leonhard has turned living in a village of 113 people into eight seasons of NFL football. Then there's J.J. Watt, who was not only a two-star prospect, but a two-star prospect who transferred and didn't initially receive a scholarship, thus nullifying all recruiting forever.

The off-stereotype white guy

This is also known as "The Mike Alstott." It's a running back or a cornerback who is more than likely to demographically vote Republican in 10 to 15 years. It's a racially awkward thing that we enjoy when someone more Anglo-Saxon does things that African-Americans do, but acknowledging that this exists is the first step toward a better life.

Synonymous professional sports figure: Currently, John Kuhn.
Synonymous Wisconsin sports figure: It does sort of mesh with the "one shining moment" cult figure. But Matt Unertl's drive to ice the 2000 Minnesota game and Matt Bernstein going over 100 yards on Yom Kippur to beat Penn State in 2004 are the most synonymous.

The foreign man

A football-only proposition, as basketball has become a melting pot where hipster patriotism doesn't matter. You find someone from a nation outside America on your team, odds are he's going to be one of two things. He will either kick or punt the ball, and he will be more memorable than the average schlub that makes your squad. It's the "fish out of water" thing. It's what made Yakoff Smirnoff famous, and it could make your average kicker famous.

Synonymous professional sports figure: Sav Rocca is the kicker archetype, but you know who could blaze a trail for intriguing international prospects? Bjoern Werner.
Synonymous Wisconsin sports figure: The Badgers haven't had anyone truly memorable hail from somewhere other than America. Incoming freshman kicker Rafael Gaglianone does hail from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The awesome name

I always enjoy some good lyricism to a name. Nigel Hayes is the dead-perfect name for a gentleman thief, but that's not why I'm here. I'm here for the Equanimeous St. Brown's of the world. The O'Brien Schofield's and their two last names are always going to be remembered over the Tom Burke's. I mean, who are you going to remember more as time goes by: Jared Abbrederis or Nick Davis? Exactly.

Synonymous professional sports figure: Loquacious big man Shaquille O'Neal.
Synonymous Wisconsin sports figure: The best name in Badger basketball history is Osita Nwachukwu. There is no possible way for there to be someone else with a better name. Nope. Can't possibly think of anyone else.

The loquacious big man

As a not-small man, there are two possibilities for your everyday life. Being quiet, and therefore menacing. There's also the talkative one; they're usually athlete-funny. Sometimes they're legitimately so, but they're usually hovering somewhere between 6'4 and 7'0 and often somewhere near 300 pounds. They're always good for a quote, and/or on the Twitter machines.

Synonymous professional sports figure: The Round Mound of Rebound himself, Charles Barkley. 
Synonymous Wisconsin sports figure: The 2014 seventh-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, Beau Allen.

Now if you're one of those who think I might have missed something, you're welcome to the comments. If you're one of those who's wondering about recruiting... we'll get something up soon. I promise.