The 25 Scrappiest Athletes of All-Time


SportsPickle readers voted to elect the scrappiest athlete of all-time. After more than 60,000 votes from dozens of contenders, here are the athletes you determined to be the most scrappy.


25. Theo Fleury

Fleury scored 1,000 points in the NHL, won a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal and did it all at 5-foot-6. He even gutted through a season with Crohn's Disease. His last name means "flower" in French, but tell him that and he'll probably punch you in the ribs or even higher up your body if he can reach.

24. Martin St. Louis

St. Louis has scored 80 or more points in a season six times during his career despite being only 5-foot-8. The Lightning captain is also the highest-ranked hockey player in the voting. Of course, if the NHL itself had been a voting option for scrappiest, it would have won in a landslide.

23. J.J. Barea

At 6-feet, 175 pounds, Jose Juan Barea exploded onto our scrappy radar with his scraptastic contributions to the Dallas Mavericks' championship run. Just 27 years of age, expect Barea's scrappy stock to continue to rise as the sports world's scrappiest — or "mas animoso" — Spanish-speaking basketball player.

22. Moredecai "Three Finger" Brown

All the evidence you need is in the name. If your nickname describes your body post-amputation or farm machine accident, you're pretty scrappy. The 239 wins, 2.06 career ERA and Hall of Fame spot are almost overkill.


21. Troy Brown

He was a possession receiver who agreed to play defensive back to help the team. He regularly got cut or was forced to take a pay reduction. He was only 5-foot-10. He didn't come from a college football power. And he played in Boston. Put all that together, and you have the makings of the scrappiest athlete of all-time! Who knows what it is about him that kept voters from placing him higher on the list. A true mystery. Hmm. Hmmmmm.

20. Rajon Rondo

Thin and feisty, Rondo has shown a willingness to play through injuries, including a disgusting dislocated elbow. He's also quite athletic, but when you play in Boston on a team that also includes Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and you're only 6-foot-1 … scrappy it is!


19. Wayne Chrebet

Chrebet was an undersized, white, possession receiver who came out of a I-AA football program to put up a few solid seasons in a major market with the Jets. That's good for one's scrappy stock. Even better: playing with Keyshawn Johnson, whose moody, selfish half-assery made everyone around him look they were giving 110-percent.

18. Tyler Hansbrough

A muscled 6-foot-9, 250 pounds of … scrap? You better believe it. Why? Because if you're white and always out of breath and your eyes constantly say I'M TRYING SO HARD RIGHT NOW, YOU GUYS!, you're a first ballot inductee into the Scrappy Hall of Fame.

17. Allen Iverson

He was a 6-foot, 165-pound point guard who single-handedly took his team to the NBA Finals while repeatedly getting knocked to the ground along the way. That's historic scrappiness. But his anti-practice stance probably hurt him in the voting. As did the fact that none of his tattoos say SCRAPPY, HEART or GRIT.

16. Kerri Strug

The only female on the list, she gutted through an ankle injury in the vault to help the U.S. win gold at the 1996 Olympics. And while there are a lot of short athletes on this list, none of them can compete with female gymnasts, who max out at 2-foot-9 thanks to the lack of puberty.

15. Hines Ward

Being a reliable possession receiver who is known as much for blocking as pass-catching is a pretty good item to put on the scrappy resume. If only he had never been on "Dancing with the Stars," he probably would have made the Top 10. The samba is far from scrappy.

14. Spud Webb

A 5-foot-7 NBA player??? MAJOR SCRAPPY POINTS! Who is so athletic he can win the NBA Slam Dunk Competition. MAJOR SCRAPPY POINT DEDUCTION!!!

13. Muggsy Bogues

A fitting place for Muggsy Bogues. Four inches shorter than Webb and without a slam dunk title, he towered over his tiny contemporary when it came to scrappiness. Muggsy, if you can hear us down there, we all admired you. WE SAID WE ALL ADMIRED YOU! Ah, never mind.

12. Oscar Pistorius

The dude has no legs and he is a legit sprinter. Suck it, Mordecai. Zero Legs Pistorius > Three Finger Brown. And you may think that benefitting from technology is cheating, but you should remember: a) Pistorius HAS NO GODDAM LEGS!; and b) his metal legs are probably made from literal scraps.

11. John McEnroe

The highest ranked tennis player on the list, McEnroe would likely bitch and moan about not being higher. And if the angry, little, Afro'd man would have been a bit more humble during his career like a true scrapper, he probably would have been.

10. Darren Sproles

Only 5-foot-6, he's scrapped his way to a very productive 6-year career at one of the NFL's most bruising positions. It's hard to know if he can really take a hit, though. He's so shifty and low to the ground that he rarely takes a hard shot. Most of the time he just gets lost in the grass and they whistle the play dead.


9. Rudy Ruettiger

From unwanted walk-on/mascot at Notre Dame to getting action in a real game, Ruettiger is the only person in world history to parlay his scrappiness into a movie and a motivational speaking career. He probably loses some scrappy points, however, because he … well, kind of sucked at his sport. Scrappers don't have to be great but, uh … getting on the field more than once is nice.

8. Dustin Pedroia

His running style, his stubble, his general filthiness, lack of hygiene and rat-like face … no one tries to convince people that he's scrappy more than Dustin Pedroia. And he needs to. That 2008 American League MVP award suggests he as much talent as heart, maybe even more so. Yuck.

7. Tim Tebow

You could say that being 235 pounds of cut muscle isn't scrappy. You could say that never bothering to learn how could throw correctly isn't scrappy. You could even say that having the creator of the universe rooting for you isn't scrappy. You could say all that. And while you're saying it, Tim Tebow just won 197 football games using a playbook that's written on a scrap of paper.

6. David Eckstein

He was midgety, he wasn't very good and yet he still somehow managed to last 10 years in the major leagues. And that's exactly why he is a scrappy legend. Truly legendary scrappiness allows a player to remain employed long after his production should have pushed him aside. It convinces general managers and coaches to keep playing him and paying him due to "intangibles" — which are things that can't be proven to even exist. It's scrappy brainwashing.

5. Dennis Rodman

How scrappy was Dennis Rodman? He was 6-foot-6, black, egotistical and known for wearing makeup and dresses — each things that often instantly disqualify someone from scrappy consideration — yet he still finished in the Top 5 in voting.

4. Danny Woodhead

You couldn't build someone in a scrappy laboratory who would fit this list better than Danny Woodhead. Miniature and white from some nowhere college, he was cut by one NFL team before finding his way to what is apparently the Mecca of Scrappiness: Bahstan fackin Mass. He even has the name of a small boy. Because his is a small boy.

3. Pete Rose

Before he was the ex-ballplayer who became an old, overweight lesbian, and before he was even the disgraced gambler, Pete Rose was the scrappiest athlete in all the land. Example: he once ran over a catcher at the plate in an All-Star Game, back in the days when All-Star games meant absolutely nothing. Dick move? Possibly. Scrappy move? Definitely.

2. Doug Flutie

It's one thing to be an undersized running back or wide receiver. They might only touch the ball a few times a game. It's quite another to be an undersized quarterback. The ball is in a quarterback's hands on every play. Each snap is a reminder to the viewing audience how he's scrapping it up out there with people twice his size. Flutie had success in college and in the NFL, but was relegated to Canada — which basically has Boston's scrappiness in entire-nation form — for much of his career. But his greatest achievement is the Heisman Trophy, which is an exact, to-scale replica of Doug Flutie. Probably.

1. Wes Welker


We are truly blessed to be living in the age of Wes Welker. One day we can tell our grandchildren that we saw the Scrappiest Athlete of All-Time play. They'll say: "What made him so great, grandpa?" And you'll respond: "He caught 8-yard crossing patterns." And they'll respond: "What's so great about that?" And you'll respond: "He did it SCRAPPILY." "Oh," they'll say and then leave the room, clearly not grasping what they missed out on. Stupid grandchildren.