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.