Written by Mike Samways
The Hollywood sports movie has been analyzed to death. However, one of the most integral aspects of these films is frequently overlooked: that, my friends, is the role of the goon. Everybody loves a winner, but the truth of the matter is that if it werenâ€™t for the goons we so love to hate, these sporting deities would have no reason to exist. The following is a collection of some of the most reviled, feared and devastating characters ever to compete, including a guaranteed shocker in the number one spot. So buckle up, kids: itâ€™s about to get ugly.
First things first: we must develop our goon criteria. Most importantly, a goon is not just a villain or a mere bully, but an intricate character with several key prerequisites.
–They must enjoy, have as a chief goal or be used solely for the purpose of inflicting massive amounts of pain on their opponent.
-They can not be averse to â€œbending the rulesâ€ in order to win or to inflict massive amounts of pain on their opponent.
-They have absolutely zero regard for the health or wellbeing of neither their opponent nor their opponentâ€™s family, friends, mistresses or pets. In fact, if possible, they should like to take that entire group and inflict massive amounts of pain upon them.
With those benchmarks in place, it gives me great pleasure to present your definitive guide to the sports movie goon.
10. â€œDukeâ€ Temple & Clue Haywood – Major League
Goonery and baseball are usually not synonymous. However, these two Yankees proved to be a constant thorn in the side of the Tribe during their quest for respectability. The hard swinging Haywood was a win-at-all-costs guy who, as Harry Doyle noted, â€œleads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes he looks like a party favor.” He played dirty and he did whatever it took to win, regardless of who was standing in his way. The Duke, meanwhile, had two specialties: striking your ass out and plunking your ass with the number four, also known as the beanball. There is just something unsettling about a guy who can both throw in the mid-90â€™s and get a kick out of leaving stitch-marks on batters.
Highlights: for the Duke, the chin music he played to Jake Taylor followed by Doyle informing us that he â€œthrew at his own kid in the father-son game.” As for Clue Haywood, he tricked Willie Mays Hayes into getting picked off at first, he constantly packed a giant wad of chew behind his scowl, and he uttered the unforgettable phrase, â€œHowâ€™s your wife and my kids?”
9. White Goodman – Dodgeball
One of the more diminutive goons around, White made up for his lack of stature with overtly malicious technique and an all-around disregard for anything resembling sportsmanship. As the leader of the Purple Cobras, White stopped at nothing to ensure the continued dominance of his decidedly anti-obesity establishment â€œGlobo-Gym.”
Some of Whiteâ€™s highlights: a flagrant cheap-shot to the face of an unsuspecting Kate, an assortment of low-blows, an attempted bribe, and, after witnessing a smitten couple declaring love for each other during the match, he zips an especially brutal headshot followed by the immortal line â€œJoanie loves Chachi.“
8. Bull Hurley – Over the Top
Despite perhaps the worst tagline in motion picture history (â€œSome fight for money… Some fight for glory… He’s fighting for his son’s loveâ€), Stalloneâ€™s arm wrestling classic features an all-world goon in every sense of the word. From the ‘stache to the name, Bob â€œBullâ€ Hurley was another guy who didnâ€™t just want to win, he wanted to punish people. Whether or not arm wrestling (or bowling for that matter) qualifies as a sport is beyond the realm of this analysis. What is important is that Bull Hurley was one hell of a goon, and he knew it. â€œI drive trucks, break arms and arm wrestle. Itâ€™s what I love to do, itâ€™s what I do best.”Some Bull highlights: One of the better cheap shots youâ€™ll see as he laid a vicious punch on Lincoln Hawk just prior to a match, and the mentality that nobody has â€œany shittinâ€™ business being at the same table as me.”
7. Ernie â€œBig Ernâ€ McCracken – Kingpin
In one of the most underrated comedic performances of all time, McCracken (what did I tell ya kid, call me Ernie, or Big Ern) was proof that not all goons rely on hand-to-hand violence, even though his actions directly led to the loss of young bowling champion Roy Munson’s prized bowling hand. Whether it was talking during your backswing or pouring sugar into your gas tank, you can rest assured that Big Ern was not only going to fuck with you, he would also steal your girl, ruin your life, ridicule you and still win the big one. Some of Big Ernâ€™s highlights: the TV commercial for a big brother-type organization where one little boy explained, â€œsometimes when I wake up in the morning, Mr. McCracken is already there,” the prank marriage proposal to Roy Munson on the teleprompter which once again humiliated him in front of thousands, and his refusal to take part in a paternity test on the grounds that he â€œdefinitely pulled out.”
6. Tim â€œDr. Hookâ€ McCracken – Slap Shot
Back to back McCrackenâ€™s. No self respecting Canadian could ever create a list of goons without a heavy influx of talent from Slap Shot. While I could probably populate the entire list with characters from that cult classic, some difficult decisions had to be made to ensure the integrity of the list. However, no one can argue that Tim McCracken was certainly one of the dirtiest players to ever strap on the blades. You donâ€™t get the nickname â€œDr. Hookâ€ from watching Peter Pan, but — as announcer Jim Carr informed us — from being able to â€œcarve out a manâ€™s eye with the flick of the wrist.” McCracken was so dirty that he forced player-coach Reggie Dunlop to â€œpersonally put a one hundred dollar bounty on the head of Tim McCracken.”
Some of â€œDr. Hook’sâ€ highlights: intent to injure with a blatant spear, a lightsabre-esque stick swinging incident, trying to blind Dave â€œKillerâ€ Carlson, recruiting a team of sideshow freaks to mangle the boys from Charlestown and, of course, his classic hallway greeting to Reg, â€œDUNLOP, YOU SUCK COCK!!!”
5. Clubber Lang – Rocky III
I pity the fool that doesnâ€™t know Clubber Lang was one mean son of a bitch. The man lived to make suckas â€œfeel the pain.” Raised on the streets, Lang had no time for anything outside of kicking ass and talking trash. While most of his opponents got hit harder than a sorority girl on spring break, Clubber also had no problems with laying a shit-kicking on old men. Hardcore to the bone, this old-school fighter doesnâ€™t just want to beat you, he wants to destroy you and then sleep with your wife. Clubber’s highlights: when asked for his prediction on the upcoming fight, Clubber replied, â€œMy prediction? Pain,” trash talking Apollo, calling him a has-been and then shouting â€œHey boy! Hey boy! After I crucify him, you next,” the violent shove to Mickey which essentially lead to his fatal heart-attack and, of course, asking Adrian if sheâ€™d like to find out what itâ€™s like â€œto be with a real man.”
4. Chong Li – Bloodsport
If you were to look up the phrase â€œone dude you donâ€™t really wanna fuck with,” thereâ€™s a good chance youâ€™ll see a picture of Chong Li. The large-breasted one managed to put the fear of God into the toughest men on the planet, who gathered in Hong Kong for the Kumite: an underground no-holds-barred martial arts tournament. The competitors’ fear was well-warranted, as Chong Li not only took great pleasure from doling out career ending injuries, but he also had a penchant for leaving opponents in the ring — permanently. Combine that nasty streak with his abnormally large pecs, crazier-than-a-shithouse-rat eyes and his constant name-chanting (CHONG LI, CHONG LI, CHONG LI) and youâ€™ve got yourself one bad-ass maestro of mayhem. Highlights: crushing arrogant American fighter Ray Jacksonâ€™s (aka Ogre) skull with the heel of his foot and then wearing Rayâ€™s headband around his leg in a mock tribute, unnecessarily snapping the shin bone of a fighter (leading to one of the most gruesome sights in motion picture history), jerking the neck of a defenseless fighter which killed him instantly, and throwing â€œfuji dustâ€ into the eyes of Frank Dux when he felt overmatched. Lastly, Chong Li had some choice words when called upon including the classic lines â€œvery good, but brick not hit back,” and â€œyou break my record, now I break you like I broke your friend.”
3. The Hanson Brothers – Slap Shot
The only explanation needed for the inclusion of these lads is why theyâ€™re so low on the list. Well, quite frankly, the final three are pretty much interchangeable and if I explained the meticulous equation used to break them down, I would risk blowing your mind. I couldnâ€™t break up the trifecta of goonocracy for the simple reason that they wreaked the most and best havoc when they operated as a single unit. The Hansons were a Quentin Tarantino movie on ice — gliding gracefully from end to end and leaving bloody, contorted bodies lying in their wake. No one was safe: not goalies, not players on the bench, not even fans for, once these boys got a sniff of violence, tell Rosie to loosen up her vocal chords because itâ€™s over for the other team. The best part about the Hansons is that their unbridled aggression is so pure that their actions could only be viewed as one thing: old-time hockey. You know. Eddie Shore. Toe Blake.
A laundry list of highlights: â€œIâ€™m listening to the fuckinâ€™ song,” scaling the glass and kicking off an enormous melee in the stands after one of the brothers got smoked with a set of keys, the pre-game clothesline at centre ice, four words: â€œputting on the foil,” â€œstick emâ€™ fuck emâ€™ pop emâ€™,” and, lastly, their extreme disdain for â€œthat stinkinâ€™ root beer.”
2. Ogie Ogilthorpe – Slap Shot
The Slap Shot parade continues with what will surely be a highly scrutinized selection. Though I easily could have went with a 1a and 1b, I felt that would cheapen the spirit of it, so somebody had to be placed in the on-deck circle. That man happens to be perhaps the most recognizable goon in the illustrious annuls of hockey history. It could be the name, it could be the afro, but either way, Ogie made his opponents shake like they caught the holy ghost. Reg Dunlop called him â€œa cementheadâ€ and â€œa real criminal element,” and though we donâ€™t know much about him, my research indicates that Ogie hailed from Thunder Bay, Ontario. The fact is, we donâ€™t need to know much about him. All we need is to picture Denny Lemieuxâ€™s little head popping up to say â€œO-gell-Torp???” Ogie was such a force during games that you could literally hear the other team cheering when they heard the news from the stick boy â€œheâ€™s not playinâ€™, heâ€™s suspended.” Some of Ogieâ€™s highlights: â€œHey Ogie, buy ya a soda after the game,” and the unforgettable, â€œThis young man has had a very trying rookie season with the litigation, the notoriety, his subsequent deportation to Canada and that country’s refusal to accept him. I guess that’s more than most 21-year-olds can handle. Number six, Ogie Oglethorpe.”
1. Carl Racki – Youngblood
I present to you the undisputed heavyweight of sports movie goons: Carl Racki. While the movie Youngblood isnâ€™t nearly as popular as some of the other selections, that doesnâ€™t take away from the sheer brilliance and world-class goonery proudly put on display by Racki. Everything about him screams “goon.” From his name to his beard, this guy is to goons what Axel Foley is to smart-ass cops: a prototype, a prodigy, a fucking wonder of celluloid science. One look at Racki and you realize you have only two choices: get out of his way or start planing to spit out teeth like a popcorn machine. I realize the inherent risk involved in choosing a number one goon that was floored by Rob Lowe, but in the end it didnâ€™t hurt his standing enough fall any spots. Shit, even Tyson got knocked out once in his prime. Besides, the list isnâ€™t to decide who is the toughest goon, but who best exemplifies true spirit of â€œthe goon.” With that in mind, there is no question in my mind that Carl Racki is the greatest goon in the history of sports films.
Rackiâ€™s impressive highlights: running people all over the ice and one-punching Dean Youngblood in a tryout, losing his mind over the coach’s decision to pick Youngblood even though he â€œkicked his ass all over the ice,” vowing to get revenge against the team, attempting to maim and end the career of Derek Sutton with a helmet-less slew foot, four words: â€œwanna go, pretty boy,” and, most importantly, French Canadian goaltender â€œHeaverâ€ (played convincingly [cough] by a young Keanu Reeves), uttering the phrase â€œThat man is fucking… an animal (pronounced an-knee-MAL).”
So, there you have it folks: an authoritative guide to the best goons ever to grace the silver screen. Iâ€™m sure there will be some intense debate, and many will question my omissions and my rankings but, rest assured, you are all wrong, and I am right. And if there are any problems with that, well, â€œWanna go, pretty boy?”