Hey Four Eyes!: 9 Athletes that Seriously Rocked Goggles
Guys who need glasses don’t comprise a huge portion of the athletic community. These pointdexters are more at home in a library or science lab than on the playing field. However, every once in a while, a genetic freak comes along with athletic ability AND poor eyesight.
However, in order to make this list, you can’t just have poor eyesight. You have to be part of a dying (dead?) breed that refuses to wear contacts or get corrective surgery. You have to unabashedly fly your flag high and rock the goggles. They’re not for everyone, but these men made them work. May their song never die.
9. Eric Dickerson
Easily the best known football player to rock the specs, he took a physical shortcoming, addressed it, and made it his own. And he did the goggles proud. From his days at SMU (back when they were good, pre-death penalty) to his heyday as a Ram, Eric Dickerson was constantly raising the bar for running backs. He set the single season rushing record with 2,105 yards and was a six-time pro bowl selection. One could say that the goggles helped him see the field in a way that others couldn’t. And they’d probably be right.
8. Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer makes the list despite being a sporadic goggles-and-mask-wearer. However, it would make sense that, especially late in his career, he would use them, possibly as much as a protective measure as a corrective one. The poster boy for the “Bad Boy” Pistons during the late 80’s, Laimbeer had a rep for being one of the dirtiest players in the league, never hesitating to hold on picks or punch a crotch during scuffle. Those goggles are probably the only reason he still has his sight today.
Of course, all that dirty play didn’t come without a price. Laimbeer coached the WNBA for seven years. Karma’s a bitch.
7. Horace Grant
Maybe it’s the fact that guys with bad eyes just don’t shoot jumpshots, or maybe it’s the amount of contact and protective measures necessary when you’re boxing out in the paint, but it warrants mentioning that every NBA player on this list plays either the 4 or 5 position.
Despite being known as an “other guy” on the Bulls, and later, the Lakers, Grant proved a worthy adversary in the paint during enough finals that he was able to get four rings out of his career.
6. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar
The most accomplished athlete on this (or any) list, Jabaar wore goggles later in his career, demonstrating worsening eyesight rather than any protective need. Not that it mattered when he wore his glasses. While I won’t go so far as to say that he made glasses and goggles “cool,” he made them SLIGHTLY less shameful. And for those keeping score at home, his college and pro careers were, of course, the stuff of NBA legends, having retired with 38,000 points, 6 MVPs, and 6 championships.
5. Chris Sabo
Like I said, the overlap between “great athletes” and “goggle wearers” is thin at best. So enter Chris Sabo, Cincinnati Red extraordinaire and….um….Rookie of the Year in 1988, he did help lead the Reds to a World Series title in ’90. He finished his career with 116 dingers and a .268 average. While the kings of this list are probably safe from Sabo, I’m sure that…uh…Sabo was a tremendous inspiration to the tens or hundreds of bespectacled baseball fans in the greater Cincinnati area.
4. Michael Phelps
Well, yeah. Goggles? Check. Legendary athletic career? Quadruple check. Further, I take back what I said about few great athletes wearing goggles. It seems that almost every great swimmer and water polo player has worn goggles. Who knows what that’s about?
Long before he was a Subway spokesman that swam through cornfields to eat a $5 fast food sandwich, Michael Phelps participated in a couple Olympics and won a few events. Fourteen, actually. In Beijing, Phelp’s eight golds were enough to set the record for most gold medals won in a single Olympics. While the goggles most likely exist to keep chlorinated water out of his eyes, there’s a chance that they are prescriptive and he has a moderate stigmatism or glaucoma. That would explain the pot smoking.
Phelps isn’t the only swimmer to wear goggles, but he’s damn sure the best. As such, he gets on the list.
3. Kurt Rambis
I think that Jerry Buss had inserted a provision into all his player contracts stating that if a player is to play power forward or center for the Lakers, they must wear glasses, whether they want or need to wear them. Strangely enough, for much of his career, Rambis didn’t even wear goggles, but glasses. Thick, black-rimmed glasses that, coupled with his thick mustache and Larry Bird haircut, would have made him out to be an amateur pornographer were it not for his wearing of a Laker’s uniform.
Rambis’ physical style of play merited a helmet at the very least full goggles, but this guy did it in shop glasses. Commendable, Kurt.
2. James Worthy
Example #3 of Lakers big men donning the specs. I’m going to venture a guess that perhaps the Lakers had a pretty crappy vision and dental plan which cause these guys to look out for their eyes more so than players on other teams. While Worthy was long playing in the shadow of Kareem during the “showtime” era, he made a quite a name for himself. Three titles, six-time All-Star, and a Finals MVP
1. Amare Stoudamire
Previous entries on this list (save for Phelps) are from a bygone era. However, Amare altruistically fought the death of protective eyewear in recent years by rocking a pair of goggles that seemed to trace the curvature of his entire head, which is impressive in and of itself. Amare started wearing them to protect his eyes after damaging his retina. He said that he would be wearing them for the rest of his career, but stopped after only seven games. Amare – come back. You need the goggles and the goggles need you.