By Cold, Hard Football Facts contributor Frankie C.
With the recent death of the Crocodile Hunter, we at Cold, Hard Football Facts.com have been forced to consider our own feeble existence and inevitable, unmanly demise.
Steve Irwin lived a rugged, manly life and died a rugged, manly death. Not many men have the good fortune to die when an ocean beast skewers their heart with a venomous spike. Irwin actually pulled the murderous barb from his chest before checking out.
But it's not the way we see our demise. We're certain we'll shed this mortal coil more like Elvis. That's right ... half-naked on the shitter. It's a dim outlook, but we know ourselves, and we never go out with a bang. Nor do we ever go out with a girl, but that's another story.
We have far more respect for Irwin and his manly ilk: men who lived hard and died young in the midst of testosterone-filled endeavors – legendary men who saved their best act for last and fueled their legacy even in their final moments on Earth.
We should all be so lucky.
So, for the purpose of catharsis, and for insight into our own pathetic lives and impending pathetic deaths, we now present this week's Frankie Five...
... Great Manly Deaths and the Great Men Who Died Them:
5. Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett killed a bear at the age of three. We weren't even potty-trained. He then grew up to become king of the wild frontier. That would have been enough for most men. Not for Davy Crockett. He ripped immortality from the feeble grip of life when he left Tennessee to fight for Texan independence. His glorious end came at the Alamo, where he and all 185 badly outnumbered defenders were slaughtered by the Mexican Army – but not before taking 2,000 Mexican invaders with them. We've taken 2,000 Mexican burritos off the shelves of Quik-Mart, so we have that going for us.
Bonus legend: Texas won the war.
4. Dale Earnhardt
When Earnhardt drove 200 MPH, he became known as "The Intimidator." When we drive 200 MPH, we're known as "The Defecator." Earnhardt's splendid demise came, fittingly, on the last lap of the Super Bowl of NASCAR, the Daytona 500. He lost control of his car and slammed into a wall, suffering massive internal injuries. His death set off a nationwide wave of remorse and anguish and a run on No. 3 window stickers at Wal-Mart. We slam into things while driving, too. But it's usually because we're trying to open a beer bottle with the seat belt clip.
Bonus legend: Earnhardt's death opened the door that day for teammate Michael Waltrip to win his first NASCAR race. Dale Jr. finished second.
3. William Wallace
Wallace fought to liberate Scotland and is considered the father of guerrilla warfare. We invented beer Stratego
. If he were alive today, Wallace might be known as a terrorist. The difference, of course, is that he wasn't trying to return Scotland to a misogynistic religious caliphate. His majestic death was befitting a badass mo-fo who took on the entire English army: He was dragged nude by horse to his execution, then hanged nearly to death, taken down and eviscerated (bowels removed), emasculated (balls removed), beheaded and quartered. His body parts were then placed on spikes and displayed all over England. Ouch.
Bonus legend: Wallace's gruesome death makes you rethink the modern definition of torture, which apparently means dressing prisoners in women's clothing.
2. John "Bonzo" Bonham
Van Halen rocked on without David Lee Roth, Gladys Knight prospered without the Pips and Aerosmith made hits without drugs
. The world's greatest rock band fell apart without John Bonham. The legendary Led Zeppelin beat-maker is widely acknowledged as history's greatest and most powerful rock drummer and the standard by which others are measured. In the only manner befitting the spackle that held up the walls of the mighty Zeppelin, Bonham's magnificent death came entirely too young after consuming 40 shots of vodka. We choke on our own vomit just by looking in the mirror.
Bonus legend: Bonham's heart stopped twice. The first time was soon after birth. The doctor on duty was too drunk to work, so a nurse revived Newborn Baby Bonzo.
1. James Dean
Nobody in history built a bigger afterlife legend upon fewer earthly accomplishments. Dean's dazzling final act came at the mere age of 24, after making just three movies. Fifty-one years later, he's still loved by millions. The 1950s icon and Hollywood star also epitomized the kind of cool the CHFF staff doesn't even have the gumption to dream about.
Dean was infatuated with racing cars and owned a Porsche 550 Spyder nicknamed "Little Bastard." Dean's body was splattered all over "Little Bastard" following a head-on collision on Sept. 30, 1955. Before taking his last breath, Dean was rumored to have uttered, "My fun days are over." No shit.
Bonus legend: Dean launched a nifty die-young trend among members of the "Rebel Without a Cause" cast. Sal Mineo was murdered in Hollywood at age 37. Natalie Wood drowned mysteriously off Catalina Island at age 43.