Playbook looks at worst athlete tattoos

In this day and age, it’s almost a requirement for professional athletes to have tattoos. And while some athletes use their ink to honor family members or their hometowns, others choose body art that doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

So which athletes have the worst ink of them all? With due respect to Gucci Mane, here are the worst of the worst:

5. Chris "Birdman" Andersen

There probably should be a list solely dedicated to Chris Andersen’s worst tattoos. Because from the approximately 457 options available, it’s really difficult to pick just one. Should it be the ever-classy "Screw You" (or, more accurately, "SCRE WYOU") scrawled across his knuckles? How about the cartoon-looking, "Honky Tonk" spelled out on his stomach? Both great options would garner any other athlete inclusion on this list. However, we decided to go with Birdman’s most visible ink -- the colorful "FREE BIRD" written around his neck.

We get it, Chris. Your nickname is Birdman and you’re a free spirit and all (and an apparent unabashed Lynyrd Skynyrd fan). But the bottom line is the tattoo doesn’t look very freeing at all. In fact, it looks almost like a neck constraint.

Then again, anyone familiar with the Miami Heat forward knows we’re probably better off not trying to make sense of anything he does.

4. Vince Young

Unsigned NFL quarterback Vince Young has had his fair share of off-the-field problems over the years. From a disappearance to fighting at a bar to calling a troubled Eagles squad "The Dream Team," Young isn’t exactly known for his decision-making skills.

His back tattoo doesn’t help his cause, either. Over a giant cross, he has "V. Young" in block letters inked across his upper back as if he’s wearing a jersey. You know, in case he forgets his name or something. Or, at this rate, just forgets what it’s like to be wearing his name on his back.

Granted, he did allegedly earn a 6 grade on his Wonderlic test. We’re not sure if you get points for your name on the test, but maybe Young just wanted a permanent reminder of the one thing he did know.

3. Stephen Jackson

We can only imagine the conversation Stephen Jackson had with his tattoo artist before getting this gem inked on his torso. Guessing the San Antonio Spurs veteran said something like, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted the religious angle or the gangsta angle so I thought, might as well combine them! Jackson’s praying hands holding a gun has to baffle even the most fervent worshipers and devoted NRA members. Is it a threat to a higher power? Is he afraid of intruders when he prays? Does he think he can use a gun for barter in exchange for his prayers coming true? The world might never know. We’re guessing Jackson’s not entirely sure, either.

We can’t speak for God here, but we’re pretty confident even He would have encouraged Jackson to at least go the tribal tattoo route.

2. Jason Williams

Just in case looking in the mirror isn’t enough, former NBA point guard Jason Williams can always look at his hands and remind himself he is, in fact, a white boy. Or actually a "WHIT EBOY," but close enough.

We would have thought the nickname "White Chocolate" could have served as an adequate reminder but it doesn’t hurt to write things down. At least we’re assuming that was his rationale.

1. DeShawn Stevenson

We have to be honest here, we created this list solely to have a forum to discuss DeShawn Stevenson’s ode to Abraham Lincoln on his neck.

It has been reported that Stevenson was initially going to get a tattoo of Martin Luther King Jr., but had his idea stolen by Gilbert Arenas. Sounds about right. Not wanting to have an identical tat to his then-Washington Wizards teammate, Stevenson told Dallas radio station 105.3 that he decided to go with Lincoln because he "freed the slaves." He got the two 5s after because so many people didn’t know who he was. We’re not sure if that’s more insulting to Lincoln -- one of the most recognizable faces in American history -- or to the tattoo artist.

We know what you’re thinking though. Sure, that Abe tat is great -- but it really could use some bling! Well, it’s your lucky day. The Atlanta Hawks forward recently pierced his neck and the stud is conveniently located right in the neck of our 16th president.

Now that’s a tribute!

Honorable Mention: Mike Tyson.

You really didn’t think we would leave off the OG of facial tattoos, did you?