Professional athletes gaze down at their earthly bodies and see something different from you and me. Aesthetics are tossed aside. Practical considerations of strength and agility reign supreme. How far can this arm throw? How fast will these legs go?

And, should a piece of anatomy prove useless on the field of competition, some few true sportsmen make the easy choice to discard it.

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Neckless and near-neckless athletes are common on the rosters of professional sport: an offensive lineman here, a stocky pitcher there. Some say the lack of a discernible neck can protect the cranium from damage during a collision. Others tout the speed boost that comes with a more aerodynamic design.

The compact grace of the neckless comes in many forms:

— Shoulder fat creeps up the spinal column, rising to meet a falling chin.

— Muscles ripple outward, mingling with hypertrophied trapezii and an overdeveloped jaw, concealing the neck’s typical hourglass shape.

— Low head.

Here we present the five most gloriously neck-lite competitors working today:

Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars 2011 Headshots

Designed like an arrowhead, the linebacker has devoted countless weight-room hours to burying his neck in his sizable torso.

Bartolo Colon, New York Mets

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(credit: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(credit: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

His center of gravity exactly one neck lower than that of a normal pitcher, this Mets hurler was suspended in 2012 after testing positive for synthetic testosterone. The neck-suppressing properties of synthetic testosterone have not been properly researched.

Eric Esch, Professional Boxer

(credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

(credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Known under the name “Butterbean,” the professional boxer is the Granddaddy of all neckless athletes. He’s been competing necklessly since the early 1990s.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

(credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

(credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

The young slugger was nicknamed “The Millville Meteor” because meteors don’t have necks.

Roman Harper, Carolina Panthers

(credit: NFL via Getty Images)

(credit: NFL via Getty Images)

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A question hotly contested in neck speculation circles is whether Harper has a large neck or, as this list writer believes, a long head with no neck.