With social media taking over today’s sports culture fans are way closer to professional athletes than ever. Before the birth of this medium, the only way to see your favourite sports star interact with normal people was when a member of the media was speaking to them. This has lead to many athletes gaining a bad reputation through negative interactions in press conferences and candid interviews. Many athletes dislike the media because one minute they are on the side of the player and the next minute they are out to get them. Players also believe some members of the media try to twist everything they say to create stories out of nothing.
Many of the players on this list have had many negative interactions with the media during their careers, or they just had one giant outburst that no one could forget. However, everyone on this list has contributed to many charities that help fans and communities all over the world. Many people forget how important professional athletes and teams are to their communities and how much beneficial work they do for education and youth programs. It is easy for fans to forget that players get frustrated too, and most people would not like it if they had to be interviewed after every bad day at work. The players on this list may seem hard to approach because of their spats with the media, but they are great with fans.
15 Randy Moss
Moss had to make the list because his disdain for the media is so strong that even though he is an analyst for ESPN he still refuses to acknowledge that he is a member of the media. In one incident with a reporter, he was asked how he paid for all the fines he racked up if he did not write checks. Moss replied with the now infamous quote “straight cash homie.”
Besides the time that he fake mooned the entire crowd while a member of Vikings, Moss has always had pleasant interactions with NFL fans. People also don’t realize how much charity work he does because of they way he is projected in the public. He has done great things for his community in West Virginia, and with the help of O.J. Mayo back in 2010 purchased food and personal care products for more than 1,600 families in Huntington and Charleston.
14 Cam Newton
Cam Newton's media feud began in college when he was under major scrutiny for supposedly taking money to sign with Auburn. Fast forward to his professional career and you find more of the same. He has been criticized for being immature on the field and was bashed for skipping his post game Super Bowl press conference after a huge loss. Most recently Cam has come under fire for laughing at a female reporter who asked a question.
The way Cam deals with his fans is the complete opposite side of the spectrum. His signature smile from ear to ear and the evident love for the game is why he has so many fans. During his MVP season in 2015 he threw so many footballs into the stands for fans that it was hard to keep track of how much money he owed the NFL in fines at the end of the year.
13 Michael Phelps
Phelps is perhaps the greatest athlete to ever compete in the Olympics. However the way he has handled his public persona and dealt with the media is a whole different story. In an interview back in 2008 with the Dan Lebetard show, he thought he had hung up the phone but he did not so he was heard bad mouthing Lebetard. The interview just made Phelps look like a guy with a huge ego and no sense of humour.
On the other hand Phelps couldn't be a nicer guy when it comes to interacting with fans. Phelps has been one of the more charitable Olympic athletes ever. Phelps has been a contributor to the Special Olympics and has is own foundation he started in 2008. His foundation has lead to many success stories and has taught many kids how to swim that would not have otherwise.
12 Tiger Woods
The media has helped tear down what was once the most dominant professional athlete in all of sports. Tiger's life went downhill after his divorce to his wife and it came out he was having relationships with a multitude of other women. Since then, every move Tiger has made has been scrutinized, even his DUI tape was released this year to TMZ. The media just won't leave this guy alone, so it is no wonder why he can be snappy with them from time to time in interviews. Conversely, Tigers relationship with his fans has always been strong and he still has a lot of people rooting for him. His Tiger Woods foundation that was established in 1996 has done a tremendous amount of work for underprivileged students.
11 LeBron James
LeBron's relationship with the media has been a strange one ever since they anointed him the "chosen one" on the cover of Sports Illustrated in high school. During playoffs LeBron doesn't use any social media and does not watch sports on television at all. His beef with the media was escalated even more when former player Charles Barkley called him out and said he was a baby last season.
With fans, LeBron is the exact opposite. For a while the city of Cleveland hated LeBron, But since his return to Cleveland, LeBron has given his community a championship and his charitable work. The LeBron James Family Foundation has done great amounts of work to improve education for children and young adults.
10 Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers recently opened up about his distrust of the media in an interview with ESPN writer Mina Kimes. He even reiterated his remarks on the Dan Lebetard show when he said he tape records all of his interviews with reporters. Maybe Rodgers is being paranoid or maybe he has a legit gripe considering a lot of athletes quotes are taken out of context these days.
In Green Bay, Rodgers is already somewhat of a living legend. It is easy to see why, he already has a Super Bowl championship under his belt and has won every game show under the sun in his spare time. Every NFL fan can't help but wish Rodgers was quarterback of their team, so it is easy to see why he has a great relationship with the fans.
9 Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman's public disdain for the media was evident when he went on First Take and absolutely destroyed former ESPN analyst Skip Bayless. Since that unforgettable interview Sherman has become one of the most polarizing personalities in the NFL. Sherman is known for his postgame tirades and wacky press conference answers.
Perhaps the most touching moment of the football season happened when Richard Sherman visited a little girl in the hospital and replaced a doll of him she lost. This is only one of the many great things Sherman has done for the fans and community of Seattle. He has even gone undercover as a Lyft driver, driving fans around and getting closer to them on a personal level. Don't let Sherman’s on field and post game antics fool you, he is a great person with the fans.
8 Floyd Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather is definitely known for speaking his mind and not holding back . So when he does that with the media it is no shock to anyone. Who can forget when Mayweather won on a controversial knock out and argued with boxing announcer Larry Merchant. Mayweather has made many charitable donations that total up to millions of dollars over the course of his boxing career. "Money" Mayweather may be a nickname, but he actually does some good things with the money that he has. He has his own charity the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation and he has donated to Cure Duchenne, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Muscular Dystrophy Association just to name a few more.
7 Brandon Phillips
Phillips signature grin at second base makes him seem like one of the nicest players in pro sports. However, a video of him going off on a reporter after he questioned his place in the line up and his all-star status suggests otherwise. He was heard using profanity to his manager when he was talking about that reporter in a video that came out in 2013.
However, in Cincinnati Phillips was a huge fan favorite at second base pretty much his entire career. He made his name known with his highlight reel defensive plays, his great attitude and love for the game. He has been an all-star 3 times, and the fans are mainly the ones that decide that with their online voting. It was a sad day for the Reds when Phillips was traded away in 2017.
6 Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick has turned into one of the most polarizing athletes of this generation after his protest during the national anthem caught national media attention. Everything Kaepernick has done since has been put under major scrutiny and it has even lead to Kaepernick not being signed by any NFL team this season. The reason for Kaepernick's protest in the first place was due to racial injustices in America for African-Americans. A very noble cause to stand behind, so the backlash he has received is very questionable. Kaepernick has been a well-documented supporter of many charities that contribute to his cause and has been a symbol for many fans to relate with and get behind. Kaepernick even listened to a member of the military's advice on how to protest. The fan wrote him a letter and told him to kneel in respect instead of sitting and Kaepernick has done so ever since.
5 Kurt Busch
One of the best drivers in NASCAR over the past decade, Kurt Busch has shown his public dislike for the media on multiple occasions. In a video shot back in 2011, Busch is seen yelling and cursing at a member of the media interviewing him. Busch did not stop there; a year later he said he was going to beat up a reporter for "asking stupid questions. That interaction with an ESPN reporter lead to Busch being suspended by NASCAR one week and he was also fined $50,000. Kurt Busch has made many charitable contributions to help fans throughout his career through his foundation. One of the more fun events where he has interacted with fans was when he drove go-karts in Henrietta for charity. He competed with local business owners and CEO’s giving the winner a chance to win $10,000 and donate that money to a charity of their choice.
4 Mike Richards
Richards feud with the media started in 2009 because there were rumours going around the NHL that one of his teammates was traded because they wanted to break up the players who enjoyed the nightlife in Philadelphia. Richards was so heated with the media at the time that he stopped talking to them all together. During one of his press conferences that season he kept all of his answers to two words.
Richards has always kept a great relationship with fans, mostly because he was one of the team’s better players wherever he goes. Also for the past seven years Richards has hosted a charity golf tournament raising money for the Lake of the Woods Community Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society. Since the tournament started in 2010, they have raised more than $150,000.
3 Kevin Durant
Even before Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder he was often angry with reporters in post game interviews. Since his departure last season his relationship with media has gotten even worse. Durant also has had a well documented feud with ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith. Smith infamously looked directly into a camera on First Take and told Durant "you don't want to make an enemy out of me."
Even though the fans in OKC have major disdain towards Durant now, he still did major things for that community and pretty much made their NBA franchise contenders. Durant has done charity work in OKC, his hometown of Washington DC, and all around the world. He has also helped basketball fans of all ages learn the game with Kevin Durant Youth Basketball Fantasy Pro Camp. Fans are just being stubborn if they continue to dislike Durant just because he switched teams last offseason.
2 Russell Westbrook
You can tell by the look on Westbrook's face during most of his press conferences that he has no interest in speaking to most members of the media. He has told reporters that their questions were stupid, refused to answer questions, and has sometimes just flat out ignored them all together by cutting interviews short.
Since Durant's departure last season Westbrook has been the king of OKC and their fans. A throne that he has decided to not leave for at least the next 5 seasons, since he extended his contract this simmer. Last season he was the one player fans could rally behind and he was a one man wrecking crew. It is easy for any OKC fan to love a player that plays with Westbrook's tenacity and his loyalty sure helps out too.
1 Marshawn Lynch
Perhaps the most infamous line in the history of Super Bowl media day is Lynch's "I'm just here so I don't get fined." He answered every question the entire day with that phrase and he ironically became the story of the week. He was even fined $100,000 for not talking to the media. During his days with the Seattle Seahawks he turned into the player most likely to give a quality sound bite at any point in the game.
Lynch's relationship with the fans and the communities he has played for is not as talked about as his play or his postgame interviews. Yet this is what makes him such an amazing story and a fan favourite around the NFL. No player does more for the community and gets less credit for it than Marshawn Lynch. His charity that he started with former NFL player Joshua Johnson has helped improve the lives of children by showing them the values of education and literacy.