Time for an incredibly obvious statement: In life there are some things you simply should not do. You should not light yourself on fire and run at a gas station. You should not play chicken with a cop car. You should not try to fight a grizzly bear with a throw-pillow. You should not hunt a beloved lion. Similarly, you should not make homophobic comments, especially when there is a microphone in front of your face.
Plenty of people have and still do. Furthermore, here in year 2015, there is no need for a microphone, Twitter is now everyone's personal method to speak to the world. It has created a completely new dimension through which homophobia and other examples of ignorance can be identified and shamed.
With all this in mind, athletes still make homophobic comments in interviews and via Twitter and other social media outlets. It's not particularly surprising, because plenty of athletes are egomaniacs and think they can do no wrong, so when they tell an edgy joke and everyone blows their proverbial stack, they think they're the victim.
Anyone who has ever played amateur sports knows what the language and atmosphere can be like. The choice derogatory slurs are commonplace and cover everything from race to sexual orientation. Things are gradually changing but the world of sports still has an aggressive and insensitive side that accompanies ruthless competition and a desire to be the best. With that said, the sports world needs to realize what many of the rest of us know: you can think whatever hateful stuff you want about whatever group(s) but saying it out loud is when society has a problem with it. Here is our list of twenty athletes who have demonstrated textbook homophobia.
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21 Honorable Mention: Matt Mitrione
This may be a dishonorable mention and it isn't directly homophobic, but Matt Mitrione lived up to his nickname "meathead" when he went off on transgender fighter Fallon Fox in 2013. He called her a "lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak" for wanting to fight in women's MMA, alleging she did so, while continuing to have the build of a man, and was simply a male who wanted to dominate and brutalize females. Mitrione also referred to Fox using all male pronouns, which is a significant faux-pas.
He was suspended and later apologized but the suspension lasted just two weeks. Plenty of people agreed with his point but used significantly kinder words.
20 Manny Pacquiao
Whether or not you're a champion boxer, you still can't get away with anything remotely homophobic. Manny Pacquiao was interviewed three years ago, and among the questions asked had to do with his personal beliefs. He mentioned that his beliefs regarding marriage dictated that as a religious ceremony, it was only to be between a man and woman. He was mis-quoted in some publications as having quoted a line from the Book of Leviticus that said gay men should be put to death; he had not.
19 Brandon Spikes
At this point in his career it is unclear whether linebacker Brandon Spikes will play another down in the NFL. Between legal issues and on-field discipline concerns, he is considered somewhat of a liability. Furthermore he isn't quite good enough for owners and coaches to look past these issues.
He made a homophobic remark back in 2012 when he tweeted:
I’m homophobic just like I’m arachnophobic.I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I’d still scream if I found one in my bathtub !— BrandonSpikes55 (@brandonspikes55) October 10, 2012
For those of us who are willing to laugh, that is a funny thing to say, but still, one should not. In response to criticism he then tweeted "PEOPLE !!!! It’s a joke … seriously a JOKE !!! Chill out." Not the best response to accusations of gay bashing.
18 Ravel Morrison
The English midfielder made headlines back in 2012 when he responded to a series of negative comments on Twitter by using the F-bomb. The gay F-bomb, not the curse word. The Football Association has strict rules over what language can be used on social media and fined him 7,000 pounds.
17 Allen Iverson
He may have been one of the best guards of all time, but even Iverson isn't above taking some flack over a homophobic slur...or a series of them. Back around 2000, Iverson was trying his hand at rap. He was about as talented as other athlete-turned-rappers and used the word f***** just enough that many, including some within the NBA, called for his debut album to never be released. His rhymes were also described as highly misogynistic, so much like most of rap, it offended gays and women. Go figure.
16 Federico Macheda
Italian striker Federico Macheda is our second soccer player on the list and did pretty much the same thing as Ravel Morrison did, in the same year. It was 2012, and he used the words "little f*****" toward a fan who was tweeting to him and was punished with a 15,000 pound fine by the Football Association, on top of an indefinite warning to not use such language in the future.
15 DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson once appeared on The View, a fate worse than death, to praise a young man who had sustained a serious attack by multiple bullies. Back in 2011, however, he used words on a radio show that seriously tarnished his reputation. In a heated exchange of words with a caller to the show, he used the words "gay-ass f*****". He would later apologize to the gay and lesbian communities along with listeners, but kept his head high through the negative press, tweeting "Wanna bring me down but I'm OK. They trying to knock me off but I'm still on!"
14 Amar'e Stoudemire
While on Twitter back in 2011, a fan implied that Stoudemire had a terrible year and that he needed to come back stronger. 2011/2012 wasn't his worst year but it wasn't his strongest either. The former New York Knick commented "F*** you, I don't have to do anything, f**". He was fined $50,000 by the NBA when they found out about his poor choice of words.
13 Julian Tavarez
This Dominican pitcher who played for eleven teams in a seventeen year career is widely considered to have been one of the most unpleasant players of his era. He was a locker room cancer and not a team player by any means, but had a pretty solid arm.
While he was playing for the Chicago Cubs in 2001, he was boo'd during a loss to the San Francisco Giants, his former team. When asked about the incident later, he asked why he should care about fans in San-Fran who he called a bunch of "assholes and f*****s."
12 Kobe Bryant
While the 20-year NBA veteran may be one of the best of his time (maybe all time), he has a shockingly poor record when it comes to public relations. There was the sexual assault case, obviously, but he also made a few anti-gay slurs and comments. His most notorious occurred when he called a game official a gay slur during a game back in 2011. He was fined $100,000 for the incident and issued an apology.
A couple of years later in 2013, he played the "do as I say, not as I do" card with Lakers fans when he called out a fan who called another fan gay on Twitter.
11 Garrison Hearst
The year was 2002 and retired defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo had just come out, making him the third former NFL player to do so. When asked what he thought, running back Garrison Hearst responded with "Aww, hell no! I don't want any fa****s on my team. I know this might not be what people want to hear, but that's a punk. I don't want any fa****s in this locker room." He probably could have just said "that's not my thing, but I respect his views" but if everyone did that, life wouldn't be interesting.
10 Manny Smith
I'm starting to notice a trend here involving soccer players in England and the year 2012. Defender Manny Smith was playing for Walsall at the time, and they were in the middle of a terrible season. They had won just a single game out of over twenty. A fan messaged Smith about the club's poor play and received homophobic remarks as a response. He posted these remarks to a local gay website and Smith was fined. Smith apologized to the fan and the two said that the issue was resolved. Whether the gay community agreed is another story.
9 David Tyree
The man who completed the helmet catch, one of the most impressive plays in Super Bowl history, also made some homophobic remarks during his playing career. His catch was a key play during the New York Giants' win at Super Bowl XLII in which he also caught a touchdown pass early-on. As a born-again Christian, he is very outspoken about his faith and has said that he would give up his famous catch and the Super Bowl victory for a ban on gay marriage. He has also said that allowing such ceremonies would be a step toward anarchy. The New York Giants took some heat back in 2014 for hiring Tyree as director of player development, but ultimately it passed.
8 Nile Ranger
English striker Nile Ranger has not been a stranger to controversy and offensive events in his career. From violent crime allegations to suspicion of sexual crimes and alcohol related infractions, it's hard to write this but making homophobic comments may well be the least of his public relations worries. Back in 2012, he wrote a gay slur on Twitter and was later fined 6,000 pounds. He tweeted "what a joke" in response to the verdict.
7 Chris Culliver
Former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver made a controversial statement about homosexuals back in 2013, when the 49ers were on their way to the Super Bowl. Comedian Artie Lange asked him whether there were any gays on the team, to which Culliver responded "No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.... Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can't be…in the locker room man. Nah."
You can tell he didn't want to sound particularly hateful, but this is just an example of something you don't say. He also implied a decade was a reasonable amount of time after retirement for a football player to come out.
6 Goran Ivanisevic
Retired Croatian tennis player and winner of 22 tournaments, Goran Ivanisevic is our number six. He was nearing the end of his career back in 2001 when he lost a match to Patrick Rafter. During an interview, he was frustrated over some calls during the match and said that one official who made said calls looked like "a f***** little bit." The English skills may not have been there but there is no mistaking that slur.
5 Lee Steele
We've already seen four soccer (football, sorry to the non-North Americans reading this) players who have made homophobic remarks and essentially received slaps on the wrist. Lee Steele was around the end of his career back in 2012 and tweeted that he "wouldn't fancy the bed next to Gareth Thomas #padlockmyarse" in reference to gay former rugby player Gareth Thomas. A pretty tasteless joke that saw him get released from his club.
4 Jason Williams
Despite the name "White Chocolate," there was really nothing sweet about Jason Williams' demeanor. He had multiple incidents that involved fans and one in particular that was both racist and homophobic at the same time. He was being heckled back in 2001 by Golden State fan, Michael Ching. After Ching called him a "skinhead," he responded with “Are you a f**? Are you gay? Do you remember the Vietnam War? I’ll kill y’all just like that. Rat-a-tat-tat.” Maybe "skinhead" wasn't that far off the mark...
3 John Rocker
You can't talk about offensive, ignorant athletes without mentioning John Rocker. The former Atlanta Brave had the most ridiculously prejudicial outburst in sports history back in 1999. He was asked if he'd ever play in New York and belched out the following nonsense.
"I'd retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing... The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?"
Seems like a great guy.
2 Brock Lesnar
Our number two is a notoriously gifted athlete, having been a successful wrestler at the collegiate level, a professional football player (very briefly), a UFC Heavyweight Champion and he remains one of the most successful faces in the history of the WWE. He's known for having somewhat of a "traditional" lifestyle that includes a somewhat traditional prejudice. Back in 2004, when he was trying to break into the National Football League, he was told by a young lady, in front of some reporters that her friend named Shawn, thought he was cute. He went on a brief tirade, partially directed at the nearby journalists that included the phrase "I don't like gays. Write that down in your little notebook, I don't like gays!"
1 Tim Hardaway
Former All-Star point guard Tim Hardaway is now known as somewhat of a gay right activist. He was the first to sign a petition in Florida to allow gay marriage. This occurred in 2014. Seven years prior, however, he made the most homophobic public statement of any athlete in recent memory. In 2007, shortly after former player John Amaechi came out, Hardaway said "Well, you know I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
Of course, while this is a pretty brutal thing to say, many have accepted his change of heart and noted his dedication to educating himself and others in issues of homosexuality and gay rights.
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