Sports figures are our superheroes. With the cameras rolling, whether live or on television, we see these athletes at their very best moments, scoring the game-winner, making an unbelievable play or breaking a long standing record. These are the moments for which we watch sports and pay attention to athletes from around the world. With the internet and around the clock coverage, it’s nearly impossible to miss any of the exciting action throughout the sports world. That being said, it’s also nigh impossible to miss athletes at their very worst.
The great thing about being an athlete is that when they make a huge play everyone sees it. The bad thing is, whenever they make a huge mistake, everyone sees it. With the advent of the internet, fans have a great way to see the athletes at their very best and worst, and when an athlete is at his worst, the internet can be relentless. Just ask Tony Romo. Whether it’s a bad play, "wardrobe malfunction," brain fart, mugshot or epic fail, you can bet the internet will find it and generate a meme just to rub some salt on the wound.
Hey, we’re all human, and we’ve all made mistakes. For athletes the never ceasing spotlight can also be a bullseye, making their errors all the more egregious. These errors are then highlighted, and an athlete’s lowest moment is immortalized in pictures forever. Most athletes shrug off the embarrassing pictures or roll with it, though I’m sure there are athletes that would love to purge these embarrassing pictures from cyber space. But we're not done with these embarrassing pics just yet. So, without further ado, here are 20 of the most embarrassing pictures of athletes ever taken.
20 Mark Sanchez’s “Butt Fumble”
The “butt fumble” was one of three turnovers that each resulted in touchdowns for the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving Day, 2012. Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez ran into teammate Brandon Moore’s backside as Moore was being pushed back, resulting in the ball coming loose and ceremoniously returned for a touchdown. The Jets offense possessed the ball for nearly the entire second quarter, yet found themselves losing 35-3 at the half. As embarrassing as the New York Jets 2012 season was, the “butt fumble” was just icing on top of a very large embarrassing cake.
The butt fumble will go down as one of the worst plays in NFL history, and this picture certainly won’t help take the sting away. The embarrassment of the horrendous offensive showing was only made worse by this picture of Sanchez getting a face full of Moore’s rear end.
19 Silva and Weidman go lips to lips
Weigh-ins in UFC are mostly done for promotional reasons, often ending with a fierce stare down or fighting pose. During an epic weigh-in between champion Anderson Silva and number one contender Chris Weidman, both decided to get in each other’s face. What was supposed to look intense resulted in this embarrassing picture, for Silva, Weidman and the UFC.
I get that the UFC wants to show how tough their fighters are and going nose to nose is a good way to do that. Still, if Silva and Weidman get any closer they'll be through each other. Understandably, both men are trying to avoid any touch of the lips with Weidman pulling his lips in. If UFC was going for machismo, then this was an epic fail.
18 Dustin Brown Water Bottle Fail
Dustin Brown has put together a solid hockey career. He’s captain for the L.A. Kings and has won a couple of championships with them. He’s a right winger and is clearly a talented hockey player. Unfortunately, his skills with the water bottle aren’t as versatile.
A viral clip of Brown shows him attempting a drink from his water bottle. As water is squirting from the other end, Brown discovers he’s drinking from the wrong side. This epic fail has led Brown’s teammates to make a special water bottle for him (with two ends and arrows pointing to each end). Okay it’s an honest mistake, but this has also led to some amazing memes, especially from the pic above. Hey, we’ve all been there. I’m just glad he and his teammates are having as much fun with the bottle mishap as we are.
17 Flavia Zoccari’s Wardrobe Malfunction
One of the best swimmers in the world, Flavia Zoccari, competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Sadly, she is mostly known for her unfortunate swimming suit mishap. During the games, Zoccari’s swimsuit ripped from behind in the worse possible spot. Zocaari showed off her bum to the world and the rip caused her to drop out from the games, bringing Zoccari to tears. Of course, the picture above was snapped, making Zoccari’s exit all the more humiliating.
Naturally, her bathing suit was supposed to be state of the art and became a subject of controversy after being banned for allegedly giving its swimmers an unfair advantage. The ban was lifted, but with this unintended peep show, it's likely going to cause swimmers to rethink their choice in swim wear.
16 Laremy Tunsil's Unique Gas Mask
Laremy Tunsil was a highly touted college football player and regarded as a number one draft prospect for the NFL. Tunsil decided to miss his senior year of college and enter into the NFL draft. As the NFL draft was about to start, Tunsil’s Twitter account was allegedly hacked and a video of Tunsil wearing a gas mask and smoking from a bong hit social media. Someone should have told Tunsil people wear gas masks to keep the clean air in, not out.
At any rate, pictures of Tunsil in his mask spread throughout the football world, and teams balked at selecting him. Tunsil admitted his Twitter account was hacked as if that explained away the images of him in the gas mask with smoke coming out of it.
Tunsil was selected for the Miami Dolphins and has been a consistent starter on their o-line. The Dolphins are hoping his days of donning the gas mask are over.
15 Oscar De La Hoya's fashion show
I’m not going to question Oscar De La Hoya’s manhood, but this image definitely puts to question “The Golden Boy” moniker. Rumors of De La Hoya’s drug problems and infidelity circulated and gained traction when exotic dancer Milana Dravnel accused him of cheating on his wife with her. Dravnel posted the picture which brought about the question, "Who wore it better?"
De La Hoya, at first, brushed off the image calling it photoshopped and tried to discredit the photo and its owner. Later, De La Hoya was forced to admit that the photo was authentic. He claimed the photo was during a low point in his life; he had been on drugs and had contemplated suicide.
Still, only Oscar De La Hoya knows why he decided to dress up in women’s fishnets and high heels and allow a picture of him to be taken. De La Hoya has a career of taking shots, but this picture has to be a serious blow to his ego.
14 Rex Grossman's Roughing the Passer Pic
Rex Grossman is a name not often heard anymore. His rollercoaster career often jeopardized his role as starting quarterback. However, the timing for Grossman was perfect during the 2006-07 season when he defeated Seahawks and the Saints, leading the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance.
Speaking of timing, this perfectly timed picture shows Rex in a serious predicament. Here, Grossman is sacked by a Packers Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who remains on top of Grossman for an abhorrent amount of time, allowing this moment to be captured. Needless to say, the memes have been glorious. It hasn’t been easy to be a Bears fan for a while now, and certainly this pic of "roughing the passer" isn’t endearing any fans to the Bear organization or to football for that matter.
13 Rashaan Melvin bringing up the rear
There's a reason why a horse collar tackle is illegal, but this pic pushes the boundaries of acceptable tackling. In this pic, Rob Gronkowski is being “tackled” by Rashaan Melvin who gets an up close view of the tight end’s rear end right in the face. Gronk may be one of the best tight ends ever, so bringing him down is never easy. Melvin does his best to bring him down, pants first, in this magical moment caught on camera.
It’s hard to tell who this pic is more embarrassing for, Gronkowski, who’s mooning the entire world, or Melvin, whose face looks surgically attached to Gronk’s pasty cheeks. I like the maximum effort given by both players, but there has to be a flagrant foul from this play somewhere.
12 Venus Williams flesh colored undies
Venus Williams, like her sister, Serena, is considered one of the best tennis players ever. In addition to her excellence in the sport, Venus may also be widely remembered for her controversial undergarments worn during the Australian Open. The outfits of tennis players have often come under scrutiny for being too revealing, but Williams nearly broke the internet when fans believed she had gone commando.
As it turns out, Williams was in fact wearing underwear, flesh colored underwear. Williams downplayed her choice in undies as a way to help bring out her yellow dress. I’m not sure if she succeeded. No one was concerned with the slits of Venus’s dress as much as they were with what was or wasn't underneath.
11 Yao Ming and the Armpit lick
The superstar from China, 7’6” Yao Ming is a retired NBA player and regarded as China’s most popular athlete. His career in the NBA is hall of fame worthy, and his memes have reached the status of legendary. The pic above is just one of many entertaining pics of the Chinese born superstar, though this one in particular is a bit disturbing for Yao and for the unknown man trying to defend him.
With Yao’s unparalleled height, especially outside of the NBA, you can only imagine the strategies used to throw Yao off his game. Apparently, tongue to the pit is one of those strategies. Yao clearly looks like his focus is wavering, although the person getting a salty lick doesn’t look like he’s totally coherent either.
10 McKayla Maroney is Not Impressed
American Olympic Gold Medalist, artistic gymnast and internet sensation, McKayla Maroney was a highly decorated gymnast before she retired due to health issues. Despite her gold medals, Maroney is most well-known for her silver medal win and the picture that followed.
Many experts picked Maroney to win the gold, but an errant landing cost her. Maroney had to settle for a soul crushing silver medal when this photo was snapped while on the winner’s podium. Maroney said it was only a moment of disappointment that people had blown out of proportion.
Maroney turned the “not impressed face” into a positive, embraced it and finds the memes humorous now. Maroney even has a photo with President Obama both donning the signature look, likely giving Maroney something to finally smile about.
9 Ashley Wagner’s Angry Face
Ashley Wagner is an American figure skater with a bright future ahead of her. She is lesser known for her 2016 silver medal world championship win and more known for her viral “angry face.” Feeling like she nailed her performance, her angry face reaction resulted from the disappointing score given to her during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. She was seen shaking her head and mouthing “that’s bull****.”
Wagner’s reaction elevated her internet status from mere Olympic athlete to the prominence of the next McKayla Maroney. Despite Ashley Wagner’s disappointing score, she helped the USA team make it to the finals where they won the bronze. More importantly Ashley Wagner became an internet sensation, with her memes being the first of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
8 James Posey’s Professional Pick
We’re all human. We’ve picked our nose before, and some of us have been even more unlucky to have this captured on camera. However, James Posey took this to a whole new level with his finger up the nose of Stephen Jackson. Of course, we have this picture above to prove it.
We all knew Posey was good at setting picks, but picking sets of boogers is one skill we didn't see coming. As Stephen Jackson was going for a lay-up or possible dunk, James Posey is going for a dunk of his own by somehow getting his finger into Jackson’s nostril. Whether this is a foul or just foul, we thank Posey and Jackson for the heartwarming photo and the treasured memes that followed.
7 Stephanie Gilmore’s wardrobe malfunction
Like Venus Williams’ flesh colored undies, some athletes’ outfits are completely questionable of their doing. However, in the case of Stephanie Gilmore, the wardrobe mishap is entirely accidental. Stephanie Gilmore is a very attractive Australian professional surfer and a six time World Surf League world champion. She has had a tremendous career filled with wonderful moments in her profession. Then, there’s the incident above.
While shooting for Vogue, the magazine got a little more than they bargained for when Gilmore had a slight wardrobe malfunction after crashing hard into some waves and losing her top. She apparently flashed everyone within viewing distance, quickly improvised and tied her top back on. Bravo Stephanie for not wiping out while "the girls" were coming out.
6 Eli Manning looking "SMRT"
It’s a bad time to pick on the lowly New York Giants and poor Eli, who’s looking for anything positive this season, but I just can’t help myself. Here, Eli Manning is going for an Oscar in his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster. This picture of Manning looking zombified is just a case of bad timing (I hope), but the label of Eli being dumb has gained a lot of traction with photos like these. Eli looks dead on the inside, much like all Giants fans this season.
This isn’t the first time (or the last) that Eli’s face has been the subject of conversation. Remember Eli’s face watching big brother Peyton win another Super Bowl? Sorry, Eli, but with Tony Romo gone from football, someone has to fill that void of hilarious quarterback memes. Just Google “Eli Manning faces.” It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
5 Tiger Woods’ Mugshot
Can you say, “fall from grace?” Tiger Woods wrote the book on that. Tiger had all the potential to be the greatest golfer of all time, however, Tiger’s focus solely on golf wavered. Tiger has dropped below the 1,000th ranked golfers in the world, which is a staggering drop for someone who was once number one. Despite his troubles and horrific play as of late, many still consider him to be one of the best golfers of all time.
Unfortunately, Woods seemingly couldn’t handle the fame. His wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, teed off on Tiger’s head with a golf club once she learned of his infidelity. In 2017, the legal troubles continued as Woods was charged with DUI, leading to his magnificent mugshot. Why not add this embarrassing mugshot to the list of humiliating defeats for Tiger. He can only go up from here right?
4 Desmond J. Bryant Mugshot
Speaking of mugshots, wow! I thought Tiger’s was bad, but this one might be the worst I’ve ever seen. Not to be confused with Dez Bryant, the Cowboys wide receiver, Desmond J. Bryant is an NFL defensive tackle who played for the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately, Bryant has had some run-ins with the law. His most infamous arrest came in 2013 when he showed up drunk and shirtless and completely out of control at a neighbor’s house. He was arrested for criminal mischief leading to the glorious pic above.
The mugshot went viral instantly and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel even coined the mugshot as “Dezzing” similar to “Tebowing.” Bryant has since said he’s ready to move forward, but just when the embarrassments seemed to be over, Bryant found himself released from, of all teams, the Browns.
3 Dan Orlovsky scrambles to safety
What? You don’t know who quarterback Dan Orlovsky is? Would you believe he’s been in the NFL for over ten years? Orlovsky is your average career backup quarterback. He’s been on six different teams, as backup or on the practice squad which isn’t a bad paying gig. His first official start was against the Minnesota Vikings as the Lions' quarterback. The game was uneventful except for Orlovsky accidentally running out of bounds in the back of his own end zone resulting in a safety, marking one of the worst plays in NFL history. As it turns out, the Lions would lose by two.
The picture of Orlovsky in the back of his own end zone is an embarrassing picture and moment, but to Orlovsky’s credit he’s taking it in stride. Also, let's be clear, he’s not the only QB to have run out of the back of their own end zone for a safety.
2 Caroline Wozniacki "Imitates" Serena
Known for her excellent play in tennis and stunning good looks, Caroline Wozniacki has made headlines for her modeling appearances in Sports Illustrated as well as her matches against the best tennis players in the world, like Serena Williams. In 2012, Wozniacki would face her friend Williams but decided to imitate her by stuffing towels underneath the front of her shirt and the back of her skirt. Wozniacki’s prank wasn’t well received, with many decrying racism. However, Williams herself, defended Wozniacki but also said, maybe Wozniacki should “do something different next time.”
What seemed like harmless fun, backfired and is probably a moment Wozniacki would like to forget. Unfortunately for her, these pics aren’t going anywhere, at least not until Wozniacki does “something different.” Oh, we can’t wait.
1 Team USA’s Cycling Uniform
So, this picture has left all of us asking, “What were they thinking?” Stars? Check. “USA?” Check. Red, white and blue colors? Check. Strange discolored circle around the crotch? Double check. You can tell the team is super psyched about the design of these uniforms. In this pic, Jennie Reed, Dotsie Bausch and Sarah Hammer awkwardly stand at the winner’s podium where, in some pictures, they are strategically placing their hands to cover their unsightly uniforms.
The whole design begs the question “why.” Maybe it was to distract the other teams, who knows. Still, the team had to feel a bit of embarrassment wearing this monstrosity. Despite their ridiculous uniforms, the USA cycling team would remarkably leave the 2012 Olympics with the silver. While that should be the highlight, instead team USA takes the gold for most embarrassing uniform design.