Merriam-Webster defines a meme as “an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online, especially through social media.”
Sports have long served as a mirror or reflection of society and some of its heaviest issues. For instance, with America embroiled in social unrest, former San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Colin Kaepernick has been in the spotlight since he refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem during a preseason game in August 2016. Kaepernick, who is suing the NFL for collusion, basically sacrificed his livelihood to protest police brutality and perceived inequalities in our justice system against African-Americans and minorities in the United States. Predictably, Internet trolls have lampooned Kaepernick for nearly a year and a half for his stance.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick, 30.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
On a far lighter note, sports can also serve as an escape from the difficulties of everyday life. Athletics have the ability to create camaraderie and a sense of unity. Whether for a serious matter or frivolous topic, sports figures and athletic organizations are especially targeted by online tormentors. Accordingly, below are 20 of the harshest sports memes of 2017.
20 EZEKIEL ELLIOTT’S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SUSPENSION
Dallas Cowboys’ star running back Ezekiel Elliott was accused of assaulting a woman on five separate occasions during the week of July 16, 2016. For his alleged acts, the 22-year-old Elliott was suspended in August for the first six games on the 2017 season.
“(Our advisors) were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against (ED: Name redacted) on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016,” Todd Jones, the NFL's Special Counsel for Conduct, wrote in a letter to Elliott.
“After reviewing the record, and having considered the views of the independent advisors, the commissioner determined that the credible evidence established that Elliott engaged in conduct that violated NFL policy.”
Elliott appealed the league’s decision before finally accepting his ban on November 12. Because Elliott was never criminally charged, this meme speaks for itself.
19 BRITT MCHENRY DEALS WITH MIKE EHRMANTRAUT AT A TOW LOT
Obnoxious sports reporter Britt McHenry was laid off from ESPN on April 26th. McHenry was an obscure personality at the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports” before she verbally abused a tow lot employee on camera in April 2015.
“I’m in the news sweetheart, I will f****** sue this place,” McHenry said to one of the company’s employees.
“So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing? I’m on television and you’re in a f****** trailer, honey. Lose some weight, baby girl.”
The network suspended McHenry for a week in response to her ugly rant. Now unemployed, the opinionated blonde concentrates on bashing Colin Kaepernick and socializing her conservative views. This photo depicts McHenry getting ignored by “Breaking Bad” enforcer, and former “Better Call Saul” parking lot attendant, Mike Ehrmantraut.
18 MOCKING THE DALLAS COWBOYS
The Dallas Cowboys have failed to win a Super Bowl since defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 on January 28, 1996. Since winning its fifth and last championship 21 years ago, Dallas has only qualified for the playoffs on nine occasions and clinched six NFC East titles. However, led by youngsters Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the 2016 Cowboys went 13-3 and entered this season as a popular choice to advance to Super Bowl LII on February 4.
“We need to win,” said Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner.
“We need to continue to build this foundation we have right now. The number one thing from this point forward is to win a Super Bowl. We can’t rest on our laurels as a team.”
Regrettably for Cowboys fans, after starting 5-3, the squad’s stalled without Elliott in the backfield and appear destined to miss the postseason. Consequently, this meme shows an attractive blonde woman hopelessly supporting America's Team.
17 HALF OF AN ATLANTA FALCON
The Atlanta Falcons were leading the New England Patriots 28-3 with mere minutes remaining in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston. Incomprehensibly, quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons faltered and ultimately surrendered to New England 34-28 in overtime. Granted, Atlanta’s defense was pitiful for the game’s final 18 minutes. Still, if Ryan and the Falcons’ offense even sustained one or two drives, the contest would have been unwinnable for the Patriots.
“I made notes of what we could have done differently and what we did right and wrong,” said Ryan, the league’s reigning MVP.
“That helped. It was advice I got from people I was close to try and embrace that and deal with it as quickly as possible and start to move on. But, it did take a little longer to get over because we were so close.”
Ryan and the Falcons will forever be remembered as choke artists.
16 STEPHEN CURRY TAUNTS RUSSELL WESTBROOK
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors overcame the Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games to win the 2016 Western Conference Finals. Roughly a month after falling to Golden State, Thunder megastar Kevin Durant abandoned Oklahoma City and Russell Westbrook to join Curry and the Warriors. Inevitably, brimming with talent, Durant and Golden State outclassed the Cleveland Cavaliers in five lopsided contests to win its second title in three seasons. A little more than 1,600 miles southeast from Oakland in Oklahoma City, Westbrook earned the 2017 Most Valuable Player award for his historically dominant play. In recognition of Westbrook’s brilliance, Oklahoma City and the blazing point guard agreed to a five-year extension worth $205 million on September 29.
"I love being here," said Westbrook, 29. "I'm excited about the season. Obviously, with a lot of new changes, and I'm excited."
Although tremendous individually, Westbrook couldn’t direct Oklahoma City to a crown. Curry is seen here belittling Westbrook’s unsuccessful efforts.
15 LAVAR BALL SAYS HE CAN BEAT MICHAEL JORDAN IN A GAME OF ONE-ON-ONE
Michael Jordan is an icon and almost universally regarded as the premier player in NBA history. Conversely, outside of his immediate family, nobody ever heard of Lavar Ball until he became the male equivalent of Kris Jenner. Nonetheless, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Ball comically claimed he could beat the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Jordan in a game of one-on-one.
"I would just back [Jordan] in and lift him off the ground and call a foul every time he fouls me when I do a jump hook to the right or the left," said Ball, 50, who played 26 games for Washington State.
“He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot 'cause he can't go around me. He's not fast enough. And he can only make so many shots outside before I make every bucket under the rim."
The ultra-competitive Jordan scoffed at Ball’s ludicrous assertion and mocked the loudmouth.
"You got to understand the source. I think he played college, maybe?" said Jordan, 54.
“He averaged 2.2 points a game. Really? It doesn't deserve a response, but I'm [going to] give it to you because you asked the question. I don't think he could beat me if I was one-legged."
Even Smokey from the 1995 comedy “Friday” seems baffled by Ball’s mind-boggling assertion.
14 Tiger Woods' DUI
Although quite straightforward, this is still a brutal meme. Tiger Woods, who had an endorsement contract with Nike for nearly two decades, was arrested and charged with DUI on May 29. While apologetic for his offense, Woods swore that alcohol wasn’t involved in the incident.
“I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved,” Woods’ statement read.
“What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly. I will do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again.”
Woods has been hindered by back problems, substance abuse issues and nymphomania. Hence, many factors have caused Woods’ downfall as a world-class golfer. Woods pled guilty in October to driving while high on prescription pills and received a year of probation and a fine of $250 for court costs.
13 ROGER GOODELL’S HANDLING OF NATIONAL ANTHEM CONTROVERSY
The person who created this item misquoted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Nevertheless, due to the topic’s sensitive nature, this is a ruthless meme. In September, President Donald Trump created a firestorm when he brazenly urged the league’s owners to terminate players who kneel during the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” said Trump.
Trump’s comments incensed countless athletes and the following week the number of protesters grew vastly in size. In response, Goodell said that the league as a whole wanted players to stand and a plan to handle the raging national controversy was being devised.
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell wrote to NFL club presidents and chief executives.
As of this posting, Goodell hasn’t announced his idea and players continue to kneel during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
12 You Be Nice, CONOR
Floyd Mayweather finished Irish MMA star Conor McGregor in the 10th round of their 154-pound boxing match on August 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“(McGregor’s) a tough competitor,” said Mayweather, 40.
“I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see. He’s a lot better than I thought he was. But I was the better man tonight.”
Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is a legend in the squared circle and McGregor (0-1) obtained a professional boxing license in December 2016. Therefore, the bout’s outcome was essentially a foregone conclusion. However, as noted by Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of “Star Trek: Next Generation,” perhaps onlookers should have given McGregor a better chance against Mayweather. After all, prior to August, McGregor was an undefeated pugilist.
As is best remembered from the buildup to the fight, McGregor made light of the fact that Mayweather is illiterate, but as Scuba Sam from Big Daddy told us, be nice.
11 THE ABSURD AMOUNT OF MONEY GENERATED BY THE MAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR BOUT
Floyd Mayweather banked $100 million and Conor McGregor pocketed $30 million for their glorified carnival act this past summer. Moreover, considering pricing structure in the United Kingdom, pay-per-view and ticket sales, and Sin City’s bustling hotels and casinos, the exact purse generated by that weekend’s mismatch is unknown. Still, financial analysts agree that the sum was in the billions of dollars range.
“This was my last fight tonight, my last fight, for sure. I chose the right dance partner to dance with,” said Mayweather, while reflecting on his earnings.
This meme portrays Huell Babineaux and Patrick Kuby of “Breaking Bad” fame lounging on Walter White’s massive stack of money like they are Mayweather and McGregor following their “legendary” tussle in the desert.
10 IS BRAD MADDOX THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED SPORTS ENTERTAINER EVER?
Brad Maddox, born Tyler Kluttz in Tega Cay, South Carolina, debuted as a grappler in April 2008. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Maddox earned a promotion and refereed a WWE Divas Battle Royal during an August 2012 edition of “Raw.” Maddox eventually became a heel when he ensured that CM Punk successfully defended the heavyweight championship against Ryback at Hell in a Cell 2012. Maddox’s corrupt officiating inspired Vince McMahon to schedule a bout between Maddox and Ryback. If Maddox prevailed over Ryback, McMahon promised the North Carolinian that he would receive a $1 million contract to compete in the squared circle. Unfortunately for Maddox, he was badly decimated by Ryback and unable to land the deal.
Undaunted, Maddox secured work in February 2013 as Vickie Guerrero’s assistant managing supervisor on “Raw.” Maddox was released by WWE executives after he used profanity on camera in November 2015. Approximately 17 months after getting terminated by McMahon, photos and videos of Maddox and Paige having sex were leaked online.
9 THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ARE THE TEAM THAT AMERICA LOVES TO HATE
The New England Patriots completed a remarkable comeback to conquer the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston. Regardless, due to multiple scandals and an unprecedented run of sustained excellence, the Patriots remain the NFL’s most despised franchise. Dynamic quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for deflating footballs in June 2016 and Bill Belichick oversaw an elaborate cheating operation from 2000 through 2007. Far graver than petty ploys, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged in June 2013 for shooting to death Odin Lloyd. For the Lloyd slaying, Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder in April 2015 and sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell on April 19 at the age of 27.
8 THE SPURS’ FIRST SEASON WITHOUT TIM DUNCAN SINCE 1997
Tim Duncan, arguably the preeminent power forward in NBA history, retired at the age of 40 on July 12, 2016. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Duncan, a 10-time All-NBA first team selection who earned two Most Valuable Player awards, was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs out of Wake Forest with the first overall pick in 1997. Over 19 years in San Antonio, “The Big Fundamental” led the Spurs to five crowns.
“Timmy D you know how I feel about you, what you did for me and for the entire NBA. Thank you for an amazing career! #BestPFEver #Legend,” tweeted LeBron James.
Without Duncan for the first time since the Clinton administration, San Antonio went 61-21 and finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference. The Spurs were ultimately swept by the Golden State Warriors in the conference championship series. Considering Duncan was a Spur for nearly two decades, it’s sensical that this elderly woman recalls attending high school with the future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
7 THE CLEVELAND BROWNS ARE THE WORST ORGANIZATION IN THE NFL
The Cleveland Browns are arguably the most inept organization in North American professional sports. Cleveland has only qualified for the playoffs once this millennium and remains winless this season. In July, Drew Magary of Deadspin spoke with a jaded Browns fan named Jordan about his experiences supporting the league’s feeblest franchise.
“This is how I watched my Browns last year: Turn on the TV. Wait until the other team scores a touchdown (usually the opening possession). Turn off the TV and go do literally anything else,” recounted Jordan.
“Did I ever once consider during the times I turned my TV off that maybe I should turn it back on and see if we made the game competitive? Nope, and it never f****** happened. I’m a die-hard Browns fan and I don’t remember even 5 percent of last season and I’m glad. This team is so awful I can barely even watch football anymore. F*** this team and my father for making me a Browns fan.”
6 IF TIM TEBOW CAN WIN A PLAYOFF GAME, ANDY DALTON NEEDS TO WIN ONE
The Denver Broncos selected southpaw quarterback Tim Tebow 25th overall in the 2010 draft. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Tebow became Denver’s starting passer in Week 6 of the 2011 campaign. The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner was an erratic Bronco and he constantly fumbled the pigskin. Still, Tebow managed to make key plays and he elevated Denver to the AFC West title in 2011 and a 29-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in that season’s AFC Wild Card game. Unlike Tebow, Andy Dalton has been primarily solid under center and he’s made three Pro Bowl teams since entering the league in 2011.
More importantly, the “Red Rifle” led the Cincinnati Bengals to four consecutive playoff berths. Regrettably for Dalton and anyone associated with the Bengals, the team has not won a single postseason contest since January 1991.
5 The Reason For JINDER MAHAL's Push
An undefined Jinder Mahal teamed with Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre to form the Three Man Band until he was released in June 2014. Three years later, a suspiciously muscled, 6-foot-5, 220-pound Mahal was reintroduced as a menacing badass. On May 21 at Backlash, Mahal, with Sunil Singh and Samir Singh, upset Randy Orton to become “SmackDown Live’s” WWE Champion.
“Jinder is a guy who has always worked extremely hard,” COO Triple H said of the WWE’s star of Indian descent. “He trains hard and he’s very intense about what he wants with his career.”
The 31-year-old Mahal is seeking to avenge his loss to AJ Styles and regain the heavyweight belt at Clash of Champions on December 17th in Boston. This meme is deriding WWE CEO Vince McMahon for his adoration of meatheads and contempt for performers he deems too stringy or flabby.
4 LAVAR BALL’S DISGUSTING TEETH
LaVar Ball is a failed athlete who is living vicariously through his sons, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo. The Ball patriarch established a clothing and apparel company called Big Baller Brand in 2016. Like the delusional and irrational man that he is, Ball bragged about charging $495 for a pair of his signature shoe, the ZO2.
“The fact that people are losing sight - they’re looking at the price tag and not understanding that Lonzo’s shoe is symbolic,” claimed Ball.
“That comes with a price tag. Symbolic as he’s the first one ever to come in here without even playing a game and have his own brand. It’s not just a shoe you just go in a store or something like that and you say, ‘You know what, let me get the Kyrie, the LeBron… by the way, throw in the ZO2.’ If you can’t afford the ZO2’s, you’re not a Big Baller.”
Rather than charging outrageous prices for sneakers, Ball should seek a dentist to fix his unsightly teeth.
3 LEBRON JAMES STRUGGLES TO DEAL WITH THE WARRIORS AND DRAYMOND GREEN
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in five games in June’s NBA Finals. Despite its own impressive array of talent, Cleveland couldn’t handle the Warriors’ star-studded cast.
“Pretty much all their big-name guys are in their 20s, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down,” James said.
“So there’s going to be a lot of teams that are trying to figure out ways to put personnel together to try and match that if they’re able to actually face them in a playoff series, both Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Because they’re built for — from my eyes — they’re built to last a few years. So we’ll see.”
This meme was produced because many critics consider James to be a whiny prima donna and Warriors power forward Draymond Green is a notorious instigator.
2 THE NFL’S HEAD TRAUMA CRISIS
As summarized by Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated on August 15, “The study detected CTE at distressingly prevalent levels. Of the 202 brains analyzed, 177 (88%) showed CTE. Of particular concern, 48 of the 53 college players’ brains (91%) and 110 of the 111 (99%) NFL players’ brains exhibited CTE.”
On November 9, researchers at Boston University revealed that “Aaron Hernandez suffered the most severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy ever discovered in a person his age, damage that would have significantly affected his decision-making, judgment and cognition.” Prior to hanging himself in his prison cell on April 19 at the age of 27, Hernandez had been charged with murdering three men in two separate incidents. In spite of studies showing that sports-related head impacts can cause changes in the brain, not everybody seems to care.
This meme depicts the late Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka” downplaying the importance of football players’ worth to society. Adam "Pacman" Jones is a notorious troublemaker and Ray Lewis was charged with two counts of murder in 2000.
1 SHOULD COLIN KAEPERNICK HAVE BEEN NAMED GQ’S ‘CITIZEN OF THE YEAR?’
Colin Kaepernick is one of the most controversial athletes this century. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kaepernick, who San Francisco selected out of Nevada with the 36th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, opted out of his contract with the 49ers on March 3. When free agency opened on March 7, a slew of middling passers found jobs around the league. However, teams avoided the relatively talented Kaepernick like he’s akin to anthrax. According to Bleacher Report, mainly because of his political views, 70 percent of the league’s general managers “hate” Kaepernick. Kaepernick threw 72 touchdowns, against 30 interceptions, for 12,271 yards in 69 games as a Niner.
Understandably, many contend that Kaepernick has been blackballed and he’s currently suing the league for collusion. While many onlookers believe that Kaepernick is a fearless civil rights activist, other observers consider the bold kneeler to be a disgrace. The individual who created this meme thinks GQ’s C-level executives are insane and sarcastically questions if the periodical will next name North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as its “Human Rights Activist of the Year.”