The life of an athlete can be hard. But most will agree the worst part is when it’s all over. It’s hard to give up the playing you loved, the fame, the attention, all of it. It’s like a drug and many a star has admitted to hanging on longer than he should have because he didn’t want to give it up. Sadly, many are unable to handle it well as the list of guys who blew millions of dollars fast is lengthy, some just not able to handle life without the sport. You can feel sorry for some guys hampered by injuries that ruined their time and unable to handle their addictions. However, in other cases, you don’t feel as bad because some of these guys clearly gave up sympathy for a variety of issues.
In some cases, it was because they basically committed crimes that should have gotten them banned from their sport. In others, it was their attitude that made few friends, egos that rubbed the wrong way and that contributed to their downfall. And in other cases, it’s because despite being washed up and careers over, these folks have more money than athletes far better in the field. It’s remarkable how many “washed up” millionaires there are and it seems unfair a guy who was a huge jerk is still living large over some nicer guys. Here are 15 washed up athletes we just don’t feel that sorry for and how your actions have consequences after your playing days are done.
15 Lawrence Taylor
At one point, LT was one of the most feared men in the NFL. Many a quarterback and receiver felt the crushing tackles he made, making him the best defensive player in the league. Playing his entire career for the Giants, Taylor helped New York win two Super Bowls and retired still regarded as a great guy. He even parlayed that into a main event at WrestleMania. But Taylor was held back by long-time substabnce abuse and was jailed three times for substance arrests.
He seemed to clean himself up and doing well as a commentator but in 2011 was sentenced to probation for sleeping with an underage prostitute.
He’s endured bankruptcies and up front on his years of cheating on his various wives amid drinking and substance use. Thus, you can’t really feel sorry for a guy who hit bottom, cleaned up but decided to do it all over again.
14 Anna Kournikova
Even at the height of her fame, Anna Kournikova was always more about her looks than real talent. She looked great on the court with her lush blonde hair and tight build showing off well in those outfits. She parlayed that for fame, including magazine spreads in bikinis and looking hot in endorsements. She just seemed more interested in modeling than tennis and that showed by her lack of titles.
When an injury cut her career short, Kournikova wasn’t really that missed given her lack of real ability on the court.
Since then, her star has faded without the tennis connection, slumping and pretty much just known for some partying. However, you can’t feel bad for someone who looks great and is still worth $50 million as the lady can still turn a lot of heads.
13 Michael Vick
Sure, some see him as a great redemption story. But it’s hard to ignore that horrible crime. For a time, Michael Vick was among the best quarterbacks in the NFL, a fantastic athlete on the rise and it looked for all the world like he could lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Everything was going great with endorsements and Vick seen as the future of the NFL. Then he was busted for running an illegal dog fighting ring. Fans can put up with a lot but animal abuse is something else, as Vick was suspended and later served two years in prison.
When he got out, he had a shot with the Eagles that did well although hampered by some injuries and later the Jets. However, it was clear he was never quite the same after that sentence. Today, he works for FS1 and still pretty rich yet you’re still hard pressed to find sympathy for a guy who let dogs fight for money no matter how much folks think he’s “redeemed.”
12 Lance Armstrong
Really, how can you feel bad? He was not just a great athlete but an outright hero and role model to millions. A man who overcame cancer to win the Tour De France multiple times, Armstrong was a machine in racing, a fantastic force few could overcome. He raised millions for cancer research, appeared in movies and TV shows and was seen as an American hero. While rumors had bounced around for a while, it finally was confirmed that for most of his career, Armstrong had been taking multiple steroids and other drugs to give him an edge. It led to his victories stripped from him and a lifetime ban.
To many, that he kept up this lie for so long is the worst part, a total fraud boasting of his greatness and putting up with the model idea.
That’s why you can’t feel sorry for him as Armstrong openly cheated and lied and ruined the once great standing he held.
11 Denny McLain
For one year, Denny McLain had the world at his feet. But rather than enjoy the view, he took a harsh fall. In 1968, McLain stunned baseball by setting the record for most victories, 31, a record still standing today. It was the key to the Detroit Tigers winning the World Series and earning him Cy Young honors. One would think that makes him a Hall of Fame lock but his behavior since ruins it. His ego took over with harsh stuff and he earned suspensions for consorting with gamblers and packing a gun.
In just two years, McLain went from most games won to most games lost and soon out of baseball. In 1985, he was sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion and another stint for various other problems. McLain has said he just had too much success too soon and it overwhelmed him but hard to feel too bad for a guy who turned a fantastic early year into a lifetime of misery.
10 Ryan Leaf
A recent ESPN special has Leaf himself admitting he has no one to blame but himself for what happened. After a college career that had him as a Heisman finalist, Leaf entered the 1998 NFL Draft with such high expectations, most thought he should have been the number one pick ahead of Peyton Manning. Snatched by the Chargers, Leaf promoted himself as a superstar who would lead San Diego to the Super Bowl and acting like he was already a multiple Pro Bowler. Instead, he turned into the greatest draft bust in NFL history. His play was horrific with multiple interceptions and his attitude was just as bad, throwing his weight around despite nothing to back it up. In just four years, he was gone and soon falling into a bad life including a prison stint. Leaf himself has stated one shouldn’t feel sorry for how he threw it away and ranking high as a bad bust.
9 Tim Tebow
True, he’s trying for a career in baseball but it doesn’t seem likely to get out of the minors. It also just illustrates how far Tebow has fallen from his record time in college where he blossomed as a great QB. Chosen by the Broncos, he became known for leading them to the playoffs amid some remarkable comebacks and fans thought he could be the next Montana.
However, the decline soon began as Tebow’s athletic abilities weren’t enough to make up for bad play and injuries cutting his time shorter.
When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, Tebow was cut, drifting around the league before finally leaving. It’s hard to feel bad for the guy as he keeps trying in baseball and still rather rich and just shows he was a flash in the pan rather than the next big superstar.
8 Greg Oden
In their history, the biggest draft miss of the Trail Blazers is obviously taking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. Right after that is Greg Oden. A great player who led Ohio State to the Big Ten Championship, Oden was going to be just the star Portland needed and they nabbed him second in the 2007 draft. But a knee injury forced him to miss the entire season. When he did debut, he was clearly not the same player, slower, not much scoring and it was obvious Portland had made a bad move. They dropped him and Oden bounced around, including time playing in China before finally retiring.
Today, he works for Ohio State and doing a decent job yet hard to feel too sorry given he still has several million dollars from the Portland deal and thus made out pretty well given how bad a player he was. His battery charge back in 2014 for assaulting his ex-girlfriend also didn't win him too many fans.
7 Ronda Rousey
For a time, she was the most dominant fighter in all of MMA, male or female. With her fierce determination and amazing skills, Rousey was riding high as champion and seen as an icon. UFC loved to promote her as the most dangerous woman on the planet, pushing her on and she was even moving onto movie fame with some action flicks. It looked like everything was going great..and then she was upset by Holly Holm.
Rousey basically withdrew and acted like the world was coming to an end, showing she couldn’t handle a loss that well.
Then came her humiliating defeat at the hands of Amanda Nunes which pretty much destroyed her credibility. To many, it was karma given how Rousey had trash-talked slews of opponents and set herself up as somehow bigger than the business. She’s moving onto WWE and still rather rich yet that attitude is the reason many aren’t as upset her MMA days appear to be done.
6 Sean Avery
It’s his wealth that you don’t feel sorry for this guy. Avery was a top player in the NHL, a major enforcer for the Red Wings, Kings, Stars and Rangers, finishing his career with over 15000 penalty minutes. He’s most famous for his “waving” of a stick in front of goalie Martin Brodeur, creating a rule named after Avery. There was also his taunting of fellow players such as how a guy dating ex Elisha Cuthbert was “getting my sloppy seconds.” A rough guy off the ice, Avery has managed to avoid most of the pitfalls of former players.
Sure, he had a bit where a firm suddenly declared bankruptcy but he was owed money by it and not his fault. More importantly is how Avery boasts on being a financial whiz who’s wisely invested his money and saved well. Thus, while a lot of former NHL stars are fighting to make ends meet, Avery is sitting well and it seems off to some that a guy who was such a massive jerk in hockey is somehow doing so much better than most others.
5 Johnny Manziel
He may well rank as one of the most spectacular flame-outs in the history of the NFL. In college, “Johnny Football” was a major force, smashing records left and right and making history as the first Freshman to win the Heisman, Manning and Davey O’Brien awards. The Browns must have thought their prayers were answered when they managed to draft him, expecting the next mega-star to lead them to the playoffs. Instead, Manziel’s time was limited and it seemed he didn’t care too much about learning the ropes before an injury cut it short. In 2015, it got even worse as he was seen partying during a bye week rather than at a team meeting and serious concerns over his attitude.
After lying about an injury and then seen partying again, Manziel was cut, forcing the Browns to eat his big contract.
Today, the guy is trying to get back in the game. Yes he may very well have a serious addiction problem, but it's hard to feel too sorry for a man with such an opportunity who never grew up.
4 Pete Rose
He still has some defenders, those who say that it’s not right the man with the most base hits is not in the Hall of Fame. But Pete Rose has no one but himself to blame for why he’ll never have his plaque in Cooperstown. MLB can put up with a lot but betting on your own games when you were a player-manager is a line that can never be crossed. Rose did and openly admitted to it, leading to his lifelong ban. Today, he’s become known for a jolly manner and even some fame in wrestling but it’s not going to be enough to overcome his crimes.
Again, he has some defenders but most agree Rose deserves what he got. Thus, you see him almost pathetic and begging to be forgiven and let in the Hall. But the only one he’s in appears to be WWE’s as MLB won’t take back Charley Hustle.
3 Roger Clemens
It’s remarkable how he destroyed it all. Roger Clemens was hailed as the next Nolan Ryan but it soon became clear he was even better. A fantastic pitcher, he was setting records for strikeouts and his blistering fastball a feared one. True, he had some playoff chokes but eventually a championship with the Yankees and a sure-fire legendary career. But then came issues of ego, long-time cheating on his wife and more. Most prominently has been the fact that Clemens is the poster boy for the use of PEDs in baseball. It was obvious given his bulky build and still throwing so fast at an advanced age but he kept on denying it.
That was even after an associate flipped on him and admitted to providing Clemens and after he openly lied about it to Congress.
Thanks to that, his legions of fans see him as a sham and his likely Hall of Fame entry will never happen. He has enough millions to live on but no one wants anything to do with him and thus Clemens ruined his own legacy forever.
2 Dennis Rodman
Never forget that Rodman was a very talented player in his prime. You don’t win five NBA titles and lead the league in rebounds several years for nothing. Rodman was a sensational star for the Pistons and the Bulls and able to handle the NBA well. But he was also known for a bizarre attitude with colored hair, tattoos and some weird stuff like wearing women’s clothing in public. It affected his play, his last few years a shadow of himself but still acting a mega-star, adding to his hard reputation.
Today, Rodman is known as a total loon to the point where he’s a self-styled “ambassador” to North Korea and acting up majorly. Currently undergoing another rehab stint, Rodman has overwhelmed his career by his antics and hard feeling sorry for a guy who was so weird on purpose.
1 Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods recently completed his first PGA tournamnet in two years. His life has been in a downward spiral ever since it was revealed almost 10 years ago that he had been unfaithful to his wife and mistress after mistress came forward with stories of how they had hooked up with Tiger. Woods lost a lot in his divorce with Elin Nordegren, but his love life didn't seem to take a big hit, as he dated Lindsey Vonn for several years and has been able to stay financially stable. However, his DUI arrest last year and his character just make it hard for people to feel sympathy for him. While Woods becoming an elite golfer again would bring more attention to the PGA, many still haven't forgiven Tiger.