Kaepernick, Mayweather, McGregor, and Shaq are just some athletes featured here who were involved in racist statements. Sports is certainly not immune to bigotry and in many cases mirrors the best and worst of human behavior. It brings different people together and pushes them apart. It brings joy, celebration, comradery, and also anger, suffering, and hate. In our headline thirsty society, athletes, owners, and the press are covered 24 hours a day. Everything they say or do is captured by the media or "citjos" and the dogs are let out.
Once athletes, owners, or the press is caught and exposed, the wheels of damage control are set in motion. The majority of the time the damage can't be controlled. Fans, teammates, everyone hears, sees, and feels what they said or did. They can't say their quotes were "taken out of context" and people don't buy they were "misquoted." When they speak, we listen, and talk about it until we're all exhausted.
For most athletes, racism is the beginning of the end. They can try to distance themselves from what they said or did, and depending on their greatness they have varying degrees of success. Most of the time, when sports figures speak like an "a__" their words bite them in the "a__." Once a talented player loses a step, people remember and their dignity, career, and life are stained. But as in life, some athletes can get away with it. Either by their endearing image or personality, fans will forget their words were ever said and move on.
The following sports personalities, from athletes to owners, have said words that cross, walk, or don't even approach the line. It's up to us to forgive or forget, to face our inner thoughts, and to decide what is or isn't acceptable.
15 Michael Vick On Kaepernick's Look
The Kaepernick drama is so overplayed it's nauseating. Vick, a disgrace in his own right, is at least honest enough to own up to the fact his own play and not his crime, ended his career. Vick said about CK's afro, “Listen... Even if he puts cornrows in there, I don’t think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle... just go clean-cut..."
Is Vick being so ignorant to think Kaepernick's hair has anything to do with his unemployment? Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers, ESPN believes, not NFL scouts, that Kaepernick should be on a roster, and analysts say his decision to kneel during the national anthem has black balled him (no pun intended). Kaep is not in the NFL because he's not good enough.
If owners took a chance on Vick, they'd do it on Kaep, would they not? He didn't kneel for a cause but for himself. If he cared about the issue, he'd arrange flag football games between the police and citizens. White and black players have been cut after winning the Super Bowl are less clean cut. STOP IT ALREADY! CK is no in the NFL because he's no good enough.
14 Floyd Mayweather On Pacquaio
Pretty Boy Floyd is one of the more loose lipped trash talkers in boxing and sometimes gets a little too far away from himself. The challenging part about judging comments from boxers is it's hard for the public to distinguish between showmanship and honesty. He first insulted De La Hoya on Cinco de Mayo by wearing a sombrero. He also got away with challenging Manny Pacquiao and ranted about homophobia, referring to him as a “yellow chump” who should “make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.”
But being an undefeated champ gives him many exits and forgiveness, especially when Mayweather was too ignorant to realize Pacquiao is from The Philippines and not Japan. Maybe he's taken more head shots than he realizes. But stay tuned, because as Mayweather vs. McGregor approaches more fireworks are bound to come.
13 Conor McGregor On Mayweather's 'Culture'
Not to be undone, McGregor has shot back at Floyd, literally hitting below the belt. He said, "I'm a big fan of the culture...all I listen to is rap!" He also told Floyd to "dance for me, boy." McGregor was unrelenting and added, "Do they not know I'm half-black? I'm half-black from the belly button down..." I have a "present for his beautiful, black, female fans." The words by both fighters are embarrassing and just ignorant. Does the history of boxing, from the days of Ali through Tyson desensitize us from their words? Do we ignore or laugh it off because they are selling a fight and the more drama they create means the more people will get suckered in and pay up? Are they bigots or just playing the game?
12 Riley Cooper Talking Tough
In the 2012 season, Cooper and Eagles' QB Nick Foles came out of nowhere to light up the skies at Lincoln Financial Field as true, one year wonders. That summer, a citjo caught receiver Riley Cooper saying "I will fight every n***** here..." at a Kenny Chesney concert. Cooper apologized profusely, some Eagle players and fans supported him, but the video was repeatedly played and Cooper couldn't escape it. His career was basically over, and he paid a steep price for either being drunk and dumb, drunk and honest, or more likely both. Somehow he remained with the Eagles after this incident but you have to think there were some guys in the locker room that really wanted to fire back at Cooper.
11 Voula Papachristou Booted Off Track Team
Papachristou, a Greek track star who has many revealing photos on the net, also let out a very revealing tweet. Of course she tried to sell it as a joke, but no one bought it. In July of 2012. she wrote, ""With so many Africans in Greece... the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!!!" So this is a "joke"? What about the three exclamation marks? West Nile is DEADLY, she wrote "Africans", and none of this is funny.
Surprisingly, the corrupt Greek Olympic Committee agreed and rebuked her apology. It must have been a difficult pill to swallow but Papachristou was booted off the team and was never able to compete. There was absolutely no excuse for such an offensive comment.
10 Ilie Nastase On Serena Williams' Child
Tennis great Ilie Nastase was caught under fire earlier this year when he made remarks about Serena Williams' unborn child. Williams is black and her fiance is white. So Nastase felt the need to comment on what her baby would look like, saying "chocolate with milk".
Nastase eventually apologized for the incident after facing scrutiny, saying: “I am fully aware that nothing can truly excuse my statements – not the tension of a high-stakes game, not my traditionally irreverent attitude, not the unfortunate escalation of the situation. My life remains dedicated to tennis and its audiences, so please accept my apologies, for whatever they may be worth right now.”
Nastase was given a four-year ban by the ITF for his comments on not only Serena's child, but for other sexist comments he made regarding British no.1 Johanna Konta.
9 Michael Irvin On Romo's Athletic Abilities
When Michael Irvin was going to talk about Tony Romo, all bets were off on what could come out of his mouth. With millions on the edge of their seat he said, "He doesn’t look like he’s that type of an athlete. But he is. He is, man. I don’t know … some brother down in that line somewhere … I don’t know who saw what or where, his great-great-great-great-grandma ran over in the ‘hood or something went down.” Again, so much depends on the individual's sense of humor. Many people will see the humor but there is clearly a double standard. He's reversing the stereotype that white athletes can't be "athletic." He is also referring to the age of slavery and its role in athleticism.
If a white player said this, it would be perceived very differently. Just ask Jimmy The Greek who moaned from his grave or Michael Johnson who is next on my list.
8 Michael Johnson On Athletic Abilities
Johnson said, "All my life I believed I became an athlete through my own determination, but it's impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn't left an imprint through the generations. Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me—I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us."
Wow! Didn't Jimmy The Greek get fired for this? How do you interpret this? Is a black athlete allowed to ponder the effects of the worst part of American history and even insinuate there are "positive" effects from it? Even if there is some truth to it, is it remotely fair to equate it to success or a "head start"? Does it minimize his incredible dedication? The topic has been taboo, a slippery sword many athletes and broadcasters have slit their throat on.
7 Emily Austen Doesn't Stop At One Group
Emily Austen seemed like she would have a fine career at Fox Sports. At just 27 years old, she was already getting quite a bit of air time on a regional channel of the network, but then she went and made some incredibly insensitive comments on Barstool Sports' "Rundown".
First she was asked about a high school valedictorian who bragged on Twitter about being an undocumented citizen.
“I didn’t even know Mexicans were that smart. …That’s f***ed up,” Austen said. “I didn’t mean it like that. You see, you guys know that the Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class.”
Then, the Tampa Bay Rays and Orlando Magic reporter was asked about her time she worked as a server in Boca Raton, Florida:
“The way I used to talk to the Jews in Boca. I just didn’t care,” she said. “They would complain and b***h about everything. I gave a guy, delivered his beer, and he was complaining to me that there was too much head. I knew that he was a stingy a** and he wasn’t going to give me a tip.”
Unsurprisingly, Austen was fired soon after this.
6 Bob Griese On NASCAR
This one is relatively tame compared to some other entries on this list, but Bob Griese had a severe lapse in judgment on a live college football broadcast. In the middle of a broadcast, ESPN was running a NASCAR promo and showed the top five drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. When Chris Spielman asked where Juan Pablo Montoya, a Colombian was in the ranking, Griese joked: “he’s out having a taco.” For his part, Griese apologized at the end of the broadcast and served a suspension for his actions, but there's no doubt it was an incredibly stupid take. Griese would eventually retire from ESPN in 2011 and since then, he has joined the Miami Dolphins' radio broadcast team as a commentator.
5 Rob Parker Questioning RG3's Race?
For those who never read or heard this, sit down. Rob Parker, a sports personality for ESPN, the same station that said Kaepernick isn't in the NFL because of his political stance, said this about Robert Griffin III: "My question is, and it's just a straight, honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother. He's not really. He's black, he does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the kind of guy you really want to hang out with."
Is he serious? Yes, he was and he was fired. Not only was the comment offenisve, but it was insanely idiotic. So, just because RG3 is black there's a certain way he has to act to be black enough? Ugh, let's not even try to break down what Parker was trying to say.
4 Kelly Tilghman On A Punishment For Tiger
In January of 2008, only 9 years ago, Tiger Woods was the Jordan, Gretzky, Jeter, and Brady of golf. After crushing opponents and winning another tournament, broadcasters were at a loss for words. In the studio, Nick Faldo joked that other golfers need to"gang up" on Tiger Woods if they will have any chance to beat him. His partner, Kelly Tilghman said, "Lynch him in the back alley." She said "lynch"!?! Yes she did, and we shouldn't have to break down why this was so offensive. Following the idiotic statement, Tilghman was under fire and the station wound up suspending her for two weeks. For what it's worth, Woods' agent said he didn't believe there was any ill intent, so this must have been pure ignorance rather than aiming to offend.
3 Jason Whitlock On Jeremy Lin
Maybe one of the reasons ESPN has had so many firings is there are so many buffoons working there. In an attempt to monopolize sports information, they have hired bombastic wannabes to spread "fake news" (hear that Kaepernick). Whitlock has made several idiotic statements over the years and he just couldn't help but tweet an immature joke about Jeremy Lin one night.
During the height of Linsanity when he scored 38 points vs the Lakers, Whitlock said, "Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight." He didn't face any penalties, except for the fact he sounded like an a__. Lucky lady? Pain? Couple inches? Way to go dude. It's crazy how ESPN cut so many good employees, yet they let Whitlock stick around far longer than he should have.
2 Don Imus on Rutgers Women's Team
Some guys deserve what they get and "shock jock" Don Imus finally got his. In 2007, he described the Rutgers women's basketball team as: "Those are some nappy-headed h**s." Sure, he apologized, but c'mon, is there any way to forgive that. This was hurtful and hateful. Though a lot of outside forces got involved to have him fired, this wasn't a conspiracy theory that fans of CK can get behind. This firing was about getting rid of an employee who disgraced his profession and himself. Fortunately for Imus, CBS reached a settlement with him on what was left on his contract at the time. It's just a shame that so much was done to undermine the profession of sportscasting with the employment of the likes of him.
1 Donald Sterling - Everything
On April 9th, 2014, L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling shook the sporting world with his ignorant, bigoted, and hateful thoughts. He was recorded saying to his girlfriend V. Stiviano: "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?" He added, "You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that ... and not to bring them to my games." There was more, "I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million, permanently banned him from the league, and forced him to sell the team. Sterling's punishment was the most severe penalty ever issued by the league and one of the most disgraceful ever given to an owner in professional sports.