It seems as though every year the world of sports provides its fair share of awkward moments, but 2015 seems primed to offer far more than the usual array of discomfort. Whether it is a player returning to a team following a long suspension, or a team taking a chance on an oft-maligned individual, there are a host of uncomfortable and awkward returns slated for the 2015 sports year.
The NFL will dominate this list, as it had one of its worst years in terms of off-field issues. Commissioner Roger Goodell saw his reputation take a huge hit, and many of the players that helped cause the trouble for the commissioner will take the field again in the coming season. In some cases, these players will likely be welcomed back by their respective teams, but many will also have to deal with the difficulties created by a high-profile issue or case while creating an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved.
Of course, the NFL is not the only league that has faced issues with players and their off-field issues. And it isn’t always the case that a returning player is solely responsible for creating the awkward situation. There are also instances in which a player that has been traded returns to face their former team, and if there was some animosity between the player and the team at the time of the trade, it is likely to create an awkward situation upon that player’s return. While there are a variety of circumstances that help to create these situations, each of the following shares in the fact that there is a significant degree of awkwardness for the returning player and any of the teams involved.
10 Ryan Howard
9 Johnny Manziel
8 Chris Davis
7 Pete Carroll
6 Matt Kemp
5 Greg Hardy
4 Ray Rice
3 Adrian Peterson
2 Richie Incognito
1 Alex Rodriguez
Of course A-Rod sits atop this list, as there has been a solid 18 months of acrimony between the New York Yankees and Rodriguez, not to mention his team of lawyers. A-Rod is finally returning to baseball after a yearlong suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, and the two sides are already arguing over the incentive clauses in A-Rod’s contract that give him $6 million each time he passes Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds on the all-time home run list.
Aside from all of the steroid allegations and the subsequent attempts at a cover-up, there is also the question of A-Rod’s ability, and whether or not he is even capable of being a productive ballplayer at this point in his career. He has had serious hip issues and other injuries and, at age 39, it is doubtful that Rodriguez will ever be anything more than a designated hitter, and even then he may only be used in a platoon situation. Given A-Rod’s seeming focus on his career milestones, he is sure to be frustrated by a limited role with the Yankees, and New York fans will certainly not spare A-Rod if and when he does appear on the field in pinstripes.
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