There are no shortage of awkward interviews for a towering pile of reasons. Sports in general is obnoxiously over-covered. Round the clock sports media outlets are looking for anything new to show. The barrage of microphones in an athlete’s face would be enough to make anyone eventually snap. And the emotions of a crushing loss combined with the grueling length of a season wear patience understandably thin. To top it off you have journalists constantly questioning an athlete’s desire and will to win. The sad part is that an athlete blowup is great for ratings. Money is being made off of this misery.
The athletes are made to come off as jerks but the reality is often taken out of context. The repetitive grilling inevitably leads to an angry response. Who is really to blame and do any of these interviews even matter? It feels like poking an injured circus bear to get an exciting reaction.
Live radio and television first brought these awkward moments home for the family to enjoy, but with Youtube, it’s gone to a whole new level. We now have instant and almost unlimited access to interviews from around the world. The sheer amount of content guarantees plenty of tension along the way. And when athletes have their challenging moments it’s now saved for all of eternity (or until the internet blows up for real).
Pro athletes are great at their respective sport. They train their entire lives to reach the highest level in their field. Why are they expected to do more public speaking than a politician? Modern athletes are coached on their media interactions but it’s hard to coach emotion.
Sports coverage doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s the world we live in. And since we all have to share this world together, we might as well laugh at the awkward parts.
10. Petri Kontiola doesn’t know
Canada is a mighty hockey force in international hockey. Smaller countries like Finland are always competitive but it must get frustrating always being the underdog.
After a tough second period against Canada, Kontiola was immediately face to face with a reporter on the way to the dressing room.
He was obviously not in the mood and decided to kill the interview as fast as possible.
After every question he answered “I don’t know”, and then finished with a polite “thanks” at the end. There it is folks; we’ve found Finland’s Marshawn Lynch!
He eventually apologized to the pretty reporter so it had a happy ending.
9. LeBron uses the R-word
During a playoff interview, LeBron obviously didn’t like the question being asked. He mumbled the word “retarded” under his breath thinking it went undetected.
Of course LeBron’s method of concealing his voice had the opposite effect. Instead of muffling his words, he instead created a megaphone that funneled his words directly into the mic.
What’s really interesting is that the actual definition of “retard” is to delay or hold back. So in that case, LeBron’s attempt at concealing his voice was incredibly RETARDED.
8. Ken Griffey Jr. needs a nap
Kudos to the interviewer for keeping this interview afloat. She was swimming for two on this one. Griffey had the attitude of a game show contestant answering a million dollar question. He had his head down in deep concentration and gave thoughtful, yet incredibly short answers.
It seemed as if he was angry or a a few hours post-daydrunk, but Griffey eventually smiled later on.
Glad to see Griffey Jr is still a standout performer!
7. Thierry Henry humors brainless Fox ‘interviewers’
What a treat for Thierry Henry to be rescued from his obscurity as a European football superstar by the crack team at Fox. What an interview this was.
First they exposed their own lack of preparation by stating he had “just won” a World Cup. This was off by about eight years.
Whoops, that could have been awkward, but Henry gracefully responded with an intelligent, well-spoken response.
After the first fumble, the male interviewer decides enough with the softball, and asks a question about racism – What is going on here?
These two dummies should never have been allowed on television let alone ask anything resembling a potentially sensitive question.
Fox should stick to cartoons.
6. Rampage Jackson dry-humps an interviewer
Heather Nichols was cruising through an interview with Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, asking a question about Jackson’s interest in acting.
I haven’t seen any other interview with the guy, but he seemed a little ‘loose’ in this one.
Nichols joked about him starring in a romantic comedy with her; and this is where it instantly got weird.
Jackson pulled her close and started humping her while making intense eye contact. If you thought it was awkward when your in-laws’ dog does it…
Unfortunately for Nichols, she still had one more question to go, which she asked while Jackson kept right on rampaging.
Nichols stated in a later interview that although she appeared calm and collected on camera, inside she was ‘freaking out’.
5. CM Punk on Off The Record
Ugh, as a Canadian I apologize for Michael Landsberg.
Landsberg sets the awkward tone immediately with a cringe-worthy and disrespectful attempt at humor. His idiotic parody, hyping Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks fighting silly opponents like Justin Bieber or Chef Boyardee was embarrassing.
The interview started to go downhill when the show came back from a commercial showing previous footage of Chael Sonnen walking out on Landsberg. Viewers probably had an idea of what was coming.
Landsberg poked and prodded, perhaps seeking a reaction for ratings. Brooks maintained his cool while confronting the Host on his questioning and the Chef Boyardee video. He even threw in a quick verbal jab about Landsberg’s egotistical self-obsession.
Landsberg didn’t get a Brooks blow up, and instead looked smarmy and squirmy while Pipe Bomber sailed through with his head held high.
4. Barry Bonds is calm/scary
Skip to 1:38 for Bonds
We’ve seen frustrated athletes stubbornly respond with “next question” many times before. But have you ever seen it with such quiet, terrifying intensity?
The way his eyes bug out on the word ‘stupid’ is startling.
But it’s his voice that sells the whole thing. The madder he gets, the lower his voice goes: Like Clint Eastwood with ‘roid rage.
I also love his creepy assessment of his own game.
“One for three and a walk, doesn’t seem like a bad day does it? What was I supposed to do go three for three? Hit three home runs? What do you want from me?”
Could we get him calling the highlights? I like his style.
3. ‘Money’ Mayweather vs. Larry Merchant
Merchant interviewed Mayweather in the ring immediately after a controversial win over Victor Ortiz. The crowd was booing hard and Merchant is never one to shy away from the tough questions.
After a few minutes however, Mayweather had enough of Merchant. He unloaded a tirade, saying Merchant didn’t know a thing about boxing and that HBO should fire him.
Merchant is quite old but surprised the folks at home when he came right back at Mayweather, uttering the now immortal words.
“I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass.”
If science could somehow give us a young Merchant, forget about Pacquiao, I wanna watch Merchant kick Mayweather’s ass!
2. Eminem loves Brent Musberger
“I’m really uncomfortable right now” pretty much summed it up.
This was a hilarious mix of college football, Lions predictions, a jumpy rapper’s album promotion, an ex-football player, and a 75-year-old broadcaster.
Eminem looked as confused as the viewers as to why he was there and what he was supposed to do. He cleared the air when he said “live T.V. freaks me out.”
After the initial awkwardness, Eminem and Brent Musberger had a weird argument about who was the greater legend. Eminem having his all-time announcing team on the tip of his tongue was yet another surprise.
This interview is a reason why live T.V. is great entertainment.
1. Pete Rose suffers a fool
Jim Gray tried to be a hero and wound up winning the top spot on our list. His job was to interview Pete Rose about being named to the 1999 All Century Team. It was definitely NOT the time for a baseball reporter to play prosecutor.
Gray must have binge-watched Law & Order the night before as he attempted to get a ‘confession’ from Rose during a World Series filler interview. Rose was obviously not going to admit it, yet Gray unbelievably continued on. When Gray said “with the overwhelming evidence in that report” foreheads were smacked across North America.
The best interviewers are almost invisible, elevating their subject, NOT stealing the spotlight.
Let’s put Gray, Landsberg, and all the other attention-seeking reporters in a room and have them interview each other forever.
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