Working in professional sports seems to be an ideal job for fans who are on the outside looking in. Pro athletes who are even moderately talented make over a million dollars per year due to what they can contribute for their teams, and the top-tier performers in their professions are financially set for life (unless they squander their money) before they turn 30-years old. Great athletes and even great coaches who are popular in certain markets also get endorsement deals from a wide variety of companies, advertising agreements that further build up what are already bank accounts filled with money.
Not everybody, however, views working and living in the sports world as being an ideal situation. For some, the pressure that comes from having to perform in front of crowds in the thousands and from being in the public eye 24 hours a day and seven days a week understandably becomes too much. In other cases, individuals who have never truly had to work to be great at that particular sport find that they are not willing to put in the necessary effort to be able to hang with the best of the best. Don't forget about those who learn that sports may not be for them.
Included in this list is a phenomenal basketball player who really only cared about his craft on game days, a man who should be headed to the Hall of Fame at some point down the road. Then, there are the knuckleheads who seemingly cannot get their lives in order despite the fact that they have rare talent that could potentially see them develop into all-time greats. This piece begins with such an athlete, a young man who truly has Hall-of-Fame talent and one who has time and time again failed to understand the rules as it pertains to what he can and cannot put into his body.
10 Josh Gordon
Perhaps it is perception and not reality that the Cleveland Browns wide receiver enjoys smoking up more than he likes playing in the National Football League. Gordon has done nothing to eliminate such opinions, as the talented wide receiver has been getting himself in trouble because of banned substances since his college years. Yes, it is probably a little ridiculous that NFL players cannot, in their off time, partake in something that is going to be legal in all of the United States sooner than later. That is the lay of the land in the league right now, and it is why Gordon is technically not a NFL player as of February 2015.
9 CM Punk
CM Punk surprised fans when he somewhat out of nowhere walked out on WWE early in 2014. Punk never returned to the company, and he explained his reasoning for his decision during what has become a famous podcast appearance with his real-life friend Colt Cabana. The Straightedge Superstar explained to Cabana how going to work at WWE day in and day out became an absolutely miserable experience, and Punk's disgust with the industry in general led him to retire from wrestling. Punk signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in December of 2014, and his first fight in that company is scheduled for later this year.
8 Allen Iverson
Iverson, one of the best basketball players of his generation, cemented his legacy when he uttered those now famous words:
“If I can't practice, I can't practice man. If I'm hurt, I'm hurt. I mean … simple as that. It ain't about that... I mean it's... It's not about that... At all. You know what I'm saying I mean... But it's...it's easy … to, to talk about... It's easy to sum it up when you're just talking about practice. We're sitting in here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we're talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not … Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it's my last. Not the game, but we're talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that?”
He may not have entirely hated his job, but he hated a lot of the elements that went with it.
7 William Gallas
The French international was one of the best defenders in the Premier League in his time. He also made all kinds of friends while with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and, last but not least, A-League side Perth Glory. It was the end of his stint with the Blues that gets him featured at the No. 7 spot for this piece. Gallas was, according to Chelsea, so keen on leaving Chelsea that he threatened that he would score own goals if he was not allowed to make a move. Chelsea obliged, and the defender linked up with Arsenal. To his credit, Gallas denied making that threat.
6 Adam Dunn
J.P. Ricciardi was serving as general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in the summer of 2008 when, during a radio segment, a fan asked him about Toronto potentially acquiring Adam Dunn. Ricciardi, as you will see, was not considering making a deal:
“Do you know the guy doesn’t really like baseball that much? Do you know the guy doesn’t have a passion to play the game that much? How much do you know about the player? There’s a reason why you’re attracted to some players and there’s a reason why you’re not attracted to some players. I don’t think you’d be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here ... We’ve done our homework on guys like Adam Dunn and there’s a reason why we don’t want Adam Dunn. I don’t want to get into specifics .”
5 Kyle Shanahan
The only non-athlete to make this piece, the offensive coordinator who has a reputation for being a bit of a diva was coming off of his first season working with the Cleveland Browns in January 2015 when he told head coach Mike Pettine that he wanted to leave the club. How did he make this request, you ask? By making a 32-point presentation – yes, THIRTY-TWO – describing his reasoning for wanting to move on. Say whatever you will about Shanahan and about his reputation, you have to respect the guy for the work that he put in to get out of Cleveland as quickly as possible.
4 Nicolas Anelka
Anelka made headlines in 2013 when he performed the controversial hand gesture known as the “quenelle” while playing for West Bromwich Albion, but it is in incident that occurred in 2010 that lands him here. The striker was featuring for France at the 2010 FIFA World Cup when coach Raymond Domenech criticized Anelka at halftime of a match. Anelka did not take those words kindly, reportedly responding by saying “Go f*** yourself you son of a w***e” to his coach. That outburst got Anelka an 18-match ban from international play.
Also, when you're known as "Le Sulk," you don't exactly exude passion for your sport.
3 Larry Sanders
The Milwaukee Bucks planned to make Sanders the face of the franchise when the club gave the power forward a contract extension worth $44 million in the summer of 2013. Sanders rewarded the Bucks by suffering a torn ligament in his thumb in an altercation that occurred in a night club. The player's work ethic has also been questioned by fans, analysts and even his teammates. Gary Neal ripped Sanders following a game that occurred in January of 2014, reportedly saying the following: “I earn my money. You should try it sometime.”
2 Mario Balotelli
Balotelli is as frustrating a footballer as there is in the world today. He has the talent to feature for some of the top clubs in all of Europe, and yet he has repeatedly played himself out of lineups and out of countries because of his attitude. Some would suggest that Balotelli is merely a case of a player being more about himself than about helping those around him succeed. Another opinion floated out there by others is that Balotelli loves everything that comes from football – the money, the cars, the flashy home – but that he is not in love with the game itself.
1 Andre Agassi
Agassi will forever go down as one of the best men's tennis players of his generation, but it was not until after he retired and he penned his autobiography that fans saw just how much he disliked the sport from time to time during his famous career. “I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have,” is a transcript taken from that book. Agassi has, in interviews that have occurred since that book was released, somewhat walked back those comments, instead calling his relationship with tennis one that was “hate-love.”