Top 15 Great Athletes Who Are Actually Jerks

In all walks of life you will find jerks. This could be someone you work with who won’t give you the time of day, it could be someone who cuts in line at the grocery store, someone who constantly cheats in a pick up game, or an obnoxious neighbour that will keep you up to the early hours of the morning each night. One place where you will find a huge amount of jerks is in professional sports. Professional athletes need to be full of self confidence; otherwise they would never have made it as far as they have. There is nothing wrong with being full of self confidence, but sometimes this will boil over into full blown arrogance and narcissism (two key ingredients for being a jerk).

This arrogance and narcissism will lead many professional athletes to act like jerks, and this is during games, in interviews, in their personal lives and with their interactions with fans. Even the fans of the team these jerks play on will find it difficult to get behind these players, and opposing fans will cheer any slip up or mistake they make in any game. Even though these athletes are aware of their reputation and what people think of them, it will not stop them from acting in this way and like true jerks they will carry on defiant and not change their ways.

When you combine arrogance, staggering wages and being a recognisable celebrity it will inevitably lead some professional athletes to become jerks. This is often not the case however and there are many humble, friendly and respectable professional athletes, which suggests that perhaps these jerks were born to annoy, upset and cause controversy. This list will primarily focus on players who are rude, arrogant and generally unpleasant to those around them, and not on athletes who have frequent run ins with the law (although inevitably these tend to go hand in hand).

While we published a piece last year on some heavier offenses, this list will be kept a little lighter. Criminal offenses are not taken into account for this list. They're just plain jerks, the kind of people you might interact with on a daily basis. Some of these athletes may be revered by many fans and the media, but we're here to burst your bubble. Others are clearly seen as jerks by everyone.

Here are 15 athletes who are actually jerks.

16 Diego Costa


15 Kobe Bryant

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

When Kobe entered the league he was a fresh faced, fun loving kind of guy. Over the years he has developed an ice cold demeanour and there are now all kinds of stories of his jerk like behaviour. These mainly come down to his desire to win and hatred for losing, but this doesn’t excuse some of his antics.

14 Michael Jordan

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

MJ is unquestionably one of the greatest athletes of all time, but it seems in order to reach these lofty heights you also have to be a bit of a jerk. There are dozens of stories of Jordan’s ultra competitiveness causing him to bully and intimidate those around him. He has punched teammates in the face, refused to pass to certain players, brought Kwame Brown to tears, shook Muggsy Bogues confidence to its very core and even cheated in a game of cards with an old lady.

13 A.J Pierzynski

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

12 Claude Lemieux


Claude Lemieux may have won the Stanley Cup with three different teams and have a fantastic postseason record, but he is also widely known as one of the most hated players to have ever played in the NHL. This is largely down to a number of dirty plays over his career, including biting Jim Peplinski on the finger, checking Kris Draper into the boards from behind (causing him to suffer concussion, require reconstructive surgery and have his jaw wired shut), and clashing with Darren McCarty as a result of the rivalry that had developed between the Red Wings and Avalanche after the incident with Draper. This sinister play and intention on harming opponents ensure that he is an NHL villain, albeit one which enjoyed a huge amount of success over his career.

11 Terrell Owens

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Like a high percentage of the entries on this list, Terrell Owens excelled at what he did and is one of the greats. He is also one of the more irritating and controversial athletes in recent times, and a class A jerk. His narcissistic touchdown celebrations are just the tip of the iceberg, and he has caused controversy with the majority of teams he played for (his journey around the league is largely due to his controversial actions.)

10 Diego Maradona

Claudio Fanchi(Enviado Especial)

Diego Maradona may have been beloved in Argentina, but many who followed his career and caught wind of his personality off the pitch probably weren't endeared to him. No one will forget his 'Hand of God' goal which was outright cheating, then he had the nerve to dub it as he did.

He also made headlines in 2010 when he ran over a cameraman with his car prior to the World Cup tournament. Maradona has long seemed to have the attitude that rules and ethics don't apply to him.


8 Luis Suarez


Luis Suarez has proven himself to be one of the more despicable characters in football in recent years. Biting his opponents is the most obvious jerk like behaviour, but he also dives on a regular basis and will do everything he can to get an opposing player booked. He has also clashed with teammates, sworn at fans in the stands, taunted managers and purposefully handled the ball.

7 Barry Bonds

Jay Drowns/Sporting News

Bonds’s ex-girlfriend hit the nail on the head when she labelled the former slugger as a “major league jerk”. He was of course the key figure in the steroid scandal and therefore damaged the integrity of the sport, and tarnished all of the remarkable records that he (still) holds. He was convicted of obstruction of justice for lying to the grand jury, but his jerk like behaviour extends past the steroids scandal.

6 Floyd Mayweather Jr.


He may be one of the greatest boxers of all time, but Floyd Mayweather Jr is also a class-A jerk. He is one of the most arrogant athletes ever, and his self given nickname “Money” sums up the type of character he is. He even posted a video of himself counting $1 million dollars; not the classiest move. In addition to his loud mouthed, unrelenting arrogance and questionable language directed at his opponents, Mayweather has had numerous run ins with the law relating to domestic violence.

5 Tiger Woods

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time, what seems like an eternity ago, where Tiger Woods was one of the nicest guys in sports and one of the most marketable athletes. He has since had a very public fall from grace, and now is one of the biggest jerks in sports. His infidelity was revealed, and soon dozens of women were coming forwards and admitting to have slept with Woods. Many of his sponsors no longer wanted to be associated with an athlete who cheated on his wife and acted in such a way, causing Tiger to lose a fortune in endorsements.

4 Lance Armstrong


3 Joey Barton


2 Sean Avery


There is no denying that Sean Avery is a huge jerk. During his career he caused all kinds of controversy both on and off the ice, ensuring that there are not too many that would consider themselves a fan of his. Avery allegedly made remarks about Jason Blake’s leukaemia during a pre game warm up, resulting in a scrap between Avery and Blake’s teammate Darcy Tucker. His unsportsmanlike play led to the introduction of “The Avery Rule” after he screened the goalkeeper by waving his gloves and stick in front of the keeper (this now results in a 2 minute penalty).

Avery has also made a rather obscene “sloppy seconds” comment to the press in relation to Phaneuf dating his ex (Elisha Cuthbert), plus there are allegations that he used racial remarks to agitate opponents.

1 Alex Rodriguez

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A-Rod's own team doesn't even want him, but through their own fault, are stuck with him. It's the equivalent of George Costanza staying at Play Now, even after he was told they didn't want him there.

Where do we begin with Alex Rodriguez? He was unfaithful to his wife before the couple divorced back in 2008. He constantly walks around with a sense of entitlement, and is a pathological liar, refusing to admit to his use of PEDs.

Nobody likes A-Rod.

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Top 15 Great Athletes Who Are Actually Jerks