Well, perhaps being locked away in a mental hospital would be a bit too harsh for most of the athletes who appear on this list, though many are no more than an incident or two away from finding themselves trying to Houdini their way out of a straightjacket while in a room with padded walls. In every sport, there are always a number of characters who push the boundaries of normalcy and find a way to entertain fans with their inherent craziness.
That craziness often manifests itself during competition, though there are plenty of notable instances in which athletes are able to channel their insanity into endeavors outside of their respective sports. Whether it is violent outbursts, strange interests or a variety of simple eccentricities, this list compiles the most interesting and potentially bonkers athletes in all of sports today, along with a few athletes who, despite the fact that their careers ended many years ago, have found a way to stay relevant through the continual delivery of high-profile insanity.
Some sports attract a bit more insanity than others, and there are those that would argue that certain sports should be more heavily represented than others. In order to fairly represent the sanity-challenged in all sports, this list considers the level of insanity relative to other athletes in the same sport. For example, most hockey players would proudly declare a greater degree of insanity than the most insane tennis player, but it is only fair to represent all sports equally. What follows are the 15 athletes who should be in a mental hospital instead of participating in athletics.
15 15. Serena Williams
14 14. Brian Wilson
13 13. Alex Rodriguez
12 12. Lance Stephenson
Stephenson has had a couple of brushes with crazy during his relatively brief NBA career. In 2010, Stephenson was accused of pushing his girlfriend down the stairs during an argument, but the charges against him were ultimately dropped. Mark Boyle, a broadcaster with Stephenson’s former team, the Indiana Pacers, once described Stephenson’s relationship with teammates, saying, “we’ve had some guys here in the ’90s that were older-school guys who would have snapped him in half by now. I’m surprised that he’s still in one piece. He agitates his own teammates during practices. Not that it’s that bad. But day after day for six months, I imagine it gets on your nerves.”
11 11. Ndamukong Suh
Suh has cleaned up his act a bit recently, but he still has a penchant for taking advantage of any opportunity to inflict a little extra damage on an opponent. During the Detroit Lions’ playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, Suh backpedaled onto Aaron Rodgers’ legs. While he didn’t stomp on him or otherwise maliciously attempt to maim Rodgers, Suh definitely lingered, later claiming that he didn’t feel Rodgers beneath him because his feet were numb from the cold. Before his most recent indiscretion, Suh had stomped Evan Dietrich-Smith (also of Green Bay) and had kicked Matt Schaub in the groin.
10 10. Milan Lucic
The left-winger with the Boston Bruins has been gaining a reputation in the NHL as one of its craziest players as of late, and one of the clearest instances of this occurred during a game between the Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. Lucic took exception to a hit delivered by Alexei Emelin, and offered up a disproportionate response by spearing Emelin in the groin from behind, forcing Emelin to immediately leave the ice. He has also garnered some attention for gesturing obscenely at the fans at the Bell Centre and for getting into late-night bar fights.
9 9. Ernests Gulbis
8 8. Robert Allenby
7 7. Rob Gronkowski
“Gronk” isn’t the kind of crazy that some of the players on this list are, but he is definitely a unique character who is prone to getting involved in some particularly wild incidents. The Patriots tight end was in the middle of the Super Bowl melee that closed out the Pats’ victory over the Seahawks (of the fight, Gronk said, “Screw it, I’m throwing some haymakers”) and remained in the news for his seemingly endless championship celebration. He was seen hanging out of Boston’s famous duck boats, drinking Fireball and whatever else Bostonians threw his way, all while wearing a number 69 Patriots jersey and a hat depicting one of the minions from “Despicable Me.”
6 6. Brent Burns
Burns is not exactly a household name, but there is no doubt that his household provides a clear view of his insanity. Burns, with his smile bereft of front teeth and surrounded by a shaggy beard, keeps what amounts to a reptile zoo in his home. While showing his Minnesota home off for Inside Hockey, a peek inside of Burns’ freezer revealed his pets’ various frozen meals, along with a chameleon that had recently passed away and was frozen so it could later be stuffed. In the sink was a rat that was thawing out for mealtime, and Burns’ basement served as home to what he estimates are about 40 snakes.
5 5. Marshawn Lynch
4 4. J.R. Smith
3 3. Luis Suarez
2 2. Wade Boggs
1 1. Dennis Rodman
Rodman will own the top spot always and forever simply because he has taken on a role as de-facto ambassador and diplomat to North Korea in his post-playing career. Rodman, who has visited North Korea on several occasions and befriended Kim Jong-Un, claims that his efforts aided in the release of Kenneth Bae, an American taken prisoner while visiting North Korea. Of course, Rodman was synonymous with crazy throughout his playing career as well, wearing outrageous outfits and featuring brightly colored and ever-changing hairstyles on some very successful teams. But there is nothing that can possibly top befriending the foreign dictator of an incredibly isolated country.
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