There is being confident in sports, and then there is getting cocky and sounding off like you’ve won a championship before you’ve even played a game. Sports journalists and fans love these sound bites where some player, usually one who isn’t a star but also isn’t some bench warmer, declares with certainty that they are going to crush their opponent.
Athletes do this with some frequency, though I imagine they are getting more and more careful. That’s because, more often than not, they end up eating crow. Strangely, when players trash talk, it seems to be towards those who are better than them, which never turns out well.
We're not just talking about simply guaranteeing a win here. That’s in part because sometimes those assurances get misinterpreted in reporting. Really, what player is going to go into a game saying anything but, “yeah, I think we’re going to win.” That should be the mentality.
However, when they start talking about crushing an opponent, embarrassing them, or calling them out on their play, then they better back it up or get what they deserve. I imagine, in general, many of us love to see the underdog upset the favorite, and it seems the same sort of attitude towards those who like to talk a lot. It’s fun to see them eat those words when those words were completely unsolicited. Hubris is a terrible thing in sports,and time and time again we see that come back to bite whoever got too sure of things.
Thus, let us take a look at those players who came to regret ever opening their mouth in the first place, lest we all forget.
15 Chael Sonnen
One of the best trash talkers in UFC, Sonnen failed to back up his barbs against Brazilian Anderson Silva - twice. He trashed Silva, bad-mouthed his family, and disparaged his country. "You tell Anderson Silva I’m coming over. I’m kicking in his back door and I’m pattin’ his old lady on the a** and I’m telling her to make me a steak, medium rare just how I like it.“ Well, that and many others didn't sit well. Silva beat Sonnen by submission the first time, and in the rematch took under two minutes to earn a TKO against the loudmouth.
14 Darcy Tucker
A general all around instigator, Tucker saw all his jawing thrown back at him in the most embarrassing of ways. During a brawl, the Lightning forward wouldn’t stop shouting at anyone who was listening. Unfortunately for him, one of those was referre Mick McGeough, who would have none of it. Tucker was trying to get free and shouting while being escorted to the box, not making things easy. McGeough had had it, and upon reaching the box, literally threw him in and shut him up.
13 MLS All-Stars
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 29, 2013
In 2013, the MLS All-Stars were pretty proud of themselves, having beaten Chelsea a year prior. So they were sure they would hand AS Roma a defeat of their own. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, but watch it fall in 90 minutes’ was one of the team’s official slogans, and players went on video to trash the visiting club even more. Roma would score in the fourth minute, two minutes into the second half, and again later on before conceding a late meaningless goal to the MLS side, winning 3-1 in convincing fashion.
12 New York Giants
Early on in last year’s NFL season, a slew of New York Giant defensive players, including Prince Amukamara and Jason Pierre Paul, proceeded to trash their hated Eagles rivals. They declared Philly was not the team to beat in the division, and that they had no Super Bowl wins. Well, while both of those statements held true through to the end of the season, the Giants weren't any better. At the ensuing game, the Eagles trounced the visiting Giants, winning 27-0 and shutting up every player on both sides of the ball.
11 Jenn Stuczynski
This one is great because rarely do we consider pole vaulting a sport of trash talkers. However, one gold medalist attributes comments made by an opponent as motivation. Yelena Isinbayeva won the gold in Beijing in 2008, with American Jenn Stuczynski taking second after she had talked about a plan to ‘kick some Russian butt.’ Sure, it’s innocuous, but it seems serious when considering it's pole vaulting. It’s made all the more fun when Isinbayeva comes back and says that she understands English, and “I am not deaf. It made me really angry." Well, she won.
10 Montreal Alouettes
The prevailing belief is that Canadians are always polite and proper. While that’s pretty much always the case, every once in a while sports takes over. Ahead of last year’s Eastern Conference final against the Hamilton Tiger Cats, the Montreal Alouettes were not shy about their confidence. Two players assured a victory, one of whom (Duron Carter) ended up having three catches in the game for 25 yards while also earning a key unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It wasn’t the worst talk, but this comment was probably regretted the most in the 40-24 playoff loss: “That’s what Hamilton is, a sour taste.”
9 Tobias Harris
For reasons unknown, Magic forward Tobias Harris decided to poke the biggest, baddest bear in the NBA. Earlier this season, while playing against the Cavs in the third quarter and holding on to a small lead, Harris proceeded to mock Lebron James for what he thought was flopping. This was not a good idea. James then went 5-of-7, scoring 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter en route to the 98-89 victory. Against James, Harris scored only one more point after the altercation. Point made indeed.
8 Byron Hout
This is a different kind of regret, but definitely regret. Boise State linebacker Byron Hout wasn’t the most gracious of winners after his team beat Oregon 19-8 in 2009. He decided unwisely to taunt a player on the losing team. Unfortunately for him that player was LeGarrette Blount, who proceeded to throw a punch and knock Hout down hard. Blount was suspended, but his career turned out pretty well, especially what with just winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots this past year.
7 Alain Bernard
Another entry from the Beijing Olympics comes with a bit of proud patriotism. French swimmer Alain Bernard told reporters ‘we’re going to smash them, that’s what we came here for,” when talking about the American team. Again, not the worst comments, but this is swimming, so maybe it's not that common. The race was the 4x100, and the French side were ahead heading into the final stretch. That is until American Jason Lezak overtook Bernard to win for the U.S, edging the French by a mere 0.08 of a second while earning a world record.
6 Richard Sherman
If only Richard Sherman and Tom Brady could play every week. The two have long been in a battle on and off the field. Well, only Sherman is jawing off the field. Constantly trying to antagonize Brady, Sherman has often showed up in the big game too. He couldn't win every time, though, as Sherman ate his words during Super Bowl XLIX when after Brady threw a second interception, he said of Brady, 'his heart is gone.” As we know, Brady and the Patriots rallied, and while it was a defensive play that won the game, Sherman got cocky far too fast.
5 Brent Jones
Here we have trash talk that not only wasn’t backed up and entirely dumb, but that also wasn’t accurate. Ahead of their second straight playoff meeting in 1996, San Francisco Tight End Brent Jones said of the Packers, “everyone's talking like they're the greatest dynasty that's ever been. In the end, they haven't won anything yet." Well, the Packers would knock out the 49ers from the playoffs for a second straight year, winning 34-15. What’s strange is that the Packers also beat the 49ers earlier in the season, 23-20 in overtime. The Packers would go on to win the Super Bowl and return the following season, knocking out the 49ers once again (San Fran would eventually best Green Bay in the postseason in 1998).
4 Lance Stephenson
The Pacers definitely regrets trash-talking Lebron James because, two days after saying he didn’t regret it, he confessed and said he did. That’s because he declared he was able to get into James’ head during the Heat-Pacers series during last year’s playoffs. Not so much, actually. After the comments, James led the Heat to victory with 32 points, while Stephenson scored just nine, the first coming in the fourth quarter. The Heat would win the series too. "I think I said some things that shouldn't have been said.” The lesson (again), don’t trash James if you ever are going to meet him on the court.
3 Matt Hasselbeck
The reason this one is so great is because of how public it was and how quickly he ate his words. During the coin toss ahead of the overtime period of the 2003 NFC Wild Card Game against the Packers, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was so jazzed, so confident, that when asked if his side wanted the ball, he said “we want the ball and we’re gonna score!” Of course, this was on national TV, and in the first series of the added frame, Hasselbeck bit it hard. The QB threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and the game was over.
2 Anthony Smith
Don’t pick on Tom Brady. Steelers safety Anthony Smith decided to not only guarantee a win against the Pats in late 2007, but chide the Golden Boy as well. The result? A 37-13 blowout loss that saw Brady repeatedly, intentionally target the player Smith was covering and embarrass him. The two were even jawing in the first quarter and it seems Brady said something to the effect of, ‘we’re coming for you.’ That's because soon enough he was hitting Moss, who Smith was covering, for another TD. That's what you get.
1 Tiki Barber
For the best one of this list, we have a set of unique circumstances. Firstly, this trash talk was refuted in the most emphatic, illustrative of ways. Secondly, it was done by a player calling out his former teammate. Thirdly, it was done on national television while discussing the country’s most popular sport. During a 2007 preseason game, Tiki Barber (then an analyst), said QB Eli Manning lacked leadership, and would say on his radio show, "He didn't feel like his voice was going to be strong enough and it showed. Sometimes it was almost comical the way that he would say things.” Well Barber, Manning would go on to lead the Giants to the playoffs and the Super Bowl, where he orchestrated a game-winning drive (including a completion on one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history) to grab the championship from Tom Brady and the Patriots. What now Barber?