In today's day in age, athletes are subject to scrutiny for absolutely everything that they say, whether or not it's even on the record. Since the advent of the internet, various avenues in which to incriminate yourself have only grown exponentially over the years, so it's easier than ever to immediately hear about something awful that a professional athlete has on their mind at any given moment.
Facebook and Twitter have been hugely responsible for bringing the desired attention that these athletes so commonly seek, but at what cost? And even the ones who actually do try to make the conscious effort to stay clear of the public eye often times find themselves in compromising situations on TMZ just because they wanted to have a night out on the town every once in a while. An impromptu interview may take place and then all hell breaks loose.
This list will feature 15 athletes who you might have respected at some point, only to have your impression of them be completely shattered based solely on what they have to say on certain issues. Race, religion, sexual orientation… the list of hot-button topics that might get you in a little bit of trouble goes on and on.
Then again, some athletes are just so scummy that it's impossible to ever see them in a positive light no matter what they say. Let's get to those 15 athletes who didn't know when to keep their mouths shut!
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15 LeBron James
LeBron James did himself absolutely no favors with the basketball world the year he became a free agent. He held a lengthy sit-down interview that has now been infamously dubbed "The Decision" and while he didn't exactly say anything controversial, the way in which he went about the whole ordeal really bothered a lot of people, especially those in his home state of Ohio.
There is a point that has to be made clear though: Lebron was right, he could have chosen to play absolutely anywhere his heart desired and nobody is faulting him for anything like that. The major problem most people have is that these types of things are usually settled behind closed doors with General Managers and agents working together to try to do what's best for both parties.
LeBron James, however, decided to go on national television and spend 10 minutes feeding his own ego, while everyone else knew that he was only doing it as a publicity stunt (though he did raise a lot of money for charity as well). Without a doubt LeBron knew exactly what he was doing during "The Decision," so way to stay classy, "King" James.
14 Alex Rodriguez
Okay, so we all know about the controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez and his steroid usage that cost him the entire 2014 season, but the comments he said about the whole situation are just absurd. Rodriguez said, and I quote: "I'm fighting for my life. I have to defend myself. If I don't defend myself, no one else will." While he certainly has a point that no one else is going to defend him, he loses me when he says that he's "fighting for his life."
Typically those types of comments are reserved for people who are struggling with serious illnesses or emotional stress, definitely not for a guy who continually lied to the American public about using drugs to play a sport at a higher level and make millions of dollars. The way in which he chose to handle the entire situation is cringe-worthy and also worthy of being placed on our list of athletes who should have stayed quiet.
13 Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall's career as an NFL wide receiver is remarkable, but unfortunately for him so is his lengthy rap sheet. From October 31st, 2004 up until March 11th, 2012, Marshall was involved in a total of 26 incident reports, with quite a lot of them being violent in nature.
His history with domestic violence and his struggles with bipolar disorder are well-documented, but he makes our list for the 4,200 word press conference that he insisted on holding in late 2014 while with the Chicago Bears. Throughout the majority of the conference he detailed his storied past regarding his mental illness and his history with violence, but never once did he try to apologize to any individual for any harm that he may have caused in the past, not even coming close to the simple phrase "I'm sorry."
We understand that some things are out of his control, but never attempting to feel remorse is something that many will not going let go anytime soon.
12 Dwyane Wade
Maybe you're thinking, "Wait, I've never really heard Dwyane Wade say anything all that controversial. Why is he on the list?" Well, there are some wounds that take a little time to heal and maybe shouldn't be referenced so soon after a national tragedy, and they especially shouldn't be compared to a losing streak in basketball.
See, the time was 2010. Nine years earlier, the entire country was in mourning over the terrorist attack that happened on 9/11, so when Wade said, "There’s going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it’s not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games,” needless to say it stirred up quite a bit of drama.
He's absolutely right though: the media certainly can spin things out of control, but there were probably way better comparisons to make rather than referencing one of the biggest tragedies in American history.
11 Floyd Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather is arguably one of the greatest boxers of all time, but unfortunately for him, his mouth will be one of the biggest reasons why most people wouldn't ever consider him the absolute greatest. There's no question about Mayweather's boxing prowess, but he'd probably be better off refraining from his constant trash talking, which hasn't stopped since the day he first stepped into the ring.
Mayweather has instigated real life feuds with several other celebrities like 50 Cent, Nelly, and even MMA stars like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, despite the fact that he has officially retired from fighting. Looks like he'll do anything to keep himself in the spotlight it seems, but does he really have to? He has more money than God, but maybe if it weren't for his legendarily loud mouth he wouldn't be the same "Money" Mayweather that generated over a billion dollars in PPV sales throughout his career...
10 Carl Everett
Carl Everett had a long, long history of being at the center of pretty controversial opinions. He famously quipped, "God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the earth, and then made Adam and Eve. The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can't say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them." When asked about the known existence of fossil records he quickly dismissed them, stating that believes that they were fabricated by scientists.
Want more? Okay. He opposes gay marriage and the whole idea of being gay, saying at the time that he'd rather retire from baseball than be on a team with someone who was gay, or -- at the very least -- "set him straight." What he means by that we'll never know, but it's pretty easy to judge this book by its cover: Carl Everett, your words have ruined any good impression people may have ever had for you.
9 Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of talking trash. Throughout his career he was known to be in your ear all the way up and down the floor, but what he did during his own Hall of Fame speech went a little too far, even for Michael Jordan's standards.
Jordan tearfully thanked his friends and family (as everyone expected he would), but then out of nowhere -- in vintage Jordan fashion -- he started to fire shots at his rivals and enemies. He even went as far as inviting the kid that his high school coach chose over him to make the varsity team, Leroy Smith, to his induction ceremony just so he could spotlight him in the crowd and say, "He started the whole process with me. I wanted to prove not just to myself, but to the coach who actually picked Leroy over me, I wanted to make sure you understood, you made a mistake, dude."
Dude, that was three decades ago at the time; I think you can let it go. I always knew Jordan was a crazy competitive guy, but that's a whole new level of being a jerk.
8 Tim Thomas
In 2011 the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup and to reward them for their incredible achievement, it's customary that the President of the United States invites the whole team over to the White House to celebrate with a press conference and photo opportunity, which few people in this world can boast to their children one day. But let me remind you, it was the Boston Bruins who won the Stanley Cup and were invited to the White House, not just an individual named Tim Thomas.
Thomas declined the invite by publicly stating the following: "I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people. ... This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country." Doesn't matter, Tim. Despite whatever you may believe in your heart to be the truth, it was your team -- not specifically you -- that was being honored.
Ironically, his individual "choice" made him no friends in the locker room, and shortly afterward he essentially quit hockey altogether and never honored the last remaining year on his contract. Shun and be shunned, go figure.
7 Derrick Rose
Since I grew up in the Chicago area, this is a painful one to admit: Derrick Rose doesn't have a clue about anything regarding the real world. A lot of people lost respect for Derrick Rose for things that were beyond his control, like his body failing him time and time again by getting frequently injured and missing large portions of seasons, but I'm more worried about how he decides to handle himself when there's a microphone in front of his face.
When asked about how he spent the off-season in preparation for the next, Derrick said, "My mindset was just making sure that I was working out every day, and spending as much time as possible with my son... making sure my family is financially stable. You see all the money they're passing out in this league..."
Whoa, what?! This is coming from a guy who has an endorsement deal for over $100,000,000. He's worried about his family being financially stable? For everyone who will never make anything close to a hundred million dollars in this or any lifetime, let that sink in for a moment...
6 Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones was one of the most likable guys throughout his 19 seasons he spent with the Atlanta Braves. But after his retirement from baseball in 2012 -- and just like many athletes nowadays -- his Twitter account is doing him no favors in keeping his image intact.
Of the many controversial things he has Tweeted out to the world, two of them stick out as downright appalling, the first being: "So the FBI comes out and confirms that Sandy Hook was a hoax! Where is the outrage? What else are we being lied to about? Waco? JFK? Pfff..."
The second, which for some reason he hasn't deleted, being:
Y'all think if they took all them gators they trap in Fla and La and put them in the Rio Grande, it wud stop the illegals from crossing? Jk— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) June 8, 2013
Oh, good to know that you're "just kidding" about having gators eat Mexican immigrants, and really cool of you to backpedal on the whole Sandy Hook thing after one person courageously offered to have you over to dinner so she could show you her late mother's shirt that was full of bullet holes. Chipper, please think before you Tweet...
5 Manny Pacquiao
Oh, Manny… Why did you have to go on record saying that homosexuals are no better than animals? Why?! Here are his words directly from his mouth: "Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”
Why do you care what consenting adults do behind closed doors? That should be of no consequence to you in the least. Secondly, perhaps this rather extensive list of animals who have been documented as displaying homosexual behavior would change your mind on the matter?
I know it's only a few hundred or so deep, but it's sure a hell of a lot higher than the zero that you implied in your terribly close-minded quotation.
4 Curt Schilling
Well, where to start? I think every baseball fan remembers the miracle 2004 ALCS where the Boston Red Sox became the first and only team to ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit, and they did it against the New York Yankees of all teams. You may also remember the heroic pitching effort Curt Schilling delivered in Game six of that same series, when he had an impromptu surgery to repair a tendon in his right ankle that caused a very noticeable (and ESPN drool-worthy) bloody sock.
But it would be over a decade later when the true Curt Schilling and his inability to filter himself on social media came to light. He's offended the entire LGBT community by suggesting that men belong in men's bathrooms no matter how they sexually identify and he also tweeted a picture suggesting that the Muslims are worse than Nazi Germany by saying, "The math is staggering when you get to true #'s."
But the true icing on the cake -- and we can't make this stuff up -- is that his most recent Facebook post as of June 30, 2016 literally says the following: "You know that little thing inside your head that keeps you from saying things you shouldn't?? I think mine broke."
Oh, how we couldn't agree more!
3 Lance Armstrong
It's pretty easy to win over an entire nation when you dominate a competition like the Tour de France for over a decade, especially after being diagnosed with malignant testicular cancer. He had the United States in the palm of his hands and was widely considered an inspiration for everyone.
However, once the rumor mill around him started to buzz about the possibility of the usage of performance-enhancing drugs, his reputation began to slide. He spent several years of his life battling inside courtrooms about his alleged PED usage, getting lengthy lawsuits dismissed on several occasions. He continually denied every allegation and sued everyone who ever tried to reveal the truth, all while going on television and lying to all our faces.
The hammer finally came down on Lance Armstrong after it became public knowledge that he was at the center of a MASSIVE doping investigation that detailed the lengths in which he went in order to cheat the system, primarily by receiving blood transfusions on a regular basis. When asked point blank whether or not he'd dope again if given the chance, he said "I probably would," which is the sports equivalent of asking "are you stupid?"
2 John Rocker
Maybe not everyone is familiar with the John Rocker controversy that happened in the late '90s, but he was quite the lightning rod when he was a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. And maybe it's not fair to include him on a list of athletes you actually admired, but Rocker gave us no reason not to like him before he went on his unprovoked tirade about New York, so this is one of those "benefit of the doubt" type instances. Rocker made many, many comments on the record about his feelings towards the various ethnic groups represented in New York City, but this one probably sums it all up the best:
"The worst part about New York is all of the foreigners. I'm not a big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?"
Well, John, that pretty much alienates you from just about, oh, 95% of the world. Congratulations.
1 Ben Roethlisberger
Even before Ben Roethlisberger became a household name he's done NOTHING but tarnish any sort of good reputation he may have ever had. He's your typical "holier than thou" star athlete, complete with such phrases as "I can have you fired" and who could forget the classic line "Don't you know who I am?"
He's had friends of his feel obligated to apologize profusely for the way in which he treats restaurant staff, like how he is never shy to remark to a pregnant server with "What happened, did your boyfriend forget to pull out?" He's trashy, he's mean, and he feels entitled to everything.
Our favorite thing that happened in retaliation to his prima donna attitude was when Ben didn't think he should have to pay the $5 cover charge to get into a bar and threatened a manager with the usual list of celebrity cards he always plays, after which the bar manager finally put his foot down. A Steelers security official later called the manager and asked what the problem was, and the manager replied, “Tell him he’s an arrogant a**hole, and every Steeler can get in without a cover except him.”
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