Professional athletes earn an extraordinary amount of public attention, money, and adulation, so it's no surprise that this goes to the heads of certain athletes. Over the course of time, an athlete that has earned his way into the hearts of fans can turn over a new eccentric leaf, where the athlete does as he or she pleases and expects the public to understand. While some of these exploits have given us interesting or funny stories, in many other cases they have been damaging behaviors that have cost these individuals dearly.
It is no surprise that the constant hounding of the media, demands on their time, and the enormous personal wealth at their disposal can eventually lead to delusional behavior. These athletes spend the majority of their lives in a bubble, where their every action is heavily scrutinized. When they make public appearances, they can be hounded by adoring fans or the paparazzi, who can make the simplest everyday tasks into a huge spectacle.
Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes are not the only ones who have gone off the deep end as a result of this relentless attention, it can happen to some of the most intimidating physical specimens on Earth. It all makes sense that if you hang out in an environment for long enough, while occasionally suffering brain trauma, then eventually some delusional thoughts will begin to develop. In some cases these may be attempts to recapture the spotlight by an athlete who sees their star fading, but in other cases they are the latest in a line of erratic behavior.
15 Terrell Owens
Earlier this week, Terrell Owens made some outrageous claims that he could still be a 1,000-yard per season receiver. That wouldn’t be too ridiculous if it hadn’t been over four years since Owens caught his last NFL pass. Owens last played for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, where he caught 72 passes for 983 yards. However, T.O. is now 41 years old. While his physique may not have faded much, it's doubtful that he has much speed left in those legs. Who knows, maybe next season a desperate NFL team might call upon Owens for his services.
14 Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis is not the typical role model that you would expect from an NFL legend. Lewis has been a part of ESPN’s announce and analysis team since retiring a Super Bowl Champion with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. The Ravens legend made headlines this week when he said, "The only reason we know who Tom Brady is is because of the tuck rule.” This might have been fine trash talking during his career in the NFL, but as an analyst it is a patently false observation that deserves ridicule. With Brady on the verge of yet another Super Bowl performance, this statement could get even more ridiculous.
13 Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez is five weeks away from rejoining the New York Yankees in spring training and has his sights set on being their everyday third baseman, though they envision him as a DH. A-Rod has been the MLB’s villain over the last several seasons as the central figure in the BioGenesis case. Now as the season approaches, the soon to be 40-year-old Rodriguez is said to be in top condition as he pursues 700 home runs. However, even if he reaches that mark, his reputation is likely permanently scarred because of his behavior over the last few years. Surely, A-Rod doesn’t think the public has such poor memory that they could forget?
12 Jose Canseco
Jose Canseco has been a font of entertainment for nearly a decade now since he blew the doors off of the 'steroids in baseball story' with his book Juiced. Recently, Jose Canseco shot off part of his finger during a gun cleaning accident. He followed this up with a crazy story where the finger fell off while Canseco was playing poker in a casino. He then went through a very public Twitter breakup with his fiancé, Leila Knight. Canseco was accused of making death threats to Knight and her mother, and Jose responded with claims that he could pass a polygraph test.
11 Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Ahead of his May 2 mega-bout with Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather will be training with the fervor and discipline that have made him a champion. Despite the biggest payday of his career looming around the corner, Floyd Mayweather is completely delusional and has been for several years now. Floyd has entertained Twitter followers for years by tweeting pictures of his outrageous betting slips as well as bank statements that show an exorbitant level of disposable income. So whether it is for the multiple domestic violence incidents, the fact that he keeps all his money in a single account, or that he hangs out with Justin Bieber, Floyd is completely delusional.
10 Sidney Crosby
In mid-December, Sidney Crosby appeared in front of the media following a Pittsburgh Penguins practice with a noticeably disfigured face. Despite the obvious change in appearance visible on Crosby’s face and the fact that a mumps epidemic was spreading around the National Hockey League, Crosby refused to admit that he had mumps. Three days later, it was announced that Crosby had indeed been diagnosed with mumps. He contracted the disease, which can be prevented with vaccination, despite receiving a booster shot before attending the Olympics last year.
9 Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury has lived an incredible life. From the streets of Coney Island to a massively entertaining NBA career, then to a tough period eating Vaseline on JustinTV, Starbury has emerged out the other side as a Chinese basketball icon. Marbury has won two CBA Championships with the Beijing Ducks and is now considered a role model by the Chinese government. While people were scoffing at his fading basketball abilities, Starbury responded with a vision that was considered delusional. He has embraced Chinese culture and is now a Chinese cultural icon. Nobody could have seen that coming. Even if he is somewhat delusional, maybe he was right.
8 Jack Johnson
In November, details emerged of how Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson was systematically destroyed financially, who had been in control of his financial dealings since 2008. During that time, Johnson was under the illusion that his parents were looking out for his financial well-being, when instead they were leveraging his assets to the point that they left him millions of dollars in debt. Johnson has since cut ties with his parents, who have left him collecting only a fraction of his $5 million contract for this season.
7 Jon Jones
Jon “Bones” Jones defended his UFC Light Heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier earlier this month, by dominating his opposition. Shortly after his dominant victory, it was revealed that Jones had tested positive for illegal substances in the run up to the January fight. Jones tested positive just days after returning to the United States from Brazil and decided to enter a rehab facility after retaining his belt. However, Jones spent only 24 hours in the New Mexico rehab facility before leaving. There have been rumors for years surrounding Jones’ illegal substance use, but quashed other rumors when he passed tests for synthetic testosterone in samples provided before the Cormier fight. Jones cannot expect the public to accept a one day stint as a serious attempt at sobriety.
6 Jonathan “War Machine” Koppenhaver
Last year, the MMA fighter known as “War Machine”, Jonathan Koppenhaver, became a public villain for assaulting his ex-girlfriend Christy Mack to the brink of death. Mack escaped and went on to testify in court against Koppenhaver, who openly mocked her during her testimony. He was reprimanded by the judge for laughing during the testimony. You would think that Koppenhaver would take the matter seriously, considering he faces a total of 34 felony charges.
5 Michael Phelps
In November, Michael Phelps pleaded guilty to driving under the influence while speeding through the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore, Maryland. The judge showed leniency by suspending his sentence and ordering Phelps to stay away from alcohol for eighteen months. During the proceedings, it was revealed that Phelps believed he was “powerless to alcohol” as this was the second offense he had earned. Phelps said that the previous months were “some of the hardest times I’ve ever gone through.” As he prepares for the Rio 2016 Olympics, Phelps will have to stay on the straight and narrow to reach his peak.
4 Wanderlei Silva
After spending years on the rumor circuit as being a user of performance enhancing drugs, Wanderlei Silva embarrassed himself when he attempted to evade his testers. Silva, who is a UFC legend and surely a Hall-of-Famer, sullied his career by running out of a side door when testers showed up at the gym where he was training. Silva was lambasted by fellow fighter and PED user Chael Sonnen for his antics, which were indicative of how some felt about his actions. As a result of this incident, Wanderlei was given a lifetime suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission and fined $70,000.
3 Nick Young
While Nick Young’s girlfriend Iggy Azalea has come under fire for her racial insensitivity and lack of tact, Swaggy P has been routinely pushing the limits of social media. The other day when the couple was spotted at a University of Southern California basketball game, they made it on the kiss cam, where Iggy licked Nick’s face. Young continues to hog headlines and TMZ reports, while the Los Angeles Lakers flounder in the NBA’s Western Conference. Young’s erratic performances have been part of the reason for this and the Lakers don’t look ready to challenge for a playoff spot with Kobe and Young at the helm.
2 Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings has been a vital part of the resurgence of the Detroit Pistons under Stan Van Gundy. The sixth year point guard has played in every game for the Pistons this season, but had some interesting things to say when the team started to turn around for the better. According to Tom Haberstroh, Jennings said “I’ve never been on a six-game winning streak before.” However, Jennings had been a part of three previous six-game winning streaks. This makes you wonder what Jennings was doing when he was a part of these streaks. I know some of those seasons in Milwaukee were forgettable, but with winning streaks few and far between you’d remember the good parts.
1 Curt Schilling
Curt Schilling is one of the best post-season performers in the history of Major League Baseball. He was an integral part of World Series winning teams with Boston and Arizona, and the central figure of the famous “Bloody Sock” game. Schilling was not chosen to be a part of the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class, while Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz made it in. Schilling finished eighth overall in the voting, but believed that his lack of inclusion was due to his conservative political beliefs. Schilling finished 35% away from qualifying for the Hall in his second year of eligibility, and while he should eventually get in, his pithiness in this situation may not help him in the future.