The cookie-cutter quote: the most dreaded assortment of empty words any reporter can hear.
Social media and the 24-news cycle have had a direct effect on how professional athletes speak to reporters and journalists in this day and age – it’s not like the “good old days” where athletes could speak relatively freely without having to worry about media backlash. Today, one slip of the tongue will land you in “hot water” (even if thousands of angry Tweets won’t change much, it can still sting).
Fortunately, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule. While the majority of sports stars will resort to a pre-determined list of clichés handed down from the public relations department, there are a select few who will at least make an attempt to be transparent (in their own unique ways, as we’ll see).
Sure, a loaded quote can cause a ruckus, and while there might be lingering ripples thanks to the outspokenness of any particular athlete or coach, it will usually blow over within days, if not hours, because something else is bound to take our attention away from it before long. That’s the nature of the beast in 2015 – thankfully, we have the Internet to log all of the great quotes we might have missed out on 20, 30 years ago.
Over time, certain athletes develop a reputation as “quote-machines” – the guys reporters can go to if they want to get something with a bit of meat on it, rather than the standard, boring “we played hard” or “we gave it 110% percent”. These athletes are able to do it on the field, but sometimes it’s how the hold court in the locker room that really piques our interest.
15. Marshawn Lynch
This selection might come as a bit of a surprise to you. Marshawn Lynch? Quotable? How? He never cooperates with the media – if he even shows up at all – and most of his quotes are complete and utter nonsense.
All of this is true and yet, Lynch has managed to become a quote machine without actually meaning to (or maybe he did mean to).
Sure, his quotes don’t have substance, per se, but how many times have you said “I’m only here so I don’t get fined” or “I’m thankful” since his now infamous Super Bowl media availabilities? Even Katy Perry has quoted Lynch – that’s enough to land him on the list.
14. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
If it were up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his sole concern on a standard day at the stadium would involve scoring a goal or two and going home. Unfortunately for him (and many athletes), media availability is practically obligatory these days. Ibra has had a couple of interesting moments in front of the camera’s – most recently he called out a reporter for being “low-budget.” He’s also dropped gems like “First I went left, he did too. Then I went right, and he did too. Then I went left again, and he went to buy a hot dog” and “It’s Zlatan-style” (with regards to his style of play).
13. Ilya Bryzgalov
Ilya Bryzgalov has been relatively quiet for the past little while – perhaps he got tired of the spotlight, or perhaps its because as a backup part of his job is to sit and be quiet – but with a track record like his, one can only hope that Bryzgalov is one stupid question away from another epic Bryz rant. From his classic ideologies (as seen on HBO’s 24/7 series) or his long-winded criticisms of himself, simply pushing the right buttons will produce another Bryzgalov sound bite masterpiece.
12. Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind. Sometimes, you have no clue what he’s saying (or who he’s referring too). Other times, Chuck is thoughtful and insightful. It really does depend on the day when it comes to Barkley – it’s seemingly always been that way, from his days as a player to his current role as an analyst on TNT.
No matter what you think of Barkley, though, you can’t deny that you’ve called someone a knucklehead at least once in your life.
11. David Ortiz
It’s not often a South American baseball player becomes as popular and personable as David Ortiz has shown to be during his long and successful Major League career. Many South Americans (or any other nationality, for that matter) come to play ball and will generally keep to themselves – shy or not, the language barrier is just that: a great big barrier. Ortiz has torn down that barrier as easily as he hits deep fly balls over the wall in right-field, to the point where he’s become the heart, soul and voice of the Red Sox.
Of all his memorable quotes, none comes close to his classic speech after the Boston Marathon bombings. Suffice to say Ortiz has earned his stripes as an honorary Bostonian.
10. Darryl Sutter
Darryl Sutter is kind of like Marshawn Lynch – minus the cool nickname and affiliation to a popular candy.
Sutter is often blunt, repetitive and monotone in his post-game comments. He’s not there to satisfy the media’s craving for controversy and scandal – most of the time it looks like he’d rather be watching paint dry if it meant getting away from the microphones and cameras.
Somehow, though, Sutter has become somewhat of a cult hero with his short, curt responses – so short and curt that they often elicit laughs. Either Sutter is a mastermind, or he’s just one of those guys you can’t help but laugh at when they’re pissed off.
9. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback in the NFL today, has pretty much everything going for him. He’s got a Super Bowl ring, two MVP awards and a beautiful girl on his hip. He’s also got the added bonus of being “a celebration” – the championship belt celebration isn’t necessarily original, but few have been able to put in on the map like Rodgers.
Rodgers is just as suave off the field as he can be on it – whether he’s making a snarky remark, quoting old movies or telling an entire state to “R-E-L-A-X”, people listen to him – and more importantly, outlets publish him.
8. Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor might be the least familiar name on this list, depending on how closely you follow the UFC. McGregor is leaving a path of destruction in his wake as he surges towards a championship belt; the interesting part is that he’s doing about as much damage with his words as he is with his fists.
If you’re new to McGregor, here’s a sample of the kinds of things that come out of his (loud Irish) mouth:
“These custom-made suits aren’t cheap. This solid gold pocket watch, three people died making this watch. I need to put people away. I need those big fights. I’m going to end up in debt pretty fast.”
“There’s two things I really like to do and that’s whoop ass and look good. I’m doing one of them right now and on Saturday night, I’m doing the other.”
7. Steve Smith, Sr.
Steve Smith, Sr. Sounds classy, doesn’t it? The name gives you the impression of an older man, greying a bit, in a fine suit and sporting a monocle.
In reality, the image is that of a ferocious bulldog, unrelenting and always primed to attack. It’s what has made Smith so successful throughout his NFL career – and even though his fiery temper has gotten him in trouble at times, it’s given us all the opportunity to shake our heads and smile at some fantastic sound bites, such as “ice up, son” or Smith telling his former team to mow his lawn when they get back to Carolina.
6. LeBron James
LeBron James lands on this list not only because the majority of what he says is scrutinized arguably more than anyone else in the sports world, but because of the spectrum his quotes have created.
In 2010, James “took his talents to South Beach” – and the “taking my talents” quote/running joke took off for a couple of years. James was mostly mocked and ridiculed for the way he left Cleveland.
In his return, the theme was “I’m coming home” – and that quote became a source of hope and inspiration (and even some joking around – Internet trolls will use anything they can get their hands on).
James is automatically quotable because of his stature, but he’s self-aware of the impact of his words, and most of the time he makes them count.
5. Rob Gronkowski
Gronk. Oh Gronk.
Rob Gronkowski is everyone’s favorite player that isn’t on your team – not just because he’s a physical freak of nature, but also because he’s downright hilarious. He’s constantly flirting with female reporters and cracking jokes during interviews – even when he’s trying to be serious or laud his teammates. Gronk is considered the “ultimate frat boy” and has as many admirers for his drinking ability as he does for his talents on the football field, but that’s what makes him great. It’s what makes him “Gronk.”
4. Bill Belichick
Another salty old sea dog on the list. What is this guy thinking?
Similar to Lynch and Sutter, Bill Belichick is quotable because he spends most of his time of the podium being as coy as possible – so when Belichick does open up (even just a tiny bit) it’s as if he had just spilled his life story to you.
There are plenty of Belichick quotes that could justify this selection – the latest being the never ending loop of “we’re on to Cincinnati” responses after the Pats Week 4 drubbing at the hands of the Chiefs – but the one that encapsulates Belichick best was the small chuckle he let out when he was asked if the quarterback position would be evaluated during that week.
We all know the rest of the story.
3. Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan is the anti-Belichick. He is loud, arrogant, and obnoxiously confident in his responses when it comes to media availabilities. He’s guaranteed wins, playoff appearances, and Super Bowl appearances, and has spewed other nonsense at times – but to his credit, he’s brutally honest and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of himself or his team. It’s what endears him to his players and his team’s fanbase, and it’s what works for him in terms of motivating his troops.
2. Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman is slowly but surely establishing himself as the sports world’s number one interview. It started with the rise of the Legion of Boom in 2012, the “YOU MAD BRO?” moment with Tom Brady, and climaxed when he absolutely lost his mind for a moment after the 2013 NFC Championship game. Since that infamous interview with Erin Andrews, Sherman has become a football icon – but he’s used that platform to speak his mind about a multitude of topics. He’s entertaining, insightful, and is clearly one of the smartest athletes of this era of sport – all which makes him a great quote, almost every time he steps up to the mic.
1. Kobe Bryant
A favorite line from a friend of mine: “Whose name do you yell when you throw a paper ball into a trash can? Michael? LeBron? No. Didn’t think so.”
Kobe Bryant’s name in itself has become quotable – but it sure doesn’t hurt that Kobe knows how to drop bombs in the media. He’s called out teammates, gotten into feud’s, and a multitude of other famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) Kobe moments.
My personal favorite is one of his most recent ones. In response to his latest injury – a shoulder issue – Kobe tweeted: “This is what happens when I pass too much!”
Talk about a true “KOBE!” moment.
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