This world is depressing. I'm not trying to be cynical or anything, but you knew that this was going to be a depressing article by the title. This world really is depressing.
Racism is still around and, sadly, isn't going to stop anytime soon. If you think that sports are free from racial slurs, refrences to prior events, or any of the other nonsense that still exists in this world, think again. Yep, we still have the n word being thrown around at professional games...and we have athletes and talking heads making racist comments of their own.
I apologize to those who have been in a coma since 1947 and wanted to wake up thinking that what Jackie Robinson went through wouldn't exist anymore, but it does. From John Rocker's tirade in Sports Illustrated to Jason Whitlock's racist takes on Fox Sports 1, the 21st Century has had some awful moments of racism. But, which are the absolute worst.
After careful thinking, this is the approach I've chosen to take with regards to censorship. Because some of these takes and comments are disgusting - but there's a message behind them whether it be racist, full-on ignorance, etc - I'm going to run the comments unedited with the exception of racial slurs. Any slurs - the n word, for example - will be censored as n*****. Fair?
I also want to point out that with the exception of the top slot, the majority of these are, in my mind, interchangeable. Personally, I believe what you'll see at number one to be the worst of them all, but you can easily think another is. They're all awful, let's just leave it at that.
Ready to feel awful that you share a race with these people?
15 Bob Griese Tries NASCAR
We start this list off with something that may seem relatively tame - and compared to some of the other ones on this list, maybe it is - but still pretty bad. Doing color commentary for a 2009 college football game between the University of Minnesota and Ohio State, ESPN ran an advertisement for a NASCAR race and, as part of the promo, showed the top five drivers in the NASCAR Spring Cup Series.
When Chris Spielman asked where Juan Pablo Montoya, a Colombian, was, Bob Griese joked, "he's out having a taco." Though Griese did apologize at the broadcast's conclusion and served a suspension, can we all agree that this was a stupid take? And, if you think this is bad, prepare for what's to come..
14 Jason Whitlock vs. LeBron James
This is a weird one, I agree, but these recent comments about LeBron James need to be addressed. During the 2017 NBA postseason, the outside of LeBron James' Los Angeles home was vandalized as someone sprayed the n word on the walls. While it'd make sense to think people would condemn the act, Jason Whitlock took a different approach.
“I get when I was a young person people called me a bad name — the n-word, whatever — it hurt my feelings. But did it stop me from rising? Hell no! Did it stop LeBron James? And LeBron’s comment about ‘no matter how rich you are, no matter how famous you are, it’s tough being black in America. That is a lie. It’s not tough being Oprah Winfrey. It’s not tough being LeBron James. It’s not tough being Jason Whitlock.”
Interesting. So, me - as a white male - calling a black janitor the n word is bad, but calling Jason Whitlock that is alright because he's rich? Money or wealth shouldn't matter in this situation, not to mention this was sprayed on LeBron's house. Imagine being his kids and seeing that?
If Whitlock was going for the idea that LeBron shouldn't be bothered because of who he is and all that he's accomplished in a country where there are still racial barriers, that's one thing, but to say racism gets thrown out the window because The King is rich? Stop...
13 Ron Atkinson says goodbye
This is an ugly one, so get ready. When broadcasting a soccer game on April 21, 2004 for ITV, Atkinson thought that his microphone was off, so he began to talk about Chelsea's Marcel Desailly - who was black - and said the following.
"He's what is known in some schools as a fucking lazy thick ni****."
Well, Ron Atkinson is known in some schools as a racist idiot! Not only did this cost him his gig with ITV, but Atkinson also had to give up his writing job with The Guardian. Later that year, the Daily Mirror reported that Atkinson had made comments about Chinese women during a meal.
"I can't understand why there is such a population problem in China as they have the best contraception going: Chinese women are the ugliest in the world."
12 Rob Parker doesn't like Robert Griffin III
Chances are, despite his constant appearances on ESPN's First Take, these comments about then-Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin - a black male - are what introduced people to Rob Parker in December 2012.
"My question is, and it's just a straight, honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother. He's not really. He's black, he does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the kind of guy you really want to hang out with."
As a white male, I'm not going to touch the specifics of the 'is he black enough' debate, but I am going to ask why Parker felt like bringing this up when the NFL was caught up in RG3 fever? Why bring this up at all? I know that this was in the midst of ESPN fully embracing, well, embrace debate, but why does that matter?
11 Mike Bacsik vs. San Antonio
We've briefly alluded to this in the past when talking about Mike Bacsik, but here's the full story if you've never heard it. Best known as the pitcher who gave up Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run during the 2007 season, Bacsik went into sports radio after his retirement like many ex-athletes do and, while working for KTCK The Ticket in Dallas, wrote offensive comments on Twitter about San Antonio and its citizens.
Of those, the one that attracted the most attention was, "Congratulations to all the dirty Mexicans in San Antonio." Bacsik has apologized for the comments and openly speaks about his regret for tweeting them, but this was not a good look for him or The Ticket, who fired him shortly thereafter.
10 Rush Limbaugh Attempts Football
Before Jon Gruden and his Spider 2 Y Banana ideas entered the booth, ABC had attempted experimenting with their Monday Night Football coverage in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Comedian Dennis Miller, who is no stranger to conversations that border on racist, took on the role in 2000 (and did decently) but most people will remember Rush Limbaugh joining the team in 2003.
How would Limbaugh fare in the booth? Could he mix political views with comedy the way Miller did with his "Hail Mary denied - separation of church and state" - line? Well, when discussing Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Limbaugh said something that...we'll let him take it from here.
"I'm sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well."
Imagine what would have had happened if Limbaugh was doing NFL games in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick was leading his protests?
9 Voula Papachristou vs. Africans
So here, we have a fairly simple controversy as Olympic runner Voula Papachristou, who hails from Athens, tweeted this bit of foolishness prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
"With so many Africans in Greece... the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!!!"
For background, there was a small outbreak of the West Nile virus in Greece, so the joke was that the mosquitoes there would be able to feast on Africans who, as the jokes go, come from an area where bugs and diseases kill. Not only was Papachristou made a laughing stock, but she was expelled from the Olympics!
Watch what you tweet, folks, especially if you have a voice like she does. But wait, if you think this is the only mistake with Twitter, it gets worse...
8 Jason Whitlock vs. Jeremy Lin
Jason Whitlock and his fedora return! However, this moment comes from Whitlock’s first stint with Fox Sports, specifically during Linsanity in 2012. At the time, New York Knicks point guard and Chinese-American Jeremy Lin had come out of nowhere to help save the team’s season, exploding against opposing teams that began with…sigh…a spectacular second half against the New Jersey Nets.
So, to be funny after Lin had 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, Whitlock tweeted, “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.” Get it? Chinese men have small penises! But wait, this can’t be racist because Jeremy Lin is rich, remember? Whitlock did apologize, however, saying, "I debased a feel-good sports moment. For that, I'm truly sorry."
Are you sorry for what you said, or sorry that you're a hypocrite?
7 Riley Cooper thinks he's tough
Who could forget this one? Attending a Kenny Chesney concert in Tennessee during the summer of 2013, Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was denied entry by security guards. Cooper was then caught on camera saying, "I will jump back in and fight every n***** here, bro!"
First off, what's with that drunk woman making noises? What did she even say? Second, this led to a fair amount of controversy about what the Eagles should do - would they fine him? Would they suspend him? Would the NFL intervene? - without anyone really getting an answer. Sure, Cooper was fined, but this was not at all a good look for him or the Eagles organization. Keep in mind, this was not the last time someone in the Eagles organization would be accused of being racist...
6 Kelly Tilghman should research American History
And speaking of not good looks, how about this one from Kelly Tilghman? When discussing Woods during a January 4, 2008 PGA Tour telecast, Tilghman joked that younger golfers should "lynch him in a back alley" after co-anchor Nick Faldo himself joked that those golfers should gang up on Woods.
"Lynch him in the back alley." You...you do know what lynching is, right? And you know the correlation it has to black men in history? Oh, you do know. Interesting. Then why make that joke? Tilghman was suspended for her idiotic comments, but here's the kicker: she went on to be an announcer in the Tiger Woods video games for EA Sports. Why? No one at EA Sports said, "well, maybe she's not the right person for this?" Did Tiger say anything?
5 Andrew Johns vs. Greg Inglis
An assistant for the New South Wales rugby team, Johns was forced to step down in June 2010 for referring to winger Timana Tahu as a 'black c**t.' Those weren't the only racist remarks that Johns made, as ABC News explains.
"He used the word 'n*****', he used the word 'black b', he used the word 'monkey' at other players of colour as well... and other words such as 'coon' and the like. ... [Blues centre] Beau Scott said, and even Johns admitted it, but Beau Scott also said that he was told to 'shut the black c... down.'"
Yeah, him stepping down probably was for the best. If you're talking about your own players that way, one can only wonder what you're saying about your opponents.
4 Torii Hunter contributes to baseball's whitewashing
In my limited interactions with former Gold Glove outfielder Torii Hunter, he's proven to be an extremely intelligent man who wants to see black baseball players succeed. So, his 2010 comments about Latino players are fairly disappointing.
"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say: 'Hey, what color is [former teammate and fellow outfielder] Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' ... As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad."
Shortly thereafter, Hunter apologized, but Here's the heartbreaking problem with Hunter's comments: in 2004, 10.1 percent of Major League Baseball players were black, the lowest it'd been since 1962, which was the first year more than 10% of the game was African-American. By 2009, the year before Hunter made these comments, it was all the way down to 7.1.
Deep down, Hunter probably did feel angry that people associate Latino players with black players - which was common at the time because 'minority players' were used - but this was not the right way to handle that.
3 Don Imus: "Nappy headed h**s"
Now as a native New Yorker who, at times, listened to "Imus on the Radio" when it still aired on WFAN 660, I'd grown accustomed to Imus' takes as a kid. In 2007, I was ten years old and I'd been an avid listener of "Mike and the Mad Dog", which aired later in the day, for four or so years now so I enjoyed Imus on the way to school.
But his comments about the Rutgers' women's basketball team, when he said "Those are some nappy-headed h**s," may have been too much. Then, in an attempt at defending himself, Imus said the following.
"That phrase didn't originate in the White Community. That phrase originated in the Black community. Young Black women all through that society are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected by their own Black men, and they are called that name in Black hip hop."
Long story short, Imus was let go from CBS, MSNBC cancelled their simulcast, and WFAN replaced him with Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason. At least those two created a classic prank for Mike Francesa....
2 The Donald Sterling Saga
Another one that's hard to forget, former Clippers owner Donald Sterling was known prior to 2014 as being a general jerkass. But, with the Clippers playing in the postseason in May 2014, audio of Sterling talking to his girlfriend was leaked with him making the following comments.
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to? ... You can sleep with them [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that...and not to bring them to my games."
Why would Sterling complain about bringing black people to games if that would help boost income? Why is he such a racist? Though some close to him made the case that his mind wasn't what it once was because of his age, NBA commissioner Adam Silver - who had taken over in midseason from David Stern - still banned him for life. Woof.
1 John Rocker Lets It All Out
I don't even think we need to write a blurb for this part. I really think Rocker's comments to Jeff Pearlman in Sports Illustrated regarding playing in New York say it all.
"I'd retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7-Train to the ballpark looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing...The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the 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?"
While this was a 1999 interview, we're counting it on this list because it released in the final week of the 20th Century and Rocker served his punishments during the 2000 season. It counts.
Which of these comments, aside from Rocker's, did you find to be the worst? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below.