Analysts and color commentators are essential to almost any competition. Realistically, most fans don't know exactly what's going on at any given second during a game and fun facts about players, teams, stats and record make a viewing experience more enjoyable. On top of all that, watching an event with no sound other than refs barking calls and players insulting each other would be boring.
Sportscasters are generally retired athletes, but on occasion there is the odd one who just did his or her homework and knows tons about sports. Some of the female sports reporters are only thought of as eye-candy by viewers, but most are actually very well-informed.What analysts and commentators are not always, however, is etiquette specialists. They may trade pleasantries over the course of a broadcast, but they are meant to be jovial, fun and interesting; manners sometimes take a backseat role.
Most broadcasts go off without a hitch. Everybody on screen throws out some analysis, they share a few laughs and the viewer ends up slightly more entertained and informed than they were a couple of hours before. But every now and again, a sportscaster steps out from behind the scenes and takes center stage. This is usually not a good thing.
If fans are focused more on an analyst than on the game and the players, it is because that analyst did something wrong and is now in trouble. From someone who decided to take out their bad day on a tow truck employee to someone who just wanted a fun night with some hookers, here is our countdown of the top sixteen disgraced sportscasters.
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16 Rob Parker
Rob Parker has an impressive resume, which includes a Master's degree from Columbia and experience in print, on the radio and on television. He has mostly been known as a knowledgeable journalist, but has infuriated fans and others in the business a few times, with none being as notorious as his comments on quarterback Robert Griffin III while working for ESPN.
He was discussing how RGIII had indicated that he just wanted to play football and didn't want his race to be an issue of discussion. Parker went on to ask if RGIII was a "brother" or a "cornball brother," whether he was "down for the cause" and "one of us." There were all roundabout ways of saying RGIII was a fake black guy because he had a white girlfriend and was conservative. His vague, confusing comments were seen as racist and he was fired from ESPN a couple of weeks later.
15 Warren Sapp
One of the best defensive tackles of his era and probably of all time, Warren Sapp found himself broke just a couple of years after his retirement from pro football. He failed to pay taxes and alimony for some time and has had a world of financial troubles about which one could write a book.
His job with NFL Network was really all he had going for him. Unfortunately, after the Super Bowl earlier this year, he was charged with soliciting prostitutes and for assaulting one of them. His contract was cancelled just days later.
14 Steve Lyons
Like a few guys on this list, Steve Lyons thought his job was to be a comedian. But over time, enough people got offended by his brand of comedy that he was fired by Fox. He made what many considered to be an antisemitic remark about Shawn Green when he (a Jew) chose not to play on Yom Kippur. He also made disparaging comments about Asians and Hispanic people. In 2006, Fox fired him after he made a joke about Spanish-American manager-turned-broadcaster Lou Piniella stealing his wallet.
13 Andy Gray and Richard Keys
So far we've heard about a couple of men accused of racism and a former star who liked prostitutes. Well, now it's time for some sexism. Gray and Keys believed that their microphones were off during part of a broadcast in 2011 and they decided to poke fun at a female referee. Their friendly banter was deemed unprofessional and, ultimately, the two were fired from Sky Sports. Both have returned to broadcasting, but with a significant blemish on their records.
Keys indicated that if the public knew half of what broadcasters said to each other during breaks, there would be nobody left in the business.
12 Hugh Douglas
A former NFL defensive end, Douglas turned to broadcasting after his ten years in the league. A gifted pass rusher, Douglas was selected to three Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro once. He worked in broadcasting for Philadelphia based news for a while but got hired by ESPN in 2011. He was fired after a confrontation with fellow analyst Michael Smith. The two were apparently involved in a verbal altercation in which Douglas called Smith an "Uncle Tom" and a "house n*****." Uncle Tom is a reference from a book written in the 1800s and refers to a black man who is obedient to white people. The other term means a slave who lives inside the house of the owner. These are both offensive terms to use.
11 Jimmy Snyder
Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was an old gent back in 1988 and probably thought his comments would be well received and considered intellectual. Nothing could have been further from the truth. He claimed that black people were naturally better athletes than whites and other races because of selective breeding going back to the days of slavery. Some athletes and colleagues defended him, saying that he was not a racist, but did , on occasion, make comments about issues of which he was ignorant. In 1991, he stated that if blacks took over coaching jobs it would be the end of white people in football.
Regardless of his outstanding career as a journalist, many remembered Jimmy Snyder for these offensive comments. He died in 1996.
10 Craig James
A five year veteran of the NFL, Craig James played for the New England Patriots from 1984 until 1988, ultimately retiring early due to multiple shoulder injuries. He took to broadcasting the year after he stopped playing. He ran for the United States Senate in 2011 and made some unfortunate comments about gay marriage, saying that homosexuals would have to "answer to God for their actions." His bid for that office was unsuccessful and he returned to broadcasting. He was hired and fired by Fox in the same week after some of his political comments, such as the one above, were deemed to be bigoted by the network.
9 Britt McHenry
Britt McHenry has played the role of eye candy for Fox and ESPN in the past few years. She's a gifted interviewer and one of the best looking women in the business. Earlier this year, however, a video surfaced on the internet that looked and sounded more like a high school bullying session than a conversation between two adults. McHenry's car had been impounded and she took her frustration out on the towing company lot attendant, calling her every manner of cruel name, insulting her job and looks.
She lost quite a few fans that day and cemented many pre-existing hatreds. To her credit, however, the employee she chewed out took it like a champ. Look this video up to learn the meaning of "kill with kindness."
8 Don Imus
Again we see it, an aging man trying to be silly and forgetting where the lineis. It was over eight years ago and Imus was talking on his radio show about women's basketball. He ended up dropping the phrase "nappy headed h***" and "jiggaboos" much to the displeasure of many people. He wanted to be funny, and anyone who listened to his show knew that he didn't pull any punches and spoke what was on his mind. On that day, a well-intentioned but racist thought was in his mind. Whether or not Imus is a despicable racist, he earned the reputation and many people associate him with this event, which stands out as a stain on his career.
7 Jason Whitlock
A college football player who excelled in journalism at Ball State University, Jason Whitlock has over 20 years of sports reporting experience. He also has plenty of experience offending people. In his defense, he's a funny guy and there is nothing wrong with wanting to make people laugh. But at the same time, he made an inappropriate joke on Twitter back in 2012 after NBA player Jeremy Lin scored 38 points. He said "some lucky lady in NYC is gonna couple inches of pain tonight." This is a racist jab at Lin based on a manhood stereotype. He thought it would be funny, but it just ended up offending people. He later issued one of the least sincere non-apologies in sports history.
Most people forgot about his racist comment and lack of remorse, but in the last few months he fell out of favor with ESPN after essentially failing to get the publication, of which he was in charge, "The Undefeated" up and running on the ESPN network of sites. While Whitlock gained a reputation for over a decade of being an intelligent, edgy analyst, he went downhill and ultimately replaced his edge with an air of unprofessionalism that has led to his October firing.
6 Damian Goddard
Number seven takes us to Canada, for a story of a sportscaster who tweeted against same-sex marriage a few years ago. Whether or not Damian Goddard was really "disgraced" back in 2011 is somewhat subjective and really depends where you stand on religion. He's a Catholic and, as such, tweeted his opposition to NHL player Sean Avery (now retired) who was outspoken in his support for gay marriage. Agent Todd Reynolds had indicated that he was not in support of gay marriage and Goddard, somewhat unnecessarily threw his two cents onto the internet, tweeting "I completely and whole-heartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage."
He was fired from Rogers Sportsnet, where he was a host, within days. Christians voiced their support for Goddard, while most others sided with Sportsnet in their decision. At the same time, an untold numbers of fans quietly hit their heads against tables, hoping that sports journalism would just focus on sports and leave politics to politicians.
5 Don Tollefson
By his own admission, Don Tollefson has suffered from addiction from an early age. He has claimed that he started drinking heavily in his youth and did not stop until he was in his 60s. With that said, he was found guilty earlier this year of theft by deception and violating charity regulations. In short, he stole and committed fraud. He basically sold out of town travel packages for sporting events that were never delivered and then failed to turn the money earned over to the charity he was trying to support.
During his trial, it became clear that Tollefson was an emotional and mental wreck. He had abused alcohol and prescription medication for years and tried to do too much, ultimately costing him part of his reputation and a lot of money on his part, and that of the causes for which he was supposedly raising funds.
He was sentenced to a prison term and tons of probation. The judge who sentenced him also proposed that part of his rehabilitation for his crime should include speaking to others about addiction. Tollefson probably isn't a monster and no doubt has a troubled past, but his inability to control his personal life caused a great deal of headaches for a number of people.
4 Marv Albert
This is a hard case to make because Marv Albert is one of those names that is so big in the sports world that it is hard to criticize him at all. He's covered everything, from Super Bowls to Stanley Cups. With that said, he sexually assaulted two women. It was back almost twenty years ago, but he was accused of unwanted biting and some very aggressive behavior and pleaded guilty to an assault charge, receiving a suspended sentence instead of prison time.
He was fired by NBC within days but got rehired two years ago. He's had a relatively spotless record since and has regained much of his popularity among most fans, but many have not forgotten his misdeeds in 1997.
3 Marvell Scott
If you haven't heard of Marvell Scott, it's because he hasn't worked for many large news stations outside of New York City. He's a licensed doctor and was a successful collegiate athlete, but had a nasty run-in with the law back in 2010. He was found to have fooled around with a fourteen year old who was forced to sell her body. The law really doesn't really care whether a man knows about such circumstances and while he was able to beat more serious charges, Scott pleaded guilty to "injuring the welfare of a child" and only ended up getting a few weeks of community service. Nevertheless, he makes our list because of that nasty bit of criminal activity on his record.
2 Stuart Hall
Now 85 years old, Stuart Hall has been in the journalism business for over fifty years. He worked for the BBC for ages and in his later years he started covering football (soccer). He was a household name in England but was arrested in 2012 for multiple counts of indecent assault with three underage girls in the 1970s and 1980s. Over the following months, many more women came forward and he ultimately pleaded guilty to over a dozen charges of indecent assault. He was given 30 months in prison, which was increased by another 30 months when he pleaded guilty to yet another indecent assault charge in 2014.
1 Vince Marinello
One of the most well-known sportscasters in the New Orleans area, Vince Marinello was a local celebrity until he murdered his ex-wife back in 2006. He shot her twice in the head and did a poor job covering it up. His vehicle was seen on camera and found later at his home, his alibi was basically transparent, and police found a "to-do" list related to the murder, along with records of him purchasing the type of bullets used for the murder.
After a brief trial, he was found guilty and is now serving a life sentence.
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