It’s the anger and frustration that made Limp Bizkit want to break stuff. When the pressure gets too much where everything sucks and everybody’s f***ed, you want to justify ripping someone’s head off!
In a 21st Century sports environment, clubs and organizations inject and massage the pain out of athletes to dull them down to their most basic form. These pure physical specimens go out every week to break bones and push themselves to the maximum, but they also need to sell hair gel and soda in their down time.
The contrast is so significant we forget that these people at the end of the day are human beings capable of imploding. Some do it to showboat and play up to the crowd, others do it to pump themselves up to maximize the adrenaline running through their bodies. Then there are just the crazies, losing any semblance of control to go absolutely bonkers.
Unfortunately for these hot heads, YouTube makes meltdowns go viral. Who knows what was done on the baseball field during the War or what went on before 24/7 news stations needed breaking stories to talk about. All blow ups in front of the camera will be relived over and over again.
While reviewing the hall of shame, Major League Baseball stands out as a serial offender. Maybe it’s standing out in the heat for hours on end or traveling with the same group of guys day in, day out. Whatever it is we’re positive a baseball meltdown is only hours away.
Without further adieu, these are the essential top 20 athlete meltdowns in sports history.
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21 Sergio Garcia
Very little separates the best golfers on the PGA Tour. The elite players keep their poise and stay calm under pressure, but on one occasion Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia had enough of the club he was using. Making his third attempt at the tea after finding the water, he thought the driver should take a sleep with the fishes before chucking it in the adjoining lake. Sergio’s won enough titles in his time, yet this incident shows how fiery the Spaniard can be.
20 John McEnroe
The bad boy of tennis is now remembered fondly for being somewhat of a trailblazer and breaking through to non-tennis fans. But back in the 1970s and 80s in his glory years, John McEnroe was a giant a**hole on the court. This meltdown during a match with Ivan Lendl just about took the cake over a close line call that didn’t go his way. Going ballistic and chucking his racket, McEnroe can be heard yelling at the umpire, “Bullshit! That f***ing ball was on the line!” John really couldn’t care less what people thought of him because he made ranting and raving something of a trademark.
19 Joey Barton
Players who come up against their former clubs always have a point to prove. The problem for Jailbird Joey Barton was proving to Manchester City exactly why they got rid of him. The stage was set on the last day of the 2012 season with the Citizens requiring a win to secure the title and QPR desperately seeking a result for survival. With the scores locked 1-1 and the tension reaching breaking point, Barton saw red for a horrendous challenge before seeing red midst to try and start World War 3 on the field. An absolute moron in every sense of the word.
17 Kirk Cousins
Oh yeah Kirk, we do like that! The Washington Redskin QB is a fresh addition to the outburst hall of fame, yelling right in the face of reporters “You like that!” Clearly riding the wave of euphoria after their nail-biting 31-30 win over the Buccaneers, Cousins used the moment to tell the haters in the media that he is more than capable of filling RG3’s shoes. The keyboard warriors are always willing to dish out the criticism when it suits, so who can blame Kirk for giving them back a bit of their own medicine?
16 Zinedine Zidane
It’s the meltdown that arguably cost France the 2006 FIFA World Cup. That’s the gravity of what Zinedine Zidane did in the final against Italy. With 110 minutes gone on the clock in extra time, the captain and inspirational leader of the nation took umbrage at something Marco Materazzi said, a comment that resulted in the Frenchman headbutting the defender before he was sent from the field. Shootout’s can be a lottery, but such is the presence from the spot is Zidane that their 5-3 defeat to penalties could easily have turned out differently if he held his composure for that one brief moment of madness. Zizu’s slow walk from the pitch past the trophy remains one of the most iconic photographs captured in sports history.
15 Dennis Rodman
Technically Dennis had retired from the NBA when he went on his North Korean tour, but the meltdown he had on CNN is one of the most iconic in sports history. The former Chicago Bulls champion controversially visited the country when he heard leader Kim Jong Un was a big fan of his, attempting to use basketball as a mediator to engage peace talks. Yes, that actually happened. And when the CNN interviewer pressed Rodman on the status of Kenneth Bae, an American citizen being held in the country, Dennis went off on one. The looks on the faces of his surrounding entourage is a great reward for the awkward viewing.
14 Didier Drogba
In their Champions League Semi Final against powerhouse Barcelona, Chelsea could not buy a penalty in the returning home leg. With handballs in the box and challenges that would warrant a spot kick in any other game, the referee’s continual refusal to give the blues what they wanted slowly drove the players mad. At the end of the game, striker Didier Drogba lost control and on live television screamed into the camera, “It’s a f***ing disgrace!” as coach Guus Hiddink and assistants tried to hold the Ivorian back. Broadcasters were on the scene to offer the fastest apology for colorful language ever recorded.
13 Odell Beckham Jr.
No one doubts the talents of this guy. Odell Beckham Jr. can seriously play football, but what he can’t do is control his temper. Meltdowns don’t always come in the form of a verbal tirade, because actions speak louder than words. The 22-year old wide receiver is a serial offender when he copped two separate fines, the first was a $10,000 hit to the pocket for his role in a melee against the Rams where he threw the football at Alec Ogletree. The second cost him $11,025 for chucking his helmet and storming off the field over a controversial call against the Eagles.
12 Carlos Perez
Mr. Perez redefined what it meant to flip out when he took his issues out on the team’s Gatorade container and water coolers. The retired Dominican Republic pitcher for the Dodgers had a lot of problems off the mound as well, getting into an abuse case against a flight attendant that same year. It’s no surprise he called it quits after that campaign and it appears to be a good call. Not usually a good sign when a pitching career is most famous for a bad batting display.
11 Marcos Baghdatis
One racket smash. Two. No make that three. Oh, he’s grabbing a fourth? Quick – hide the children, a crazy Greek man is on a rampage! The normally pleasant and docile Marcos Baghdatis has been one of the more popular players on the ATP Tour, garnering a strong following with his exploits at The Australian Open. But one break in play changed all that. Marcos flipped out in 2012 and in all honesty, no one really cares why.
10 Milton Bradley
Failing to count to 3 qualifies as a meltdown, right? Milton Bradley’s spectacular error to throw a catch into the stands on only 2 outs against the Minnesota Twins still staggers the mind. The commentary is hilarious, as you can clearly hear an audible groan close to the microphone. Back to the Future 2 might have predicted a World Series Win for the Cubbies in 2015, but no one could predict that Milton Bradley could sleep through every mathematics class he ever attended in school.
9 Eric Cantona
Going to Google to search for the life and times of Eric Cantona quickly brings up a moment the Frenchman would like to have again. His kung fu kick towards Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons in 1995 was an incident that would be forever etched in time for British football. A subsequent one year ban from the sport let the striker cool his heels, lashing out at the fan after being sent off and retaliating to the abuse hurled from the stands. We all love a meltdown, but when they get violent and hurt people, they can end up with dire consequences.
8 Riley Cooper
No amount of stress or brain damage can excuse Riley Cooper for his racial slur caught on video. If Cousin’s actions were to pump himself up and Beckham Jr. was releasing his frustration, then the Eagles wide receiver has nothing to fall back on when he dropped the N-word at a Kenny Chesney Concert in 2013. It occurred during a heated debate with a black security guard, giving an insight into the guy’s lack of self-awareness. A subsequent apology attempted to douse the flames of the controversy, but these racist meltdowns are forever etched in people’s memories.
7 Curtis Joseph
Curtis Joseph explained that he felt he was “clearly interfered with” before taking an official to ground. Playing in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Joseph is seen to skate over in the blink of an eye and such is the level of outrage he doesn’t stop in time as he collected referee McGeough. “Joseph is furious!” explains the commentator, “as he ran into the referee by accident.” Teammate Alyn McCauley said that Cujo “went ballistic and hit the banana peel in the corner.” In real time it appeared to be a moment of outrage gone wrong, but it was pure madness on the ice whatever way you cut it.
6 Tim Belcher
Celebrities hate the paparazzi following their every move and occasionally lash out when they feel their privacy is violated. In 1995, Seattle Mariners pitcher Tim Belcher gave a collection of cameraman what for when he was ambling down the tunnel after a game against the Yankees. Chucking his glove against the wall, Belcher said, “Get the motherf***ing cameras off you motherf***ers! What f***ing kind of bullshit is that?” It goes on further, but you’re not Nostradamus for guessing what language he used.
5 Richard Sherman
There’s no subtlety about Richard Sherman. He doesn’t dance around the issue; if you ask him a question he’ll tell it like it is. In the conference championship game with the 49ers in 2014, Sherman used the interview with Fox Sports to settle a score with wide receiver Michael Crabtree. “Don’t you ever talk about me! Crabtree! Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m a shut it for you real quick. LOB!” It’s a rant that went viral and remains one of the great outbursts of all time.
4 George Brett
Hopefully the Royals World Series win over the Mets has helped George Brett cool his heels since his 1983 home run was ruled out for the use of an illegal bat. Even by baseball meltdowns there was no telling what damage the hitter would have done to the umpires if his teammates didn’t hold him back. The scenes at Yankee Stadium are still talked about to this day, as a nervous wait on the ruling of the bat quickly turned into a scene from WWE Raw.
3 Greg Hardy
Meltdown, outburst, rant, tirade, tantrum, call it what you will but the vision speaks for itself – Greg Hardy lost the plot! Such was the gravity of the situation for the Cowboys, Dez Bryant attempted to step in and act as peacemaker. The argument derived from a blunder on special teams leading to a Giants touchdown. Hardy can be audibly heard to scream “Help me!” in the middle of a team gathering, creating a very awkward public spectacle for the famous Texas franchise.
2 David Ortiz
The side effects of steroid use range from various physical and mental ailments, but searing anger and rage might top the list. Infamous baseball star David Ortiz lost the plot after he struck out against Baltimore, as the commentators kept their composure calling the action live. “Somebodies gone, it’s Big Papi. He’s coming out to say some more, he’ll be blocked on his attempt to come out and say some more.” Ortiz took a bat to the dugout and almost took the head off a teammate in the process, demonstrating that the most destructive people are clearly lunatics on steroids.
1 Mike Tyson
Iron Mike is many things, but a man of high intellect with wit and self-awareness he is not. This foul-mouthed rant tops the pops when it comes to athlete meltdowns and it’s one of the saddest things to watch. Tyson clearly lost all emotional control to spurt out a hateful diatribe of homophobic bigotry that couldn’t be beaten if you tried (we recommend you do not). The Lennox Lewis press conference carried a lot of testosterone and tension, spilling over into a verbal tirade of epic proportions. Since the rape conviction and ear biting episode, it’s scary to think this barely makes Tyson’s top 3 disgraceful acts of all time. But it does make number 1 on our top 20 athlete meltdowns ever.
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