The hope is that professional athletes who find fame and fortune in the world of sports would be role models and overall good people. While it does need to be understood that pro athletes are human and are thus prone to mistakes as are mere mortals, we would like to believe that those blessed to make great livings playing games would be good citizens. Many athletes from all around the world fail to disappoint in this aspect. They have their names linked with children's hospitals, they are charitable with their time and their money, and they are, as best as we can tell, solid people.
You may dislike the way that Cam Newton sometimes acts during games. Maybe it irks you that Neymar seems to take flops in attempts to buy calls from referees. Those who are not fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins may have found themselves annoyed with the attention given to Sidney Crosby over the years. These are examples of athletes who may get under the skin from time to time but who do not appear to be bad people. Heck, there are some fans out there who claim to hate LeBron James largely because he has been so successful during his career.
Individuals who would qualify for a list of athletes the world would be better without include people who have either committed crimes or who disgraced themselves and also the world of sports. Just about every sport one could think of has an example. The sports world has had everything from cheats, liars, gamblers and even sociopaths who have been found guilty of some horrible acts. Some might claim that there is nothing worse than wasted talent, but what is even sadder is when that waste negatively affects others in a way that can never be erased.
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20 Patrick Kane
We absolutely believe in the theory that every person, pro athletes included, should be viewed as innocent until he or she is proven guilty. With Patrick Kane, though, it has become increasingly difficult to not believe that there has to be at least a small fire causing all of the smoke. Allegations that Kane sexually assaulted a woman in New York state in August 2015 turned into a story with many twists and turns, and the Chicago Blackhawks player was ultimately not charged with any crime. There are still, however, reasons to believe that Kane may not be all that great of a guy.
19 Charlie Adam
We would never wish for any pro athlete to suffer an injury during a game; except maybe in this case. Charlie Adam is a Premier League footballer who has a history of taking opponents out with crunching, dirty and illegal tackles that have resulted in his victims suffering serious injuries. It is, quite frankly, nothing short of good fortune that somebody has not had his career significantly altered because of the actions of Adam during matches. Adam has earned his reputation for being one of the dirtier players in all of England, and he is lucky that he has not had to pay a massive receipt for his crimes against the game.
18 Aroldis Chapman
We will, in fairness, begin by pointing out that Aroldis Chapman was not charged in any wrongdoing for the domestic violence case involving the relief pitcher and his girlfriend. That incident is nevertheless damning to Chapman and it is one that could still get him suspended by Major League Baseball. Chapman, according to reports, allegedly choked his girlfriend, and the player also fired off eight gunshots inside of his garage. He may not spend a single day in jail because of his incident, but it sure seems as if Chapman should be called into the Commissioner's office at some point in 2016.
17 Ray Rice
The truth of the matter is that we do not have inside knowledge about the relationship had by former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and the woman who is now his wife. While people do deserve a second chance, it is difficult to remove the video footage of Rice knocking his then-fiance unconscious from the memory. Rice could still serve a purpose in the world of sports as a speaker who lectures young athletes about how quickly one's life can forever change. As it pertains to Rice as an athlete and his football career, though, it would be best for all involved if he stayed away from any National Football League roster.
16 J.R. Smith
The three-pointer shooter who features for the Cleveland Cavaliers is often seen by fans as a fun-loving player who sometimes hams it up for the camera. What has been forgotten by some is that J.R. Smith was involved in two car accidents in 2007, the second of which resulted in the death of a passenger. Smith was, a couple of years later, found guilty of reckless driving, a crime that was worth a total of 90 days in jail. Even that was deemed to be a bit too severe, though, as Smith served only 24 days behind bars before he was released.
15 Pete Rose
Pete Rose is, in fairness, not a criminal as are many of the individuals mentioned in this piece. While Rose is one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball, he is also known for being a compulsive gambler who has repeatedly lied about his actions. Whether or not Rose should be in the Hall of Fame is an argument that will go on and on until he is inducted, if that day ever comes. With that said, Rose has become such an unlikable figure who continuously tries to put himself over and who still doesn't “get it” to the point that there are some baseball fans out there who would prefer that Rose just went away.
14 Oscar Pistorius
So much about the case involving former track star Oscar Pistorius and the death of model Reeva Steenkamp never made all that much sense. Why would Pistorius have automatically assumed that Steenkamp was an intruder meant to do harm? What possessed Pistorius to essentially shoot first and then hope to not have to answer questions later? While Pistorius received a relatively light sentence via a first trial, he was found guilty of murder during the appeal process. We don't yet know what the future will hold for Pistorius past 2016, but the case will again be in headlines in April of this year.
13 Greg Hardy
It should forever be pointed out for as long as the name of Greg Hardy is mentioned is that Hardy was, in fact, found guilty of assaulting and threatening an ex-girlfriend. The only reason that Hardy avoided prison time was because of a technicality in the law that allowed him to “pay off” his victim and in return have that victim fail to appear in court during an appeal. Hardy was punished by the NFL, but he ultimately found a job with the Dallas Cowboys. It is not known where Hardy will play pro football in 2016. If there was any justice in the game, Hardy would have to find a new line of work.
12 Floyd Mayweather
You may thoroughly enjoy watching Floyd Mayweather make easy work of opponents inside of the ring. Mayweather is admittedly one of the greatest fighters of his generation and one of the best to ever enter the ring. It would, however, be silly to pretend that Mayweather has a reputation for being a good person outside of the ring. Allegations of domestic violence which hovered over Mayweather largely went ignored up until he prepared to step inside of the ring to face Manny Pacquiao. Such stories may simply disappear into history, though, if Mayweather has indeed retired as an active boxer.
11 Luis Suarez
There is something to be said for Luis Suarez being a reformation project who has worked to rebuild his reputation since linking up with Barcelona. Still, it should never be forgotten that Suarez did not deserve that opportunity in the first place. Along with being accused of using racist slurs against an opponent, there is visual evidence that shows Suarez has bitten opposing players in matches on at least three occasions. Odds are that there would not have been much of an outcry had Suarez been handed a lifetime ban following his actions at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Life is sometimes not fair.
10 Rae Carruth
The story of Rae Carruth is one that has been retold over and over, and it is one that is probably going to take a new turn a couple of years down the road. Carruth was a promising wide receiver in the fall of 1999 when his pregnant girlfriend was shot and killed. He was later charged and convicted with conspiracy to commit the murder. Carruth is set to be released from prison in the fall of 2018. Regardless of what Carruth does with his freedom, the story has somewhat of a happy ending in that his child survived the shooting and is, as of January 2016, in school.
9 Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes was a hero among fans of the New York Mets, but he eventually picked up a reputation for being a player who cared more about his bank account and his own stats than he did about leading the Mets to a title. A desire to get his is not why Reyes is on the list. Reyes was arrested on Halloween 2015 after he was charged with assaulting his wife inside of a hotel room while the two were in Hawaii. According to the information presented, Reyes grabbed his wife by her neck and shoved her into a glass door. The shortstop is awaiting trial regarding the matter and this may be the last that we hear from Reyes as a baseball player.
8 James Butler
James Butler was known as “The Harlem Hammer” during his boxing career, but he will mostly be remembered for two specific incidents. Butler received a sentence of four months in jail after he sucker-punched an opponent following a bout. Life as he knew it forever ended in 2006, though, when he was found guilty in the death of sportswriter Sam Kellerman. Butler, per the court, bludgeoned his victim to death before setting Kellerman's apartment on fire in an apparent attempt to cover up any evidence of the murder. Butler was sentenced to 29 years in prison.
7 Darren Sharper
Darren Sharper was, as far as we knew, one of the great NFL safeties of his time and a Super Bowl champion who was named to multiple Pro Bowl squads during his career. Following his playing days, Sharper was given a cozy job working for the NFL Network. It was during that time when Sharper was also allegedly committing sexual assaults in numerous states. A wide variety of evidence points to the fact that Sharper was a serial rapist and the only reason that he won't spend the rest of his life in prison is because he accepted a generous plea deal. Sharper deserved far worse.
6 Mark Rogowski
The story of Mark “Gator” Rogowski is one that was told in the documentary Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator. Rogowski was a popular professional skateboarder as a teenager in the 1980s, but his fame and fortune eventually disappeared. This resulted in Rogowski going down a dark road from which he never returned. Rogowski and his long-time girlfriend separated, and he later brutally murdered a woman who was close friends with his former girlfriend. Rogowski had his parole denied in 2011. He can next apply in 2018.
5 Evangelos Goussis
Evangelos Goussis first gained notoriety as a kickboxer and boxer who had a chance to qualify for the 1988 Summer Olympics. Goussis allegedly became wrapped up in a world of crime following that portion of his life, and he was found guilty of the murders of two individuals in cases tied to the “Melbourne Gangland Killings. The former would-be Australian Olympian was referred to as a “paid assassin” by Justice Betty King. A widow of one of Goussis' victim stated after the athlete's sentencing that she hoped Goussis would “rot in hell.” Goussis will, at the very least, rot behind bars.
4 Gavin Grant
The story of Gavin Grant is as fascinating as it is disturbing. Grant, a former English footballer who played for several clubs during his career, was found guilty of murder in 2005, but that verdict was overturned two years later. With the possibility of starting anew staring him in the fact, Grant and two others were found guilty in 2010 of killing a 21-year-old back in 2004. Grant received a sentence of a minimum of 25 years behind bars. The convicted trio did win the right to an appeal in the fall of 2015, as attorneys claimed that important information was not disclosed during the original trial.
3 O.J. Simpson
There is probably a solid argument to be made for O.J. Simpson being atop a list of athletes the world would be better without. Everybody knows about the famous murder trial that is, in 2016, being re-lived via a television special that will air on FX. Simpson authoring a book about “if” he had committed the murders of his wife and her companion made the story just that much scummier. That Simpson is now behind bars because of a robbery and kidnapping is, in the eyes of some, nothing short of justice and a matter of a wrong finally being righted.
2 War Machine
Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver is a mixed martial artist who is better known as “War Machine.” While Koppenhaver had stints in noteworthy organizations such as Bellator and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he is now far more known for a variety of ugly incidents that occurred outside of the cage. The one that sticks out because of the coverage that it has received since 2014 is the alleged assault of Christy Mack, who was dating Koppenhaver at the time of the supposed incident. Mack was brutally attacked to the point that she suffered serious and disturbing injuries. Koppenhaver is awaiting trial regarding the matter.
1 Aaron Hernandez
It is difficult to comprehend that the New England Patriots had a legitimate sociopath inside of the team's locker room for years without anybody knowing the true Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez was an All-Pro tight end set to make millions upon millions of dollars, but we now also know that he was an individual capable of murdering at least one friend. The former New England superstar is already scheduled to spent the rest of his life behind bars, and Hernandez is, as of the posting of this piece, still facing two other murder charges. It sure seems there are many out there who would be better off had Hernandez never achieved success in the NFL.
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