Professional sports leagues and the teams within those leagues are well aware of the fact that the best way to get an athlete’s attention is to hit where it hurts most: their wallet. Sports fines are commonplace and can be levied for a variety of reasons, the majority of which seem to be perfectly reasonable. In some cases, it is fairly likely that the athlete is actually more than happy to get away with just a fine instead of a stiffer punishment, but there have been more than just a few instances in which sports fines have been doled out for reasons that are just downright strange.
Sometimes it is the athlete who has done something weird to deserve the fine and in other cases the sports league or team just seems to be abusing its authority in issuing a fine for no justifiable reason. Lately the sports world has seen this trend of weird fines continue, as there is no shortage of athletes who do odd things to get fined, and there is seemingly no limit to what a sports team or league will fine an athlete for.
In recent years, the New York Jets have been at the center of some of these strange fines, as Brett Favre was fined for failing to cooperate with the NFL after allegedly texting a picture of his junk to a reporter and strength coach Sal Alosi was fined for tripping an opponent from the sideline. It’s not just athletes and coaches who are on the receiving end of the fines either, as NBA referee Joey Crawford was once docked for challenging Tim Duncan to a fight and then tossing him from the game when the future Hall of Famer laughed in his face.
The following 20 weirdest sports fines include players, coaches, executives and even entire franchises, and rather than ranking them according to weirdness, these fines are grouped according to the fined party’s potential reaction to being fined or their possible argument in defense of their actions. Some fines are justified while some are absolutely absurd, and what follows are the top 20 weirdest fines in sports history.
Group 7 (17-20): “It’s Just a Bodily Function!”
20. Von Miller Farts More Than the Average Human
Anyone who has been around any sports team – professional or otherwise – ought to be well aware of the fact that players have a tendency to say and do things that could be considered crass or offensive. During team meetings, apparently, the Denver Broncos have a policy in place to reign in this sort of behavior, using what could be best described as a “fart tax” to keep players from stinking up the room.
Von Miller is apparently the most frequently taxed member of the Broncos, and the linebacker has spoken out against what he believes is an unjust penalty. For the time being, however, Miller has a system in place to avoid the fart tax: “They can’t fine me if I get up and walk away. It’s NOT healthy. I keep trying to tell them it’s not healthy if I just sit there and hold it in. Nobody in the world does that. I just do it more than the average person.”
19. Marlins Batboy Vomits During Milk Challenge
For those unfamiliar with the milk challenge, the rules are quite simple: the participant must drink an entire gallon of milk in under 60 minutes without vomiting. It is a well-known fact that the most likely outcome of the milk challenge is that the participant will vomit. A lot. So when Brad Penny challenged a Marlins batboy to the milk challenge and offered a $500 reward, the pitcher probably knew what was going to happen next.
The batboy apparently drank all of the milk well under the time limit but was simply unable to keep it down. After suffering the indignity of vomiting in front of a team of big leaguers for the sake of their entertainment, the Marlins then fined and suspended the batboy for six games for accepting the challenge. Penny pointed out the inconsistency in the punishment, telling the Miami Herald in 2005, “It’s kind of ridiculous that you get a 10-game suspension for steroids and a six-game suspension for milk.”
18. Pablo Sandoval Uses Instagram While on the Toilet
During a recent Red Sox game, Pablo Sandoval was caught violating the team’s social media policy when he liked the photos of “diva_legacy.” Apparently, Sandoval grabbed his phone during a trip to the toilet, and rather than catching up on world news or studying a scouting report, the portly third baseman was checking out and “liking” two of diva_legacy’s photos while going, well, you get it. Sandoval was suspended for one game without pay for his toilet-time activities.
17. Randy Moss Pretends to Moon Fans in Green Bay
Among the many infamous incidents to take place both on and off the field during Randy Moss’ NFL career, the time he pretended to drop his pants and moon the crowd as part of a touchdown celebration during a playoff game in Green Bay has to rank among the most memorable. The NFL, however, did not find the celebration all that funny, fining Moss $10,000 and excoriating him for his “poor judgment” over a celebration that was “insulting to many.” The fine led to this outstanding exchange between Moss and a reporter:
Reporter: “Write the check yet, Randy?”
Moss: “When you’re rich you don’t write checks.”
Reporter: “If you don’t write checks, how do you pay these guys?”
Moss: “Straight cash, homey.”
Reporter: “Randy, are you upset about the fine?”
Moss: “No, cause it ain’t [expletive]. Ain’t nothing but 10 grand. What’s 10 grand to me? Ain’t [expletive]. Next time I might shake my [expletive].”
Group 6 (14-16): “I Just Didn’t Think It Was That Dumb When I Said It”
16. Tyrus Thomas Tells the Truth
In 2007, Tyrus Thomas was a rookie who had been invited to participate in the NBA’s All-Star Game festivities as a competitor in the league’s annual dunk contest. Even though rookies are regularly reminded to be cautious when talking to the media, Thomas made the mistake of being honest about his dunk contest motivations, telling reporters that “I’m just going to go out there, get my check and call it a day.”
Given the opportunity to talk about the potential benefits of being around the best players in the league during All-Star weekend, Thomas reiterated his true motivation, saying, “I’m just into the free money. That’s it. I’ll just do whatever when I get out there.” Those comments ended up costing Thomas $10,000, as the Chicago Bulls fined their painfully honest rookie and put a sizable dent into the “free money” Thomas would receive from the dunk contest.
15. Mario Balotelli Issues Racist Anti-Racism Statement
In what he claims was supposed to be a message promoting diversity and anti-racism, Balotelli posted an image to Instagram of Super Mario that included the original text that read, “Don’t Be Racist! Be like Mario. He’s an Italian plumber created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican.” After the original text, however, text was added that read “…and who jumps like a black and grabs coins like a Jew.”
The Internet backlash was swift, so Balotelli deleted the Instagram post and took to Twitter, saying, “My Mom is Jewish so all of [you] shut up please.” The damage was already done, however, and Balotelli was suspended for one game and fined the equivalent of $39,000 for the offensive, racist and anti-semitic social media post that he apparently did not realize was offensive, racist or anti-semitic.
14. Dennis Rodman Insults All the Mormons in Utah
During the 1997 NBA Finals, Dennis Rodman was fined $50,000 for the comments he made disparaging the whole of Utah’s Mormon population, blaming the members of the religion for his on-court struggles by saying, “It’s difficult to get in sync because of all the [expletive] Mormons out here. And you can quote me on that.” Phil Jackson, then the coach of the Chicago Bulls, pointed out that, “To Dennis, a Mormon may be a nickname for people from Utah.”
Rodman himself seemed to reinforce Jackson’s theory when asked about the comments he made, saying, “If we were in Houston, I’d say (the same) about some of the Houston people. Maybe I don’t know some of the Mormon people. The Mormon people don’t like me, either, right? That’s a given, right? So, what the hell.” After receiving the fine, Rodman further confirmed his confusion regarding the Mormon religion while offering his apology, saying, “If I knew it was a religious-type deal, I never would have said it.”
Group 5 (8-13): “Dress Code? I Should Be Able to Wear Whatever I Want!”
13. Barry Bonds’ Wristbands Feature a Too-Large Logo
For all of the things Barry Bonds has been accused of in his baseball career and in the years that followed, he has always seemingly managed to escape any serious penalty. Even the federal government couldn’t make their obstruction of justice conviction stick as Bonds was able to have it overturned on appeal. In one of the few times Bonds was actually caught violating the rules of baseball, however, it involved nothing more than a simple uniform infraction. Bonds’ fine stemmed from the use of wristbands that featured a logo that was larger than the size allowed by MLB. Bonds was fined $5,000 and threatened with additional fines for every subsequent game in which he wore the wristbands.
12. NBA Fines Players for Wearing Shorts That Are “Too Long”
After taking a serious position with regard to the dress code for players who are not dressed in uniform for a game, the NBA also began levying significant fines for in-game attire as well. In 2005, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Jermaine O’Neal and Andre Miller — along with at least nine other players — were each fined $10,000 for wearing shorts that were too long during the first few weeks of the season. Teams were also subjected to the fines and the NBA even sent personnel to games for the explicit purpose of identifying players who were in violation of the league’s dress code.
11. Clinton Portis and Sean Taylor Wear the Wrong Socks
Clinton Portis and the late Sean Taylor, both playing with the Washington Redskins at the time, were regularly fined on several different occasions throughout the 2005 NFL season for uniform violations. Portis routinely wore the wrong socks, shoes and eye shield during that year, and after a November victory over the Eagles, the Redskins running back was fined $20,000 for multiple uniform infractions. Taylor, wearing a pair of socks featuring the wrong pattern, was fined $5,000 for his infraction. Portis, who attended each of his Thursday press conferences in costume that season and claimed to be unaware of the financial penalty that the NFL had hit him with, was appropriately dressed as “Sheriff Gonna Getcha,” when the media informed him of the $20,000 fine.
10. Sheldon Brown Wears a Jason Mask During Pregame Introductions
Apparently taking a lead from Portis, Sheldon Brown also decided to bring a bit of Halloween to the NFL while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. During pregame introductions, Brown emerged from the tunnel wearing the mask made famous by Jason Voorhees, a character from the Halloween movies, a move that cost him $10,000 after the NFL fined him. When asked for his rationale for wearing the mask, Brown kept it mostly to himself, saying, “I don’t want to talk about it. That’s the way my career has been and I’ll let you figure that out.”
9. Don Mattingly Refuses to Get a Haircut
In an incident that would go on to inspire one of the best scenes in the iconic “Homer at the Bat” episode of The Simpsons, Don Mattingly, then the team captain of the New York Yankees, was benched and fined for his refusal to get a haircut as demanded by team management. The odd incident came amid of time of turmoil for the Yankees and their captain, and Yankees manager, Stump Merrill, actually supported the team’s position, saying, “If someone from management tells you you need a haircut, you get a haircut.”
Mattingly, on the other hand, took it as a sign that the Yankees no longer wanted him in New York, saying at the time, “Maybe I don’t belong in the organization anymore. I talked to [then-Yankees GM Gene Michael] about moving me earlier in the year. He said we’ll talk at the end of the year. Maybe this is their way of saying we don’t need you anymore.” Of course, Mattingly eventually got a haircut, stayed in New York and retired as a Yankee, but the 1991 team struggled to a 71-91 record amid all of the internal strife that included several reprimands for players who violated the team’s dress and grooming code.
8. Nicklas Bendtner’s Undies Draw the Ire of UEFA
If there is anything that Nicklas Bendtner learned after lifting his shirt during a match to reveal a pair of “Paddy Power” branded undies, it is that UEFA is extremely concerned with protecting the economic interests of its sponsors. Bendtner received a fine of 100,000 euros and was banned for a competitive international fixture for revealing the waistband of a pair of undies that Bendtner explained were “just a pair of lucky boxer shorts.”
Group 4 (6-7):“But I’m in Charge!”
7. Danny Ainge Throws in the Towel on Professionalism
Danny Ainge has won titles in Boston as both a player and as an executive, so it is certainly understandable that he is willing to go to great lengths to help his team win. In a regrettable incident that took place in a game against the Cavaliers in the 2010 playoffs, Ainge, who was seated behind the basket, attempted to distract J.J. Hickson by tossing a towel in the air during a free throw attempt.
The NBA fined the 2008 Executive of the Year $25,000, and Ainge expressed remorse in the immediate aftermath of the silly incident, saying, “I regret that. That was very unprofessional. I was having fun with the hecklers and the crowd that was sitting around me. … There’s just no excuse. It was unprofessional. I regret doing it. The biggest reason I regret it is you guys should be talking about the great play of the Celtics and not talking about a towel incident. I’m shocked that it’s become this big a deal.”
6. Bobby Valentine Wears a Dugout Disguise
In the 12th inning of a game that would wind up lasting 14 innings, Bobby Valentine was ejected for arguing a call of catcher’s interference. If a manager wants to remain in control following an ejection, he can easily relay instructions from the clubhouse to his coaches in the dugout, but Bobby V chose a different course of action: he donned a disguise. With a mustache made of eye black, a pair of dark glasses, a black Mets t-shirt and a hat pulled down low, the Mets manager returned to the dugout, fooling none while entertaining all. The hilarious incident cost Valentine $5,000 and led to a two-game suspension.
Group 3 (5): “Yes, Even I Know I Deserve To Be Fined For This”
5. Vladimir Radmanovic Separates His Shoulder While Snowboarding
The only thing surprising about the fact that Vladimir Radmanovic was hurt during his first attempt at snowboarding is that it was his shoulder that was injured and not his rear-end. After separating his shoulder — while snowboarding during the All-Star break — Radmanovic compounded the issue by claiming he had slipped on a patch of ice. Once the Lakers learned that the injury happened while snowboarding, they fined Radmanovic $500,000. While that may seem like a significant sum, the Lakers would have been well within their rights had they sought to void the remainder of Radmanovic’s contract, which was worth over $30 million.
Group 2 (3-4): “This Is [Expletive] Unreasonable and You [Expletive] Know It!”
4. Troy Polamalu Calls Wife to Let Her Know He Is OK
Using a cell phone during an NFL game is strictly forbidden and the league has issued serious penalties for teams that use phones during games to gain a competitive advantage. In a more recent example, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, Ray Farmer, was suspended four games and the team was fined after it was revealed that Farmer had been sending text messages to sideline personnel during games.
While Farmer was using his cell phone clandestinely to help his team get an edge, the circumstances in Troy Polamalu’s situation were entirely different. After a particularly jarring collision with Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Polamalu suffered a mild concussion and was removed from the game. Fearing that his wife would be concerned knowing she was watching the broadcast of the game, Polamalu used the team doctor’s phone to let her know he was all right. Though it was a harmless act and a strictly personal call, the NFL still fined him $10,000, and it was only after an appeal that the fine was ultimately rescinded several months later.
3. Philadelphia Flyers Travel During Travel Ban
In the NHL’s CBA, it is explicitly stated that there are certain dates that are not permitted for travel, including December 24 through December 26. The Flyers, scheduled to play in Nashville on December 27, violated this rule after players approached the team’s GM with the request to arrive in Nashville a day early so they could be in the city on game day rather than having to board a flight on the same day as the game, a common preference among NHLers.
The rule is silly for a number of reasons, including the fact that had Philadelphia’s flight been 45 minutes longer the team would have been permitted to fly on the 26th. Furthermore, the rule exists in part to maintain competitive balance by keeping everyone on the same schedule. However, the fact that Nashville, the home team, would not have to schedule a two-hour day-of-game flight seems to be unbalanced to begin with. It didn’t matter anyway as the Flyers lost 4-1 and the team was happy to accept the fine the NHL doled out in order to accommodate the requests of their players.
Group 1 (1-2): “I Know the Consequences and I Still Don’t Care”
2. Chad Ochocinco Fined for Being Chad Ochocinco
The antics of the wide receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson have been well documented, and his career will probably be most remembered for the silly fines he accumulated throughout his years in the NFL. The fines were mostly related to his attempts to entertain fans: During a replay review, he once jokingly tried to bribe an official with a dollar bill.
His touchdown celebrations were elaborate enough to consistently draw fines from the league, including a particularly memorable instance in which teammates helped him put on a poncho and sombrero in the end zone. He was fined so frequently by the league that he even held up a sign that pleaded for mercy, saying, “Dear NFL, PLEASE don’t fine me AGAIN!” This was apparently denied, as the NFL fined him $10,000 for the sign.
All of these acts and more, of course, led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Ochocinco, ever mindful of the value of entertainment, knew the fines were coming and simply didn’t care, going so far as to tell fans via Twitter before the poncho and sombrero incident, “What I’ve planned for today will get me fined when I score but it’s so worth it.”
1. Marshawn Lynch Racks Up $131,000 in Fines Over the Course of a Single Season
Lynch, the Seahawks running back who made the phrase “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” famous, was hit with more fines that any other player in the NFL during a 2014 season in which a player with a history of stomping on Aaron Rodgers stomped on Aaron Rodgers (Ndamukong Suh), another player attempted to intentionally break the ankles of opponents using his bare hands (Vontaze Burfict, twice in the same game!) and yet another intentionally ran over an opposing coach and drove him into the ground (Chase Coffman).
Lynch’s infractions, however, did not involve any violent behavior, as $100,000 worth of his 2014 fines came from his frequent refusal to talk to the media. The remaining $31,000 was the result of an obscene gesture – grabbing his crotch following a touchdown – he made on two separate occasions, both of which happened to occur when the NFL’s audience is particularly large: on Christmas Day and during the NFC Championship game.
To underscore the inconsistency of the NFL’s fines, Lynch would have actually been better off punching somebody else in the crotch instead of grabbing his own, as Burfict was fined just $10,000 in 2013 for punching Ryan Taylor in the crotch. The fact that Burfict, who has consistently taken egregiously cheap shots at opponents over the past two seasons, has been fined less than Lynch is simply odd. Lynch may indeed deserve his fines, but it’s become abundantly clear that the NFL still needs to get its priorities in order.
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