While actually watching matches, games, and fights are entertaining, the athletes participating in these events are themselves, almost as interesting sometimes. There are hundreds of examples of painful, funny, troubling, and confusing stories about athletes. From Tiger Woods' womanizing a few years ago to Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg to the countless athletes who have dated or married brainless celebrities or been caught doing illegal substances or committing other crimes, the world of sports is filled with great stories that have nothing to do with sports.
Many of these stories involve post-game/pre-game interviews or press conferences, during which fans can really get to know players. These interviews and conferences are occasionally more exciting than games. Fans get to see their favorite players and their most hated players running their mouths, occasionally regarding topics with which they have no expertise. It's amazing TV when professional athletes let the world know what they think of same-sex marriage or when the St. Louis Rams' receivers have to explain their doing the "hands up, don't shoot" motion before the game.
Most reporters just want to hear the usual nonsensical "teamwork and effort rant." Example: "We all 'sports-ed' pretty hard tonight, but the other team seemed to be 'sports-ing' harder at some points throughout the game/match. The only answer is to 'sports' as hard as we can in practice, so that we can 'sports' harder as a team in the future and win more 'sports' games." Obviously a paraphrase, but a spot on one at that, if I do say so myself. When athletes avoid the normal "this is what is expected" script, an interview can really get interesting.
This is a list of athlete and sportsperson interviews that broke away from the mold. Some get vulgar, some get weird, others get upsetting and more often than not, they get hilarious. Sit back and enjoy some of the most offensive, controversial, awkward, funny, and unintentionally funny moments in sports history.
20 Dirk Nowitski vs. The Fly
The seven foot tall German starts off this list for his interview where he squashed a fly and then flicked it off the table. Most people ignore flies and most people in the middle of an interview would have tried to keep their minds on the question, but the twelve-time all-star was having none of it. Afterwards he broke a smile and chuckled before the entire room joined him. Actually killing the fly wasn't that funny by itself, but his awkward smile and the entire room gradually starting to laugh is what did it.
19 Patrick Roy vs. Jeremy Roenick
Our second entry is actually two interviews that played out in a great back and forth between two NHL stars of the 1990's. It all started when Roenick was tripped on a breakaway but did not receive a penalty shot. Roy insisted that, trip or not, he would have made the save. Roenick shot back by reminding the goaltender that he had looked like a fool on a previous goal, to which Roy responded that he couldn't hear Roenick, as his Stanley Cup rings were plugging his ears. FATALITY.
18 Tracy McGrady: Responsible for EVERYTHING
Back in 2008, Tracy McGrady was being interviewed by a group of reporters after a rough stretch of games. He claimed that essentially every single problem with the Rockets' recent performance, in addition to a few other things, was his fault. He humorously took responsibility for the fact that fans who ordered Heinekens were brought Budweisers. Clearly, the star who retired last year was not in the mood for an interview that day, but he gave one anyway and offered a memorable and funny chat with reporters.
17 Terrell Owens Crying
After a Cowboys loss back during the 2007 season, TO broke down crying when some reporters speculated that Tony Romo may have been at fault. Owens whimpered and exclaimed that they lost as a team and "that's my quarterback, man!" Defending your teammates is one thing and is usually the sign of a great leader, but crying and whining to journalists is very unusual for an athlete. This was not TO's greatest moment.
16 Mike Richards Bench Interview
What do you expect when you send a reporter to chat with a hockey player on the bench while all of his teammates are around? Throughout the interview, we can see two of Richards' teammates spraying water and gently brushing his face with a stick.
Don't confuse Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers with Michael Richards of Seinfeld. That is a completely different interview.
15 Lindsay Harbert and Eli Manning
This one took a bit of research after I found the interview on YouTube. Unfortunately, I'm still not sure exactly who Lindsay Harbert is, or what event she and Eli Manning were at. As far as I can tell, she is a part of a small comedy team called Cool Kids Club, and does silly things like this on a regular basis.
If this interview was legit in anyway it was terrible, but if it was meant to entertain kids or high people, it's completely spot on. Eli seemed halfway between terrified and confused but he still kept his cool through the ordeal. When talking about athlete interviews, there has to be at least one that is painfully awkward.
14 Ray Kaunisto: Super Troopers Cat Game
Most people haven't heard of Ray Kaunisto of the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL. In fact, I'm sure there are plenty of sports fans who do not know what the ECHL is. It's the East Coast Hockey League. It's basically one level below the AHL, which is the feeder/farm system for the NHL.
For some more background, Super Troopers is a 2001 cop-comedy made by Broken Lizard, the comedy team who made Beerfest and Club Dread. In the movie, a pair of joker highway patrol cops played pranks on motorists such as the repeater (repeating each other word for word) and the cat game, in which the officer would question and intimidate a vehicle's occupant but using the word "meow" in place of "now."
Kaunisto played the cat game during an interview recently and managed to get seven "meows" into an interview under a minute long.
13 Muhammad Ali
Possibly the most storied boxer of all time makes our list at lucky number 13. Like others on this list, he had an incredible media presence and a captivating charisma that there is no single interview that does his character justice. He was interviewed about why he did not fight in the Vietnam War. It was a polarizing topic back then as it is today. He is best known however, for his sharp wit, especially when trying to get under the skin of other boxers. His lines "Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the Bureau of Wildlife" and "it will be a killer, and a thriller, and a chiller, when I get the gorilla, in Manila" are both absolute gold with regard to interview answers.
12 Marshawn Lynch
Beast Mode, the Seattle Seawhawks' running back, is an interesting case when it comes to his media presence. Back in 2007, he was already rocking "beast mode" in interviews but in 2013 and 2014 he is now known as a man of few words. The media wasn't able to get much out of him during the run to the Super Bowl, but they did determine that he was "all about that action." More recently he made headlines first by avoiding the media altogether and receiving a $100,000 fine and then attending a press conference and answering nearly all questions with "yeah."
The man just wants to play football.
11 Pete Rose and Jim Gray
This was a great confrontation, in which Pete Rose, who is one of baseball's most controversial figures, was directly asked if he would finally admit to having gambled on games. The all-time hitting king of the league was as direct as ever in denying the allegations that got him banned from the sport.
He has held numerous interviews and press conferences on the topic, and his chat with Gray is just one example from around the turn of the century. In recent years, he has become more apologetic in recent years, even shedding a tear in a conference back in 2010.
10 Baseball Stars Interviewed About PED's
Steroids and other PED's in baseball are sometimes bigger news than baseball itself. In another brilliant use of taxpayer dollars, Congress decided to have a hearing on the topic.
Jose Canseco appeared on multiple shows and was interviewed about his experience with steroids during his career. Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez (and legions of others) have been interviewed about PED use and their on screen presence has ranged from "deer-in-headlights" to nonchalant, honest and almost uncaring.
9 Charles Barkley and Gerry Dee
Finding a comedian who can talk sports can lead to some interesting commentary and entertaining interviews. Move along Dennis Miller, possibly the worst decision in the world of football commentary ever made, as Gerry Dee and Charles Barkley showcased their awesome chemistry and sense of humor in this interview.
The two talk about their golf score, share a few laughs and are genuinely hilarious to watch together. Gerry Dee's combination of faking awkwardness on top of comedic confidence allows Barkley, one of the funniest athlete-turned-commentators out there, to play off him. They even brought in Wayne Gretzky. This one is a gem.
8 John Rocker
In what would become possibly the most notorious athlete interview, John Rocker took on New York, the LGBT community, punk/emo youth, and of course young mothers. Seriously, young mothers, who do they think they are, right?
"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 q**** 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."
Obviously Rocker has freedom of speech, but everyone else had freedom to get offended, and they did. Again, the debate rages on, should leagues or teams punish athletes if fans are offended by what they say?
7 Dennis Green: "THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!
I'd call it quick and painless, but Dennis Green looked like smoke was going to start blasting out of his ears. Coach Green was reacting to a question about the team's loss to the Chicago Bears, where they had blown a twenty point lead.
He apologized for his "outburst" but that's what a coach looks like after a blown lead. The apology was not necessary but plenty of people complained about his use of the word BS. It's football and he was a passionate coach, if that's what reporters heard, imagine what his players had to deal with.
6 Tiger Woods Admits to Good Times
For years as a casual fan of golf, I thought Tiger Woods was just a more skilled version of every other professional golfer out there. A calm, cool and collected athlete with good diction and a classy demeanor.
When his entire world came crashing down and his former lovers came out of the woodwork, it felt like a tricky game of devil's advocate to defend the man. In his infamous press conference, he showed genuine remorse for his infidelity and lifestyle. South Park showed (with a brilliant parody of the whole situation) that his real mistake was getting caught. He admitted to falling away from his marriage due to lust, illegal substance use, and abandonment of his spirituality. His tale of booty wrangling involved all sorts of attractive women from cocktail waitresses to a few adult film stars.
What's unconventional or different about this interview? Well, his golf game was seldom mentioned, and it was an instance of a man who was, at the time, the epitome of class, admitting to illegal substance use and paying for "love."
5 Richard Sherman
"The best cornerback in the league" takes number five on this list for two interviews. after the Seahawks' early 2014 playoff win over the San Francisco 49ers, he announced his displeasure with Michael Crabtree to Erin Andrews, shouting in her face for around 15 to 20 seconds. After his outburst, Sherman was called unsportsmanlike and many worse words than that.
Just a few short weeks ago, Sherman showed up to a press conference with a cardboard cutout of Seahawks' receiver Doug Baldwin, with whom he consulted throughout the conference. On the one hand his interview was funny, but at the same time, he offered some relevant insight on issues regargind alcohol controversies and player safety.
4 Quinton "Rampage" Jackson: Sexual Harassment x 2?
Rampage is one of the most entertaining fighters to ever grace the UFC octagon. Given his personality, he was always an entertaining character even when he wasn't fighting. In two separate interviews, he committed acts that would get him in front of a human resource board at any regular job.
Three years ago, during an interview with Heather Nichols, he dry humped her for a good thirty seconds while she tried to continue the interview and at one point motioned for her crew to cut away. I'm genuinely unsure whether she was kidding or whether she was uncomfortable. In a later interview, he referred back to the dry humping incident while telling another reporter he wanted to "motorboat" her on camera.
3 Joe Namath: The Kiss
The famous Jets' quarterback would later admit to his troubles with booze, and back in 2003, he had a bit too much to drink and was interviewed while visibly sloshed. He had difficulty putting sentences together and eventually stopped talking about football and exclaimed that he wanted to kiss his interviewer, Suzy Kolber.
He apologized for the incident, but realistically, it could have been a lot worse. Suzy was laughing and while it was slightly inappropriate, it's a football interview, not an etiquette gala. Anyone who thinks less of Broadway Joe needs to get over the fact that people behave in silly ways when consuming the sauce.
2 Mike Tyson
It's hard, if not impossible, to find one single example of Mike Tyson not giving a memorable interview. From his countless instances of threatening and insulting his interviewers, to his determination to eat Lennox Lewis' children, his career in the ring is made that much more interesting by his high pitched voice coupled with his awkward social graces, not to mention his criminal history.
Iron Mike is one of the most controversial figures in the world of sports, and while his kid consuming quote is memorable, it is just a single drop in the sea of confusing, frightening, and alarming things he has said in interviews and conferences.
1 Jim Rome and Jim Everett/Chris Evert
Our number one entry is from an interview about twenty years ago, between former NFL quarterback Jim Everett and controversial interviewer Jim Rome. After his infamous "phantom sack," where Everett fell on the field in anticipation of a big hit but had not been contacted by any defensive players, Rome had labelled him "Chris" Everett, a name similar to Chris Evert, a female tennis player at the time.
Everett obviously had enough, so when Rome called him "Chris" for the third time, hilarity and one of the most memorable moments in sports interview history was born. Rome, as the tough guy he is, was pushed to the floor and didn't get up to confront Everett. Advantage Everett.