Professional athletes misbehaving is far from new; every day, some rich jock gets splashed across the news for all the wrong reasons. But to counter their hijinks, the leagues they play for try to hit athletes where it hurts; right in the pocket.
While sports fines can be levied for almost any reason, some of those reasons still make us go WTF? The NFL is known to hand out fines like candy; they fine players (and coaches) for anything they don’t approve of.
One of their pet peeves is enforcing strict rules about player uniforms. Take Super Bowl media Week 2006, where eight-time Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher appeared wearing a vitaminwater hat. Since vitaminwater wasn’t an approved league sponsor, the NFL fined the former Bear $100,000. For wearing a hat!
You can argue that action was to protect their sponsors; but the NFL doesn’t really make any distinctions when it comes to uniforms. They’re quick to cite Rule 5, Section 4, Article 6 of the NFL Rulebook, that says “players are prohibited from wearing, displaying…equipment, apparel, items…that carry commercial names or logos…”
To show just how serious they are about Rule 5, Steelers’ CB William Gay has been fined $5,787 for two years in a row, for wearing purple cleats. Gay isn’t making a fashion statement; he wears those colours to raise awareness for domestic violence, and he still got fined.
The NFL isn’t the only league to do this, every sport has its share of fine-spewing officials. The NBA isn’t far behind in the ridiculous fines race; they once fined 13 players $10,000 each for wearing shorts that were too long! One of the largest team fines ever recorded (no, not Deflategate) was the $100 million levied at the McLaren F1 team for their part in 2007’s “Spygate” scandal.
We’ve compiled a list of 11 of the largest sports fines of the past five years. Because we’ve seen some really hefty fines levied for substance-abuse violations, we’ll leave those out. Believe it or not, some massive fines have been handed out in this period.
11. Alex Rodriguez
Surprised? Don’t be.
Fans of the sport know that A-Rod just finished serving one of the longest suspensions in baseball history. The New York Yankees player was handed a 162 game suspension in 2014 for his affiliation with illegal performance-enhancing substances. This meant he missed playing the entire 2014 baseball season, thus forfeiting his salary for the year, a whopping $25 million.
But since this list isn’t about PED fines, we won’t dwell on that one. In 2013, A-Rod was fined for missing a day ‘at the office.’ The New York Yankees handed their third baseman a $150,000 fine for ‘violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.’
This stemmed from him seeking a second medical opinion, without notifying the Yankees. He also failed to show up at a meeting scheduled to discuss the evidence against him in the Biogenesis baseball scandal.
10. Ndamukong Suh
Described as immensely talented but aggressive, Ndamukong Suh‘s style of play has been a thorn in the NFL’s side for a while. He’s been fined for everything from kicking a QB in the groin to making threatening gestures at the Tampa Rays. In a 2012 poll of NFL players by NFL players, Suh was ranked the league’s dirtiest player.
The defensive end was handed his largest ever fine (yet) in 2011, when he ‘accidentally’ stomped on Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith’s arm. This was just after he had pushed Smith’s head into the ground three times. His actions cost him a two-game suspension and a loss of $165, 294 in earnings.
9. Rajon Rondo
The 29 year old point guard has been described as stubborn, eccentric even uncoachable. But there’s no denying his on-court brilliance; he creates plays out of nowhere and sinks impossible shots. Rajon Rondo is known for having a go at any ref who (in his opinion) makes a bad call. He confronts them for it, even bumping them when they try to walk away. This action has landed him suspensions and fines.
But Rondo’s largest fine was dished out in a 2012 game between the Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. Kris Humphries fouled Kevin Garnett and Rondo came to his teammate’s defense, shoving Humphries hard. The players spilled into the crowds, and other team mates joined in the melee. For his part in the fracas, Rondo was ejected and suspended for two games, costing him $200,000 in lost earnings.
8. John Terry
Trash talking is a staple of any sport, but there are lines you just can’t cross. In a 2011 game against Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea captain John Terry abused QPR defender, Anton Ferdinand. It was the usual trash talk, but with a racial slant that the FA found totally unacceptable.
Despite denying the accusation, the former England captain was investigated by the Metropolitan Police, the English FA and Chelsea. In July 2012, the police cleared him of making racist insults, but four months later, the FA inquiry slapped him with a four-match ban.
Terry was also fined £220, 000 (around $330,000) and stripped of the England captaincy. Chelsea also fined him but details of that fine remain confidential, but it was reported to be the heaviest fine they had ever meted out to a player.
7. Aqib Talib
When Aqib Talib was signed to the Broncos in 2014, many questioned if it was a wise decision. The promising CB has a checkered past including run-ins with the law and suspensions by the NFL.
In a November game against the Colts, Broncos linebacker Von Miller and Colts tight end Dwayne Allen got into a shoving match. Talib stepped in to defend his team mate and tried to pull Allen by his face mask. His fingers slipped through and poked Allen in the eye, causing the tight end to go down.
The incident was investigated by the NFL and they suspended Talib for one game, causing him to forfeit $354, 779.
6. Shaun Rogers
Though injury-prone, Shaun Rogers was considered one of the best players of his time. The three-time Pro Bowl selection was big but fast on his feet. You’d expect him to be smart too, so what was he thinking when he tried to board a commercial flight in Cleveland with a loaded .45 in his carry-on luggage!?
Upon discovery of the weapon, he was arrested and spent the night in jail. Carrying a concealed weapon is a third-degree felony, but to avoid trial on a weapons charge, he was ordered to enter a diversion program. The NFL didn’t let him off that easy as they fined him one cheque of approximately $405,882, for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy.
5. Raffi Torres
Thought Suh was a repeat offender? You should meet San Jose Sharks winger Raffi Torres.
Before his latest offense, Torres had been suspended, fined, and/or warned nine different times! He rounded off his rap sheet in an October game against the Anaheim Ducks.
During the first period, Torres took a head shot at Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg. Silfverberg was knocked out of the game, and Torres received a match penalty. The NHL suspended Torres for 41 games — half of the full 2015-16 NHL season. With this lengthy ban, Torres loses more than $440,000 in salary.
His latest suspension ranks as one of the longest in NHL history.
4. Johnathan Paplebon
Safe to say Washington Nationals pitcher Johnathan Paplebon polarizes many fans. Notorious for being gruff and cocky, the relief pitcher also blames everyone but himself when plays go wrong.
After a particularly poor performance in a 2014 game, Phillies fans booed the pitcher as he walked to the dugout. In response, the then-Phillies closer made an obscene gesture at the fans. For his antics, the MLB handed him a seven game suspension, resulting in a $497,267 salary forfeiture.
Traded to the Washington Nationals in mid 2015, he didn’t endear himself to the Nats fans either. First he threw a fastball at his teammates head (in jest), then was involved in an altercation with his own teammate. Safe to say that Nats fans are not feeling him at all; they even started a crowd funding campaign to make sure he doesn’t play!
3. Ray Rice
Big Brother’s always watching, remember that. Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, seems to have temporarily forgotten. Arguing with his then-fiance Janay Palmer in a NJ casino elevator, the RB punched her and knocked her unconscious. When the elevator stopped, he dragged her body out and away; but the entire incident was caught on the elevator camera. The footage was released by TMZ and led to Rice’s arrest on assault charges.
Palmer refused to press charges and the two were married six weeks later. To avoid trial, Rice entered into a first time diversion program. The NFL handed him a two game suspension, causing him to forfeit $470,588. He was also asked to pay an additional $58, 823 fine “for conduct detrimental to the NFL in violation of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.”
2. Carlos Tevez
When the Argentine first came to the English Premier League, West Ham was fined a record £5.5 million (approx. $8.25 million) by the league. They claimed the club “breached ownership rules,” by signing Carlos Tevez in 2007.
In 2011, at a UEFA Champions League game against Bayern Munich, the then-Manchester City forward was asked to come on in the second half. Miffed at not starting the game, Tevez refused to budge. Manchester City lost the match and Tevez was suspended for two weeks. The suspension cost the striker £500, 000 (around $750,475) in lost wages. His fine is one of the biggest ever meted out to a player in English football.
1. Ben Roethlisberger
The star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexually assault, not once but twice in two years. In 2008, a hotel employee in Nevada claimed the QB assaulted her when she went to check the TV in his room. The civil lawsuit was finally settled in 2012, with all parties remaining mum about the details.
But Big Ben had a similar encounter in 2010 when a 20 year old woman accused him of raping her, after a drunken night out. His accuser asked the DA not to prosecute, claiming she didn’t want the media attention. Big Ben seemed to have dodged the bullet, again. But the NFL was fed up with his actions.
In April 2010, Roethlisberger was suspended for six games (reduced to four on appeal) for violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. Despite the reduced suspension, Roethlisberger still lost $1,894,118 in earnings.