It’s no secret that people love sports. We devote countless hours and spend too much hard-earned money to show that we’re their biggest fans. But there is a darker side as well, the side that loves to hate. I’m not referring the usual rivals like Red Sox fans hating the Yankees or Raiders fans hating Peyton Manning because he plays for the Broncos. There are deeper hatreds that sometimes transcends sport. The reasons are often well founded, but other times not so much. Like all professions, the ranks of the athletic world has its share of world-class a**holes who have committed heinous crimes. Others badmouth their teammates or ridicule fans, but sometimes the source of the animosity is less obvious. Some athletes are hated for who they are or at least who they are perceived to be off the field. Rich and famous people can be easy targets for jealous fans and people in the media who think pampered athletes don’t appreciate how good they have it.
10. Tom Brady
He’s been to the Super Bowl six times, has four Super Bowl rings, matinee star good looks and is married to a super model so of course everyone has to hate “Tom Terrific.” Jealousy is an ugly thing, but it’s human nature to feel that way about someone who seems to have it all. Fans of opposing teams have made a big deal out of so-called Deflategate, branding him a liar and a cheater. The NFL suspended number twelve for four games without proof he did anything wrong. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision confirmed for many that Brady must be guilty. A judge later lifted the suspension so the haters will be able to root against Brady and the New England Patriots for the entire 2015 season.
9. Lolo Jones
Probably best known for her good looks and for not winning any medals at either the 2008 Beijing or 2012 London games. Jones took a lot of flack from detractors who accused her of trying to grab attention by highlighting the difficult past she overcame to become a world-class athlete. This behavior likely would have been forgiven if she’d performed better on the track. She didn’t do herself any favors either with her rocky transition to the winter Olympics as member of USA’s bobsled team to compete in the 2014 Olympics at Sochi. Some computers for the coveted slots on the team complained she was picked for her media profile ahead of more qualified athletes. Jones also has a less than flattering social media history with examples of seemingly callous tweets on topics ranging from the Aurora, CO theater showing to a young woman’s hairstyle.
8. Brian Bosworth
The “Boz” might be long dead, but Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma Sooner Phenom and Seattle Seahawks bust is still around. He’s remembered more for the outlandish haircuts, cocky pronouncements and less for his actual talent. He is still the only two-time recipient of the the Butkus Award that recognizes the best college linebacker. His brief NFL career has been eclipsed by the “Boz” personae, but was largely his own doing. He put out a biography at age 25 where he spouted his views on everything from the NCAA to teammates to his future in and beyond football. His in your face arrogance made him unpopular with opposing fans, but his injury plagued Seahawks career that ended after 3 seasons turned Seahawks fans against him. In fairness the Bosworth, his over the top behavior in the 1980’s has become commonplace and often encouraged.
7. Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds chased down Hank Aaron’s home-run record, ending his career with 762. However, he’s as well known for the steroid cheating scandal involving the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). The cheater label stuck, but it was already easy to hate Barry Bonds. He was known among his team mates for being arrogant. When he first started his minor-league career he reportedly declared to the manager, “I’m Barry Bonds, the number one draft pick.” His manager told him to get lost and knock next time. He cranked up the ego a notch while he was with the San Francisco Giants, insisting on a pair of lockers in a corner so he could have the space all to himself. Bonds retired after the 2007 season and lately has been attempting to rehabilitate his image – likely with an eye on someday getting inducted into the Hall of Fame.
6. Marion Jones
For a few years sprinter Marion Jones was considered the fastest woman in the world. She won 5 medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in track and field events. But this all came to a screeching halt in 2007 when she finally admitted to using a number of PEDs from BALCO including a steroid called “the clear.” Overnight she went from being a respected role model for girls around the world to a disgraced felon convicted of lying about cheating to win her medals. She was also convicted, along with several others, for her role in a check fraud scheme. She was sentenced to 6 months in jail and stripped of all her medals and world records. She has since started an organization to mentor at risk kids to make smart choices and avoid some of the mistakes that led to her downfall.
5. Alex Rodriguez
In 2013 Alex Rodriguez was given a 211 game suspension for steroid use, but according to many, this was one of his milder offenses. Cheating with steroids is one thing, but Rodriguez leaked the names of other players who were under investigation for using as well. Two on the field incidents provide a window into his character: During the 2004 A.L. championship series as he ran to first base he tried to slap a ball out of the hand of player attempting to tag him out. In a 2007 game against the Blue Jays He shouted “Mine” as a Jays player attempted to catch a infield fly, causing the player to abandon the play thinking a team mate had it. These are described as “bush league” plays by other players and two reasons many players don’t respect Rodriguez. The icing on the cake, if true indicates just how egotistical Rodriguez is. There are reports that he has paintings of himself in his bedroom depicting him as a centaur.
4. Tiger Woods
Eldrick “Tiger” Woods will go down in history as one of the best golfers of all time, but he’ll also be remembered as one of the more selfish jerks in sports. Things began to unravel for Tiger when media reports began to appear detailing a string of alleged affairs. He publicly apologized for some transgressions, but he was soon outed as a serial adulterer who had a habit of spending time with porn stars while his beautiful Swedish wife was at home with the kids. Then adding insult to injury, he refused to take responsibility for his actions, instead blaming his bad behavior on a “sex addiction.” For those who believe in karma, Woods was smacked down hard by the universe with a string of injuries since his infidelities came to light that have kept his golf game, much like his personal life, in disarray.
3. Michael Vick
Some people react even more strongly to allegations of cruelty to animals than when similar acts are unleashed on people. PETA and other animal rights groups were calling for then Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s head over his involvement in a dog fighting and gambling ring. In April 2007 authorities seized dozens of pit bulls from Vick’s property in Virginia. He admitted to forcing dogs to fight and to killing others that did not show promise as fighters. He plead guilty to conspiracy charges and served 18 months in prison before returning to the NFL. Since jumpstarting his football career he’s played with the Eagles, Jets and the Steelers, but real success so so far eluded him.
2. Lance Armstrong
For a while it seemed everyone was wearing those yellow wrist bands that read LIVE STRONG, a popular marketing strategy to publicize Lance Armstrong’s cancer foundation. Armstrong was as well known for this as he was for an unbelievable 7 Tour de France wins. You don’t see them anymore and it’s probably because he has been exposed as a cheater and a pathological liar. He bullied and threatened the other members of his cycling team to keep quiet about the massive drug use and equally massive efforts to conceal it and thwart drug testing efforts. Lance Armstrong’s unprecedented string of victories after surviving cancer seemed to good to be true, even at the time, but people wanted to believe in him so they did.
1. O.J. Simpson
Some athletes cheat at their sport or cheat on their spouses or both. Others are known as all around jerks who can’t get along with teammates and dismiss fans. Then there’s O.J. He stalked and murdered his ex-wife and her male acquaintance then hired a legal “dream team” that proclaimed to the jury: “If it doesn’t fit you must acquit.” O.J. got away with a double murder then taunted the victims’ families, saying he would try to track down the real killers. Oranthall James Simpson may have been a good teammate when he played football for the Buffalo Bills, but when everyone finds out you’re a sociopathic killer it pretty much overshadows anything might have accomplished in sports. He is currently serving up to 33 years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping involving an ill-conceived attempt to retrieve some sports memorabilia.