Team sports are rife with rivalries and animosity between sets of players and fans. What can be more interesting is the animosity within teams. Everyone preaches about unselfishness and team chemistry, but at times the ego’s of certain individuals get in the way of team harmony. It is no surprise that teammates do not always get along but it is surprising when their disagreements fester and spill over to the public domain. Usually that is a harbinger of disaster for the team in question and is almost always cast as a distraction.
This article lists ten feuds between teammates that escalated into the public domain. In some cases, the disputes were verbal with each party taking shots at the other. In other cases, the teammates came to blows and had to be separated by others. What is apparent is that rarely do these feuds lead to good outcomes for the teams.
10. Peyton Manning and Mike Vanderjagt – Indianapolis Colts
At the turn of the century, the Indianapolis Colts and star quarterback Peyton Manning were known to come up short in big games. Their 41-0 playoff defeat to the New York Jets after the 2002 season was a perfect illustration of this. After the game, Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt had the temerity to question the passion of Peyton Manning and head coach Tony Dungy. A three-time Pro Bowl quarterback was being called out by his kicker! Manning’s response at the Pro Bowl is now famous. In an interview he referred to Vanderjagt as a liquored up, idiot kicker.
9. Sean Avery and Brenden Morrow – Dallas Stars
In the 2008 NHL playoffs, the Dallas Stars surprised most observers by making the Western Conference Finals and defeating the defending champion Anaheim Ducks in the first round. The following off-season, the Stars’ co-general manager Brett Hull decided to spend $15.5 million on Sean Avery as he felt the team needed a little more emotion. Hull’s judgment might have been clouded as he was a former teammate of Avery.
He failed to take into account the fact that the Stars’ captain Brenden Morrow had publicly stated that he hated Avery. Avery lasted only 23 games with the Stars and he annoyed almost all his teammates with his insubordination. The NHL suspended him for publicly disparaging fellow NHL players and the Stars put him on waivers shortly thereafter.
8. Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent – San Francisco Giants
There is little surprise that Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent did not get along as teammates. Both had well earned reputations as difficult personalities in the clubhouse. Kent joined the San Francisco Giants in 1997 and the feud between the two was kept behind the scenes until June 2002. Kent apparently was criticizing Giants third baseman David Bell and Bonds decided to stick up for him. Things quickly escalated in the dugout and the two started shoving each other and came to blows. The fallout from the scuffle had Kent stating that he did not want to play for the Giants anymore. Despite the giants making the 2002 World Series, Kent got his wish and joined the Houston Astros the following season.
7. Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb – Philadelphia Eagles
In the summer of 2004, the Philadelphia Eagles acquired Terrell Owens in the hopes he would help them finally reach the Super Bowl after three consecutive defeats in the NFC Championship game. Owens had a terrific season and he and Donovan McNabb emerged as one of the best quarterback wide receiver tandems in the NFL. The season culminated in a Super Bowl berth but the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots.
The problems arose in the following off-season. Owens wanted a new contract and expected McNabb to campaign for him. McNabb refused, stating he did not want to involve himself in contract disputes. He then turned around and campaigned for Eagles running back Brian Westbrook in his contract dispute. From that moment on, Owens continuously undermined McNabb and even criticized his quarterback’s conditioning in the previous Super Bowl. He mocked him for apparently puking in the huddle on the last drive of the game. The Eagles eventually tired of Owens and suspended him from the team during the season.
6. Dennis Rodman and David Robinson – San Antonio Spurs
Dennis Rodman and David Robinson never seemed to be ideal teammates. Rodman was a player who did not usually conform to team rules and often went out of his way to draw attention to himself. Robinson was a buttoned down team player with a naval background. Things came to a head between the two during the 1995 Western Conference Finals when the San Antonio Spurs were eliminated in six games by the Houston Rockets. The Rockets’ Hakeem Olajuwon dominated Robinson and Rodman refused to guard the Rockets center for stretches of the series. After the season, the Spurs traded Rodman to the Chicago Bulls and in his autobiography, he threw Robinson under the bus and claimed he was intimidated by Olajuwon.
5. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – McLaren
When Fernando Alonso joined McLaren in 2007, he assumed he would be their senior driver as he had won two consecutive F1 titles. McLaren’s other debutant driver, Lewis Hamilton, had other ideas. Tensions lingered throughout the season but boiled over during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton apparently did not follow team orders in qualifying and was on route to gaining pole position when Alonso spitefully blocked him in the pits. Alonso went on to claim pole position and the two drivers did not speak to each other for the rest of the season. Alonso left McLaren after 2007, even though he had two years remaining on his contract.
4. John Terry and Steven Gerrard – England National Team
England’s 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa was a debacle. A big reason why was the dispute between captain Steven Gerrard and his predecessor John Terry. Terry had been stripped of the captaincy because of his off field transgressions with a former teammate’s significant other. Apparently Terry was not happy with the tactics of the team and the fact that they were not allowed to consume alcohol. Terry spoke to the media and stated senior players were ready to confront manager Fabio Capello and named individuals who had broken the alcohol ban along with Capello himself. His public outburst shocked everyone including his captain who apparently confronted Terry along with others. The tension between the two was apparently so palpable that former England captain David Beckham had to step in and broker a peace between the two. The showdown with Capello never materialized and the team were beaten 4-1 by Germany in the round of 16.
3. Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez – New York Mets
Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez, who were teammates on the 1989 New York Mets, apparently disliked each other for years. Their animosity came to the fore at the most unlikely of settings. During Spring Training in 1989, the Mets were getting ready to take a team photo when a fight broke out between the two players. Apparently, Strawberry was in the middle of a contentious contract dispute with the Mets. While he was trying to appeal to the Mets brass, getting into a fight in the presence of the media was not the best of ideas. Strawberry punched Hernandez before members of the team jumped in and separated the two players.
2. Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton – Washington Wizards
Usually when teammates get into a fight or dispute in the NBA, its a good assumption that either women or a gambling debt are the main causes. In the case of Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, it was a gambling debt. Arenas apparently owed Crittenton some money but refused to pay. The situation escalated quickly during a practice day at the Washington Wizards’ practice facility. Apparently, Arenas pulled a gun on Crittenton who brandished his own firearm. This incident set a new standard for dysfunction in an NBA locker room. The irony was the Washington franchise had forgone their previous name, Bullets, in lieu of the Wizards, due to the prevalence of gun violence.
1. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal – Los Angeles Lakers
The epic feud between Los Angeles Lakers teammates, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant was among the saddest in sports. These two players apparently never really got along starting in 1996 when they became teammates. After the 2003/2004 season, it was obvious that their disdain for each other meant that they could no longer co-exist on the same team. The Lakers decided to trade O’Neal to the Miami Heat and break up their dynamic duo. What makes their feud sad was that of all the teammates who did not like each other, these two were the most productive. They had won three consecutive NBA titles between 2000-2002 and had made four NBA Finals in five seasons. Their split did not really hurt their careers, as each went on to win at least one more title but the neutrals were deprived of maybe the most dominant one-two punch in NBA history.