In our modern society, we tend to place athletes on a weird pedestal as if they're otherworldly beings who deserve all of our praise and attention. While some people would argue that they're overpaid crybabies, you can't say that their fame and fortune are unwarranted. Have you ever done something amazing enough to have millions of people tune in to check it out? If you answered no to this question, then you're like the billions of other people on this planet who are considered average people. Athletes, on the other hand, have the entire world watching whenever they take their respective stages, and for that reason alone, they deserve the fame and adoration that they earn. But, what most people tend to forget is that at their core, athletes are only human, and they have plenty of character flaws as we all do. Though they may be your hero, meeting them can be an entirely different experience, and once their business comes to light, plenty of these people are straight-up jerks.
Whether it's their ego growing out of control or it's just their natural instinct to be awful, the 15 athletes on this list are incredible at what they do, but they've rubbed people the wrong way in the process. Of course, the media paints their own picture of people, and until you have dinner with these athletes, you'll forever see them as jerks in the same way that millions around the world can't stand them. Get ready to see some of your heroes on this list.
15 Lawrence Taylor
For all of his accomplishments on the football field, Lawrence Taylor is one of the most troubled athletes off of it, and he's no stranger to getting himself caught up in a wave of controversy. Alcohol and cocaine were his vices as he navigated his way through the NFL, and Taylor, who had tested positive on several occasions, was nearly booted from the league entirely thanks to his inability to maintain any semblance of self-control. Outside of rampant substance abuse, the NFL legend made his way onto our list due to his decision to solicit sex from an underage girl. As if Taylor didn’t have a bad enough reputation, this gave the public their lasting impression of Taylor being a terrible guy.
Taylor pleaded guilty to the charges, and he's since registered as a sex offender, forever tarnishing an already damaged legacy. Some will choose to remember him for his time in the NFL, but most will always consider him a total jerk.
14 Bryce Harper
Depending on whom you talk to, Bryce Harper could very well be the best player in baseball, and he's only getting started. At just 24 years old, Harper has already been selected to 5 All-Star games, and he's already been awarded an NL MVP award. His accomplishments in his young career have him tracking to one day end up in the Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, and other greats who dedicated their lives to the sport. As we patiently await the rest of his career to play out, Harper will continue to be in front of cameras, proving time and time again that he's a massive jerk.
Passion is one thing, but Harper is a flat-out crybaby He becomes overly emotional on the field, and his arrogance is through the roof. These two factors could very well be the driving force behind his success, but that doesn’t make him any less of a jerk.
13 Tiger Woods
Oh, Tiger, when will you get it together? There was once a point in time when Tiger Woods was the highest-grossing athlete on the planet. He was a megastar, holding a position that's reserved for very few athletes in the history of sports. He was a force on golf’s biggest stage, and Woods was tracking to become perhaps the greatest golfer of all time. The incredibly talented athlete was on the cover of magazines, and he was the face of a video game franchise to boot. Unfortunately, everything would come tumbling down in the most public of ways, and his career has been skydiving toward obscurity ever since.
Infidelity and substance abuse have taken Woods down. He was already a pretty arrogant person, but seeing his true self being brought to light was a death sentence for his career. With everything on a downward slope, Tiger has run out of time to fix his image.
12 O.J. Simpson
Given everything that's happened to him since the 1990s, it seems that most people have forgotten what a dominant player O.J. Simpson was on the football field. Simpson racked up over 11,000 rushing yards in his professional career, making his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Simpson was selected to 5 Pro Bowls during his time with the Bills, and in 1973, he was selected as the NFL Most Valuable Player after rushing for 2,000 yards in a 14-game season. The former Heisman winner was one of the best running backs of his era, and this is nothing more than an afterthought in the eyes of modern society.
If you really question why we have Simpson listed as a jerk, then you may want to jog your memory back to the time that he committed murder. Or that time that he committed robbery. Either one will suffice.
11 Terrell Owens
We'll go ahead and preface this entry by saying that Terrell Owens should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and each year that he's left out of Canton is an absolute travesty. Few receivers on the planet were as dominant as Owens was in his prime, though his polarizing personality and toxic locker-room behavior made him a despised figure in the NFL. In a game that stresses team before self, Owens always seemed more concerned about making himself look good as opposed to winning, and he was at the forefront of the Dive Era for wide receivers in the NFL. It's for this reason that Owens finds himself on this list. Whether it was on the 49ers, the Eagles, or the Cowboys, Owens was an unstoppable force on the football field, and when it was all said and done, Owens finished 2nd on the all-time receiving yards list with 15,934 yards.
If Owens wasn’t such a crybaby, he would already be in the Hall of Fame, but his decision to be a jerk throughout his career has stunted his induction. He won’t be out for much longer, and despite being a jerk, we can’t wait to see him inducted.
10 Michael Vick
Despite coming back and having some spectacular performances on the gridiron, Michael Vick's decision to participate in dog fighting will forever make him a polarizing figure in the sports world. When he debuted in the NFL back in 2001, Michael Vick was like nothing the league had ever seen before. Sure, there had been other quarterbacks who were capable of running with the football, but Michael Vick was the next step in that evolution. Vick did things that few other athletes could ever dream of pulling off, and he quickly became one of the most popular players in the league. Before he was busted for dog fighting, he had already been selected to 3 Pro Bowls, and things were going well for him.
Once the house came down, Vick was exposed for being a rotten person. He served time in prison before making his way back into the NFL. Upon his return, Vick found plenty of success, much to the surprise of many. He never reached his full potential, though, and he has no one to blame but himself.
9 Bill Romanowski
Dirty players have long been part of the NFL, and Bill Romanowski could very well be the poster child for this type of player. He had a reputation for being mean as a junkyard dog while he played in the league, and he was also accused of being racist on several occasions, making him a controversial figure. Romanowski has spit in players' faces, and he's gotten into physical altercations with teammates and opponents alike. In what may be his most infamous moment, Romanowski ripped off his teammate's helmet and punched the guy in the face, crushing his eye socket and forcing him into an early retirement from the injury. We could keep going on, but we think you get the point. While he did pull down 4 Super Bowl titles, Romanowski is a massive jerk.
Romanowski currently serves as an analyst for the Oakland Raiders, sitting behind a desk where he can’t physically harm anyone. His words, however, have landed him in hot water, which should come as no surprise to anyone who's followed his career.
8 Ben Roethlisberger
When his career reaches its conclusion, Ben Roethlisberger will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In a draft class that produced several talented performers, Roethlisberger is the cream of the crop, and his statistics, combined with his 2 Super Bowl titles, are more than enough to get him into Canton. The 2017 NFL season is in full swing, and with Roethlisberger at the helm, the Steelers are poised for another big year. Throughout his career, he's thrown for over 47,000 yards and 306 touchdowns, making him one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history. Despite all of this, Roethlisberger finds himself on our list for several reasons.
First and foremost, Roethlisberger has been on the receiving end of multiple sexual assault allegations. While he was never formally convicted, the allegations have stuck to him like glue. There have also been whispers about him being a jerk to people in the Pittsburgh area.
7 Jon Jones
Jon Jones should be considered the greatest MMA competitor of all time, but thanks to him being a complete moron, his legacy will be ruined for the rest of time. Prior to his most recent win being overturned to a No Contest, Jones was sporting a 22-1 record, and his lone defeat was due to a disqualification during a fight in which he was dominating. Jones was an unstoppable force in the UFC, but the fame and fortune that came with winning were too much for the young man to handle. Jones has had several run-ins with the law in his life, and his most heinous situation stemmed from a hit-and-run accident in which he smashed into a pregnant woman’s car. He then fled the scene, eventually turning himself in.
Jones has also been busted for doing cocaine, which has also done a great deal of damage to his personal image. With his most recent PED violation, Jones is facing a 4-year suspension that could spell the end of his career.
6 Jon Koppenhaver
After appearing on The Ultimate Fighter, many UFC fans were excited to see Jon Koppenhaver fight in the world’s biggest MMA promotion. The man dubbed "War Machine" was an exciting prospect who had the heart and determination to persevere in the direst of situations. His first fight in the UFC came against fellow Ultimate Fighter competitor Jared Rollins, and the pair put on one of the most entertaining fights in UFC history. Both men found their moments in the fight, and in the 3rd and final round, Koppenhaver was able to seal the deal with a KO, and Koppenhaver pulled down 2 bonuses for his performance. The sky was the limit for War Machine, but several years later, he committed one of the most heinous crimes in recent memory.
In 2014, War Machine savagely beat his girlfriend, sending her to the hospital needing reconstructive surgery. It was also alleged that he had tried to rape her as well. He was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.
5 Johnny Manziel
When your nickname is "Johnny Football," you'd better be the second coming of Peyton Manning. Unfortunately for Johnny Manziel, he was not. During his time in college, Manziel was a living legend at Texas A&M, and he became one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football. His 2012 campaign was nothing short of incredible, and he was awarded the Heisman Trophy, the Davey O’Brien Award, and the Manning Award and he was named the Associated Press Player of the Year. The accolades poured in for Manziel, and many expected him to make his way into the NFL as soon as possible. But even before being drafted by Cleveland, Manziel had a terrible reputation for being an arrogant, selfish party boy who could self-destruct at any moment. Nevertheless, the Browns deemed him a worthwhile pick.
Manziel’s behavior landed him in hot water regularly, and he only lasted 2 years in the NFL. Run-ins with the law, substance abuse, and a poor attitude ruined what could've been something special.
4 Hope Solo
Hope Solo is one of the most recognizable faces in the history of women’s soccer, and it has to do with a lot more than her looks. Solo is an immensely talented athlete who was instrumental in the success of the Women’s National Team. Her time spent on Dancing with the Stars was also huge for her career, and there was a point in time when Hope Solo was everywhere. Unfortunately, Solo has also come across as a very arrogant person, and her arrest for assault did a ton of damage to her career. The arrest was back in 2014, and Solo was taken away after being accused of assaulting her half-sister and her nephew.
Solo was also in hot water after she got into a physical altercation with her boyfriend. Charges were ultimately dropped, and the pair tied the knot the following day, confusing everyone in the process. Solo also had nude photos leaked onto the internet during the iCLoud leak.
3 Oscar Pistorius
There was once a point in time when South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius was a poster boy for overcoming adversity. Pistorius was a double amputee who used his prosthetic legs to propel himself to reaching incredible heights as a sprinter. The subject itself was highly controversial, and many thought that he had an unfair advantage with his new legs. His list of accomplishments made him a media darling, though no one knew what type of person he actually was. Famous people are able to put on an act while the cameras are on, but a person’s true self will most always be revealed to the public, and Pistorius proved to be a dark individual.
In 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend in his home. The news of this rocked the media, and the world seemed to be in disbelief. For his crimes, Pistorius was sentenced to 5 years in prison for culpable homicide.
2 Ronda Rousey
She may be an afterthought in the eyes of sports fans now, but before being destroyed in her final two contests, Ronda Rousey was an unstoppable force in MMA, and it was common to hear people talk about her finishing her career undefeated and even beating men inside the UFC. Neither of these would be the case, however, and Rousey ended her career on a 2-fight losing streak. Nevertheless, there's no denying that Rousey was instrumental in taking the UFC to the next level, and she was a media darling for several years. She was a crossover star the likes of which are rare in the UFC, and she pulled down appearances in some high-profile films. With all of her success, Rousey had her ego fed on a daily basis, and she became the most arrogant fighter in UFC history.
She made absurd claims that she could beat the UFC Heavyweight Champion, and the UFC couldn’t have cared less about other females not named "Rousey." She was unbearable to watch in interviews, and once the house came down, she was never the same.
1 Floyd Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather is arguably the greatest boxer of all time, which says a lot, considering the sport’s rich history. He finished his career with an unblemished record, taking out some of the sport’s biggest names from his era. With his recent bout with Conor McGregor in the bag, Floyd has walked away from the sport after generating ungodly amounts of money. Now that he's retired, Floyd will leave the fighting to younger men, all while raking in millions of dollars as a fight promoter. Even though he'll never need another penny for the rest of his life, Floyd continues to expand upon his wealth, proving that boxing can be as lucrative as running a Fortune 500 company.
Despite all of this praise, Floyd Mayweather has found himself wrapped up in plenty of controversy. On multiple occasions, Mayweather has been accused of domestic incidents, tarnishing his legacy outside of the ring. His arrogance while promoting fights has also left a sour taste in the mouths of fans, and many people tuned in to watch him lose, which he never did.
Sources: Bleacherreport, ESPN, NFL, MLB, NBA