Athletes are commonly known for being big and strong. They can certainly pick fights with most people even though there’s a chance that they can be arrested by police officers for doing so. Meanwhile, reporters ask questions to the players, but there are some risks in doing so. Like the rest of us, athletes have emotions and lose their patience when it comes to silly or stupid questions. But, no one is immune to making mistakes in the workplace. It’s just a matter of the incident being publicized or not.
While it’s embarrassing if an athlete misinterprets questions from the media members or a reporter chooses the wrong time to ask an offensive question, it makes for some awesome TV moments for the viewers at home. Post-game interviews—whether in the locker room or on the field—are repetitive for the most part. Not much ever comes out of post-game interviews as the same questions (and open-ended statements) are followed by the same cliché answers from players who don’t want anything to do with the media and likely have other plans already in place. After all, the power balances among athletes and reporters that are lopsided with the athlete appears to be undefeated while the reporter just tells fans what’s been going on in the stadium, ballpark, or arena.
Most players are polite and respectful. But like all other fields, there will be people who are rude and disrespectful. Nobody cares about what you’re doing as long as you’re talented. Here are 15 times where athletes flipped out on reporters on live TV.
15. Floyd Mayweather Responds Contentiously To Larry Merchant
Floyd Mayweather and Larry Merchant are kind of like this generation’s Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell. Merchant always asked the tough questions, and Floyd always responded in a contentious manner. But this time, Mayweather’s patience with Merchant’s interview style wore thin, and he let him know it. Merchant ended his 35-year commentary and writing career just seven months later.
Floyd Mayweather knocked out Victor Ortiz on September 17, 2011 in a controversial finish to the “Star Power” pay-per-view event. Ortiz illegally head-butted Mayweather, and after being deducted a point, chose to try to hug Mayweather and apologize for his regrettable actions. Mayweather then won the fight by landing a vicious left-right combination that flattened Ortiz. It was acceptable within the rules, but the fans in attendance and watching at home thought it was very unsportsmanlike. We’re pretty sure that he channeled the fictional officer, Murtaugh, in the Lethal Weapon films as he walked away and said “I’m too old for this sh*t.”
14. Brandon Phillips Called C. Trent Rosecrans A Fat Motherf*****
Atlanta Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips went after the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Reds beat reporter C. Trent Rosecrans when he was with the Cincinnati-based team. This incident occurred during a Dusty Baker conversation with reporters. Phillips called Rosecrans a fat motherf***** because of a tweet that he made earlier that day on how the team sacrificed on-base percentage points by moving Phillips up to the No. 2 spot in the batting order. It clearly didn’t take much to trigger Phillips’ explosion after the ballgame.
Fortunately, Rosecrans was able to handle Phillips’ blowup and tried to make peace on Twitter afterward. It seems like Rosecrans was a little too solicitous as he technically didn’t do anything wrong, and only a lunatic would flip out the way Phillips did. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter because the general public isn’t going to side with a beat reporter over a professional athlete, regardless of what is fair and logical.
13. Bobby Bonilla Threatens Bob Klapisch
Let’s rewind to 1993 when former MLB outfielder Bobby Bonilla had to be restrained by a New York Mets official after threatening The Daily News‘ Bob Klapisch whose book, The Worst Team Money Could Buy, was written with fellow colleague John Harper. Two Mets players (including Bonilla) were apparently angry over the publication of a book that criticized them and their organization and as a result, engaged in a shouting match with Klapisch at Shea Stadium. The book recounts a lot of off-the-field episodes from the last few seasons and criticized former manager Jeff Torborg for the way he handled the team.
Bonilla reportedly threatened Klapisch as reporters were interviewing pitcher Dwight Gooden after the Mets vs. Houston Astros game, telling him, “I’ll hurt you.” When Klapisch approached Bonilla’s locker, Bonilla had to be held back by the Mets’ PR director, Jay Horwitz. Before the game, former first baseman Eddie Murray cursed and screamed at Klapisch in the clubhouse.
12. Albert Belle Blasts Hannah Storm
Here’s another old-school incident, where former MLB outfielder Albert Belle obscenely blasted then-NBC reporter, Hannah Storm, for being in the Cleveland Indians’ dugout two hours before Game 3 of the 1995 World Series when she was there for a scheduled interview with former outfielder Kenny Lofton. Belle later apologized to Storm, but reportedly told her, “You’ve got to stop wearing your hair like that,” because he confused her with sportscaster Lesley Visser.
The following season, Belle shouted “No, no, no” at Sports Illustrated photographer Tony Tomsic, who was snapping photos of Belle stretching before a game in Cleveland. Tomsic retreated but continued taking photos after Belle walked to the outfield. Through his viewfinder, Tomsic saw Belle 100 feet away, who threw a ball that hit Tomsic and cut his knuckles. Belle reportedly yelled to Tomsic, “I told you not to take my picture, a******!” Tomsic was then treated by an Indians trainer. These two incidents are unrelated, but it seems like people can push Belle’s buttons very easily.
11. Russell Westbrook Goes Off On Berry Tramel
We’ve seen some people rip Westbrook for his behavior, and we’ve seen some people praise Westbrook for shutting down The Oklahoman columnist, Berry Thamel, when he asked about the Oklahoma Thunder’s play when he’s on the bench. While Westbrook could’ve easily chilled out and let Adams respond, Thamel’s question was intended to bait Adams into an obscene quote. Every NBA fan knows why OKC struggles when Westbrook goes the bench—because he’s their best player and their bench isn’t that good. Through its first four games in their first-round series against the Houston Rockets, OKC was +3 with Westbrook on the court and -40 without him.
In his post-game column, Tramel wrote, “Meanwhile, Billy Donovan counters with some players who have talent, but much of it one-dimensional. Enes Kanter, Alex Abrines, Doug McDermott. And Cole, who actually played well in limited minutes Friday night but played 9:18 Sunday, during which Houston outscored OKC 28-10.” Tramel knew the answer to the question he asked Adams and knew that Adams was unable to be honest with his response because it wouldn’t look good. That’s why Westbrook kept saying, “next question.”
10. Mike Richards Answers Three Questions With Six Words
Former Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards froze out the media following a 4-3 shootout win over the Boston Bruins on October 23, 2009. He was upset about several rumors that circulated in regards to the trade of teammate Joffrey Lupul. As a result, he simply said six words to three separate questions. When asked if he thought Claude Giroux‘s goal was a momentum builder, and if the shootout problems were history, he said, “It’s big.” When asked about the many contributions of the fourth line Thursday, Richards smiled and said, “Also big.” When Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Tim Panaccio started to ask a long question, Richards interrupted, “Why bother?” And that was the end of the interview.
Richards went on to win two Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings, where he got arrested for possession of oxycodone without a prescription at the US-Canada border and signed a one-year $1-million contract with the Washington Capitals. Since then, he has been an unrestricted free agent.
9. Jim McMahon Blows His Nose Onto T.J. Simers
Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon struggled in his first and only season with the San Diego Chargers. He started 12 games for the 6-10 Chargers team in 1989. He went 4-8 in the games he started, but the team lost four of those games by a combined 11 points. He had only four games over 200 yards and 389 yards against the Houston Oilers in a Week 2 loss.
At one point, McMahon responded to a question from The San Diego Union reporter T.J. Simers by blowing his nose on him. Simers caught up with McMahon at a celebrity golf tournament in 2010. McMahon told Simers, “(NFL commissioner Paul) Tagliabue tried kicking me out of the league for that. I told him it was either that or hitting you in the head, and I already had enough problems with cops.”
During his short-lived tenure with the Chargers, McMahon fell out of favor with his coach, Dan Henning, his teammates, and the Chargers’ front office. He was benched for the final four games in favor of Billy Joe Tolliver and finished the year with 2,132 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He was released after the 1989 season.
8. Wes Welker Walks Out Of Super Bowl Media Day
Former NFL wide receiver Wes Welker looked like he wanted to make a statement with his outfit for the first media day of Super Bowl XLVIII week. The Denver Broncos flew in for the big game, and nobody turned as many heads as Welker, who was wearing an orange jacket and shirt and tie with some orange in it. The outfit wasn’t as ridiculous as it looks from the waist up. It’s actually a pretty darn good look.
Anyway, it was extremely awkward when Welker looked as if he didn’t want to get any more questions during Super Bowl Media Day. He did a decent job of playing a good sport, despite being unenthusiastic in his replies, but ultimately reached a boiling point when he left his headphones on the table after a reporter mentioned his former teammate, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He surely cleaned up nice but literally just walked out, leaving the reporters lost and confused.
7. Tim Belcher Curses At A Cameraman
Former MLB pitcher Tim Belcher had one of the most memorable moments in baseball history when the Seattle Mariners gave up the game-winning home run to the New York Yankees in the 1995 ALCS. The inappropriate tirade was all caught on tape, thanks to the sacrifices of one brave cameraman.
While Belcher’s tirade against the cameraman who got in his face was more about his verbal abuse than him physically assaulting anyone, it was an ugly sight to see and hear. He made his anger clear by dropping so many f-bombs than he should’ve done so. He wasn’t Mr. Nice Guy and refused to hold back in showing his disdain towards the media waiting for him outside the locker room after the disappointing loss. The tirade isn’t something that you’d want to show your mother, but it certainly made for a great video for the general public. But you can’t blame him for not wanting cameras shoved in his face when things went horribly either.
6. Kurt Busch Gets Heated With Dr. Jerry Punch
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was voted one of the most disliked athletes in the U.S., according to a Forbes magazine study. We don’t blame you if you have anything against him, though.
In 2011, he made an obscene hand gesture and got heated with Dr. Jerry Punch of ESPN. The following year, he threatened to beat up a reporter (Bob Pockrass) for asking stupid questions. According to a video aired on SPEED, Pockrass asked Busch if he felt hamstrung by the probation status while racing hard with Justin Allgaier during the 5-hour energy 200. Busch responded, “I’m on probation, so I can’t even pick my nose the right way…(Probation) refrains me from not beating the sh*t out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions…But since I’m on probation, I suppose that’s improper to say as well. If you could talk about racing things, we could talk about racing things, Bob.” As a result, Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR.
5. Marshawn Lynch Keeps It Short And Sweet
NFL running back Marshawn Lynch plays with the Oakland Raiders now. He previously spent five years with the Seattle Seahawks from 2010 to 2015, where he earned the nickname “Beast Mode” for his powerful running style, propensity for breaking tackles, and consistent ability to run over defenders.
Lynch has had a history of ignoring media questions by giving short replies. He’s not a fan of the cameras either. In 2013, he hid under sunglasses and a hood as much as possible throughout the Super Bowl XLVIII week. Although he didn’t speak much, he gave us one of the most memorable quotes ever from the event, dropping the classic ‘I’m all about that action, boss’ in an interview with analyst and former cornerback Deion Sanders. He may not have gone “Beast Mode” during the game, but he got that Super Bowl ring and can enjoy his Skittles in peace. And let’s not forget the Super Bowl XLIX Media Day, where he held a five-minute press conference, only saying “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” to every question.
4. Richard Sherman Screams At Erin Andrews Over Michael Crabtree
The Internet went crazy for Erin Andrews‘ epic interview with cornerback Richard Sherman following the Seahawks’ 23-17 NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49ers on January 19, 2014. To quickly sum it all up, Sherman set up the interception by linebacker Malcolm Smith to seal the Seahawks’ trip to the Super Bowl. Following the play, Sherman mocked 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, and the two continued their fight on Twitter.
After the game-winning play, Andrews had to get Sherman for the live post-game interview, which she certainly did. Andrews knew this would go viral but didn’t realize she’d receive so much backlash. During the emotional interview, Sherman yelled, “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me…Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.” Andrews knew he was referring to Crabtree but wanted to make sure that the audience was on the same page, which is why she chose to follow up in order to get clarification. The following day, Andrews said that she reached out to Sherman, and all is well.
3. Kenny Rogers Shoves Two Cameramen And One Camera To The Ground
Former lefty Kenny Rogers pitched like the reincarnation of Christy Mathewson, and no one knew exactly why. The majority of the media decided that this is why he became so emotional. Joe Buck devoted an entire inning to explaining how emotional Rogers had been in his Division Series start against the New York Yankees, emphasizing his apology to the team in his post-game press conference. Buck made sure America knew Rogers wasn’t trying to show up the Yankees by pumping his fist after every strikeout and shouting with every batter he retired.
Rogers has always been emotional, though. In 2005, he pushed two cameramen that were filming the team and walked out of the dugout. Then, he shoved one of them again, throwing his camera down and kicking the camera on the ground. He also broke a bone in his hand by punching a water cooler a few weeks earlier. At the time, he kept a sticker on his locker that read “My S***** Attitude Is None Of Your F****** Business.” And back in 1994, he shoved a beat writer out of the Texas Rangers clubhouse.
2. Dennis Rodman Kicks Groin Of Cameraman
NBA legend Dennis Rodman was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his play and is easily in the discussion for the G.O.A.T. in terms of fines during his career. No fine was bigger than the one he received following a kick in the groin of a cameraman after he fell into the baseman cameras on January 15, 1997. The kick cost Rodman $1 million, 11 games, and an additional fine of $25,000. We guess he’s just camera shy?
Today, Eugene Amos, Jr. continues working as a cameraman for his local NBC affiliate in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s best known as the cameraman that Rodman kicked in the groin in the Bulls’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite the viral incident, he didn’t let his brief assault into the public eye distract him. He said, “I just try to take one day at a time…Sometimes I get recognized, yeah. I try to have a sense of humor about it.”
1. Will McDonough Schools Raymond Clayborn
A reporter beat up an NFL player on September 9, 1979, after the New England Patriots blew out the New York Jets 56-3. According to late Boston Globe reporter Will McDonough, Patriots cornerback Raymond Clayborn elbowed him and other reporters who were standing near the locker room of Patriots wide receiver Hugh Jackson. Clayborn reportedly grabbed McDonough’s shirt and said, “You ******, I’m going to bury you.” The melee escalated quickly as Clayborn tried to poke McDonough in the chest and found his eye instead. McDonough then delivered a right cross that even Roughed Odor would’ve envied, and Clayborn tumbled back into his locker. After the melee, McDonough had his bloodshot eye examined by a doctor.
Funny thing is, McDonough’s son, Sean, went on to a fine broadcasting career at ESPN. He said that the incident gave him instant prestige. He has asked the question, “My dad can beat up your dad? Hey, my dad beat up an NFL player!”
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