Let’s face it - no professional athlete ever reached the big leagues because of their brains. One thing that is undeniably true however is that in their own strange way, some professional athletes are truly geniuses within the physical realms of their sport. Think of Pele or Wayne Gretzky; watching them play was like watching Van Gogh paint Starry Night or listening to Beethoven live.
The thing about geniuses though is that they tend to be a bit...well…unstable. It is often these types that get caught up in some sort of controversy, landing themselves on the front cover of a newspaper or even defending themselves in front of a jury during a court session. Geniuses within the sporting profession are no exception to these unstable tendencies, and although they become a major talking point all over the globe in these situations, it somehow makes them even more popular and likeable. Even their enemies and most outspoken critics lend power to their names by talking about them, and as the old saying proclaims: there is no such thing as bad publicity.
On the other hand, it’s almost unfair that sporting professionals find themselves in the global spotlight so often. They’re not like politicians or actors - they weren’t trained to say the correct things. They don’t know how to appeal to the masses. Sure, some of them are good at it - but more often than not athletes find themselves putting their foot in their mouths, making the wrong decisions, or appearing like a complete and utter lunatic on live television.
Everyone knows Zidane as, “That French guy who head butted another player in the World Cup.” This is really a shame because if he had just fought the urge to put his head through Materazzi’s chest, he would have been remembered for his excellent soccer playing skills. But no, his name will now forever be synonymous with reckless violence. Head butting isn’t the only thing that makes this guy insane, though. He claims to have been visited by a ghost who urged him to play for France during the World Cup that ended so badly for him. Who was the Ghost? That’s a secret he will never tell.
9 John McEnroe
8 John Terry
This soccer player typifies the stereotype of the tough, determined British footballer. He also behaves like a complete idiot. John Terry has been charged with assault repeatedly, usually for drunken brawls outside of bars. During one of these drunken episodes he allegedly taunted American tourists about the World Trade Center attack immediately after September 11th. He was once banned for four games due to racist conduct. He also once parked in a handicapped parking spot, and was fined for doing so. He also famously made headlines for allegedly cheating on his wife with his teammate’s girlfriends.
When this guy walks onto the field, some kind of bestial force seems to take hold of his body. He throws himself at people, kicks them while they’re down, and head butts other players like there’s no tomorrow. Similar to the story of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, when he’s not playing soccer he’s just your normal, average dude, but something in him transforms when he puts on his uniform. Pepe is known for being one of the most aggressive and physical players in modern football, elbowing, punching, head butting, and kicking people while they’re down. In the recent 2014 Fifa World Cup, he played a grand total of 20 minutes before his rage overcame him and he head butted a German player who was sitting innocently on the ground. That was the end of his World Cup. He is most famous, however, for repeatedly kicking a player who was lying injured in the penalty box, before shoving his face into the ground and stomping on his ankles and hands.
6 Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona is a true footballing legend - his skill was beautiful to watch, and his talents on the pitch were matched only by his vibrant and often eccentric personality. In typical French fashion, he was famous for making vague, philosophical remarks to the media when he wasn’t playing. During his time playing for Manchester United, an incident occurred which ensured his place in footballing history. Eric Cantona was near the sideline when a fan from the opposing team yelled at him to “F*&% off back to France.” His response was to leap like a Spartan warrior into the crowd, and kick the fan squarely in the chest, before punching him repeatedly in the face. Eric Cantona was arrested immediately. Like a true Frenchman, he responded to the media’s questions about the incident by uttering the following statement: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.” Ever since that day, no one has been able to figure out quite what he meant by that.
5 Dennis Rodman
There are some people who try to appear crazy to gain attention. And then there are people like Dennis Rodman, who appear crazy because that’s exactly what they are. This basketball player has dyed his hair in every color imaginable, has several piercings that look like they belong on a meth addict, and once wore a wedding dress out in public. It seems that insane minds think alike, as Dennis Rodman is a self-described “friend for life” of North Korea’s dictatorial leader, Kim Jon-un. He has been to visit the country many times, and he was among the first Americans to meet the man. He plays an active role in training the North Korean national basketball team.
4 Joey Barton
Other footballers may take things a bit far when it comes to violence but Joey Barton, well, he takes things to another level entirely. At his team’s Christmas party, he allegedly put out a lit cigar in a younger teammate's face after he caught him trying to set fire to his shirt. Not cool. Driving down the streets at 2 am, he allegedly hit an innocent pedestrian, breaking their leg. When his team went on tour in Thailand, he was fined 8 weeks pay by his club after being found guilty of gross misconduct after allegedly assaulting a 15-year old. This symphony of violence reached a crescendo when he was sentenced to 6 months in jail for punching a man 26 times and breaking a teenager’s teeth in an incident that occurred at 5 am.
3 Vinnie Jones
Vinnie Jones is an actor who has starred in multiple films, including Snatch, X-Men: The Last Stand and Swordfish. But some people might not be aware that he started his career as a professional footballer, and a characteristic one at that. And by characteristic I mean absolutely nuts. He was famous for his antics on and off the field. He once thought it would be a good idea to grab the balls of another player and squeeze them as hard as he could. His whole team was notably unstable, and they were known as the “Crazy Gang,” often resorting to these types of ball-grabbing tactics. He was once thrown out of a game after a whopping three seconds. In another instance, he allegedly drunkenly threatened to kill every passenger on a plane, and to top it all off, Vinnie Jones once was alleged to have attempted to bite someone’s nose off.
2 Luis Suarez
1 Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson is the poster child for the crazy, unstable, wild and unpredictable dudes in the world of professional sports. Famous for comments such as, “I want to eat his children, praise be to Allah!” And “I think I’ll take a bath in his blood.” And who could forget his epic story: "One morning I woke up and found my favorite pigeon, Julius, had died. I was devastated and was gonna use his crate as my stickball bat to honor him. I left the crate on my stoop and went in to get something and I returned to see the sanitation man put the crate into the crusher. I rushed him and caught him flush on the temple with a titanic right hand - he was out cold, convulsing on the floor like an infantile retard." He is also famous for biting an opponent’s ear in the ring, being convicted of allegedly raping an 18-year-old girl, and getting a tribal tattoo on his face.