From screaming at officials to executing vicious hits to biting opponents, sports are often the scene of the world’s most intense battles. With their backs to the wall, teams and players will do virtually anything to ensure that they emerge on top. For better or worse, sports have become such an important part of our culture that breaking certain rules has become a common practice. For many teams and individuals, the cost of a fine is a small pittance when compared to their total salary. For a player making millions of dollars, even a fine of $50,000 is the equivalent to a typical dinner bill for themselves and their friends. However, in an effort to maintain a level playing field and prevent players from overstepping their boundaries, each major sport has their own governing body that intervenes when necessary to issue monetary penalties and suspensions. Here are the 10 most expensive sports-related fines:
10. James Harrison (NFL): $95,000
In an effort to cut down on the number of hits to the head, the NFL made a statement in 2010 by fining Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison a total of $95,000 for three separate incidents. Known for his hard-hitting style, Harrison did not take the news well and threatened to retire from the league if it did not allow him to play the game the way he wanted. Harrison’s first fine was for a whopping $50,000 when he crushed Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi to the ground. However, the fine was increased by another $20,000 because the league deemed him to be a repeat offender. Less than two weeks later, Harrison was hit with another $20,000 fine when he brought down Drew Brees with a late hit. Despite stating that he would leave, Harrison remained in the NFL and is currently a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
9. Kobe Bryant (NBA): $100,000
In April 2011, Los Angeles Lakers star shooting-guard Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 because of a gay slur uttered during a game. Angered because he had received a technical foul, Bryant found himself fuming on the bench where he threw a towel, yelled at a referee and then uttered an inappropriate gay slur. Unfortunately for Bryant, the television cameras were watching him during this incident and the remark was caught unedited on tape for everyone at home to see. Ultimately, Bryant paid the fine and made a public statement in support of the Gay and Lesbian community.
8. Mike Tice (NFL): $100,000
When a coaches team makes the Super Bowl, the NFL allots a specific number of tickets for the coach to give to friends and family. It goes without saying that these tickets are to be given away for free and that the coach cannot sell them for his own profit. Unfortunately, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice must have missed this memo when he scalped Super Bowl tickets in 2005. Initially, Tice denied the allegations; however, he later admitted his guilt when presented with evidence by the league office. It is not known how much money Tice made off the sale of the tickets; however, it is safe to assume that he lost money on the deal given the $100,000 fine that was handed down by the NFL.
7. Carl Long (NASCAR): $200,000
In 2009, NASCAR issued a fine of $200,000 to driver Carl Long and his crew chief, Charles Swing, for their role in attempting to increase the size of their car’s engine cylinders. Had this gone undetected, Long would have had a decidedly unfair advantage during a race. In addition to the monetary fine, Long was suspended for 12 races and docked an improbable 200 points while Swing was suspended for the majority of the racing season.
6. Mark Cuban (NBA): $250,000
Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, Mark Cuban has racked up quite the bill from the league office for fines since purchasing the Dallas Mavericks in 2000. Whether it be speaking out against a referee’s poor call, running onto the court to yell at a ref while a game is in progress or giving profanity-laced press conferences, Mark Cuban is no stranger to giving the NBA money. So far Cuban has paid more than $1.65 million in fines as owner of the Mavs. However, Cuban has never received a fine larger than the $250,000 bill sent by the NBA for his on-court outburst during Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals.
5. Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks (NHL): $250,000
During a game on March 8, 2004, Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks delivered a violent and illegal hit to the back of Colorado Avalanche player Steve Moore. After attempting to instigate a fight with Moore earlier in the game, Bertuzzi skated up behind him and landed a punch to the back of Moore’s head. Moore remained on the ice for more than 10 minutes without moving until he was carted out of the arena ona stretcher. The injury left Moore with three fractured neck vertebrae and a concussion. The hit effectively ended Moore’s career and Bertuzzi was given an indefinite suspension by the NHL. In addition, the Canucks were fined $250,000 for creating an atmosphere that promoted fighting and not doing enough to prevent the incident.
4. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (NFL): Combined Fine of $750,000
In 2007, the New England Patriots took the NFL by storm and went 16-0 in the regular season before losing in heartbreaking fashion to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. However, the success of their season was marred by the impending Spygate scandal where it was discovered that the Patriots had taped opposing teams defensive signals during games. Because of Spygate, the impeccable reputation of head coach Bill Belichick was called into question and he was fined $500,000. In addition, the Patriots were ordered to pay a team fine of $250,000 and forfeit a first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
3. New Jersey Devils (NHL): $3 Million
In 2010, the New Jersey Devils traded for superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk to help propel their team to the Stanley Cup. However, in doing so the Devils violated NHL regulations concerning the number of players involved and the draft picks given up to acquire the Russian star. The Devils also attempted to circumvent the salary cap by signing Kovalchuk to a 17-year, $102 million contract. As a result, the NHL fined the team an unprecedented $3 million and forced them to forfeit their first and third round draft picks.
2. Mike Tyson (Boxing): $3 Million
June 29, 1997 is a night that will be remembered infamously for the boxing world because of Mike Tyson‘s in-ring encounter with Evander Holyfield. After suffering through two rounds of pummeling at the hands of Holyfield, Tyson amazingly attempted to turn the tide of the fight by using his teeth to bit off a one-inch chunk of Holyfield’s ear. Tyson was warned not to bite his opponent again; however, after attempting the same thing several minutes later the fight was suspended and Tyson lost. Because of his actions, Tyson was fined $3 million and given a lifetime suspension from boxing; however, he was able to appeal the suspension and continued his career.
1. McLaren Racing Team (Formula One Racing): $100 Million
In the largest fine ever issued to a sports team or player, the McLaren Formula One Racing team was fined $100 million for spying on their largest rival: Ferrari. In addition to the unheard-of fine, McLaren had to forfeit all constructors points for the season and received a black eye in the industry. Drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were not penalized and were allowed to continue competing for the drivers title.
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