Athletes are no strangers to controversy or scandals. When it comes to sexual scandals, it seems like a new scandal is engulfing a famous athlete on a weekly basis. Besides the undue attention and scrutiny on their private life, athletes have to worry about their public image when these scandals surface. The fallout of these scandals usually include a severe public image hit for the athletes in question. For fans of these athletes, the revelations don’t coincide with the public image of these individuals. Often these athletes and coaches are portrayed as heroic or people with great integrity. While these portrayals may be true for some of the public figures in the sports world, it is not true of all. Some of these sports figures have been involved in a variety of sexual scandals that have found their way into the public domain.
This article lists 15 embarrassing sex scandals in the sports world. The scandals do not just focus on athletes but also lists coaches, former athletes and sports television personalities. The scandals on this list were chosen based on how embarrassing they were to the public figures in question. Several scandals pertaining to sexual assaults or scandals that had a sinister connotation were omitted from this list.
15. Tiki Barber – Former New York Giant
When Tiki Barber announced his retirement from the NFL after the 2006 season, many expected him to have a very successful career in broadcasting. Barber seemed very comfortable in front of the camera and could have had a post playing career similar to that of Michael Strahan. Initially, Barber enjoyed a prominent broadcasting career with NBC from 2007-2010. Along with covering sports, Barber also covered political stories. His broadcasting career took a turn for the worst in 2010 when NBC declined to renew his contract. Around the same time, stories emerged about Barber leaving his pregnant wife for a 23-year-old intern. Barber eventually left his wife for the younger woman who he is currently married too. His broadcasting career has not lived up to his or everyone else’s expectations.
14. Greg Oden and Brett Favre
The one thing Greg Oden and Brett Favre have in common is they both were involved in an embarrassing scandal involving cell phones. In 2010, cell phone images of Greg Oden posing naked in front of a mirror were circulating the internet. Oden apparently took the photo and sent it to his girlfriend via his cell phone. Many jokes followed and what must have been hard for Oden was the fact that he could not play basketball due to injuries and had no way to deflect attention from his pictures.
In the case of Favre, the former NFL quarterback was investigated in 2010 for apparently sending inappropriate images to “Jets Game Day” host Jenn Sterger during his 2008 stint with the New York Jets. Favre was found not to be in violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, but was fined $50,000 for failing to cooperate with the investigation. Unlike Oden, Favre was a married man.
13. Delonte West – Former Cleveland Cavaliers Guard
During the 2010 NBA playoffs, there was intense speculation on whether LeBron James would leave the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of the season. In the second round of the playoffs, the Boston Celtics defeated the Cavaliers in six games. What was peculiar during the series was that LeBron James was playing with no aggression and looked very detached from his teammates. The Cavaliers had a 2-1 series lead before loosing the last three games of the series. There were several rumors that were circulating regarding about why LeBron was struggling. The most sensational one alleged that James’ teammate, Delonte West, was having an affair with James’ mother. Everyone involved denied the rumors and West later admitted that the rumor negatively impacted his reputation within the NBA.
12. Chipper Jones – Former Atlanta Braves 3B
Chipper Jones, the great Atlanta Braves third baseman, makes the list due to the scandal that surrounded him in the late ’90s. In 1997, it was revealed that Jones, who was married for five years, had fathered a son. The problem was the mother of the child was not his wife, Karin Fulford, but a Hooters waitress he had met in Florida during spring training. Jones would admit that he had had an affair with the waitress for 18 months and also admitted that he messed up royally. Jones’ wife initially supported her husband but the two quickly divorced.
11. John Terry – Chelsea
John Terry was the captain of the England national team between 2008-2010. He captained the team to World Cup qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. However, Terry was not the captain during the World Cup. He was stripped of the captaincy in January 2010, as rumors surfaced that he had a four month affair with Vanessa Perroncel, who was the girlfriend of former Chelsea and England teammate Wayne Bridge. Besides loosing the captaincy, Terry was universally condemned. To make matters worse, Chelsea faced off against Manchester City soon after and lost 4-1. Wayne Bridge played for City and Craig Bellamy, who was very vocal in his condemnation of Terry, scored two goals in that game.
10. Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees
Alex Rodriguez has had a turbulent tenure with the New York Yankees. Since joining the Yankees in 2004, Rodriguez has often been a magnet for criticism for both his play on the field and his off the field behavior. In terms of his personal life, Rodriguez could not seem to escape the headlines in 2008 when his wife Cynthia Rodriguez filed for divorce. Amongst her complaints were various instances of extramarital affairs, several of which could be found on the back of a variety of New York newspapers. Rodriguez was rumored to have had an affair with pop icon Madonna and a couple of ex-strippers in Boston and Toronto respectively. In addition to these rumors, Rodriguez allegedly was a patron at a call-girl agency also frequented by Eliot Spitzer.
9. Eugene Robinson – Former Atlanta Falcons Safety
In the NFL, there is nothing coaches and team executives hate more than the proverbial distraction. It is hard to find a bigger distraction than the one that engulfed Eugene Robinson and the Atlanta Falcons on the eve of Super Bowl XXXIII. The night before the big game, Robinson was arrested for soliciting oral sex from an undercover female police officer who was posing as a prostitute. The following day, Robinson gave up an 80 yard touchdown to the Broncos’ Rod Smith and the Falcons lost 34-19. What made the incident even more embarrassing was that Robinson had just received the Bart Starr award, an honor for a player who displays high moral character.
8. Ronaldo – Former Brazilian Striker
Brazilian striker Ronaldo is one of the greatest football players in history. He has a list of accomplishments that only a few can match. He also has had one of the most embarrassing sex scandals of any prominent athlete. In 2008, Ronaldo was partying in Rio De Janeiro and he decided to take three prostitutes back to his room. The only problem was Ronaldo later discovered that the people in his room were in fact men. When he realized his error, Ronaldo attempted to pay each of the men 300 GBP to leave. Reportedly two of the men agreed, but one tried to extort Ronaldo for a further 15,000 GBP in order to keep the story quiet. Eventually a fight broke out and news of the incident spread across the world, much to Ronaldo’s embarrassment.
7. Patrick Ewing – New York Knicks
One reason why professional athletes enjoyed visiting Atlanta for games was the fabled Atlanta Gold Club. This establishment was a favorite stop for athletes and the entertainers were rumored to take special care of those athletes. These stories were made public after federal investigators alleged the club was tied to organized crime and a front for prostitution, credit card fraud, extortion, bribery and money laundering. Some very prominent athletes were called on as witnesses. One of these athletes was Patrick Ewing, who took the stand and admitted that on two of his visits to the club, dancers went above and beyond what they were supposed to do.
6. Dwight York and Mark Bosnich – Aston Villa
Of all the scandals on this list, this one has to be the stupidest. Before being teammates on the great Manchester United teams, Dwight York and Mark Bosnich were teammates on Premier League club Aston Villa in the 1990’s. Their most infamous accomplishment came off the field and in the bedroom. These two gentlemen decided it was a good idea to film themselves in various sexual situations with a few women. Afterward, they forgot to adequately dispose of the tape, which was allegedly found in the trash of Dwight Yorke. These tapes exposed these two players in several compromising positions. This scandal was so easy to avoid. If you have a similar tape, getting rid of it by simply throwing it in the trash is not the way to go.
5. Minnesota Vikings – Love Boat Scandal
If you thought a scandal involving two teammates was embarrassing, it is nothing compared to the infamous love boat scandal involving the Minnesota Vikings. During their bye week in 2005, several Vikings players rented out two boats on Lake Minnetonka and had a very raucous party. They allegedly flew in prostitutes from Florida and Atlanta for this party. There were reportedly over 90 people on the two boats and 17 Vikings players were involved. Several of these players were accused of performing various sexual acts in front of the the crew and four of them were charged with misdemeanors. According to some Vikings players, events like this were common and this incident was not the first.
4. Dennis Rodman – Retired NBA Player
As far as Dennis Rodman incidents are concerned, this incident was not that surprising. On September 6th, 2010, Rodman accidentally broadcasted his sexual encounter with a group of women at a New York hotel. Rodman was present at a hotel party in Hampton Bays, N.Y. Somehow he got his hands on a microphone. He then proceeded to go to his hotel room with six women. The microphone was in his pocket and captured in lurid detail a description of what Rodman wanted to do with the women. This description was heard through the speakers of the event, which must have been a shock to all the attendees. The event organizers eventually pulled the plug on the speakers before Rodman acted on his wishes.
3. Rick Pitino – Louisville
In 2009, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was embroiled in an embarrassing sex scandal that occurred in 2003. Having an extramarital affair that becomes public knowledge is embarrassing, but Pitino had the added shame of having to testify in court about his doings in a local restaurant that reportedly lasted only 15 seconds. Pitino’s mistress allegedly received $3,000 from Pitino for an abortion. This scandal got even weirder when it was discovered that the woman in question, Karen Sypher, married Louisville’s equipment manager. She claimed her husband was paid to marry her. Pitino’s was being extorted by Sypher, who was subsequently sentenced in February 2011 to seven years in prison.
2. Marv Albert – NBA Broadcaster
Marv Albert is the voice of the NBA on TNT. He was the voice of the NBA on NBC from 1990-2002 except for a three year hiatus between 1998-2000. Albert was dropped by NBC because in 1997 reports started to surface regarding his sexual behavior. At the end of this media frenzy, Albert pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges. Albert was accused of biting multiple women and despite initial denials there was DNA evidence confirming those accusations. In addition to the biting, Albert also was reported to have worn women’s underwear during one of his biting episodes. Albert received a 12-month suspended sentence.
1. Tiger Woods – PGA
Before November 27, 2009, Tiger Woods had a squeaky clean image regarding his private life. Everyone thought he was a happily married father. On the aforementioned date, Woods was involved in a car accident that he tried to cover up. Reportedly, Woods was leaving his home after an argument with his wife and ended up crashing into a fire hydrant. The accident led to increased scrutiny about the golfer’s infidelity. It was discovered that Wood’s infidelity was ongoing and was not limited to one mistress, or two, or three. Over a dozen women came forward claiming to have had affairs with Woods.
The fallout from these revelations was huge and Woods’ public image took a massive hit. He was forced to take a leave of absence from golf and he also received treatment for sexual addiction. Woods and his wife divorced in August of 2010. Woods was initially greeted with animosity when he returned to the PGA tour and it seemed to affect his play. When it comes to his game, it is obvious that Woods is not the same player he was before the incident.
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