There’s a mantra in life that says “Work hard, Play hard” but what happens when your work happens to be play? Then you have to play harder and such is the life for professional athletes. While most of us will join a softball team or find a pickup basketball game to blow-off steam after work these guys need something else and that often means hitting a bar, especially when they’re on the road.
It’s always been this way in sports, but it hasn’t always been that every person is a member of the walking media with a high-res camera in their pocket, able to post a photo of somebody’s drunken escapades to the world within minutes. When that somebody is super-famous, it’s the kind of stuff that ends up, well, here. Thanks to all those people who, in their drunken stupors, think to take photos of the famous that the famous will regret. We owe you a drink.
We’re all human and we all have our moments of weakness. We’ve all drunk texted the wrong person or said something we shouldn’t have and who among us doesn’t regret the events of the night before, especially when there is photographic proof. So, just to make sure none of these millionaires ever live it down, let’s take a stroll down walk of shame memory lane and enjoy 15 Party Pics of Drunk Athletes You Weren’t Supposed to See.
15 Usain Bolt
If you’re the fastest man in the world, are you able to process alcohol faster than the average person? You should at least be able to chase down the paparazzi who are taking pictures that you know are going to make you look stupid when they run in newspapers and magazines, but for whatever reason, Usain Bolt keeps finding himself in compromising positions. Now, he is Jamaican and we know they have a rather tolerant attitude toward the Mary Jane in that island country - and he is holding a water bottle in this photo - so maybe it isn’t alcohol that’s causing Bolt to look out to lunch, but this is hardly the only picture in existence of the world’s fastest man looking like he couldn’t run in a straight line.
14 Wayne Gretzky
Most of the times you see the name Gretzky in a list involving partying, it involves the daughter of all-time hockey great Wayne. Paulina is a gorgeous woman considered probably the hottest offspring of any great athlete, but it’s actually The Great One who earns a spot on this list with his behavior at North Carolina several years ago. Once a famous athlete is done, if he’s not coaching and wants to stay in the limelight he’s out making appearances and such was the case with Gretzky, who had a full day: first participating in a charity golf tournament during the day, then making his way to a minor league baseball game to throw out the first pitch and finally finding his way to a local bar. There weren’t any crazy stories out of this night for Number 99, but we have a feeling the Hall of Famer wishes this photo hadn't found its way into the public’s hands.
13 Tom Brady
He will never be up to the standards of his party boy teammate Rob Gronkowski and he’s now known as a bit of a conservative family man, but based on this picture, you can see how Tom Brady was able to land his supermodel wife back in the day. It’s easy to hook up with Gisele Bundchen when you’re a cute football player who only hangs out with beautiful models like Adriana Lima and Onweagba Oluchi, as seen in this photo. We’re going to guess they didn’t even care Brady seemed completely hammered in this rare picture, one we’re guessing he wishes would never surface. For those who want to argue if he’s the greatest quarterback of all time, his fifth Super Bowl ring really should dispel all of the debate, but if you’re still looking for a reason to disparage him, you can say that it’s not easy to find a photo of Peyton Manning looking equally blitzed.
12 John Daly
While his record will never show him as one of the greatest golfers of all time, it shows a golfer who is probably a lot better than most people remember. The reason? John Daly is remembered more for his hard partying ways with stories of his womanizing, drinking and gambling getting more headlines than his five PGA tour wins, including two major championships. Daly has been been married four times but is currently unhitched, giving him plenty of time to do whatever the heck it is he’s doing in the pictures seen here. He’s considered a real nice guy in the golfing community, but his mouth has got him in trouble, such as in 1994, when he said in regard to cocaine that if drug testing were done properly, he’d be one of the cleanest on the tour. Known as a partier with an alcohol problem for decades, Daly admitted to losing up to $60 million in gambling over the years.
11 Gijs Van Hoecke
Ryan Lochte got himself in a lot of hot water for a story he made up about being held up after a night of partying at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but the award for making the biggest public spectacle of yourself at the 2012 games in London easily went to Belgian cyclist Gijs Van Hoecke. After coming in 15th place, he went out with a few teammates to blow off steam and went a little too overboard at a club called Mahiki, resulting in Belgian officials sending him home the next day. It didn’t take more than a few hours for photos of the overindulgence to leak out with Van Hoecke looking like he’d gone to the bathroom all over himself in some of the photos while passed out and being carried out by his teammates in others. By the time he got home and the hangover wore off, Van Hoecke apologized to his country and thanked his parents for not getting on his case about the incident.
10 Tiger Woods
When you are arguably the greatest golfer in the history of the game - and for a stretch of time arguably the greatest athlete on the face of the earth and one of the most recognizable celebrity faces on the planet - there are not a lot of people who are going to say no to you. Money is no object and everybody wants to be around you. Reality and fantasy blend and in order to keep things interesting, you must create scenarios where things get increasingly bizarre and intense, or at least it appears for a stretch of time that’s what Tiger Woods needed to feel alive. Unfortunately for him, the moment he admitted his womanizing, hard partying lifestyle, he also suffered a series of injuries that left him a shell of his former self. These days, Woods rarely golfs and unless it’s a paparazzi shot on his yacht or speculation about a new girlfriend, he’s most reclusive.
9 Michael Jordan
It’s hard to imagine a more famous person who crossed over so many genres of entertainment, marketing and business as Jordan over the last 50 years. Of course it’s going to make you jaded and of course most people are going to need to party harder than the average person if they find themselves in the rarified air that Jordan found himself in. Jordan is notorious for being difficult to get close to, but it’s easy to understand why he’d need to be on guard with so many people using him for the wrong reasons. Catching a photo of Air Jordan not being his surly self is something that he must hate to have happen and takes careful steps to make sure it doesn’t since so few actually exist.
8 Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger has a reputation as a hard partying quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and just about any of his teammates, especially the former ones, will back him up. So will a handful of police reports. Our favorite story of Big Ben - aside from the one Donald Trump told on the campaign trail about Roethlisberger wrapping a golf club around a tree when he was frustrated on the course - involved conning a rookie football player into spending a lot of money on booze for the team. Former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall told Men’s Journal a few year’s back that it is tradition for rookies to throw parties before the season starts and Roethlisberger convinced one to let him buy the food and drinks. When the rookie got his card back, over $25,000 had been charged on it.
7 Kyle Orton
Kyle Orton was a decent NFL quarterback. He played for almost 10 years and except for a stint with the Dallas Cowboys toward the end of his career, they were all as a starter. He’ll never see the inside of the Hall of Fame in Canton unless he purchases a ticket, but he is one of the few QBs who has thrown over 100 touchdowns in a career. In his final year in 2014, he led the Buffalo Bills to their first winning season in a decade and will always be the answer to the trivia question “Who did Tim Tebow replace as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos?” Now retired, married and with a child, Orton’s partying days are long behind him. But, man, what partying days they were. If you’ve ever had an awkward drunk party photo taken, just take heart because Orton has had dozens. If you’re ever embarrassed by something your parents did when they were young, just think about how Orton’s kids are going to feel. You gotta say for Orton though, it does look like it was fun while it lasted.
6 Rob Gronkowski
We wonder if there are any photos of Rob Gronkowski partying that he’s embarrassed by but of all we could choose from, this is the one we’d pick to show his mother if we wanted his face to turn red at Thanksgiving. He’d have to try to explain, right? We also like this one because that’s one of his best friends, WWE wrestler Mojo Rawley in the lower right partying along with Gronk. Rob didn’t get to party on the field this year since back surgery kept him from being part of the record-setting fifth Patriots Super Bowl winning team, but we have a feeling he still partied as hard as ever off the field. Every team has that one guy who is the goofball party animal and Gronk is legendary. If the Patriots are going to have the greatest quarterback of all time and the greatest coach of all time, it just stands to reason that they have the greatest partier of all time. Hopefully his back holds up and he’s able to see action on the field as well as off for the 2017-18 season.
5 Nick Swisher
There are a lot of Hall of Fame household-name athletes on this list and while Nick Swisher isn’t one of them, he put together one of the most solid major league baseball careers over the last decade before announcing his retirement in February 2017. Perhaps more impressive than any statistic is that he somehow convinced actress Joanna Garcia to marry him. You’ll remember her as the super cute daughter of Reba McEntire on the WB show Reba and a ton of guest appearances on stuff since then. Prior to hooking up with the lovely Garcia, Swisher took advantage of his celebrity status and enjoyed a few nights partying out of on the road and didn’t seem to care when people wanted photographic evidence to prove they partied with a major leaguer. He liked girls with little control of their tongues, apparently.
4 Ryan Leaf
We mentioned Peyton Manning in the Tom Brady entry because so many people have compared the former Broncos/Colts quarterback with the Patriots captain, but it wasn’t a Brady comparison that Manning entered the NFL battling. Back when Manning was being drafted, everybody wondered whether it would be he or Ryan Leaf, another stud QB, who would go first, in the draft. Unfortunately for Leaf, things didn’t work out and both injuries and personal demons - which eventually led him to a stint in prison - led the two greats down very different paths. It’s hard to imagine that the guy seen in this photo was once the subject of a Sports Illustrated cover story wondering if he or Peyton Manning was going to be the savior for the Indianapolis Colts. Supposedly, Manning still keeps in touch and tries to make sure Leaf is doing OK. Leaf admits in interviews part of his collapse was from being unable to handle the media attention.
3 Dirk Nowitzki
Nowitzki is not a good looking drunk, but then again, he’s not a good looking sober dude. What he can do, however, is play basketball better than just about any person to ever come out of the country of Germany. Hailing from Germany, he also knows how to drink professionally, but he seems to have forgot how to get his photo taken here. Usually there’s a line where someone goes from being drunk to being unconscious, but Nowitzki found a sliver of gray area where this look is possible. We feel bad for the other dude who appears sober and genuinely psyched he’s getting his photo taken with one of the best power forwards in NBA history, but then he gets a version that is a slobbering drunk.
2 Joe Kennedy
We don’t know for sure if Joe Kennedy was drunk or not in this photo, but sure hope his friends strongly urged Joe Kennedy to tell everybody he was drunk in this photo. Unfortunately, Kennedy isn’t around to defend himself as the former major league baseball pitcher who died of hypertensive heart disease during the offseason while in Florida for the wedding of a friend. We don’t know if Kennedy was a big partier or what his relationship to the lady in this picture was, but taken out of context, it certainly doesn’t look good. Whether she was a crazed fan who wanted to get close to Kennedy because he played baseball or a longtime friend just fooling around, this is one of those things that if you don’t know the situation, it can easily be taken the wrong way.
1 A.J. Pierzynski
Any photos that show veteran baseball pitcher A.J. Pierzynski drinking should not surprise anybody, especially based on an interview he gave in 2015 admitting that he had no trouble tossing back a few at the ballpark, even if it happens to be a workday. He spoke at length about what it’s like to play hungover, something many players have been known to do over the years. For the millions of dollars these guys make, you think ownership, sponsors and fans could expect them to show up and perform to their top ability. A crew of Boston Red Sox pitchers got in trouble several years ago for admitting that they used to drink during games on their off-days in the clubhouse, enjoying Budweiser and fried chicken. That group was quickly disbanded through a series of trades and the Sox went on to win the World Series the following year. At least they were smart enough not to let anybody take pictures.
Sources: SI.com, dailymail.co.uk, wikipedia.org, twitter.com, reddit.com