20 Biggest Cowards in Sports

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterFebruary 7, 2012

20 Biggest Cowards in Sports

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    Professional athletes and coaches are often described as "warriors" who are engaging in "battle," and that's often a fairly accurate depiction. 

    It's certainly hard to argue that after recently witnessing the epic battle between the Giants and Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. The Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, and the Giants, led by quarterback Eli Manning, left everything they had out on that field 

    Unfortunately not everyone in sports holds themselves to the high standards of a Manning or a Brady. Some are too scared, too selfish or just entirely unaware of the public perception that surrounds them. 

    Here are 20 of the biggest cowards in sports.

20. Cris Carter

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    Cris Carter garnered a lot of attention at the 2012 Super Bowl—he suited up for and then punked out on trying the Indianapolis zip line set up for visitors. Come on CC, you're tougher than that!

    Just having a little fun with CC—let's get serious. 

19. Alex Burrows

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    Love it or hate it, the NHL is the only professional sports league where fighting is condoned, if not encouraged. So in June 2011, when the Canucks' Alex Burrows had a beef with Bruins' Patrice Bergeron in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals, he was free throw down right then and there. 

    Instead of duking it out like men, Burrows opted to go the Hannibal Lecter root by chomping on Bergeron's fingers during the skirmish. Burrows managed to avoid a penalty and a suspension for the incident. 

18. DeSean Jackson

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    In 2011, Eagles' wide receiver DeSean Jackson made no secret that he was ridiculously unhappy with his rookie contract, which to be fair, he did out earn.

    Unfortunately, Jackson didn't help his case for a new contract by behaving like a pouty, malcontent who would rather drop a touchdown pass in the end zone than take a hit.

    Ironic that Jackson was afraid to jeopardize his mega contract with contact, when it's the lack of contact (and production) that will probably cost him dearly.

17. Jason Garrett

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    The Dallas Cowboys fell well below expectations yet again in the 2011 season, but you would have thought that was the plan based on what head coach Jason Garrett said immediately after the season.

    Instead of taking the heat for his team, Garrett basically implied 2011 was a rebuilding year for the Cowboys and that the 8-8 finish was expected. Quite a different tune than we heard out of Big D all season. 

16. Kevin Garnett

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    Celtics' big man Kevin Garnett has earned a reputation as being a bully who would rather pick on the little guys than mix it up with someone his own size.

    Although, it was pretty ironic that an "anonymous player" was the one to publicly call out KG for being a coward in April 2011. 

15. Red Sox "Unnamed Sources"

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    When the Red Sox suffered the most epic collapse in MLB history in 2011, it was unavoidable that people were going to talk—so it wasn't surprising that people were talking. 

    What was surprising is that "anonymous team sources" completely blew the lid off the behind-the-scenes happenings of the organization, without having to answer for his own involvement in the mess. 

    Ratting out the entire team is one thing if you're willing to step up and own the statements, but dishing the dirt from the shadows is pure cowardice. 

14. Ndamukong Suh

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    When Lions' defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was ejected from a Thanksgiving day game against the Packers for intentionally stomping on an opponent, it seemed like a case of the intensity of the game getting the better of a passionate player. 

    When Suh flat out denied the charges in his post-game press conference, it seemed more like the deliberate actions of a liar. Suh's reputation would have taken much less of a hit had he manned up and apologized for the mistake, rather than covering it up with an asinine and unbelievable story. 

13. Urban Meyer

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    When (then) coach Urban Meyer bailed on his Florida Gators in December 2010, he cited various reasons—such as his health and a desire to spend more time with his family. On the surface he seemed like a dedicated family man who had his priorities in order. 

    When he accepted the head coaching position at Ohio State just 11 months later, he seemed more like a cowardly liar who bailed on Florida because he couldn't fill the talent void that was left when quarterback Tim Tebow left for the NFL. 

    Add that to the suspicions that Meyer was the anonymous source behind the NCAA investigation of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton—a former Gator and Meyer recruit, who transferred in the wake of theft allegations. 

12. LeBron James

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    Personally, I'm over hating on LeBron for everything surrounding his exit from Cleveland. He had every right to leave and sign anywhere he wanted, he had earned it. 

    That being said, there's an argument to be made that LeBron was too afraid to try to win a championship on his own—which is why he signed with a team that already had two stars and a leader in Dwyane Wade. 

    LeBron could've signed anywhere and was heavily courted by the Nets and (a Carmelo-less) Knicks, but opted instead for his own little dream team—alleviating him from the burden of leadership. 

11. Josh Beckett

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    Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett has a big arm, a big ego and an even bigger mouth. He's not the kind of guy who lets his pitching do his talking—although in March 2006, he probably wished he had. 

    Beckett spent most of the game jawing at Phillies' slugger Ryan Howard, who remained shockingly patient. When Howard went out in the top of the seventh to play first base, Beckett was still screaming at him from the dugout.

    That's when Howard dropped his mitt and headed toward the Sox dugout, obviously ready and willing to go if Beckett wanted to step out—which of course, he absolutely did not. Beckett not only didn't step out, after the game he offered nothing but excuses and apologies for being too "intense." 

10. Nick Saban

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    (Then) Dolphins coach Nick Saban spent most of the second half of the 2006 NFL season denying he had any interest in the head coaching position at the University of Alabama. Two weeks before the season ended, Saban flat out declared, "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach." 

    Within hours of the end of the season, Saban was being introduced as the next head coach of Alabama at a press conference in Tuscaloosa, leading chants of Roll Tide. 

9. Marion Barber

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    Bears' running back Marion Barber has made a career of coming up small, so it wasn't all that much of surprise when he, almost single-handedly, cost the Bears a win against the Broncos in December 2011.  

    Barber found himself with the ball in his hands at the end of the fourth quarter, when all the Bears were trying to do was run out the clock, but he decided to run out of bounds. His mistake allowed the Broncos to get the ball back, drive down to tie the game and ultimately win it—thanks to a Barber fumble.

    After the game, Barber was nowhere to be found and even avoided the Chicago media the following Wednesday—he was ultimately fined for refusing to talk to reporters about his role in the loss. 

8. Sean Avery

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    Rangers' goon Sean Avery is known as a cheap shot artist who would rather incite a brawl with a sucker punch than legitimately fight it out on the ice. 

    Incidents like this unprovoked slash to the back of Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas' head have defined Avery's career. 

7. Colin Cowherd

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    If you've ever listened to ESPN's megamouth Colin Cowherd dump on an athlete and thought to yourself, "I bet he wouldn't talk as tough if that guy was in the room," you are right. 

    In March 2011, the SportsNation team conspired to play an early April Fools' prank on Cowherd and the result was absolutely priceless. Check out what happened when Cowherd met a seemingly very angry Brock Lesnar. 

    Hint (if you haven't seen it): It's exactly the reaction you'd expect. 

6. Todd Graham

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    In December 2011, (then) University of Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham announced he was leaving to become the coach at Arizona State—his fourth coaching job in six years. 

    Graham lasted just one season in Pittsburgh, going 6-6 with a team that many expected to contend for a Big East Championship. 

    Before resigning, Graham had reportedly asked Pitt's athletic director Steve Pederson for permission to talk to ASU officials, but ducked all subsequent discussions with Pederson before submitting his letter of resignation. 

    Graham alerted his players of his departure via text message. 

5. Jets "Unnamed Sources"

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    When the Jets failed to make the playoffs in 2012, after two successive appearances in the AFC Championship, it became more than apparent that all was not well with Gang Green. 

    Various anonymous sources took their complaints public and vented to the media about dissension and squabbling in the Jets' locker room and expressed doubt about and frustration with quarterback Mark Sanchez. 

    Say what you want about Jets third-string quarterback Greg McElroy comments during a radio interview in Alabama, but at least he had the guts to put his name on it.

4. Bobby Petrino

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    After just 13 games in Atlanta of 2007, Falcons' coach Bobby Petrino skulked out of town in the middle of the night following a particularly embarrassing Monday night loss.

    All he left was a note for the players, and by the next afternoon, Petrino was at a press conference in Fayetteville being announced as the new head coach at the University of Arkansas.  

3 (a). Manny Pacquiao

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    I used to think it was Manny Pacquiao ducking Floyd Mayweather.

    Then I thought it was Mayweather ducking Pacquiao. 

    Now I just don't care. 

3 (b). Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    It's obvious that these two are absolutely determined to avoid this fight, but do us a favor, just don't fight. It's going to be ridiculous and pathetic when this fight is inevitably scheduled in five years—five years after everyone stopped caring. 

2. Twitter Tough Guys

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    It would be an understatement to say 49ers' wide receiver Kyle Williams didn't play his best game against the Giants in the 2012 NFC Championship. The Niners had plenty of opportunities to win the game, but ultimately Williams' two fumbled punts cost his team dearly. 

    But that is no excuse for the over-the-top fan rage and the bevy of death threats hurled at Williams via Twitter. The death threats against Williams and his family were inexcusable and left a dark cloud hanging over an otherwise very successful year for the Niners. 

1. Mike McQueary

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    Obviously all the facts surrounding the sexual abuse allegations against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky aren't known at this point.

    The reports claim that former assistant Mike McQueary personally witnessed Sandusky violating a 10-year-old boy almost a decade ago and failed to report it to the police. How does this guy sleep at night?