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20 Most Awkward Athletes

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterJanuary 11, 2017

20 Most Awkward Athletes

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    You don't normally think of jocks as being awkward. Usually being socially inept, painfully poor with words or just supremely dopey is considered the work of the Dungeons and Dragons sect. In reality, though, most people have their awkward moments—some more than others. 

    And athletes are certainly no exception. Sure, there are plenty of professional athletes who are impossibly cool and never had an awkward day in their lives—Dwyane Wade, Derek Jeter and Tom Brady come to mind. Talk about ridiculously unfair, right?

    However, for every Derek Jeter there's an Alex Rodriguez. Someone who never says the right thing and always manages to embarrass himself—despite all the advantages his wealth and success afford him.

    Let's take a look at 20 of the most awkward athletes in sports. 

20. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

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    There's nothing more awkward than mixing politics with anything besides politics. One of the perks of winning a championship is that it comes with an invitation to meet the president at the White House. 

    In 2012, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas didn't see the invitation as a perk of winning the Stanley Cup but rather the perfect time to make a political statement by first denying the invitation and issuing a lengthy public explanation. 

    And then there's that mustache. 

19. James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    You probably don't usually think of scary, gun-brandishing tough guys as "awkward," but Steelers linebacker James Harrison sure knows how to make things uncomfortable—on and off the field. 

    Harrison has a way of saying just the wrong thing. Whether he's threatening the commissioner of the NFL and calling him the devil or making fun of the Patriots for losing in the Super Bowl, he has a way of making things awkward. 

    I probably wouldn't tell him any of this to this face, though.

18. A.j. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox

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    White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is awkward in that way Ben Affleck's character (Fred O'Bannion) was awkward in Dazed and Confused. Sorry for the extremely specific reference, but anyone who has seen the movie will know what I'm talking about. 

    O'Bannion was the loudest guy in any room, the meanest guy in any room and the dumbest guy in any room. And he was way too dumb to realize that everyone in the room hated him and nobody was laughing with him—they were laughing at him. 

    There are few things in life more awkward than a d-bag who thinks he's awesome. Sound familiar, A.J.?

17. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

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    It's no secret that Celtics superstar point guard Rajon Rondo is a bit of an odd duck. An odd enough duck that a seriously aging Boston team was considering trading away one of the best players in the league, just so it didn't have to deal with him. 

    Rondo has an interesting sense of fashion, often an unpleasant and off-putting demeanor with the media and he knows how to add a little flavor to the tip-off of every game. 

    There really isn't anyone else like him in sports—it may be a little awkward at times, but it's definitely not a bad thing!

16. Bode Miller, Olympic Skier

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    The Olympics represent the pinnacle of an elite athlete’s career.  Few qualify and even fewer achieve glory. So, when one of the favorites to medal in the Winter Olympics talks about his preparation, hopes and experience in the days before the 2006 games, you’d expect him to be aware of the honor, the moment.

    Well, downhill skier Bode Miller had different ideas and, predictably, it was extremely awkward for him, the media and his sponsors. In multiple interviews, he rambled about how little he cared about skiing, skiing in the Winter Olympics and about how skiing drunk is “not easy.”  

    We don't care anymore either, Bode—and most of us never did. Awwwwwkward.

15. Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants

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    Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson is awkward because he wants to be awkward. At some point in time he decided to ditch his frat-boy persona and faux hawk in favor of a spandex tuxedo and lush beard. 

    Almost everything he does is deliciously awkward, by design, like this stone-cold weirdo stare down of President Obama during the Giants' post-World Series visit to the White House. 

    Only Wilson could pull this kind of weirdness off without getting nicked by the fuzz.

14. Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers

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    First, let’s acknowledge that broken English, especially broken English coming from a Russian hockey player, is inherently awkward. However, Ilya Bryzgalov is included here based on merit.

    The Flyers goalie has managed to combine a slightly shaky grasp on the English language with a cheerful enthusiasm for saying goofy things that have nothing to do with any language barrier.  

    His head-scratching statements have inspired an Internet meme and he outdid himself in the 2012 NHL playoffs against the Penguins when he declared, "I'm not afraid of anything. I'm only afraid of bear. Bear in the forest.”

13. Mike Tyson, Retired Boxer

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    I’m fairly certain Mike Tyson was created from an element called awkwardtonium. Few sports are as conducive to awkward moments than boxing; two dudes who are going to beat the living hell out of each other get placed in front of a mic early and often for the biggest matches.

    However, Tyson took this to another level, bringing together physical intimidation, bizarre behavior, violence and pomp to produce a mega-slurry of awkwardness. Where do you begin? Threatening to eat Lennox Lewis’ children? The pigeon hobby? The scary face tat? The Robin Givens drama?  

    The best approach is just to click here, assuming you can handle the awkwardness. 

12. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

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    I really don't think Lakers big man Pau Gasol can help being awkward. He's very likable and a super nice guy, but when you're a goofy looking white dude who tops out at 7'—good luck not being awkward. 

    Gasol's infamous "head patting" incident with Clippers superstar point guard Chris Paul is a great example. There was no doubt Gasol's gesture wasn't done out of malice, but everyone agreed that it was awkward and Paul had every right to come back at him for it. 

    Something tells me CP3 was willing to forgive and forget—how could you stay mad at Pau!? That would be awkward.

11. Nyjer Morgan, Milwaukee Brewers

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    There are so many different varieties of awkward; Milwaukee's Nyjer Morgan is the crazy variety. Morgan has been known to unleash on fans, teammates and the media alike—and it's always kind of a weird event. 

    It's difficult to even understand what Morgan's motivations/intentions are because he often hides behind the guise of Tony Plush—the misbehaving alter ego he created. The most awkward thing here are the conversations his actions likely force with management. 

    I'd hate to be charged with having the "no swearing on television" or "no throwing garbage at fans" conversation with Tony Plush for the umpteenth time. 

10. Peter Crouch, Stoke City FC

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    There's nothing that can make an already lanky and awkward man look more awkward than being on the arm of one of the most beautiful women in the world. Although, all things considered, Stoke City's Peter Crouch is probably fine with that.

    Gangly Crouch closed the ultimate "is she really going out with him?" deal when he married stunning model Abbey Clancy in July 2011. I'm sure they are madly in love and that Crouch has a really fantastic personality, but man they are a beautiful one-half of a couple. 

    However, as that Meat Loaf song almost says, one out of two ain't bad. Shut up—it's close enough.

9. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

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    Considering that Trent Dilfer represents the high-water mark for Ravens quarterbacks, Joe Flacco was drafted by the team in 2008 with a lot to prove—on and off the field. 

    Flacco has been solid, but inconsistent on the field, and has managed to squander most of his cache with some (fair or not) statements and decisions that didn’t exactly ingratiate himself to the fans. Hell, it doesn't even seem like his teammates are on board most of the time.   

    Whether it’s calling himself the best quarterback in the NFL, or shred’n on his skateboard a few days before the AFC championship, Flacco’s default has been set to awkward.

8. Pete Rose, Retired MLB

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    Former Reds legend-turned-disgrace Pete Rose lives for those awkward moments in life. First of all, betting on baseball—first as a player, then as a manager—doesn't get much more awkward than that. 

    Then there was lying about it. Then there was telling the truth about it. Then there was divorcing his wife of two decades and shacking up with skanky Playboy model Kiana Kim. 

    Then, of course, there was appearing on Howard Stern's radio show to talk about his sex life with the skanky Playboy model. 

    Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew. 

7. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Boxing

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    Floyd Mayweather ,Jr. is a lot of things: an undefeated boxer, crazy rich, strangely hostile about Manny Pacquiao, a violent sociopath and very awkward. Mayweather's unhinged tirades directed at Pacquiao have all been awkward head-scratchers. 

    It was also super awkward when he and his bestie, 50 Cent, played a game a telephone with giant stacks of money on HBO's 24/7. However, nothing was more awkward than showing up to his latest fight against a lesser opponent that nobody wants to see on the arm of tween sensation Justin Bieber.

    I'm a belieber myself—a belieber that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is a socially-awkward weirdo. 

6. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks

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    Marleau has had the kind of up-and-down NHL career that would make most players awkward; inconsistent play and bad headlines (including being stripped of your captaincy) mean you never really have house money play with in interviews.

    However, he’s turned it into an art form, from his goofy roster photo to his painful, rambling interactions with the media. In fact, Marleau has inspired a Tumblr that posts absurd, entirely fictional “facts” that actually seem plausible.

    Patrick Marleau's favorite part about going skiing is the chair lift.

    Patrick Marleau wears swim trunks when he showers in the locker room.

    Patrick Marleau's favorite president is Martin Van Buren. 

5. Eli Manning, New York Giants

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    Let me just say that two Super Bowls and a fairly successful appearance on Saturday Night Live have done a lot to help the reputation of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Two years ago, I would have unquestionably put him at No. 1.

    Which means barely cracking the top five was a pretty big victory! Despite the major strides, Eli just has a goofy, awkward way about him and I don't think there's much he can do to change it. 

    He may not have the cool confidence of big brother Peyton, but he's got double the Super Bowl rings. 

4. Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Lakers' resident lunatic, Metta World Peace, is, hands down, the most awkward dude in the NBA. In a league that is known for its cool customers with swagg, MWP really stands out amongst the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Derek Rose and Chris Paul. 

    MWP often does the wrong thing and usually says the wrong thing, but he always makes things a lot weirder than they need to be. There's no greater example of this than the painfully awkward "sexts" he exchanged with a woman he met on Twitter in July 2011.

    Check out the full story on Deadspin—sexting will never be the same. 

3. Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Generally complete awkwardness and ice skating don't really go together. Toronto's Phil Kessel is, without a doubt, the exception to that rule. Dude doesn't have a non-awkward bone in his body.  

    Kessel's interviews are unwatchable, his mannerisms are jerky and strange, and when he's on camera he completely loses his marbles. Check out this awkward moment at UFC 140—it's vintage Kessel. 

    I never thought it could be so difficult to just smile and wave. 

2. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees

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    Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez really shouldn't be awkward. He doesn't have any of your standard awkward attributes: He's attractive, athletic, professional successful, a hit with the ladies and crazy rich. 

    And yet, he is. Remember his Super Bowl spotlight—being hand-fed popcorn by (then) girlfriend Cameron Diaz? Sure, it was weird and awkward, but the fact that he "really went ballistic" over the incident was much worse. 

    Everything he does seems kind of weird and awkward, and nothing illustrates that like his ill-conceived, self-loving photo shoot for Details.

1. Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers

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    Moody and combative wide receiver Randy Moss is the absolute king of awkward. Moss never does the right thing, never says the right thing and has never been one to bother with the insincere apologies. 

    He's had more painfully awkward press conferences over his career than I can even count. Of course there was his final act in New England, where he decided to take his contract woes public—which got him shipped off to Minnesota. 

    And then, naturally, in Minnesota Moss carried on his proud tradition of making people uncomfortable. Like when he proudly announced he would only be taking questions from…himself.

    Hmm…that doesn't sound awkward at all, does it?

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