20 Sports Figures Who Don't Have a Clue
Diehard fans live and die by their favorite teams and players. Teams, owners, competitors—they not only live to win, but they work tirelessly to ensure that the folks who loyally buy tickets and drain their checking accounts at the nacho stand continue to put their asses in the seats.
Whether it's collegiate, professional, or amateur athletics, someone has to run the sport, someone has to play it, and many people need to not only watch the games but spend money on it. So, when powerful folks—whether it be owners, general managers, big contract players, et al—seem to be sailing the angry seas without so much as a compass, it's glaringly obvious.
The problem is often that that rudderless individual is either too proud, too insulated, or too naive to cede the fact they are in over their head. Even as years go by and the worst kept secret evolves into the clarion call of every beat writer and columnist who sniffs blood in the water.
These are the 20 Sports Figures Who Don't Have a Clue.
20. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
Former Steelers assistant Ken Whisenhunt was the heir apparent to replace longtime coach Bill Cowher when he retired. Eventually, the writing on the wall became very apparent and rather than waiting around to hear that Mike Tomlin got the job instead, Whisenhunt decided to accept the head coaching position with the Cardinals.
Being the coach in Arizona is no easy task. The Cardinals don’t have a long history of success, they don’t have a passionate fan base, and they didn’t have too much for Whisenhunt to build on upon his arrival. But a job is a job in the NFL, and he took his.
Unfortunately, things haven’t gone as planned for Whisenhunt since he lost Kurt Warner. Things were bad for him before he started Warner and things have been far worse for him since Warner retired. In fact, the situation in Arizona is so dire that Whisenhunt has been rumored to have begged Warner to come out of retirement on more than one occasion.
In terms of the quarterback situation, outside of Kurt Warner, Ken Whisenhunt has no answers whatsoever. They are signing receivers and running backs and all the other skill positions—none of which mean a damn thing if he doesn’t have a dynamic quarterback to run that offense.
19. Fernando Torres, Chelsea
We all know that the biggest spenders in MLB love to drop millions on free agents who really lose nothing if they perform below expectations (see Joe Mauer, Twins). I'm not sure how pro baseball has gotten away with it this long—though I suspect the extortion scheme known as revenue sharing has something to do with it—but when it comes to football the fans, the sport, have much different expectations.
Brought in as the goal-scoring savior for Chelsea in 2011, Fernando Torres scored a $63 million contract and has been a complete disappointment. In 102 appearances with Liverpool, the striker scored 65 goals and tortured Manchester United, but over three years and 49 appearances with Chelsea he's only managed to score nine goals.
You know Torres is reeling, when the press is not only questioning his health, but his psychological state, as the footballer himself seemed to raise more questions than provide answers as he declared in 2011:
"I'm 27, I don't forget how to score goals," said Torres on that Kowloon rooftop. "I will score again."
18. Jason Taylor, ESPN Analyst
Retired linebacker Jason Taylor played nearly 15 seasons in the NFL and, although he never won a Super Bowl, he was easily one of the greatest of a generation of players. Unfortunately, his personal achievements on the field haven’t carried over into his broadcasting career.
Taylor officially retired after the 2011 season and was immediately snagged by ESPN as their next big talent. Too bad he’s failed to live up to expectations in every way. Taylor is wooden on camera, his commentary is generic and shallow and he seems uncomfortable being put on the spot.
Taylor may improve with practice eventually, but I’m concerned this might be a permanent state of affairs.
17. Michelle Beadle, Formerly of ESPN
When it was announced early in 2012 that ESPN was entering into contract negotiations with some of its top-tier talent, the conventional wisdom was that the network was going to have a big choice to make. Michelle Beadle and Erin Andrews have long known to be combatant adversaries, and Bristol just wasn’t big enough for the both of them.
So Beadle decided to abandon ship before the network was forced to make its choice and she ended up as a correspondent on some idiot celebrity tabloid show on one of those horrible fledgling networks. Since abandoning ESPN and her sweet co-hosting gig with Colin Cowherd on SportsNation, Beadle has been conspicuously MIA.
Here's some unsolicited (but free) advice to Charissa Thompson and Samantha Steele: Don't. Leave. ESPN. Ever.
16. Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox
Listen, we all knew that the Red Sox decision to hire Bobby Valentine after their historic late season collapse in 2012 was probably going to end poorly. There was just nothing about the Red Sox prerogative that season that suggested that they were going to get on well with the likes of Bobby Valentine.
And it has all ended up just as most of us expected. The Sox are a complete mess, Valentine would look more at home at a Jay-Z concert and anything that could be going wrong for Boston is going wrong for Boston.
15. The Glazer Brothers
In the United States the Glazers are the notoriously cheap but relatively quiet owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sure the Bucs are mediocre at best, but nobody cares because they’re in Florida.
In England they are soulless American billionaires who slowly bought up enough shares of Manchester United to warrant a takeover bid and then leveraged the club to secure a billion-dollar loan.
These guys are basically the Mitt Romney's of the sports world. They buy up sports franchises, run them into massive debt while collecting the profits and will eventually leave them for dead.
So I guess the Glazers know what they’re doing for themselves, but the fans don’t factor into this picture in the slightest.
14. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
The diva wide receiver is dead in the NFL, but naturally the tone deaf to the times owner/GM of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones, has yet to receive the memo. Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant is one of the most physically gifted and talented players at his position today, but he has yet to come within 100 yards of reaching his true potential.
Bryant is essentially a microcosm of the entire Cowboys team over the last decade. Every year expectations are sky high and it seems the entirety of the sports media is riding front row center on the ‘Boys bandwagon...then the season starts and they start their painful path to 8-8 begins.
For all the questions surrounding Bryant’s character coming out of Oklahoma State, he actually managed to avoid any serious trouble until he was arrested for assaulting his mother in July 2012. She ultimately decided not to press charges, but on the 911 call she insisted her son “tried to kill (her).”
In August 2012 it was reported that someone in the Cowboys organization put Bryant on lockdown, although Jones claimed he didn’t know anything about it (as if), basically barring him from doing anything but catching footballs. No drinking, no strip clubs and he’ll be monitored 24 hours a day by a private security team.
I have no idea what is going on in the mind of a man who (allegedly) threatened to kill his mother, and neither do the Cowboys, but something tells me he’s going to need more than a babysitter to find his way in the world.
13. Michael Jordan, Charlotte Bobcats Owner
Bulls legend Michael Jordan was one of the most dominant physical forces in the history of sports. His height, natural ability and killer instinct have defined him as the penultimate sports hero. But His Airness has also made his share of extremely bad decisions over the years.
MJ’s decision to retire and try his hand at baseball was a bust. Eventually he decided to come out of retirement (again) to lead the Wizards from crappy to slightly less crappy. And then after his for real retirement, he decided the best career move was to acquire and manage the Bobcats.
Let’s just say there are better way he could be spending his golden years. Jordan has been responsible for bust after bust and will forever be linked to the perennial sinking ship known as the Bobcats. He’s just terrible at every job that doesn’t involve throwing a basketball at a hoop.
Please...for the love of God...just retire.
12. Miami Dolphins
I don’t know what the Miami Dolphins are doing. You don’t know what the Miami Dolphins are doing. And according to a few players featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, many of the Miami Dolphins players have no idea what they’re doing.
The Dolphins have traded away a top-10 wide receiver in Brandon Marshall to the Bears and also traded away an above average cornerback in Vontae Davis to the Colts. Not to mention cutting one of the only veterans on the team in wide receiver Chad Johnson after his unsavory incident involving his soon-to-be ex-wife and an alleged headbutt.
But the Dolphins have a new coach and they are cutting rookies and veterans alike. It seems head coach Joe Philbin is just trying to set an example for the young players, but he's definitely trading away today for the potential of tomorrow.
11. Tiger Woods, PGA
It’s no secret that things haven’t been the same for golf legend Tiger Woods ever since the incident. And you know darn well what incident I’m referring to, so I’m going to skip all the sordid (and irrelevant) details. But it’s been three years since the incident and even longer since his last major win.
Although he’s finally recovered physically from the Injuries that had plagued him for years, now it seems that his frustrations and mental state on the course have been getting the better of him in any tournament of significance. The story has played out the same way so many times that it’s starting to feel like I’m watching reruns on the weekend.
Tiger has “been Tiger” in almost every tournament all year—for the first couple of rounds. Then he shows up on Saturday and Sunday and plays like a bumbling tour newbie who crumbles under the pressure of the spotlight. Seeing Tiger miss put-after-put, Sunday-after-Sunday is a complete mindfrak (sorry, standards makes me) for fans who remember the unstoppable force he once was.
Tiger is still one of the best golfers in the world, but compared to what he used to be, he just looks lost out there some days. I certainly have no idea what he’s doing most weekends, and I can’t imagine is anymore in "the know" at this point.
10. Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer
Obviously, Hope Solo knows what she’s doing on the pitch. The U.S. women’s national soccer team goalkeeper is arguably the best in the world, and now she’s got an Olympic gold medal to prove it. So how did she go from up-and-coming superstar who was making a legit run for the title of America’s Sweetheart to one of the most difficult to like athletes in the country?
Winning is the ultimate Band-aid for an athlete who is suffering in the public perception department, but it hasn’t helped Solo completely repair her image just yet—if only she would stop being an a-hole. We first got a glimpse that all was not as it seems when Solo was eliminated from the televised plague known as ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
Despite the fact that Solo stomped around like a drunk Clydesale for seven weeks straight, she somehow managed to finish in fourth place. Believe me when I tell you it had nothing to do with her dancing abilities. Upon her elimination, Solo pouted visibly on live TV, was hostile backstage and refused media interviews.
In her memoir Solo: A Memoir of Hope, she accused her dancing partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, of slapping her during one of their practices—a charge he vehemently denied. And during the Olympics Solo made global headlines after she took to Twitter to complain about the broadcasting skills of Brandi Chastain, a former teammate, and rant like an angry child about Chastain’s assessment of the team’s defense.
Solo is trying to play the part of a beloved role model—and is failing miserably.
9. Chris Berman, ESPN
I’m not going to go into a big rant about Chris Berman, one of ESPN’s many resident yellers, because the guy has been around long enough that he probably used to travel cross country via pterodactyl. His zany antics are stale and his comb-over gives me the heebiejeebies, but he’s just an enduring figure in sports and I really don’t mind that...usually.
The one glaring exception was the ESPN executive who decided that Berman would be an excellent choice to be the colorman for MLB’s 2012 Home Run Derby. Actually, I don’t even know if he was the colorman, the announcer, or just the local village idiot who slipped by security and sat down in front of a spare microphone.
Berman’s modern day broadcasting skills are questionable on a good day, but his insufferable commentary during the derby might be the biggest sports lowlight of 2012. The fact is, Berman is an old school cat like Ron Burgandy—he needs a teleprompter.
Otherwise you’re left with “It’s back...back...back...back...back...baaaaaaaaaack...back...back...back” for what seemed like an eternity.
8. Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins Owner
I haven't been as hard on Redskins owner Daniel Snyder over the last two years because I am impressed that he finally managed to take a step back from running the club like it was his own personal fantasy football team and let a professional like Mike Shanahan take a stab at it.
The Shanahan era hasn't started out with a bang, but let's hope for 'Skins fans that it's a slow burn that he's going for. In the pre-Shanahan years, Snyder was the de facto GM on and off for years and his main strategy was to pay big name players who were either years beyond their prime or overrated troublemakers hell bent on doing absolutely nothing and collecting a paycheck.
For awhile, it was the age old chicken or the egg question: Did Snyder just have bad luck with free agent acquisitions, or did the Redskins just ruin every player to don the uniform? I'm still not even sure, but I can say without question that I am rooting for Robert Griffin III more than any player not wearing black and gold than I have in my life.
Godspeed RG3. I want you to succeed, even if it makes Daniel Snyder look like slightly less of an idiot fanboy.
7. Ben Howland, UCLA Basketball Coach
As someone who was attending the University of Pittsburgh at the time of the departure of PITT basketball coach Ben Howland, I remember the general consensus being somewhere between pretty disappointed and completely devastated. The program had really started to take shape under Howland and the thought of a young newb like Jamie Dixon taking over didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence at first.
Well it's nearly a decade later and I can say definitively that PITT made out like a bandit in the deal. Whatever magic Howland had on the East Coast he clearly lost on his flight to Los Angeles. He started off OK in his first five seasons, making two Final Four appearances, but it’s been all downhill from there.
The program has been on a downward spiral since 2008; they failed to make the tournament twice and failed to make it beyond the Round of 32 the other two seasons. And in March 2012 ESPN’s Peter Yoon penned a devastating column claiming Howland had lost institutional control—the same month where there were reports that his job was in jeopardy.
PITT has been one of the more successful programs of the decade and UCLA has been one of the most disappointing. It's got to make you wonder if Howland has a clue how to handle the pressure and the spotlight in LA.
6. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
I'm going to admit straight up that I'm a Steelers fan. I just feel like I owe it to you, the readers, to be totally honest. As much as it pains me to disparage the Black and Gold, I can't for the life of me understand what the Steelers superstar wide receiver Mike Wallace was doing for most of the 2012 offseason.
I'm all in favor of great players getting paid, and rarely begrudge a player who does. But Wallace and his agent had absolutely no idea who they were dealing with in Steelers management and clearly had an overinflated sense of what the young wideout was worth on the open market.
When Wallace declared that he was holding out for "Larry Fitzgerald money," the entire NFL balked at his arrogance. Larry Fitzgerald didn't get Larry Fitzgerald money until he had established an impressive resume over many years. Wallace's assertion is likely the reason the restricted free agent wasn't brought in by a single team during the offseason.
This kid needs better advice.
5. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
Titans stud wide receiver Kenny Britt sure knows how to catch a football. But that’s pretty much the only thing he knows how to do that doesn’t include getting arrested. I’m well aware, and sensitive to the fact, that many professional athletes have come from meager beginnings and many weren’t lucky enough to have the influence of a positive role model during their formidable years.
That being said, Britt really needs to get his crap together because it’s a miracle he’s still a highly paid NFL player, considering the epic rap sheet he’s built over the years. His encounters with the fuzz haven’t been the standard DUI or barroom brawl stuff.
Not that he hasn’t been arrested for DUI; he was arrested for DUI on a U.S. Army Base in July 2012. Not that he hasn’t been arrested for a barroom brawl; he was arrested in October 2010 for what was described as a “full-fledged fight” at a Nashville bar.
It’s just that his arrests are usually a bit more colorful than a routine traffic stop. In 2011 Britt was arrested in Jersey after fleeing police who were trying to stop him for speeding. The 5-0 eventually apprehended Britt, who they claimed reeked of marijuana and alcohol and disposed of a “suspicious cigar” while fleeing.
This guy has been an unpredictable loose cannon for years, and his constant apologies and vows to change certainly haven’t been reflected in his actions. Britt is a mess and if he doesn’t figure out what he’s doing soon, it’s hard to imagine this story having a happy ending.
4. Erin Andrews, Formerly of ESPN
When it was announced that Michelle Beadle was ditching ESPN to do whatever, everyone assumed that meant the worldwide leader in Tim Tebow coverage was saving their pennies in order to reward Erin Andrews (a national treasure) with a lucrative new contract to keep her at the network.
Apparently ESPN wasn’t all that interested in keeping Andrews either, because they let her bolt to rival FOX Sports. On the surface it may seem like ESPN’s loss, but has anyone heard from Andrews since she left the network? When popular female personalities leave ESPN, often they are never heard from again.
I can’t imagine that’s not going to be the case with her. If Andrews was all that talented to begin with, they would have let her anchor SportsCenter every once in awhile...or do something that doesn’t involve smiling while Kirk Herbstreit talks about football.
3. Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys Owner
When people talk disparagingly about Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones, they always preface with the fact that he's an excellent owner who has a few Lombardi trophies in his billion dollar football palace. Which is actually a pretty fair assessment, as obviously Jones is one of the better owners in the NFL.
Too bad for Cowboys fans he's one of the worst general managers in all of sports. He went against every fiber in his being and ceded control to Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, but he just can't bring himself to do it again. Jones is routinely on the sideline barking orders at head coach Jason Garrett, and it's getting him nowhere.
There's absolutely no chance this is going to change, which means if Jones stays healthy, Cowboys fans can expect no less than another decade of being beat down by their division foes.
2. Ryan Lochte, Olympic Swimmer
American swimmer Ryan Lochte may have come from the 2012 Summer Games in London as an Olympic hero, but he has quickly lost a lot of the cache all those medals earned him. Take, for instance, his mother's Today Show confession that her son doesn’t have time for romantic relationships, so he prefers one night stands.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a young guy casually hooking up with some attractive ladies, but why would his mother think that was a good discussion topic for a national television show? And then there is the 2008 video that recently came to light of Lochte’s sister Megan's uncomfortably racist interview on a Baltimore talk show in the wake of the Beijing Olympics.
And now Lochte has been partying in varying states of undress with England’s Prince Harry and been wasting time and money trying to trademark the word “Jeah,” a made up word that he ripped off from a rapper who used it in the early 2000’s. Lochte sure isn’t the swimming talent that Michael Phelps is, but he makes up for it with idiotic behavior and embarrassing antics.
1. Rex Ryan and the New York Jets
I'm not a Jets fan by any means, but I'll be the first to admit that I was one of Rex Ryan's biggest fans during his first two years as the head coach of Gang Green. His big mouth and bold predictions of Super Bowl glory were a refreshing change of pace from the painfully dull coach speak vagaries that permeate the sports media.
Well two years into the Rex Ryan experiment and I, along with the rest of the world, have begun to sour on the once trash talking tough guy. Ryan's "player's coach" approach failed miserably, thanks in large part to the motley crew of me-first misfits he's charged with controlling.
And then there's the Tim Tebow trade…don't even get me started on the Tim Tebow trade.