The 20 Biggest Sports Villains of 2012

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2012

The 20 Biggest Sports Villains of 2012

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    For all the joy we have as sports fans, there's always been a slew of villains we seem to encounter.

    According to the Webster's dictionary, a villain is categorized as "a person who opposes the hero. A scoundrel."

    So in this sense, a Cavs fan might call Michael Jordan or LeBron James a villain.

    The City of Seattle may consider David Stern a villain.

    Or lastly, any sports fan can probably agree that replacement refs are all villains. 

    Since we're sure you've come across your fair share of people that you'd define this way, we thought it to be appropriate to narrow the list down for you.

    But who are the worst sports villains of 2012? You'll just have to keep reading to find out.

Joey Barton

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    Joey Barton is, by all accounts, one of the most misunderstood soccer players in the world.

    He's served match penalties for his conduct on and off the field and has accused the FA of singling him out.

    With his recent interview following his transfer from QPR to Marseille, Barton spoke in a heavy French accent to reporters.

    One might find this no big deal, but for a guy who's about as English as you can get, the European press found it to be disgraceful and confusing.

    It's just another act that earns Barton a slap on the wrist from people.

Ryan Lochte

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    We guess winning medals for your country and enjoying every second of it is a bad thing these days. Because Lochte has (for some odd reason) been cast a villain.

    It's a no-brainer that Ryan Lochte's villainous status comes from the haters who don't enjoy his flashiness or seeing his face all over celebrity-gossip sites, but he can't help that.

    Lest we forget that Michael Phelps didn't exactly sit back and avoid the spotlight after his record-breaking Olympics in 2008, either.

Ndamukong Suh

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    Ndamukong Suh vehemently denies being a villain or dirty player, but if you've caught a Lions game since the No. 2 overall pick debuted for them in 2010, you might have a different opinion.

    He's been known to absolutely harass quarterbacks and even stomp on an opposing player—during a nationally televised Thanksgiving Day broadcast nonetheless.

    The jury's still out on Suh, but unfortunately for him, all too often the villain title sticks with someone once they've been labeled.

Metta World Peace

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    For whatever reason, Metta World Peace can't avoid these types of lists.

    Some may say it's his over-the-top attitude.

    While others may argue it's his judgement on some of the choices he makes.

    Whatever the reason, people love to hate him, and we're not convinced he doesn't feed off it.

Sepp Blatter

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    Sepp Blatter, the long-tenured president of FIFA, is widely considered to be biggest villain in the world—just look at these poll results!

    For his failure to fully address racism in soccer, stubbornness to evolve soccer with technological advances (like goal reviews) and a laundry list of internal controversies while heading the world's most popular sport, one can see why Blatter isn't very well-liked.

Kyle Busch

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    Kyle Busch is that guy who tails you when he thinks you cut him off making a turn.

    He'll flip you the bird as he passes you for going too slow.

    Or he'll yell vulgarities your way because you don't know how to drive.

    The problem is, Busch also happens to be going at speeds close to 200 miles per hour, so his temper, road rage and acceptance of being a villain is a little bit different than the one we all might be used to.

Roger Clemens

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    Shame on us for thinking Roger Clemens couldn't grab headlines in 2012.

    Just when we thought he'd be summoned to more court appearances for his alleged steroid use, the Rocket had to show everyone up and pitch again for a minor-league team.

    Though he may not have had an impact on the baseball diamond over the past five years, he's certainly continued to grab headlines as if he did.

New Orleans Saints 'Bountygate'

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    There are so many people whom the finger can be pointed at: commissioner Roger Goodell, Saints players and, of course, D-coordinator Gregg Williams for presenting the bounties.

    But regardless of whose fault it ultimately is, the Saints are missing their head coach and other key pieces to the organization this year, humiliating the franchise and putting the entire league under scrutiny.

Jon Jones

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    It's never a good thing when your boss criticizes you for canceling a big-time event, but if you know anything about the relationship between Jon Jones and UFC president Dana White, you know White's more than hinted at this a couple of times.

    On top of his alleged act over UFC 151, Jones also grabbed bad headlines for a DUI earlier this year.

    Look, we know Jones might not be a bad guy, but when you don't want to be a villain, it's probably best to avoid bad PR.

Bobby Petrino

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    Bobby Petrino might not have the aura of someone like Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, but we guarantee if you made a trip down to Fayetteville to the campus of the University of Arkansas, you'd hear thousands of folks call him the ultimate villain.


    Well, on top of his extramarital affairs, he ripped the heart out of every Hogs fan by trying to cover up his mistakes, putting himself ahead of a program that needed a leader.

    Like we said, he might not have the prestige of some other coaches, but his choices off the field may be the reason why.

NFL Replacement Refs

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    We must admit, it was a little difficult including these guys on this list, but unfortunately, facts are facts, and they just didn't live up to anyone's expectations while in charge.

    Theses substitutes were responsible for a number of blunders during games, but they are viewed as villains because of the final straw of their tenure—the Packers-Seahawks game.

    It's one thing to miss a couple of holding or pass-interference calls, but it's a complete disaster when you alter the outcome of a game, which, in this case, they did.

Dwight Howard

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    From a 2011-12 season in which he flip-flopped on his decision to stay with his former Magic team to getting his former coach (Stan Van Gundy) canned and then finally to working his way onto the Lakers, D12 has had a vicious fall from grace in the villain rankings.

    When he was at his peak of likability from 2008-10, Dwight Howard was endearing and good for the game.

    His smile was infectious around arenas.

    But when he maneuvered his way to La-La Land, he permanently landed on the prima donna list.

Alex Rodriguez

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    There are very few A-Rod fans out there, plain and simple.

    And when we use the word "fans," we're not talking about just Red Sox or other teams' fans; we're talking about all baseball fans, including Yanks supporters.

    For Rodriguez's contract, (lack of) postseason production and overall drama, he often rivals anyone else as the biggest villain in sports.

John Calipari

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    Coach Cal has always been considered a villain because of his "one-and-done" recruitment of players, and how it's believed to be hurting college basketball.

    So when he won his first national title this past season with the likes of more heavily recruited players leaving so early in their college careers, it was sort of a slap in the face to all the haters out there.

    Love him or hate him, John Calipari looks to be changing the approach to college basketball.

The Entire Miami Heat Organization

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    Yep, you read that right. It's everybody that's currently employed by the Miami Heat who claim the title of a villain this year.

    From owner Micky Arison to team president Pat Riley to, of course, stars LBJ, D-Wade and Chris Bosh, all the way down to the damn people selling tickets, it seems no one outside Miami likes this team.

    We thought the hate would die down after they captured the 2011-12 title, but it seems that only added fuel to the fire, as everyone was rooting for upstart OKC during the series, and is currently hoping a team not named the Heat wins it all this year.

    For fear of a league takeover and the beginning of a Heat dynasty, there's no team hated more.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    If you're under the impression that gloating about one's success is a good thing, then you probably don't agree Floyd Mayweather's a villain.

    But for the majority of fans, his constant trash-talking, controversies and "big money" attitude makes them dislike the guy.

    Maybe it's the culture of boxing, but we're thinking it's more Mayweather than anything.

John Terry

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    In a sport full of perceived villains (Luis Suarez, CR7), John Terry is hands down the biggest in world football.

    His past includes clashes in an airport bar and, most-notably, racist remarks directed toward opposing players during matches—but here's a full list.

    Though you might not hear much about him stateside, across the pond, JT is ever the villain that someone like LeBron James is thought to be here.

Gary Bettman

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    Of course we're going to include the guy who's locking out an entire professional league...for the second time in eight years!

    We've admitted to never being the biggest hockey fan around, but that doesn't mean we're not sports fans or that we don't like to watch and attend NHL games.

    For a guy who seems like he's way over his head as a commissioner, until Gary Bettman figures out how to run his league, he'll forever be a sports villain.

Lance Armstrong

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    For lying about his doping, and then not fully coming to terms with it once it was uncovered, Lance Armstrong seems to fit the profile of a villain perfectly.

    It wasn't so much that he got caught cheating—many athletes have done that—it's that he blatantly stated his innocence and made the world believe in someone who never really existed.

Penn State University

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    For all the humorous and lighthearted selections on this list, Penn State's rating as the No. 1 sports villain this year is well-deserved.

    Without getting into details, the university's entire handling of the Jerry Sandusky case was pitiful, and it resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenue, a PR nightmare, a man in jail, a legendary head coach getting canned and a cloud of turmoil and sympathy for the victims.

    NCAA athletic programs are always going to break rules and regulations, but what we saw at Penn State was nothing anyone could have ever imagined.