The 25 Most Lovable a-Holes in Sports

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

The 25 Most Lovable a-Holes in Sports

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    What is it about certain athletes that really make them appeal to us?

    Even as players can't seem to avoid run-ins with the law or tiffs with opponents, refs, coaches or even fans, we're always quick to forgive them for their faults and openly show our support.

    Some of these athletes just can't help but disappoint us, but no matter how bad they might be, we just can't drop them.

    These are the biggest A-holes in sports that we'll forever love—regardless of how much we hate to admit it.

Referees

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    They miss calls.

    They impact the game without actually playing.

    Referees are the ultimate jerks in sports, but without them, we'd just be watching a pick-up game with no fairness.

    So go ahead and boo your ass off when they make a bad call and talk about how much you hate them... until you're on the "right" side of one of those calls that is.

Brett Favre

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    We'll be the first to admit Favre could easily top the list of biggest A-holes.

    After all, he thinks he's the most important player to ever strap on a cup and when removing said cup, thought it be a good idea to send the contents underneath it to an extremely attractive girl.

    For as much as we should all hate the ol' gunslinger, we just can't stop getting enough of him.

Bo Jackson

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    Bo certainly knew... how to be a A-hole.

    We always remember him bulling over linebackers and DBs, but until we saw his 30 for 30 the other day, we never really knew he was such a jerk.

    Maybe he's just one of the thousands of athletes that feed off that chip on their shoulder, but we're thinking had he actually stayed healthy and gained the success he was supposed to, there wouldn't be too many fans who would feel the way they do about him without it.

Sideline Cops

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    Cops can be the biggest jerks in all of sports, limiting how much you can get away with yelling at an opposing player or even escorting you out because you've had a few too many brews.

    But once some dumbass fan decides running on the field of play is a good idea, we can't get enough of a donut-eating officer chasing down that fan and tasing him or her.

    Besides their high school football days, we bet no policeman has ever been cheered for louder than that moment.

Rasheed Wallace

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    Sheed probably had the most talent of any big man in NBA history, pairing a lethal outside shot with a post game that mirrored guys like Kevin Garnett and Shareef Abdur-Rahim—who, lest we forget, was a scoring machine for the Grizz early in his career.

    Wallace just seemed more interested in getting by on pure talent alone and arguing with refs and opposing players though.

    He might be known to earn a tech for saying something stupid, but because he mixes humor most of his comments, we have a soft spot for the big guy.

Hope Solo

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    She may be hot, but there's more than meets the eye with Solo.

    As one of the best female goalies in the world, she's definitely not shy about hiding her feelings about anything that crosses her mind, calling out past coaches and giving opinions on a number of things.

    But thanks to her playing for the U.S., and making every guy curious about what it'd be like to see her without that uniform on, she gets a free pass from fans.

Any Major Sports' Commissioner

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    Commissioners are like principals: They try to keep things in order, but they always seem to get in the way of the fun.

    It's clear that every fan has an opinion on any one of them, and though most of those comments happen to be negative, we know deep down that all they're doing is their job, and they aren't really bad guys—we think?

Steve Smith

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    Smith is one of the most outspoken receivers to play in the NFL over the past decade, and thanks in part to that behavior, he sometimes gets a bad wrap as a headache.

    His greatness has always seemed to be overlooked, but check his stats and you'll see that he's up there as one of the top wideouts of his generation.

    As much as some people dislike him, they have soft-spot because he's been stuck on some bad teams in Carolina his entire career.

Mike Tyson

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    With quotes to media members like, "I'm on the Zoloft (an antidepressant) to keep from killing y'all," one might think once Tyson's boxing career ended, he'd have been forgotten about.

    But thanks to his cameo appearances in The Hangover movies, and an aspiring career in stand-up, most of fans have forgiven Iron Mike for all his past wrongdoings.

    For better or worse, Tyson's just a big softy... though we still wouldn't want to piss him off.

Nick Saban

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    Maybe we're just going out on a limb here—unless you happen to reside in T-town—but most people can't stand Saban.

    As a protege to known jackass Bill Belichick from their days in Cleveland together, Saban's arrogance and off-putting personality is commonly frowned upon by fans.

    Problem is, he happens to be the most successful college football coach going these days, and because of that, we have to at least respect the guy.

Bryce Harper

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    Though Harper was always expected to take baseball by storm—which he proved this past season—it was widely known that he had a short temper who often had it come out while on the field.

    But because Harper's young, and one of the biggest bros in sports, we give him a pass for being a total ass sometimes.

Kevin Garnett

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    He's never been in trouble with the law or in the doghouse with any of his team's, but KG does top the list of many fans' most obnoxious players.

    Even at his age now, Garnett can't seem to stay out of the headlines for complaining about something.

    But because many of us grew up with him and saw him get so close with various teams in Minnesota, we respect the hell out of him.

Randy Moss

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    Maybe it's because his production's completely fallen off since coming to San Francisco, or that he's proven he can actually be a good teammate by dropping the whole prima donna act he had early on in his career, but you'll find more fans actually cheering for Moss than against him.

    Put us in the category as those who want to see him get a ring before he calls it quits.

    As a top-five receiver in NFL history, we think that's what he deserves now.

Bobby Knight

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    After allegedly choking one of his players cost him his head spot at IU, Knight was always referred to as the bad guy in college basketball circles.

    And though most fans will say he's still a major A-hole, we typically forgive him because he's a) gotten older, b) knows what he's talking about as a color commentator and c) we've just accepted the fact he's a jerk.

    Knight might be a little bit too passionate, but we should all remember how great of a coach he truly was.

Charles Barkley

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    He speaks his mind by calling out all the hot shots in today's game, and he was just as ruthless while on the hardwood during his career, but we can't help but like the Round Mound of Rebound.

    Thanks to Sir Charles not taking himself too seriously, we think most fans can handle the bad with the good, because he can definitely entertain—no matter how annoying it might be to hear.

Tiger Woods

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    With his demeanor on and off the course, he's the epitome of a jerk. 

    Starting with his unprecedented run in the '97 Masters, all the way to today, we've been on the long and winding road through Tiger's career.

    And though we all thought (and some even hoped) his career would end after the sex allegations a couple years back, we still find ourselves just as compelled to see him in the final group on Sunday's during any tournament, but specifically a Major one.

Alex Rodriguez

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    Though it might sound crazy to think now, we have a feeling a couple years from now fans will look back on A-Rod and think about how much they should have respected his game throughout his career.

    Did he admit to using steroids? Sure he did.

    Does he struggle in the postseason? Yep.

    But for as much as we love to see him struggle because he's way overpaid for his production, we keep a soft spot for A-Rod because deep down we know he's one of the all-time greats.

Chad Johnson (Ochocinco)

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    Regardless of what you want the call the guy, he's one of the most interesting athletes of the past decade.

    Often mixing talent with controversy, No. 85 was someone who always got under the skin of opponents and fans alike.

    The fact that we're always willing to hear him talk–as proof by his First Take seat last week—proves we're a little compelled to see what he's got going on now that he's out of the league.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Ronaldo's a complete jackass in part to his fortune, fame and friends off the field.

    But because he's one of the top players in the world, and a little mystic about what he's really like, many fans love his over-the-top personality.

    We'd prefer the low-key Messi to CR7, but there's no denying he's one hell of a talent.

Michael Vick

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    If you asked any football fan to honestly answer who they dislike the most in the league, Vick's name probably comes up more often than anyone else's.

    Thanks to his dogfighting arrest a couple years ago and his two $100 million-plus contracts he's signed in his career, he's not greatly liked.

    But because he's never won the big one and can't seem to stay healthy, we all feel for the guy more than one might think.

Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe's one of the most self-centered athletes to ever play the game.

    Yet because he's about as close to Jordan as we've ever seen since His Airness retired for good 10 years ago, we all marvel at the Mamba's greatness.

    Not even a very public admission of adultery fueled our hate for Kobe.

    Add in his annual spot amongst the league's most T'd-up guys, and it's surprising that Bryant isn't more hated than he is by some fans.

Kyle Busch

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    If you're a racing fan, you probably know that Busch is like most athletes who are successful at their sport: You hate them for absolutely irrational reasons.

    Though he drives dirty and runs his mouth a bit, racing fans seem to like him (or at least respect him) because he's just so damn talented.

Pete Rose

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    It's insane to think that Rose, MLBs all-time hits leader, actually thought he wouldn't get busted for betting on baseball... while still managing!

    The thing is, after awhile, fans just started warming-up to him.

    We understand being blackballed, but with all the other crap going wrong with baseball—ahem, steroids—isn't it time to recognize Rose as one of the game's great players and put him in the Hall already?

Lance Armstrong

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    Remember a couple years ago when Lance was widely-regarded as one of the most dominant athletes to ever live?

    Boy how things have changed.

    Thanks to his PED charges, he's fallen off the map as an athlete, but most fans are quick to forgive him because of all the hard work he's done to raise money and awareness for cancer through his Livestrong foundation.

Michael Jordan

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    He cheated on his wife of 17 years, forcing them a (very expensive) divorce.

    He was a known gambler, with shaky conspiracy theories as to why he retired for the first time in 93'.

    He pushed and fought with teammates more than almost any athlete known.

    Maybe it was all the success or just because we all got duped into wanting to "Be Like Mike," but Jordan is by far the biggest A-hole in sports, yet we still all want to be him.