20 Athletes Who Need to Take a Chill Pill
Most people—fans and journalists alike—are bored by the zombiesque, dry blather of New England Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and most of the most visible Patriots, if not annoyed by it. This approach toward speaking to the masses is of course not limited to the Patriots, but the organization is the standard-bearer.
We ask, "Can their true colors please shine through?", which is why stories about how Belichick is actually hilarious and loose away from the cameras seem to percolate through the news every so often. These anecdotes remind us that the bland facade is just that—another cog in an overarching strategy for world domination.
And it's hard to argue with the results: Belichick and Brady are on their way to another AFC Championship in 2013, while someone like former Coastal Carolina football coach David Bennett (of "Be More like Dogs" fame) is relegated to the viral universe.
As with most matters in life, moderation and balance seem to be the answer.
But this doesn't mean there aren't plenty of athletes who charm us with their eccentricities, or penchant for biting verbal jabs—sometimes they just need to tone it down for the greater good. Maybe it's because of age and career or team struggles that make what was once a nice change of pace...much less so.
These are 20 athletes who need to take a chill pill.
20. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is, without a doubt, one of the preeminent quarterback talents of a generation. Everyone knows this. Everyone accepts this. Everyone—that is—except for Aaron Rodgers. The man himself seems to be living in a world where everyone disrespects him, doubts him and otherwise disparages him.
His hometown 49ers eschewing him in favor of Alex Smith in the 2005 NFL Draft has had such a profound impact on Rodgers' psyche and left him with a sizable chip on his shoulder. Perhaps it spurs him to play even better, although more often than not, it seems to just make him miserable.
I mean jeez! It's not like he dropped to the sixth round like Tom Brady.
19. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
The saucy, wise-cracking rookie-debut of Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper was largely perceived as entertaining, if not charming. When he wasn’t creating a new meme, or planting the seeds for brawl-sparking rivalry with the Chicago Cubs, Harper was actually living up to the hype in terms of production.
And while Harper should never surrender his competitive fire, or delightfully menacing identity, he should understand that baseball is a 162-game season. He, along with Stephen Strasburg and a talented nucleus, vaulted the Nationals into the playoffs in 2012.
If Harper learns to choose his verbal fireworks with a little more discretion, the inevitable slump all young players go through at some point will be small price to pay for all that he brings to the table.
18. JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets
Let me start this by saying that I adore Nuggets center JaVale McGee. He definitely has had his ups and downs on the basketball court, but he's really come into his own as a player over the last year. McGee is equal parts talented and entertaining, and he never fails to put on a show.
That being said, McGee could stand to tone down his antics off the court just a tad. The goofy photos and tweets are one thing, but his failed attempts to give away burritos and noodles to followers in September 2012, well that was just kind of sad.
Not that McGee should shelve his personality entirely—he shouldn't. He should just be aware that this stuff is cute when you're 24…not so much when you're 34. Just ask Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson.
17. Gennaro Gattuso, FC Sion
You know anyone who has a separate section on their Wikipedia page just for "Controversies" has been involved in his share of shenanigans over the years. Sion's Gennaro Gattuso is known to have a temper which has been getting him in hot water annually, dating all the way back to 2003.
Never one to shy away from a conflict, Gattuso has exchanged heated words with opponents all over Europe during the last decade. Despite being blinded in his left eye following a collision with a teammate in 2011, Gattuso has not lost a step.
In December 2012, he reportedly snagged a yellow card from the hands of a referee and handed it out to an opponent.
16. Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has maintained an unimaginable level of enthusiasm throughout his 17-year career in the NFL. How 37-year-old Ray Lewis can still deliver that dance of his with the same gusto as 25 year-old Ray Lewis is one of life's great mysteries.
But Lewis recently announced something that seemed like it might never come—his retirement. The word is that he'll be joining the ranks of ESPN later this year. That means he's going to have to calm it down, because the world can only handle one Herm Edwards.
15. Ryan Lochte, U.S. Men's Swimming
It seems like such a long time ago that Ryan Lochte was the big hero of the London Olympics. Maybe that's because he's spent the last six months going out of his way to make us forget all that good stuff and replacing it with his irritating shenanigans.
Lochte immediately moved to trademark his ridiculous catchphrase "Jeah" after the games—a phrase he may have stolen from rapper Young Jeezy. Then there were his ill-fated guest spots on 90120, in which he lamented the difficulty of walking and talking at the same time, and 30 Rock, in which he was referred to as a "sex idiot."
And more recently there was the announcement that he would be starring in his own E! reality show and that a picture of his junk will be hitting the interwebs soon. Remember how Michael Phelps would go away for three years after the Olympics? I miss that.
14. Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers
After the Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 13, the always-ready-to-engage-the-world-in-a-rant Metta World Peace held serve at his locker postgame. World Peace offered up a lengthy diatribe to reporters about everything from how he’s covered by the media, to media’s "conversion" into Clippers fans.
It was so vintage Metta World Peace, but at 33, the man once known as Ron Artest is approaching a point in his career when his shenanigans will win a few battles with his performance on the court, while losing the war.
Considering the struggles of the Lakers as of late, a focused, more low-key (relatively speaking) World Peace would be refreshing for teammates and fans alike.
13. A.J. McCarron, University of Alabama
When A.J. McCarron led the University of Alabama to victory over Notre Dame, which was the Crimson Tide's third BCS Championship in four years, he probably thought he would be a pretty big deal. At least for…like…a week or so. But, much to (what seems to be) his dismay, it was his girlfriend who walked away a star.
After being routinely referenced by ESPN's Brent Musburger during the game, Katherine Webb, a former Miss Alabama, gained over 250,000 Twitter followers in the days after the game. McCarron seemed stunned by Webb's instant fame and TMZ reported that the eight interviews she cancelled in one day was due to McCarron's insecurities about her sudden notoriety.
If he doesn't chill out and embrace his lady's success, she's not going to have any trouble finding someone who will. In fact, I believe there are a number of high profile professional athletes who have already expressed interest.
12. Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder
For a guy who perpetually looks like his puppy has just been run over, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins' playing style sure doesn't match his sullen demeanor. He has a history of technical fouls that date back to his day with the Celtics—he was ejected from a playoff game in 2010.
In fact, Perkins had so many technical fouls in 2012 that he was risking an automatic suspension towards the end of the season. The trend shows no sign of stopping, given that Perkins and the Grizzlies Zach Randolph were both ejected after a physical altercation during a game in November 2012.
In early 2013, Thunder superstar Kevin Durant jokingly pointed the finger at Perkins for his three technical fouls in three games. Maybe Durant was joking, but Perkins' influence impacting his game certainly seems within the realm of possibilities.
11. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler isn't exactly an emotional firestorm on the field. In fact, during a game, he keeps his cool as well as anyone in the NFL. But off the field, Cutler has been known to have a hairpin trigger with onlookers and paparazzi.
While walking with his pregnant fiancé Kristin Cavallari and their dog in May 2012, Cutler famously flipped off a camera from a number of different angles. He had to be dragged from the scene by Cavallari, but he was sure to keep his middle finger throughout the duration.
10. Tiger Woods, PGA
Golf legend Tiger Woods has been under an intense media spotlight for well over a decade, which is why he should be much better equipped to deal with reporters than he is. Isn't practice supposed to make perfect with this kind of thing?
Apparently not, because Woods kept up his prickly relationship with the media in 2012. In February he got combative with a reporter while discussing the particulars of his own book. And in June, Woods labeled the media "annoying" during the Greenbriar Classic.
Yes. Calling them names. That is definitely the best way to get them off your back.
9. Santonio Holmes, New York Jets
The Jets wide receiver has been off the collective radar for quite awhile, having gone down with a season ending injury in early October 2012. Considering how the rest of the season played out, it was probably a blessing in disguise for the Jets.
Holmes may be their best offensive threat, but he's also got a contentious relationship with quarterback Mark Sanchez and is the first person to take his troubles to the media when things aren't going his way. Holmes has called out his teammates for their bad play and his coaches for not properly utilizing his talents.
He has even ripped the New York media for not being supportive enough of the team. Seriously. That happened. If he really wants to solve one of the Jets' biggest problems, Holmes needs to chill out and take a long, hard look in the mirror.
8. Nyjer Morgan, MLB Free Agent
After abbreviated stints in Pittsburgh and Washington, which were short-lived because of his hot temper and wicked case of the crazies, it seemed Nyjer Morgan finally found his forever-home with the Milwaukee Brewers. Or at least a long-term contract home. He had a breakout season in 2011 and hit the game-winning single that sent the Brewers to the NLCS.
Morgan immediately ruined any good he earned in that moment by screaming "F*** yeah!" on live television. He followed up that season with an abysmal year in which he achieved a career-low batting average of .239 and on-base percentage of .302. The Brewers tried to reassign him to Triple-A, but Morgan refused, opting for free agency instead.
But we'll see how many teams are lining up to to sign the problematic Morgan and his more problematic alter ego, Tony Plush—who he blames his many misdeeds on.
7. Mario Balotelli, Manchester City
The life and times of Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli are well documented. He's been known to find his share of trouble off the pitch.
He accidentally set his mansion on fire after shooting off fireworks in the bathroom. He's been sent on an errand to buy cleaning products by his mother and returned with a giant trampoline, two Vespa scooters and without a single cleaning product. And he's broken into a women's prison in Italy, just to have a look around.
But, honestly, he could pull that kind of stuff on a slow weekend. Balotelli's problems are twofold. 1. He's not producing on the pitch. 2. He's going to end up in jail or dead if he doesn't tone down his lifestyle a little.
He needs to calm down a bit and focus on his game, otherwise he's heading for a very sad end. Which nobody with a heart wants to see, because it's obvious that he isn't a bad kid.
6. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Celtics big man Kevin Garnett has been rubbing people the wrong way in the NBA for well over a decade. The only thing that rivals the dominating size of KG's physical self on the court is KG's big mouth—which never stops antagonizing the opposition.
During a game in early 2012, Garnett and Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony got into it on the court, and the bad blood carried over into the post game. KG said something nasty enough during the game that 'Melo felt the need to confront him outside the locker room following the game.
5. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
It's impossible not to be impressed by what the Seahawks did in 2012, which carried over into the playoffs in 2013. And a huge part of that success was the breakout season of sophomore cornerback Richard Sherman. But there's something to be said for acting like you've been there before—something that Sherman is clearly unable to do at his young age.
He first got national attention back in October when he mocked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in person, and later via Twitter, after the Seahawks defeated them. Then in late December, it was reported that Sherman wanted to run up the score on the 49ers as retribution for their loss earlier in the season.
Sherman menaced Redskins offensive lineman Trent Williams in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Then, during the Seahawks' playoff game against the Falcons, Sherman sarcastically clapped in the face of Roddy White after getting beat for a touchdown—in a game they would go on to lose.
I ask this question to Sherman, in the words of his beloved coach: What's your deal?
4. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
Celtics superstar point guard Rajon Rondo has developed a nasty habit of physical confronting, or otherwise menacing, referees during games. Everyone understands the urge to throw down on a referee, but ultimately we know they're a necessary evil and that you cannot hit them.
We know that. Rondo does not.
In February 2012 he was suspended two games for chucking a ball at a ref during a game against the Pistons. Months later he was suspended one game for bumping an official during a playoff game against the Hawks. And in January 2013 he was suspended one game for making contact with a ref and not cooperating with a league investigation.
3. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh went from a self-described "fun-loving teddy bear" to the most disliked player in the NFL (as voted by fans) in just under two years. Whichever way you want to slice that, in terms of public perception, it's a pretty far fall in a relatively short amount of time.
The problem with Suh is that he refuses to accept that there could be something about the way that he plays the game that is leading to that.
If his infamous Thanksgiving Day stomp in 2011 was an isolated incident, things would be different. But his over-zealous nature on the field has become an ongoing problem, which Suh bookended with another Thanksgiving Day stomp in 2012. It's time to take it down a notch, dude.
2. Joey Barton, Marseille
Marseille midfielder Joey Barton is what you may call a "soccer hooligan." Usually people refer to rabble-rousing soccer fans as hooligans, but he's proof that hooligans are not confined to the stands of the soccer stadium. Over the years, Barton has been arrested for various forms of assault on various people.
Getting drunk and fighting with strangers on the street after a night of drinking is one thing, but Barton has been charged with violently attacking teammates and opposing players a number of times as well. He was even sentenced to six months in jail for beating up a teenager in Liverpool, but only served 74 days.
In November 2012, Barton continued to confound fans when he inexplicably conducted a press conference with an exaggerated French accent. This guy is always on a level 11—on a scale that tops out at 10.
1. Milton Bradley, Retired MLB
Former MLB outfielder Milton Bradley was known for being a lit fuse during his playing career—which was probably the biggest contributing factor to his retirement. (Retirement, in this case, means that nobody was willing to deal with him anymore.) Unfortunately, his temper on the field was just the tip of the iceberg.
Off the field, Bradley is a known psychopath who has been arrested for terroristic threats against his estranged wife a number of times. Bradley's most recent arrest came in January 2013, and combined with his previous offenses, it has him face-to-face with the possibility of spending the next 13 years in prison.
You'd think anger management classes, or strong sedatives, would have occurred to him at some point. Too bad he doesn't have that coach (see photo) to hold him back in real life.