10. Rafael Palmeiro
Although his steroids case is not as high-profile as those of Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, or Roger Clemens, Palmeiro bothers me as much or more than those guys because he projected such a good-guy, classy baseball veteran image.
Then toward the end of his career, we find out that the real reason he was popping Viagra was because ‘roids had turned him into, “Honey, I Shrunk My Nether Region.” I’ll be honest for a second, though. It’s all about the moustache.
It’s 2009. You simply can’t trust someone with a moustache like that.
9. Sean Avery
Voted in 2007 as the most hated player in the NHL, Sean Avery is the prototypical poor teammate, sour character, and all-around bad person.
He’s one of the hockey’s dirtiest players, even having a rule named after him.
Despite spending so much effort arguing with coaches, skipping practice, and scuffling with fellow players, he has still found time to verbally slam French people and air out the romantic interests of his ex-girlfriends.
This sleaze loves to find trouble, but manages to be overwhelmingly unentertaining while doing so. If you’re going to be a troublemaker, at least amuse some people. No, being placed on People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive list doesn’t count.
8. Lane Kiffin
Kiffin didn’t look like such a sleaze when coaching under Al Davis, but that’s because such a comparison is like that of a birthday candle to the sun.
Having seen half of one offseason of Kiffin at the reigns of Tennessee football, I can not only see why Al Davis was itching to dump him, but I can say with confidence that Kiffin’s sleaze factor stands healthily on its own.
He’s already falsely accused one of college football’s current deities of cheating, and told a top recruit that everyone who plays college ball in the state of South Carolina ends up pumping gas for a living. I have been to South Carolina, and I must say that there are plenty of Walmarts, Waffle Houses, and fireworks stands that a former football player could work at. But I digress.
Lane Kiffin has likely bitten off a lot more than he can chew, but doesn’t seem to give a crap and has little to no respect for his SEC colleagues. I am as big of an SEC hater as they come, and even I have nothing but respect for the likes of Urban Meyer and the Ole Ball Coach. Screw Nick Saban, though.
7. Bruce Bowen
Bowen embodies everything I hate about the San Antonio Spurs.
I would happily birth his children if he played for my New Orleans Hornets, but if my aunt had junk she’d be my uncle, therefore Bowen makes the list.
The NBA player association needs to take a close look at the fine print on Bowen’s contract because I am fairly certain that it is lined with cash incentives that are invoked every time he intentionally rolls Vince Carter’s ankles or goes Bruce Lee on Wally Szczerbiak.
Yet he is audacious enough to wildly complain to the refs every time he is called for holding, tripping, or gut-checking an opponent. Bowen is easily the dirtiest non-mentally-challenged player currently in the NBA.
6. Pacman Jones
I encourage sleazes to be wildly entertaining, and Pacman delivers.
You’ll find each and every of his interviews about “skrip” clubs and punching strippers on my Youtube favorites list. But this guy has no respect for his job, strippers, or people other than himself in general.
“Making it rain” is fine and dandy, but the world could do without all of the exotic dancers getting black eyes and bouncers taking hollow points to major arteries. As entertaining as he is, it’s a good thing that this sleaze has likely played his last NFL snap.
5. Drew Rosenhaus
A sleaze and a rockstar, he never shies away from a camera.
And he is always quick to insist that his high-profile under-performing client is the top player at his position and deserves a lengthy, lucrative NFL contract.
But in a sick way, I like Rosenhaus.
He is so smart and crafty that I can’t help it. There is little more entertaining than NFL Live segments where a given NFL analyst such as Chris Mortensen or John Clayton and Rosenhaus are debating the free-market value or projected draft position of one of his clients. The two couldn’t have more conflicting interests than the Axis and Allies.
I call Rosenhaus a sleaze, but I say it with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.
4. Bill Belichick
Hated by most non-New England fans, the Hoodie is an under-the-radar sleaze.
He didn’t catch much flak for the Spygate incident which cost him half a million dollars and his team a first-round draft pick. He is seemingly media-immune.
No single action of his makes him a sleaze, but Spygate, cheating on his wife, and every half-assed postgame handshake and monotone, cryptic interview, along with having Tom Brady on the weekly injury report for three-plus seasons makes the Hoodie one of the craftier sleazes.
3. Scott Boras
True evil works in darkness.
A major sleaze, but you won’t see this guy in front of the camera as often as you would Drew Rosenhaus. He is well known as the master of placing baseball teams in bidding wars with themselves.
Is that the best you can do, McCourt? Beltre is worth a lot more than that. The Atlantis Argonauts, Mars Mudhens, and Garden of Eden Grizzlies are all offering at least $5 million per year more and a longer-term deal.
What a sleaze.
2. Al Davis
This one is almost too obvious to even have on the list.
He makes the most controversial staff hires, but keeps a life-size city bus in his office rotunda to throw them beneath when they under-perform. He doesn’t realize that the game of football has changed just a bit since John Madden was his head coach.
He has sued the city of Los Angeles, the city of Oakland, and even the NFL. And probably his most entertaining trait, he thinks that football skill is judged by a 40-yard dash time. The NFL has no members as stubborn or ghastly.
and last but not least....
1. Jim Gray
Despite not having been prominently featured in any recent scandal, broadcaster Jim Gray was the first name to come to mind when I started thinking about the sleaziest sports figures.
He is the smarmiest of the smarmy, the king of the loaded question, and has a serpent-like appearance to boot.
His most infamous interview is probably the World Series Pete Rose interview in which he highlighted the spectacle and pageantry of the World Series by blindsiding Rose with gambling questions and sideways-alleging that Rose was guilty.
Way to make the 1999 Fall Classic one to remember, Jim. And fewer may remember when Gray asked Larry Bird in an interview if he felt there weren’t enough white NBA stars.
Bird replied with a “yes,” and was left looking like a racist, when the real culprit was the loaded question from our salamander friend Jim Gray.
Honorable mention list:
Roger Clemens + Brian McNamee: Dramatic, yet stupid and boring.
Alex Rodriguez: Most self-absorbed MLB player.
Rodney Harrison: Your play actually came close to matching your jerk demeanor; I have slight respect for you.
Barry Bonds: Sleazy, but devoid of mystery and no villainous moustache.
Merril Hoge: I’m waiting for an ESPN segment where you hate on nuns feeding hungry children.
Brett Favre: You think you’re more important than the Packers franchise.
They're sleazy but calling them sleazy would give too much credit to their mental capacity list:
Ron Artest: I like your game, but not your attitude, rap album, or propensity for attacking people smaller than you.
Travis Henry: I’m just mad that you’re living my lifelong dream of siring enough kids to comprise an entire football team, all with different women.
They’re sleazy but excluded due to my extreme bias as a Miami Dolphins fan which prevents coherent thinking list:
Nick Saban: You suck.
Not really sleazy, but I still hate list:
AJ Pierzynski: You’re really just a jackass.
Manu Ginobili: You’re 6’6” but you play like you’re 5’8”. The object of basketball is to score, not get fouled by your opponent.
Joseph Addai: Maurice Drew should have been drafted higher than you.