20 Players Who Are a Pain in Their Teams' Ass
Different people have different personalities. Not much of a revelation there.
There are gracious and friendly people who always seem to say and do exactly the right thing. And then there are combative or oblivious people who always manage to say and do exactly what it takes to push the buttons of those around them.
The same goes for professional athletes. After all—they're people too, right?
There are the Tom Brady and Derek Jeter types who can wow you with their talent, but also have an impossibly cool, yet welcoming, demeanor and en enviable way with words.
And then at the other end of the spectrum is their polar opposite. Those types who can wow you with their talent, but could just as easily sit this one out. They either don't recognize their own bad behavior or they just don't care.
And talking to the media? Not usually the best idea.
Naturally, those who fall into the latter category can become quite a pain in the ass for the teams on which they play. Here are 20 such athletes.
20. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
It's hard to tell if the hard partying offseason antics of Patriots superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski would attract the same kind of negative attention if he played anywhere but New England.
But we all know how fond Gronk is of shenanigans. And we all know how not fond of shenanigans Bill Belichick is. He's certifiably anti-shenangians—and you can print that!
The following incidents all qualify as shenanigans:
- Oct. 2011: Porn actress Bibi Jones tweets a photo of her and a shirtless Gronk.
- Feb. 2012: Gronk celebrates not winning the Super Bowl by getting drunk, shirtless and dancing.
- Summer 2012: An epic three-month stretch known as "The summer of Gronk."
- Feb. 2013: A porn website extends Gronk a public offer to star in a porn film.
- Feb. 2013: Gronk dances shirtless and wrestles with a broken forearm at a Las Vegas nightclub.
- Feb. 2013: Gronk is photographed wearing a neon green tank top that hilariously reads: "Sorry for Partying."
Anyone else wondering when he's going to find the right venue to debut his "Suck it, Patriots" tank top? Let's hope it's soon.
19. Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays
Whatever pain felt in the collective ass of the Giants over Melky Cabrera's positive test for steroids in August 2012, and the 50-game suspension that followed, was completely relieved by a World Series victory. But it was still a pretty big deal for a few weeks late last summer.
It was a particularly big deal after it came to light that Cabrera attempted to orchestrate an elaborate cover-up that he was in no way capable of pulling off.
When Cabrera was busted he was making a run for the NL batting title and in September there was concern he could actually still win it, after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said he would not intervene to stop it.
Then there was the fact that the situation, once again, brought the steroid issue front and center. Cabrera's positive test left many wondering how much progress has really been made and if the steroid era ever really ended. Or if it ever really will.
Whatever, though. He's Canada's problem now!
18. Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings
The emergence of Vikings punter Chris Kluwe's increasingly public activist persona can be pinpointed to a single event in July 2011.
Commenting on Twitter about the ongoing negotiations in the NFL lockout, Kluwe slammed the four players negotiating with the league for using their leverage to hold up a resolution until the NFL agreed to meet their own personal monetary and contract demands.
In a letter to Deadspin, former no-name wide receiver Nate Jackson offered his (unsolicited, and unwanted) opinion on Kluwe's opinion and his decision to voice it. Jackson's demand for his silence triggered a brilliantly crafted response by Kluwe, who was just getting started.
Since then he has become an outspoken advocate for gay rights. Kluwe has publicly chided politicians, as well as his fellow players, for homophobic remarks and even resigned as a blogger from the St. Paul Pioneer-Press after they published an anti-gay editorial in November 2012.
Weeks later he was fined for wearing a patch on his uniform to support another cause—punter Ray Guy's Hall of Fame candidacy. It was only a matter of time before Kluwe's public profile became an issue within the Vikings organization.
In December 2012 special teams coach Mike Priefer remarked that (his activism) was "getting old" and suggested he just "focus on punting and holding." There's no question that Kluwe has taken on a very public role as the social conscious of the NFL.
Not just public for a punter, but public for an actual player. Which probably plays a significant role in the situation. Priefer would never publicly comment on something like that if the noise wasn't coming from one of three players on every team of which absolute silence is unreasonably expected/demanded.
An unreasonable demand which is often echoed by the sports media.
17. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
Any lingering hope that the Lakers' acquisition of Dwight Howard from the Magic is going to work out in Los Angeles is pretty much gone. The big man was coming off major back surgery when he was traded and injuries have just been mounting since returning to the lineup.
But the injury situation is just the tip of the iceberg—these days the "Dwight issue" is causing headaches for everyone at every level. For example:
- Dwight can't play in Mike D'Antoni's system.
- Kobe doesn't believe Dwight is too injured to play.
- Dwight doesn't like that Kobe doesn't believe he's too injured to play.
- Dwight's daddy doesn't like that Mike D'Antoni won't stop Kobe from teasing his son.
- Dwight's daddy also doesn't like that Kobe teased his son to begin with.
- Dwight's decision to play in the All-Star game has not gone over well.
And that doesn't even address the 18 month headache that capped his tenure with the Magic. Dwight was such a pain in the ass that the franchise was basically brought to its knees. He also put a few guys out of a job.
I would be willing to be a sizable chunk of the retirement fund (that I one day hope to have) that there is no way on earth Dwight will be back with the Lakers next year.
16. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
It wasn't all that long ago that many people were making the argument that Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was the best player in the world. Although the fact that he barely cracked the top 15 of TSN's annual top 50 NHL players list in 2013 certainly makes it seem more distant.
Ovi has struggled with slumps in each of the last four seasons ('10, '11, '12, '13), each one seemingly worse than the last. Well, either that, or the media scrutiny surrounding them makes it feel that way. And he's seen as a primary reason that the Caps went through three head coaches in a six month span.
As of February 2013, the Caps were officially the worst team in the NHL (in terms of points) and rumors have been swirling that the club might finally be ready to cut their losses and trade Ovechkin. Who knows if they'll actually pull the trigger—it's never easy to part with that level of talent.
But this situation has been years in the making and deteriorated to the point where the idea that the Caps may be better off without Ovi is beginning to gain some serious traction.
A sentiment that would have been completely unthinkable a few seasons back.
15. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
Versatile Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has been causing headaches in Minnesota dating back to 2010, when his own debilitating migraine headaches had many in the organization worrying about Harvin's overall health and longterm future in the league.
Doctors were eventually able to identify the problem and it hasn't been a problem since. What has been a problem is Harvin's growing discontent with his situation in Minnesota.
In June 2012 it was reported that he had requested the Vikings trade him and they had denied his request. A report which was bolstered by the fact that, days later, he was a no-show at mandatory minicamp.
There was speculation that Harvin would hold out for a new contract, but ultimately decided against it. Although it seems his attitude carried over into the regular season, considering the team decided to place him on injured reserve, ending his season seven games early for what was reportedly a sprained ankle.
Expect the Vikings to seriously consider trading Harvin in 2013, because he's already expected to holdout. Unloading him seems like a no-brainer, or at least it did before superstar running back Adrian Peterson made a public plea for the Vikes to retain his troublemaking teammate.
Everyone in Minnesota must just be thrilled with that!
14. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Hanely Ramírez is a three time All-Star who has yet to leave a team that wasn't happy to see him go. The Red Sox dumped him after just one season and the Marlins hung on to the talented, but troubled, shortstop for six painful years.
Ramírez lasted much longer than he should've in Florida because he's a rare baseball talent with so much untapped potential. Unfortunately, he's also the rare occasion when character issues and a piss poor attitude completely eclipse anything he offers in terms of talent.
- Mar. 2009: Ramírez pitches a fit and demands a trade after Marlins' dress code require him to cut his cornrows.
- Sep. 2009: Ramírez gets into a heated exchange with teammate Dann Uggla, who accuses him of having no desire to win.
- May 2010: Ramírez is benched by former manager Fredi Gonzalez for a lack of effort in chasing down a single.
- May 2010: Ramírez doesn't even consider apologizing for the lack of effort that got him benched.
- Jul. 2011: Ramírez is called out publicly by Marlins teammate Logan Morrison for being chronically late to team events.
- Jul. 2011: NESN brags that Ramírez's continued wretchedness makes the Red Sox look even smarter for unloaded him.
- Jul. 2012: Ramírez requires stitches in his hand after an altercation with a cooling fan in the dugout turns physical.
- Jul. 2012: Ramírez is ripped by manager Ozzie Guillen for being "stupid" and "immature."
- Jul. 2012: Ramírez misses playing time after the laceration on his hand becomes infected because he failed to take the preventative medication provided to him.
- Aug. 2012: Ramírez and Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett and get into it and Ramírez responds by throwing his bat.
- Jan. 2013: LA Times headline reads "Hanley Ramírez playing in WBC is nothing but bad news for Dodgers." Get used to it, Dodger fans!
Ramírez career path thus far seems to be that of "addition by subtraction," so it won't be long before the Miami sports media is bragging about unloading their lazy problem child on the Dodgers. And if nothing changes on his end, don't expect Ramírez to last anywhere close to six seasons on a team for the rest of his career.
13. Tyrann Mathieu, Louisiana State University
After coming out of nowhere as a Heisman finalist in 2011 and starting at cornerback for LSU in the BCS Championship against Alabama in January 2012, it seemed like the sky was the limit for Tyrann Mathieu.
He may not have won either trophy, but in just over one season he went from freshman benchwarmer to sophomore Heisman finalist, and the early front runner for the 2012 season. So just because, technically, Mathieu lost a couple of times, doesn't mean he didn't walk away a winner.
And he remained a winner until Aug. 10, when LSU announced Mathieu had been dismissed from its football program for repeatedly violating the substance abuse policy. Surprising everyone who assumed he'd make a beeline for the NFL Draft, initially Mathieu expressed interest in the possibility of sitting out a season and returning to play for the Tigers in 2013.
The fact that he entered a rehab program almost immediately suggested Mathieu was serious about his stated desire to return to LSU. Unfortunately we'll never know just how serious he was because Mathieu and three of his teammates were arrested on drug charges in October 2012.
Who knows if Les Miles would have been willing to take him back to begin with, but there was absolutely no chance after that arrest. Now Mathieu is charged with the difficult task of convincing an NFL team that taking a chance on him will be worth, what will no doubt be, another pain in the ass player with maturity issues and a checkered past.
12. Tim Thomas, New York Islanders
After earning the starting job with the Bruins in 2006, goaltender Tim Thomas went on to have six straight seasons as one of the NHL's most formidable forces in net. His performance has been exemplary in the playoffs, particularly during Boston's Stanley Cup run in 2011.
Ironically, it wasn't until he won a championship with the Bruins that things really started to spiral downhill for both sides. In January 2012 Thomas bucked tradition by declining the customary team visit to the White House to honor their championship, instead opting to post a political message to his Facebook page about the "out of control" federal government.
Within weeks of declining the visit, Thomas reportedly abruptly sold his home in the Boston suburbs mid-season and moved his family to Colorado. And in June 2012, not long after the season ended, Thomas announced (again via Facebook) that he would be sitting out the 2012-13 season to spend more time reconnecting with people in his life.
Opinions on Thomas had been souring through much of the 2011-12 season, with many believing success had changed him—and not for the better. So it shouldn't have come as any surprise that the Bruins had no intention of sitting around indefinitely and waiting to see if a 38-year-old Thomas would be good enough to grace them with his presence again.
The Bruins officially moved on from Thomas for good when they traded him to the Islanders in February 2013. The Islanders now have the pleasure of waiting around indefinitely to see if Thomas, who has since said he won't play in the NHL anywhere other than Boston, decides to grace them with his presence.
That should be fun.
11. Royce White, Houston Rockets
When Houston selected Royce White with the No. 16 overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, they were well aware of the extensive history he had with battling a crippling anxiety disorder.
His fear of flying is so extreme that it prohibits air travel of any kind, necessitating alternate bus travel be arranged for every road trip he embarks on.
Royce also has an extreme phobia of conditioning which dates back to an incident he witnessed in grade school. His best friend collapsed during wind sprints, narrowly avoiding a sudden cardiac death before a life-saving heart surgery saved his life.
But as the season progressed, it's become increasing clear that while Rockets may have known about White's condition when they drafted him, they certainly didn't understand it.
In December the team assigned him to the NBA D-League after they were unable to come to terms on an acceptable strategy to work around his disorder.
But in February both sides were able to hammer out an acceptable arrangement that finally get White on the court where he belongs. He's set to start his first game for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers within days.
And you can bet both sides are hoping this unpleasant saga is behind them for good. Although, we all know that it probably isn't.
10. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys knew what they were getting into when they decided to draft former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
He was a first round talent that had fallen to the bottom of the first round because of a troubled past as well as an NCAA violation stemming from his relationship with Deion Sanders, which ultimately put him out of contention for the 2009 Heisman Trophy.
Thus far, his NFL career has been a bit of a mixed bag. Bryant's stats and on-field performance have been climbing steadily in each of his first three seasons in Dallas. But he's also got a string of off the field incidents which have no doubt been causing Jerry Jones headaches.
- Mar. 2011: Bryant and his friends were ejected from a Dallas shopping mall with a criminal trespass warning after a dispute with an off-duty cop over sagging pants.
- Mar. 2011: Bryant's former mentor Deion Sanders describes him as "ignorant," insisting "he needs help."
- Jan. 2012: Bryant was detained by Miami police after assaulting a fan who was heckling him at a nightclub.
- Jul. 2012: Bryant is arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence for assaulting his mother.
- Aug. 2012: Cowboys reportedly give Bryant a strict set of rules for the season, which include a curfew, counseling sessions, and no alcohol or strip clubs.
- Nov. 2012: Although Jerry Jones tried to deny the report, a report that Bryant received permission to stay out past midnight to celebrate his birthday seems to confirm it.
The rules may have seemed a bit extreme for an adult playing professional football, but they really seemed to have benefit Bryant in 2012. The domestic violence charges were eventually resolved, he hasn't been in trouble since, and he's coming off the best season of his career—by far.
Could Bryant's pain-in-the-ass days really be behind him? We'll see.
9. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
The Yankees basically print their own money, so overpaying for an aging star who provides them with increasingly diminished returns is something everyone in the organization is used to. They may not always like it, but they have to write it off as the cost of doing business because of the way they do business.
But it's becoming increasingly more difficult for the Yanks to simply write-off the cost of the most expensive piece of deadweight in sports today: Alex Rodriguez. The team signed him to the richest contract in sports history in 2008; a 10-year deal worth $275 million, complete with an iron-clad no-trade clause.
Which puts them on the hook, and keeps A-Rod in pinstripes, until 2017. Unless they find a way to void that contract—something they've been reportedly looking into for months. It's hard to imagine anyone but Rodriguez would inspire such desperation from the Yankees. They can afford to pay this guy. They just don't want to do it out of spite.
And who can blame them? A year after agreeing to pay A-Rod an average of $30 million a year for the next decade, it was revealed that he had a history of steroids. His production has been declining from years and he's gone from "not beloved" by fans to "absolutely reviled."
If any fan didn't hate Rodriguez prior to the 2012 playoffs, they certainly did after. A-Rod, and his partner in money-sucking Nick Swisher, were both benched after being about as useful at the plate as a bowl of discarded sunflower seed shells. If he was upset about the benching, he didn't let that get in the way of his pre-game macking on models in the stands.
And then came renewed allegations of steroid use in January 2013. The Miami Times report listed Rodriguez prominently among many as 20 other active players who had been clients at the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami. Leading to speculation that he may have been using PEDs for the last decade.
Now it seems that A-Rod's offseason hip surgery may very well keep him out for the entirety of the 2013 season. And it was recently reported that he intends to rehab on his own and will not even attend spring training with the team.
Ouch. Paying him to play terrible baseball is one thing. Paying him $30 million to do absolutely nothing? That's gotta be creating a very serious pain in some Yankee executive ass.
8. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Considering he's the first legitimate franchise quarterback the Steelers have had since Terry Bradshaw, at times the relationship between former first-round draft pick Ben Roethlisberger and the organization has been symbiotic at best.
It probably has something to do with the fact that the two Super Bowl Championships Big Ben has won with the Steelers are equal to the number of times he's been accused of sexual assault. In 2008 a female employee at a Lake Tahoe hotel accused Roethlisberger of raping her. Criminal charges were eventually dismissed, but he settled out of court with the woman in January 2012.
In 2010 a college aged female in Georgia also accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her in the bathroom of a bar, but ultimately criminal chargers were not filed because the prosecutor did not believe he could convince a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt." But that wasn't the end of Pittsburgh's frustrations with their franchise quarterback.
When the Steelers fired (or forced him into "retirement) offensive coordinator Bruce Arians after the 2011 season, Roethlisberger didn't hide his displeasure with the move. When Todd Haley was hired to replace Arians, the relationship between Big Ben and his new OC was said to be strained from day one.
Despite constant attempts to downplay the strife, it was clear the two still weren't on the same page when Roethlisberger publicly criticized the offensive play calling after an overtime loss to the Cowboys in mid-December.
7. Mario Balotelli, AC Milan
After years of trying to reign in the wild antics of striker Mario Balotelli, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini finally conceded defeat in January 2013. Mancini had long been one of his biggest supporters, but the recent incident involving teammate Scott Sinclair, after which Balotelli appears to have physically confronted his manager, was the last straw.
Although anyone who knows anything about Balotelli's extremely colorful past, knows there were countless straws before that! Just a sampling of the headache-inducing, but apparently forgivable, behavior he's displayed in recent years:
- Aug. 2010: Days after signing with Man City, Balotelli crashes his car into the club's training facilities. When police ask him why he's carrying around £5,000 in cash, he replies "Because I am rich."
- Nov. 2010: While recovering from an injury in Italy, Balotelli and his brother drive into a women's prison just to take a look around.
- Mar. 2011: Balotelli makes headlines after he reportedly throws a dart at a youth footballer. Thankfully, nobody is hurt.
- Mar. 2011: Balotelli receives a red card during a tied match after needlessly menacing an opposing player. He later apologizes to his teammates.
- Oct. 2011: The fire department is summoned to Balotelli's home after the fireworks he set off in his bathroom cause a fire.
- Jan. 2012: Balotelli receives a four match ban by the FA after stomping on the head of an opponent during a match.
- Apr. 2012: Balotelli receives his fourth red card after two separate and significant incidents during a match against Arsenal.
Balotelli was sold to AC Milan in his native Italy, but the transition has been anything but smooth. After he arrived back in Milan in late January, rowdy fans took to the streets to celebrate. Balotelli decided to join them and things really got out of hand. The celebration eventually had to be broken up after fans clashed with the riot police sent in to deal with the situation.
Within weeks of playing for his new team, he has already been subjected to ugly racist taunts from opposing fans on two separate occasions. No matter the circumstance, it seems wherever Balotelli travels, controversy follows.
6. Nick Fairley, Detroit Lions
After a relatively uneventful rookie season with Detroit in 2011, defensive tackle Nick Fairley decided he was really going to make his mark in 2012. Unfortunately for the Lions, whose entire 2012 offseason was plagued by player arrests, Fairley started executing that plan a few months too early.
In April 2012 Fairley became the third Lions' rookie to be arrested, when he was found to be in possession of marijuana after being pulled over in his Cadillac Escalade for speeding in his hometown of Mobile, AL.
He was booked and cited for second-degree possession and released hours later on bond. In May he was arrested for driving under the influence and attempting to elude authorities, when Mobile police were finally able to apprehend him just after 1:00 AM.
Fairley offered a public apology for his behavior and later went on to be voted the Chuck Hughes Most Improved Player by his Lions teammates, despite finishing the season on injured reserve. But it hasn't been entirely smooth sailing.
In November Fairley proved himself to be another defensive player in Detroit lacking impulse control, when he attempted to body slam Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers WWE style after a play. A chance collision with another Lion defender prevented him from following through to the turf.
Fairley's legal problems have followed him into 2013. While the charges resulting from his first arrest were eventually dropped, the DUI case remains unresolved with attorneys at odds over pretty much everything.
The Lions, meanwhile, are just hoping they can catch a freaking break for once.
5. Andray Blatche, Brooklyn Nets
One surefire indicator that a player is an epic pain in the ass is a chronically struggling team like the Wizards decide to unload him without even trying to get anything for him. Washington selected Andray Blatche out of Syracuse in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft.
His rookie seasons didn't get off to a great start—Blatche had to miss all of training camp because he was recovering from a gunshot wound he incurred during an attempted carjacking. Eventually he recovered and the early promise he showed earned him a multi-year, multimillion dollar contract extension.
The Wizards should have taken it as a sign when the deal was delayed because Blatche was arrested for sexual solicitation in August 2007. At the time he also had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court on an earlier charge. And according to his former teammate Gilbert Arenas, it seems relationships within the team were often quite strained.
Blatche remained in Washington for five more years, but when the Wizards suspended him indefinitely for a lack of conditioning in March 2012, the writing was on the wall. It was in that same span of time that Blatche went from promising young talent, to a local laughingstock and a cautionary tale.
The Wizards unloaded him months later using the amnesty clause and Blatche was later signed by the Nets. Unfortunately trouble seems to have followed him all the way to Brooklyn. In January 2013 Blatche was investigated as one of the parties present during a sexual assault at a Philadelphia hotel.
That investigation is ongoing and, while Blatche isn't believed to have been directly involved in the attack, his mere presence means this situation isn't just going to go away.
4. Rolando McClain, Oakland Raiders
Only the late Al Davis could follow up the inexplicable decision to draft wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bay, a third round talent at best, No. 7 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, with an even more questionable pick in 2010.
Selecting unanimous All-American linebacker Rolando McClain out of BCS Championship winning Alabama doesn't seem questionable on the surface, but right below the surface lurked the character issues that have defined the Raiders for much of the last decade.
ESPN's Ivan Maisel may have described him as "the total package," but it's hard to imagine the personality that has made him a public menace suddenly appeared without warning after college. After all, Rolando was at least suspected of shoving a referee during a game n September 2009.
Since signing his $40 million contract with the Raiders in July 2011, all of McClain's "off the charts football smarts" have gone out the window. He's been unable to secure a legitimate starting role in one of the worst defenses in the NFL and has only attracted attention on the field for taking vicious penalties and getting kicked out of practice.
Although McClain hasn't had any trouble making headlines off the field with high profile arrests. In December 2011 he was arrested in Alabama after an altercation with a man in which McClain made the main beg for his life while holding a gun to his head.
In January 2013 he was arrested again after a routine traffic stop for overly tinted windows in Alabama escalated after McClain signed the citation with an obscenity, insisting that was his name.
The Raiders tried to unload McClain via waivers in late November, but there wan't a single taker. Although that didn't stop him from declaring via Facebook that he was "Officially no longer an Oakland Raider!!" McClain immediately backtracked, trying to clarify the details—likely after hearing from a frantic agent.
Hey Rolando! Good luck finding a team in 2013 who is the market for an unproductive psychopath who wasn't good enough to start for the Raiders!
3. Delmon Young, Philadelphia Phillies
When you Google the Phillies' latest ill-conceived acquisition Delmon Young, the fact that the first suggestion is "Delmon Young Hate Crime" really tells you everything you need to know about the former thorn in the side of the Tigers.
That's not to say that aggravated harassment charges from anti-Semitic epithets he drunkenly hurled at a man as he shoved him to the ground outside a New York City hotel in April 2012 should alone define his career. The hate crime incident is just the latest in a string of ugly events that have defined his relatively brief career.
During Young's rookie season with the Rays, he was suspended 50 games without pay for intentionally launching his bat at an umpire, who was struck in the arm. He later explained that he didn't suffer from anger management issues, but rather that the incident stemmed from his competitive nature.
Presumably the same competitive nature that doesn't factor into his diet or conditioning. Young's weight has been such an issue throughout his career that the incentive-laden contract he signed with the Phillies rewards him for not getting fat.
If having to bribe a professional athlete with $600,000 just not to get out of control fat isn't a pain in the ass…then I don't know what is.
2. Joey Barton, Olympique De Marseille
Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton, who is currently on a season-long loan playing for Olympique de Marseille, has a history of incidents long enough to rival that of Mario Balotelli.
The difference being that much of Balotelli's headlines have come from playful antics gone awry, while Barton's come from relatively shocking acts of violence.
- Dec. 2004: Barton stubbed out a cigar in the eyeball of one of his teammates at a Christmas party. The teammate later sues him for ruining his career…and his life.
- Jul. 2005: Barton is fined eight weeks' pay for assaulting a teenage fan in Asia.
- May 2007: Barton is arrested for assaulting a teammate at the team's training facilities.
- Dec. 2007: Two days after Christmas a fight between Barton and a teenage boy is caught on surveillance cameras. He lands 20 blows on the kid, leaving him seriously injured and with broken teeth.
- May 2008: Barton is sent to jail for six months for his latest assault.
- Nov. 2010: Barton receives a three game ban for punching an opponent during a match.
- May 2012: Barton received a 12-match ban for psychopathic behavior exhibited during a match against Manchester City.
- Jun. 2012: Barton is injured after in an early morning fight outside a Liverpool nightclub. He's photographed shirtless and being restrained by police.
- Jan. 2013: Barton publicly chides Eden Hazard, who narrowly escaped criminal charges for violently kicking a ball boy, for not kicking him "hard enough."
- Jan. 2013: Barton backtracks on the ball boy comments. Nobody believes him when he says he doesn't advocate violence.
And, quite honestly, that's only a fraction of the overall incidents Barton has been involved in over the last decade. Everything from indecent exposure to homophobic slurs had to be excluded, otherwise this horrifying list of pain-in-the-ass behavior would've tripled in length.
He must be one helluva a footballer to put up with this level of violent sociopathy.
1. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins first committed to play college ball at Alabama-Birmingham. Then he decommitted from UAB to play for Memphis, before decommitting from Memphis to follow coach John Calipari to Kentucky.
While at UK Cousins perfectly articulated the formula for the school's future success in the NCAA Tournament, explaining they had an advantage over Cornell because they weren't "out there reading books." Cousins was put on Calipari's patented one-and-done track in 2009 and was drafted by the Kings No. 5 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Sacramento chose to ignore the fact that he didn't possess a driver's license, had a history of physical altercations, and received a positive endorsement from NBA coaching and executive plague, Isiah Thomas.
There were some flashes of promise in Cousins' rookie season, but even he described himself as "selfish" within weeks of the start of his NBA career. Things haven't really improved since then.
- Feb. 2011: Cousins gets into an altercation with teammate Donte Greene, who he feels didn't pass him the ball enough during a late game loss.
- Feb. 2011: The first very detailed case outlining Cousins immaturity in the NBA is made by ESPN's Tim Keown, who stops short of labeling him a "cancer," and blames "the system" for "failing" Cousins.
- July 2012: Cousins is reportedly stunned after being passed over for the U.S. Olympic basketball team on grounds that he is too "immature."
- Nov. 2012: Cousins decides to confront Spurs broadcaster Sean Elliot about comments he made during the course of a broadcast.
- Nov. 2012: Cousins is suspended two games for the strange incident with Elliot.
- Dec. 2012: A frustrated Cousins punches the Mavericks O.J. Mayo in the groin during a game.
- Dec. 2012: Mayo publicly shares his concerns about Cousins' "mental issues."
- Dec. 2012: Cousins is suspended indefinitely by the Kings for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team."
- Dec. 2012: Teammates are reported to be fed up with the antics of Cousins.
Because Cousins is, essentially, one of the most intolerable athletes in all of professional sports, he has routinely been the subject of trade rumors. So far the Kings have proved unwilling to pull the trigger and unload him, but anything can happen if his bad behavior continues to escalate.