Professional athletes are, in the most liberal sense, employees who do a job. Beyond this very generic description, however, it's a disingenuous exercise to try and draw any comparisons to how the average person makes a living.
Like many of us, they get paid by someone to do something. But the expectations between the two couldn't possibly be any more different.
This isn't to say that pro players shouldn't reap the benefits of their unique talent and lifelong preparation, or that they don't get stressed out, fed up or screwed over. Of course they do.
Professional sports aren't just a game; they are businesses, and athletes have to deliver to keep their jobs.
However, if you're employed as an accountant, cook, salesperson or lab research technician—or in literally any career field that isn't professional sports—it's not likely your boss' rival will clamor for your services if you get fired for not showing up for a big meeting.
Or not showing up at all!
In the real world you can get fired for pretty much anything—being late, dressing inappropriately, using colorful language or just generally being a horrible person to be around. That's something many athletes have absolutely no concept of.
Here are 20 athletes who would have trouble holding down a job in the real world.
Nick Diaz is not exactly the kind of guy who would stick around an accounting job.
First of all, he's failed multiple drug tests. I'm not sure if that's cool at the places you work, but even Hardee's would frown on that sort of behavior.
He's also unreliable, having blown off pre-fight open workouts. That's about the same as not showing up to an important meeting for no reason.
Even worse than the pre-fight workouts, though, was the time he blew off a UFC press conference. Not a great idea to antagonize Dana White, only the most powerful man in MMA.
Diaz has barely been behaved enough for ultimate fighting, a job where you beat the snot out of your co-worker. Just let that sink in for a second.
Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney is an outstanding footballer who also happens to be a lightning rod for scandal, both alleged and quite proven. By all accounts, he’s someone whose friends and colleagues describe him as a “great person” but also kind of bad news.
You know the type. Rooney is the dude that’s always between jobs but a blast to get hammered with on, maybe twice a year. He can’t keep his libido or attitude in check—two pretty essential qualities for gainful employment.
Without football, Rooney would most likely be a couch-hopping bouncer with an outstanding warrant for failure to pay child support, who always has “a thing lined up” you should “get in on.”
Thankfully, he'll never need a job, considering he's already earned more money than most of us could spend in a lifetime. But if he had to get one, there's no chance he wouldn't get fired in short order.
You know what’s a surefire, winning formula for career success in any field or industry? Being the kind of guy who treats his colleagues like garbage and shuts down when things aren’t done completely on his terms and/or when confronted with adversity.
Oh wait, that’s actually a surefire formula for getting fired from any job—whether flipping burgers or developing software. Not that Randy Moss would lower himself to flipping burgers, because we all know what a high opinion he has of himself.
The veteran NFL free agent is living, breathing proof that the value of jaw-dropping talent plummets precipitously over time when you’re absolutely wretched to work with.
Moss’ ambivalence toward playing the role of teammate—from quitting on plays to belittling free, delicious food—is universally unacceptable.
The bad news is that Moss wouldn't last a day at a real job. The good news is that he'd never even try.
Superstar Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has a rare gift—he can move through water with grace and speed of which precious few people are capable. It's brought him fortune and global fame.
However, those of us who thrash around in water while gripped by panic have a very common gift that eludes Lochte—the ability to clearly articulate our thoughts and engage in basic problem-solving. We can even say words and walk at the same time, which he's confessed is quite taxing for him.
I’m fairly certain he’d agree with the sentiment, even if he had absolutely no idea what "sentiment" meant.
Don’t get me wrong; his "mimbo" ways can be adorable, but it’s hard to imagine Lochte holding down any job outside of swimming—though he’d surely try.
Fortunately, Lochte found a way to make money off his shortcomings. He’s slated to star in a reality show about being…um…Ryan Lochte. But that’s not a job, no matter what Kim Kardashian wants you to believe.
I can't be alone in being impressed that Bengals cornerback Adam Jones recently signed a three-year deal worth approximately $3 million over the life of the contract. After being drafted by the Titans in the first round of the NFL draft in 2005, Jones went on a three-year tear—off the field.
Jones was arrested countless times for a variety of incidents, and it seemed he was much more likely to have a bright future in prison than the NFL. Somehow, he's managed to turn it around, and for that he should be commended.
But does that mean he could hold down a job in the real world? No way. Pacman better be saving his pennies because it'll be easy to fall back into old habits after he retires.
Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson doesn't seem like a bad guy at all. By all accounts, he's relatively well liked by his teammates and hasn't run afoul of the law—at least not in any high-profile way.
But the fact of the matter is that, unless he changes his ways, Wilson is simply too eccentric to hold down a real-world job. If showing up on the first day of work in a spandex tuxedo didn't get him fired, arriving with Bigfoot the next day certainly would.
Plus, I don't think there's a dress code in America that would allow that kind of beard in a professional environment. Coworkers would literally fear the beard.
Hopefully Milan striker Mario Balotelli is being more responsible with his money today than he was back when he played for Manchester City—the days when he drove around with £5,000 in cash in his car just because he was rich and gave away £1,000 to a homeless man after a big win at a casino.
Balotelli obviously has money to burn, and since we all know he likes to burn things, he may very well be literally burning it. But after his soccer career, it's hard to imagine Balotelli would last even a single day at a real world job without getting fired.
He may be generous, but he's also combative with a volatile temper. Balotelli and rules are like oil and water—they just don't mix.
You know those people who get tattoos on their faces and make you think, "Man, that dude is never going to get a job outside of prison"?
Now, I'm not saying that Heat forward Chris Andersen will end up in prison, unless violating the NBA's drug policy ever becomes a felony. I am saying, though, that it's pretty tough to imagine him working in a real-world job like the rest of us.
The tattoos and the mohawk would exclude him from anything in the corporate world off the bat, but I can't even imagine his checkered past, and checkered neck tattoos, would even go over well at Burger King.
Maybe the Birdman could keep a job at a tattoo parlor for a while, but his inherent wanderlust would eventually take over.
Good gravy, Titus Young. Chosen by the Lions in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, the wide receiver is already unemployed. You could almost feel bad for the 23-year-old wide receiver, if only he wasn't such a delusional lunatic.
Young had two less than impressive seasons in Detroit, and that's putting it mildly, but that didn't stop him from declaring himself a greater talent than future Hall of Fame teammate Calvin Johnson.
You know, exactly the kind of guy anyone would be thrilled to work with in the real world. Not.
There are some sympathetic fans out there that would describe Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov as "confident." Then there are the rest of us that would describe him as "arrogant."
During the four years Berbatov spent playing for Manchester United, he didn't do much to endear himself to fans. He may have been productive on the pitch, but he was constantly accused of being on the defense about his piss-poor attitude—his argument being that everyone just picked on him.
He's lucky enough to have a fresh start at Fulham, but he's already rubbed teammates the wrong way. They've been quick to forgive so far because of his "immense talent," but Berbatov, who has been called out as an "arrogant snob," will likely wear out his welcome at some point.
Berbatov would be an absolute nightmare to work with in a real-world job. He encompasses the worst attributes of every co-worker you've ever hated. There's no way he could keep a job.
There may be a few of you that disagree about the inclusion of Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett on this list. Not because you like the guy, because nobody likes the guy, but because being a jerk doesn't always get you fired in the real world.
In fact, sometimes being a jerk can be one of the greatest possible assets in a business environment. But the thing about Beckett is that he's not just your typical jerk.
He's lazy. He's mean. He's shockingly unlikable.
Maybe he could land a real-world job, but there's no way he'd keep it for more than a few months. When he came back from lunch every day stinking of beer and fried chicken, he would be kicked to the curb eventually.
And when your actions help divide a clubhouse and get a knowledgeable manager like Terry Francona fired, you're not exactly a shining example of a model employee.
It may not be fair, but a resume emblazoned with the name "Metta World Peace" is more likely than not to get quickly tossed in the "no" pile. Right or wrong, that's just the world in which we live.
Assuming MWP did land an interview, there would be plenty of red flags on display that would likely prevent him from getting the job—showing up in sweats, dropping casual F-bombs—and a contrived and bizarre name like Metta World Peace just screams, "I’ve got baggage."
A lot of baggage.
Even if the Lakers forward landed a job outside of pro basketball, his antics pretty much check all the boxes for what not to do in the workplace. And it's hard to imagine he'd be able to play the role of a model employee for very long. Maybe not even a few minutes.
PGA golfer John Daly has actually cleaned up his act in recent years. He's lost about 100 pounds, and he hasn't been arrested for passing out outside a Hooters in quite some time.
But that doesn't mean he could hold down a job in the real world. Daly is a well-known fan of the booze, and his infamously goofy wardrobe sure wouldn't jive with the dress code of any office I've ever worked at.
Daly might be able to get himself hired, but you can only call in sick with a hangover so many times. Even if you come up with creative stories, someone will catch on eventually!
Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount has a tendency of punching people in the face.
In 2009, he began his senior year with the Oregon Ducks by punching a Boise State player in the face after falling to the Broncos (leading to a season-ending suspension).
This led to reports alleging he fought with teammates and even punched former Ducks coach Mike Bellotti. Ah yes, there's something to put on his resume: "willing to punch the boss."
Despite his punching habit, the Titans signed Blount as an undrafted free agent in 2010, and he promptly started swinging at teammates in practice. Tennessee would waive him, but he was signed by the Bucs, where he managed to viciously assault—via his fists—a fan.
“I like to punch people in the face” is a deal breaker for any job outside of boxing...and apparently pro football. Unless Punching Bag Tester is an actual job, Blount needs to stick to the gridiron.
Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt is a bit reminiscent of retired wideout Marvin Harrison, if Harrison was less professional during the season and less of a loose cannon during the offseason. The Colts great was known to engage in some questionable behavior with unsavory characters but somehow kept it entirely under wraps.
Britt has a decidedly different style when it comes to his criminal activity. He's into high-profile, high-speed car chases with the police. Britt has been busted for careless driving, resisting arrest, DUI and was even present during the stabbing of his brother.
He's only 24, but has already been involved in nine police incidents since being drafted in 2009. Britt must have one heck of a lawyer, because he's managed to escape any kind of serious repercussions for this steady stream of criminal activity.
If you told me in 10 years that Kenny Britt was still be playing in the NFL, there's a chance I'd drop dead of shock.
There's just something not quite right about former MLB player Nyjer Morgan. He's definitely got some eccentricities, like his alter ego "Tony Plush," but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The real problem for Morgan is that he's more troubled than talented. He's been in his share of altercations on the field. Actually, he's been in a lot of players' share of altercations on the field.
There was a bench-clearing brawl he incited with the Marlins while playing for the Nationals in 2009.
While playing for the Brewers in 2011, Morgan started a brawl with the Cardinals after throwing tobacco at Chris Carpenter. He is physically incapable of playing by the rules. Not the real rules and all those insane made-up rules baseball players have to abide by.
And then there's the fact that Morgan has no problem starting crap with fans—a huge no-no. Just imagine him at a real life job—starting fights, throwing staplers…and blaming it all on Tony Plush.
That would go over just swimmingly.
There’s nothing wrong with a dose of healthy skepticism about the legitimacy of certain rules and the motives behind the people who enforce them. Heck, it’s an American tradition. This country was founded because a bunch of whiny dudes didn't want to pay their taxes.
However, to keep a job, or stay out of prison, you have to be willing to accept the fact you’re not above the law or the chain of command. Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain seems to have trouble with both—not to mention an inflated sense of self-worth.
The 2009 first-round pick was arrested in 2011 when he held a gun to a guy’s head in Alabama and made him beg for his life. Arrested the next day, McClain posed for a photographer like he was getting his picture taken in one of those mall photo booths.
In January, McClain ran afoul of the law again, when he signed a traffic citation with “F*** Y'all.” As you can imagine, the police were less than impressed with his shenanigans.
With his release imminent, McClain is essentially getting fired by the Raiders. He’ll probably get another opportunity with another team, but he’s the type of person who is not just a bad employee, but a scary one.
You know what trait is hardest to sell in an interview? Being a violent loose cannon.
He's only 22 years old, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to imagine Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins having a long and fruitful career in the NBA. Despite being the No. 5 overall pick by Sacramento in the 2010 NBA draft, his "character issues" are starting to outweigh his immense promise.
Not exactly a bookworm during his one-year stint at Kentucky, Cousins has earned a reputation as a selfish and immature player over the last three years. He's confrontational, unpredictable, inconsistent, generally disliked by his teammates and in late 2012 was suspended indefinitely for basically being a horrible person.
Talent is enough to keep you employed in professional sports for a long time, but not in the real world. If Cousins ever even managed to land a job, he'd probably be canned on the first day.
NFL free agent Albert Haynesworth isn't officially retired, but he might as well be. With his past history of run-ins with the law and the crap he pulled with the Redskins, an NFL team would have to be out of its mind to give this guy another chance.
Haynesworth was one of the most coveted free agents on the market in 2009, and naturally, Washington was desperate to overpay for him. Fanboy Dan Snyder signed off offering Haynesworth a seven-year contract worth $100 million, $41 million of which was guaranteed.
"Fat Albert" was thrilled about the deal, minus the part about him having to play football. He refused to learn the Redskins' new system or participate in offseason activities and showed up to training camp in terrible shape.
That's because, as Haynesworth himself explained, he was never "for sale." Just because he signed a contract or whatever doesn't mean he's a "slave or whatever."
Imagine how that whole situation would play out in a real-world scenario. Haynesworth would get fired on the spot, accept he wouldn't walk away with $41 million.
Not only could soccer hooligan Joey Barton not hold down a real-world job, it's a freaking wonder that he's even allowed to play soccer at this point. He's not just violent for a professional athlete; Barton would be violent for the leader of a prison gang.
Barton's record would probably preclude him from even being hired at a car wash, but if anyone took a chance on him, they would quickly regret it. Barton's hairpin trigger is legitimately frightening.
It's not even worth going through his lengthy history of horrifying behavior. It's been well documented over the last decade, and Barton's list of cringeworthy—if not arrest-worthy—behavior could fill an entire slideshow itself.
Barton has never once learned a lesson from his rap sheet of horrifying violence—and we all know it.