Sports jokes have a shelf life that lasts about as long as the average American Idol winner.
When athletes make fools of themselves, get in trouble or get arrested, nobody can stop talking about them for a while. They are the top story on SportsCenter, Around the Horn, CNN, ABC, SNL, NPR and everything else you might see, hear or click on.
And just as quickly, they are forgotten. Or at least they should be.
Even the most laughable sports scenario gets old after a while, yet some of us just won't let these jokes die like they should have months—or in some cases, years—ago.
Here are some jokes you should stop making ASAP.
There was a time not too long ago when it seemed that every day, a new member of the Cincinnati Bengals had been arrested. Appropriately, the team developed a reputation.
In the 2006 offseason and season, nine different members of the Bengals fell into a prestigious category that marked players who had been arrested.
Odell Thurman, Frostee Rucker, A.J. Nicholson, Matthias Askew, Eric Steinbach, Reggie McNeal and Deltha O'Neal were among the illustrious crew that helped the Bengals achieve history by becoming a team that registered more arrests than wins in one season.
It was quite an accomplishment, but it was a long time ago. The Bengals have started to pick themselves back up and have even earned playoff berths in three of the last four years.
People love to harp on the fact that Skip Bayless is awful and Stephen A. Smith is…passionate. These things are true, but it doesn't mean that we still have to harp on it incessantly.
The two ESPN commentators love to hear themselves talk, but whether they actually have anything productive to contribute to a given conversation or debate is unlikely.
Can they be amusing? Sometimes. It was certainly fun to make fun of them at first, when we initially began to realize that they were both caricatures of real sports commentators.
But now, we've quickly realized that they both say dumb things so often that it is best to just ignore them.
Don't feed the fire. Just hope that it goes away.
…but at least they give dudes something to look at. Right? That's how it goes?
Anna Kournikova and Danica Patrick are arguably two of the most famous female athletes in their respective sports (Danica more so than Anna, though). But we must ask ourselves why.
Is it because they dominate? No. Is it because they are slowly fading stars who were once dominant? Nope, that's not it either.
It's because they're hot. They're hot, but they can't win. Yes, we know.
These jokes aren't even funny anymore. Nobody even catches a glimpse of Kournikova unless she appears in an Enrique Iglesias video, and at this stage, Danica is more well known for her Go Daddy commercials than her prowess on the race track. It's a given.
These are not jokes; they are facts.
If there were a musical equivalent of Kim Kardashian, it would have to be Jessica Simpson. Though marginally talented, she's still one of those celebrities who tends to rub almost everyone the wrong way, mostly with her lack of intelligence and tendency to use it to get attention.
Speaking of ploys to get attention, how about that time she showed up to then-boyfriend Tony Romo's December showdown wearing a pink Romo jersey, and the Cowboys proceeded to tank for the remainder of the season?
The Curse of Jessica Simpson is something Cowboys fans still cling to, despite the fact that A) Romo and Simpson broke up about four years ago, and B) what's their excuse for the last three seasons?
Unless Simpson is still cursing them from afar with her Tony Romo voodoo doll…
Perhaps "LeBron's Mom" jokes weren't ever funny, but fans really held on to them for dear life when they needed to.
The genesis of the LeBron's Mom joke is as follows: In 2010, rumors began to circulate that LeBron James' then-teammate Delonte West had engaged in a sexual relationship of some sort with LeBron's mom. When the Cleveland Cavaliers subsequently flopped in the playoffs, you can guess the reasoning lots of people clung to: drama between LeBron and Delonte.
The weird thing about this rumor is that it wasn't really substantiated by anyone credible (and no, Calvin Murphy, you don't count), but it still caught on like wildfire and birthed a multitude of jokes, T-shirts and pictures, such as the one above.
But now that Delonte West isn't in the NBA, he and LeBron aren't teammates and, in all likelihood, this whole thing never even happened, it's probably OK to let this one go.
Michael Vick has turned his life around. Nobody really thought he could do it, but he defied the critics. He got busted for dogfighting, served his time and somehow got his football career back on track (or at least it seemed that way, before the disaster that was the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles season).
There are still plenty of people who hate him for what he did to those dogs, and that's fair. But for those of us who can't seem to let the dogfighting jokes go—can we all do ourselves a favor?
Vick paid his debt to society. And you have to give him at least a little bit of credit for attempting to get back on the horse. He didn't slink away in shame, so let him do his thing.
While we're at it, it's probably time for the Ron Mexico jokes to go away too.
Actually, never mind. That will forever be hilarious.
Whoever first came up with the Spygate pun must be pretty proud of himself.
Jokes that have a nice little catchphrase tend to exceed their shelf lives by significantly longer than they have any right to. And anyone who still enjoys listening to jokes about Bill Belichick and videotaping practices and how the Patriots haven't won since Spygate broke…that one person can go stand in the corner alone.
Spygate was a long time ago. It was never even funny in the first place; it was just bizarre. Nobody dares to ask Belichick about it anymore for fear of awakening the fire-breathing dragon, and given the fact that the Patriots have owned the AFC East for the better part of the last decade-plus, those who don't think New England can win without cheating are just ignorant.
The worst side effect of Spygate is the fact that it has spawned a litany of additional "gate" puns. Bountygate is one example. But now that Gregg Williams, Sean Payton and the rest of the Saints have successfully gotten out from under the shadow cast by their not-so-secret bounty system, we can leave that "joke" in the dust too.
We know. The Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908, and lately, they haven't appeared close to ending the drought. We also know the Pittsburgh Pirates are terrible, and we know Cleveland fans—of the Indians, the Cavs, the Browns, whatever—feel slighted because their teams never seem able to get the job done in any sport.
Just like the Red Sox couldn't escape the "perennial losers" tag until 2004, nobody can seem to talk about the Cubs without talking about the fact that it seems they'll never be able to break "The Curse." They seem to be doomed to a fate where they will do nothing except refrain from winning in the most painful possible fashion.
Same with the Pirates. Their ineptitude isn't quite as epic as Chicago's, but this is a team that hasn't finished over .500 since 1992. They're bad.
As for Cleveland…well, between LeBron leaving the Cavs in the dust like a jilted girlfriend (another joke that needs to die!), the Browns being one of the most embarrassing franchises in the NFL and the Indians still reeling from their 2007 ALCS loss, it isn't fun to be a Cleveland fan.
It would have been a lot easier to let this one be if the Red Sox had actually been a competent baseball team last season, but they weren't, so it lived on a lot longer than it should have.
When Boston's September 2011 stretch became the worst late-season collapse in the history of baseball and resulted in the Red Sox missing the postseason, the fans and the media wanted answers.
They found those answers in reports that the team's pitching leaders spent their in-game hours inside the clubhouse eating fried chicken and drinking beer instead of toughing it out in the dugout with their comrades.
Cue the multitude of jokes about the Red Sox being lazy, fat oafs; cue the multitude of pictures with chickens and beer cans superimposed over the players.
It's only been a month-and-a-half, but the Sox look like they have their act together in 2013. So it's time to let the chicken and the beer go its merry way.
This one obviously had a short shelf life. It was great while it lasted, though.
Urban legend has it that when the Celtics and the Knicks squared off in early January, Kevin Garnett—notorious for his trash talking—said something crude to Carmelo Anthony about his wife, La La, and Honey Nut Cheerios (you can fill in the blanks with this).
Carmelo was understandably furious and pursued Garnett after the game outside of the visitor's locker room and in the bus tunnel.
Obviously, once the urban legend got out, the fans took it and ran with it as far as they could—which wasn't far, because security personnel banned any T-shirts or signs with the Honey Nut Cheerios logo or any boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios from the arena the next time the Celtics played the Knicks.
Now that the season's over, this joke is too. It sure was funny, though.
This was something you couldn't even make up. A Pro Bowl wide receiver walks into a nightclub, accompanied by a Pro Bowl linebacker, wearing sweatpants and carrying a gun in his waistband. The safety wasn't on, the gun started to slide down and he went to grab it.
As only he could describe it, "Pow."
Because it was loud in the club, and because he shot himself in his lower region, nobody noticed, so he had to nudge his friend and tell him, "I think I just shot myself."
Ladies and gentlemen, Plaxico Burress.
Clearly, what he did was stupid, and this story could have ended up a lot worse if he had shot someone else instead of himself, or if he had been seriously injured. But when you go to jail because you're dumb enough to carry a concealed weapon into a nightclub and then you accidentally shoot yourself, you're going to get made fun of. A lot.
But it was almost five years ago. He learned his lesson and moved on; so should we.
Here is a rule: When it becomes clear that two people are out for nothing more than headlines and magazine covers, don't indulge them. It's like when your annoying sibling is trying to annoy you; the absolute worst thing you can do is acknowledge his or her presence.
So let's all do ourselves a favor and forget that both Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries exist. No more jokes.
Anytime you marry a giant oaf whom you barely know and engineer a two-hour TV special about the wedding, only to divorce him a week later (OK, fine, 72 days), you deserve to be ridiculed—especially when you're already one of the most irritating celebrities in existence.
Anytime you are an oafish NBA player who makes a career out of capitalizing on his failed marriage to an insufferable reality TV star, you deserve to be ridiculed.
And oh, how they were ridiculed.
Now that the ridiculing is done, though, let's go back to pretending neither of them exists.
Brett Favre has done a lot of dumb things in the last few years, but none were dumber than texting nudie pictures of himself to females who weren't his wife.
When the world found out that Favre—one of the best quarterbacks ever, BTW—had done this, he deserved to be shamed. Technology has grown leaps and bounds over the last decade or so, and admittedly, it can be difficult to discern the overarching do's and don'ts. But come on, Brett. Don't take those photos, and certainly do not send them, especially if you are married.
It's been long enough now that we can let this one die. We can eternally judge Favre for it, but we don't need to talk about it all the time. Favre is annoying and apparently dumb and self-centered—we all know it. But he's retired. Let's allow him to be all of those things outside of our realm of concern.
Something weird happened this weekend. While I was watching the Players Championship, there was a moment—several, actually—where I forgot all about the events of Nov. 27, 2009.
The case is probably the same for 99 percent of golf watchers. The Tiger Woods scandal, by this time, should be 100 percent old news.
The epic fallout from Tiger's epic infidelity was completely warranted. When you're the most recognizable athlete on the face of the earth and you experience a personal scandal that involves extramarital dalliances with at least 12 women, you deserve the heat you'll take from the media and from the world.
Now that it has been three-and-a-half years, however, the scandal should be a thing of the past. Tiger, by all indications, has gotten his life together, on and off the course. It's hard to bounce back from a PR disaster like his, but props to him for doing it.
When ESPN commentator Brent Musburger got totally sketchy on the air and began verbally salivating over another man's 23-year-old girlfriend on national television, it almost blew up the Twitterverse. And rightfully so.
Listening to Musburger gush like a schoolboy over Katherine Webb during this year's college football national championship was amazing. It was like he thought it was a commercial break—except it wasn't, and the mics were still on.
It was especially wondrous for Notre Dame fans, who could forget for just a second that their precious Irish were in the process of being guillotined by a real football team.
There are plenty of dirty old men, though, not just in sports, but in the world at large. Musburger's comments were funny, but were they ridiculous enough to provoke a national debate?
Plus, a week from now, there will be a new PR blunder for ESPN to deal with, and we'll forget this ever happened.
Antonio Cromartie doesn't do himself any favors. He seems to have no problem making himself the butt of a plethora of jokes. He routinely says and does stupid things, and on top of that, he is the father of 12 children by eight different women.
It's a true story. You can look it up.
While it's hard to not make fun of someone who has so many illegitimate children, it's old. It's over. We've all heard plenty about Cromartie's plight, and we need to move on to the next.
Plus, "plight" is probably the wrong word, because Cromartie, for his part, seems pretty darn pleased with himself.
When you're a prominent NFL player and you're involved, to some degree, in a double murder, it's hard to prevent that from following you around for your entire career.
That doesn't mean Ray Lewis murdered anybody. But we know that, at the very least, he knew something about the people who did murder two people.
Because he chose to retire at the end of this postseason, and because his team happened to go on an unbelievable run that ended with a Super Bowl victory, Lewis endured a lot of taunting and unpleasant jokes throughout the course of the last few months. People still tweet about the white suit and its potential whereabouts, and they have even taken to tweeting at Lewis' son regarding the murder.
But it's been 13 years. It's time to move on.
When this first happened, it was amazing. A once-promising, big-market quarterback who was in the midst of the most embarrassingly ineffective season of his life fumbled, in perhaps the most-watched game of his season, by running into the backside of one of his own players.
It was comedy gold. It was the not-top play on SportsCenter for months at a time. It earned its own entry on Urban Dictionary.
But we're getting to the point now where it's hard to talk about Mark Sanchez without feeling bad for him. His futility was once comical; now, as we watch his career continue to circle the drain, it is just sad. It's pathetic.
It's still hard to watch the butt fumble without giggling, and it probably always will be, but let's keep the "Sanchez sucks" jokes to a minimum, shall we? We all know it's true; let's just let it be.
We're noticing a trend: When players are actually good, it's a lot more fun to make fun of them. When they inexplicably become terrible, most of us get tired—fast—of the endless stream of jokes and memes.
Back when it seemed plausible that Tim Tebow could A) be the quarterback of a professional football team and B) lead that team to at least one victory, all of the jokes centering on his faith were a lot funnier.
Once it became clear that neither one of those premises existed any longer, Tebow just became one of a great many stellar college quarterbacks who were complete failures in the pros.
For a while, Tebow was one of the most polarizing players in the world of sports, and we all loved poking fun at his genuflecting and the way he incorporated his religion into every facet of his game, even his eye black. But now that he can't even get a job, the joke is most definitely over.
It was admittedly bizarre—in a totally awesome way—when the breaking news banner on SportsCenter read "MANTI TEO'S GIRLFRIEND DID NOT EXIST" for a good 24 hours back in January. And it was certainly hilarious to all of us that a grown man could have possibly been duped into a fake online relationship by one of his own friends.
But as quickly as this story blew up, it deflated. Manti Te'o went from being a surefire top-10 draft pick to an embarrassment to Notre Dame and the institution of football.
For a while, the jokes were funny. There were SNL skits; there was the Manti Te'o Kiss Cam, which showed, on the JumboTron, a guy sitting next to an empty seat; there was the fodder that doubtlessly appeared on your Twitter and Facebook feeds for weeks at a time.
But now it's over. Manti Te'o is still a moron, but let's just let him be a moron in peace.