Beloved Athletes Who Are Actually Jerks

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2013

Beloved Athletes Who Are Actually Jerks

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    Just because someone can jump high, run fast or throw hard doesn't mean he is a nice person.

    There's little worse than investing a ton of energy and passion in supporting a certain athlete, only to find out that he is one of the biggest jerks to walk the planet.

    I've seen this firsthand, and I'm sure you've had similar experiences, which is why I'm listing beloved athletes who are actually giant jerks.

    Go ahead, jersey burning is totally acceptable here.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    International superstar Cristiano Ronaldo might have plenty of years left in him—he's only 28—but if you ask fans who follow the sport, they can't wait for his shenanigans to stop.

    Known for his flair during goal celebrations and his penchant for dating super hot women, Ronaldo probably has every right to be a jerk—and he takes full advantage of it.

    He is arguably the most talented soccer player in the world, but thanks to his adoration for himself, his party-boy ways and his nights with prostitutes, he also happens to be one of the biggest jerks on the planet.

Pedro Martinez

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    For whatever reason, people tend to forget just how dominant Pedro Martinez was during his 18-year career.

    But the success of winning three Cy Young Awards in a span of four years seemed to go to his head.

    There was the constant trash-talking and throwing at opponents, but Pedro's ultimate jerk moment came when he threw down former Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer during the 2003 ALCS. Zimmer was 73 years old at the time.

    Pedro might have been one of the best pitchers of his era, but the toss he made in Fenway that day proved to seal his deal as a bona fide jerk.

Lawrence Taylor

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    Thanks to his gaudy stats and reckless abandon on the football field, there's no question former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor was one bad dude in pads.

    But some questionable decisions showed he was just as bad off the field.

    Taylor was once asked what he could do better than any outside linebacker in the league.

    His response?

    "Drink."

    His partying ways continued. He got busted with drugs and was caught up in a sexual assault case over the past couple of years, which he won.

    Luckily, he seems to be turning things around, so he isn't as high on this list as he would have been, say, five or six years ago.

Alex Rodriguez

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    Smug. Brash. Spoiled. Talented.

    All those words could be used to describe the mercurial Alex Rodriguez, who is far and away one of the best baseball players of his generation—as well as one of the most clouded.

    Though he seemed full of himself even as a young player in Seattle, it wasn't until he signed the then-richest deal in sports history that his ego really took off.

    Hoping to live up to the expectations, A-Rod admitted to using steroids from 2001-03, all but tarnishing everything he had previously accomplished.

    He constantly pushes aside his postseason struggles and cheated on his wife, but he still thinks he's God's gift to earth.

Mike Tyson

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    As if the rape conviction that sent Mike Tyson to jail in 1991 wasn't enough of an example of how big of a jerk he was, Tyson continued to prove he was one of the dirtiest guys in sports after his comeback.

    Coupling the well-known ear-biting of Evander Holyfield with his prison time probably would have been enough to put him on this list, but then the former heavyweight champ began abusing drugs and overspending.

    Tyson isn't higher on this list because his redemption in comedy movies helps his case, but there's no denying that he's not only a jerk but also perhaps a complete psychopath.

Kobe Bryant

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    For his opponents, the end of Kobe Bryant's career can't come soon enough.

    For the media and fans, though, it's for different reasons some can't wait to see "The Black Mamba" hang up his sneakers.

    Though I love Bryant's intensity, grit and competitiveness, it's a fact that he's as full of himself as any athlete.

    From trying to maneuver front office decisions, putting down teammates and, of course, the adultery thing that happened a few years back, no one needs to wait until Kobe walks away to know he's one of the most cold-blooded jerks in sports.

Diego Maradona

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    If you didn't grow up in Argentina, it might be difficult to fully understand just how beloved former soccer great Diego Maradona really was.

    We can only go off of what we hear and read, and most people compare his impact on soccer in his country to that of Pele. That's pretty damn big.

    But just because he influenced many in his country doesn't mean he didn't have his bumps along the way.

    In 1991, "Barrilete Cosmico" was suspended for a positive cocaine test. Then, as his native country's head coach during the 2010 World Cup, he made news for running over a cameraman with his car prior to the tourney.

    Maradona may have been the beneficiary of the "Hand of God," but that hand should be slapped for being one of the biggest jerks sports has ever seen.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    Can we all just stop and think about why it shouldn't surprise us that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a complete jerk?

    The dude's nickname is "Money," for God's sake.

    In fact, the only thing bigger than the current welterweight champ's bank account is his ego—and he'll let us know how big both are quite easily

    He has spent time in jail, boosts his ego any chance he gets and rolls thick with the biggest celebrities—but what do you expect from a guy who makes nearly $30 million per fight?

Roger Clemens

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    The storylines on Roger Clemens have changed tremendously since the seven-time Cy Young winner stepped away from the game.

    Clemens was one of the greatest—albeit cockiest—pitchers in baseball history, but one can't talk about his career without the mentioning steroid allegations and the lying (or "misremembering") that accompanied his denials.

    If only Roger's lone hiccup could have been that 2000 feud with former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, all would be forgotten by now.

    Unfortunately, though, there has been more to his story than that.

Tiger Woods

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    Although he's back atop the world golf rankings, Tiger Woods has found that winning the coveted major he so desperately seeks is harder than it was earlier in his career.

    He also probably finds that fewer fans support him through his trials and tribulations because of his checkered past.

    Woods is the poster boy for deceiving the public. He was the All-American pretty boy, blessed with charisma, charm and athletic ability.

    Of course, that all changed in November 2009 when he got in an altercation with then-wife Elin, leaving Woods a little damaged from a minor car crash.

    The truth came out. Tiger was more than just an animal on the course; he was also an animal in the sack. He was diagnosed with a sex addiction after sleeping with what seemed like every porn star and adult escort on the planet.

    Seems that his swearing and overt cockiness on the course were the least of his jerky traits.

Barry Bonds

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    There were obvious times during Barry Bonds' playing days when we all felt like he was lying about his alleged steroid use—as in, every single time a reporter asked him about it.

    Known to blow up at questions involving PEDs, Bonds looked like a child throwing a tempter tantrum in his last couple of years with the Giants, and the allegations largely overshadowed his team's play.

    When he finally broke Hank Aaron's all-time home run record in 2007, many weren't cheering his accomplishment, as it raised even more questions of his alleged use.

    On top of all that, he had an affair for almost 10 years, and he clashed with teammates, leaving his reputation hugely tarnished.

Michael Jordan

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    Few sports fans would argue that Michael Jordan isn't the greatest basketball player to ever step on the hardwood.

    With a divine competitiveness unmatched by nearly any athlete seen before or since, Jordan was obsessed with winning, never willing to accept second place.

    During his playing days, there were run-ins with teammates and gambling problems, but it wasn't until after his retirement that his jerkiness was really shown.

    After a messy divorce in which Jordan owed former wife Juanita over $150 million, the truth began to come out about his Airness.

    That truth included a woman on the side during his playing days, whom he paid to keep the relationship secret, and an overall stubbornness as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Brett Favre

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    If there's one thing Brett Favre likes, it's attention.

    As one of the greatest quarterbacks of the past 25 years, Favre carried a reputation as a guy who was in love with the game of football, laying it all on the line en route to a record 297 consecutive starts over 19 seasons.

    But his waffling between retiring and un-retiring made him look like a prima donna, putting the focus on him more than his team.

    The final straw of jerkness came when he was called out for texting some inappropriate pictures to former Jets reporter—and mega-hottie—Jenn Sterger.

    Favre finally faded into retirement, with a legacy tarnished from his MVP-winning days.

Lance Armstrong

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    As recently as just six months ago, Lance Armstrong was still beloved by millions in the sporting world both for what he did in the sport of cycling and his tremendous impact on cancer research.

    Sure, there were always rumors and allegations of doping, but he had always been in the forefront of openly admitting to testing anytime, anywhere.

    Then January 22, 2013 came, and he admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he lied, cheated and deceived everyone who was in his corner.

    Even after being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, Armstrong showed that he was an arrogant jerk.

O.J. Simpson

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    Man, how much did O.J. Simpson completely fall off the face of the earth?

    After winning over football fans with his rushing ability thanks to a Heisman Trophy at prestigious Southern Cal in college and then continuing his dominance over the 11 years he played in the NFL, "The Juice" was once looked at as a family man.

    Yeah, that all changed the moment he was suspected of murder in 1994.

    After dodging a bullet and being found not guilty, he held up a sports memorabilia store after accusing them of selling his stolen items and wound up in prison anyway.