Let's delve into something for a second.
There are people in this world who get paid millions of dollars to throw a ball. Or to catch one. Or to kick one. Or to skate and hit each other.
They get paid millions of dollars to play the games they love. They get to play a game for a living(!).
So why do these people complain so much? And why do they have such a hard time lying low, staying out of trouble and just collecting their millions of dollars when they pass go?
What's funny is that it seems like the guys who get paid the most are the ones who whine the most. Do they think that with their paychecks—and the status that accompanies them—entitles them to special treatment? Do they think they should be immune to criticism? Why are they so entitled?
Seriously. You play a game for a living. To everyone on this list: Suck it up.
Nobody feels bad for you, Barry Bonds. Nobody. Zero people. And no amount of posturing or complaining or lying under oath is going to change that.
Once, you were lauded as one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. You were a sure-fire Hall of Famer, a 14-time All Star, and you set the MLB home run record.
And then we found out that you did it all by taking steroids.
You broke the rules, blatantly and unabashedly. You lied under oath about it to a federal grand jury and obstructed an investigation into the laboratory that provided you with your illegal means to being the best baseball player ever. Even now, you refuse to admit to any wrongdoing and expect people to feel sorry for you when you say maddening things like this, courtesy of SI.com:
I gave my life and soul to that game. That's what's heartbreaking. That's the hard part of it. My (reputation) was kind of iffy anyway. I created that guy out there for entertainment only. Whether you hated me or liked me, you were there. And I only wanted you there. I just wanted you to see the show.
All you had to do was not cheat. You probably would have been just fine if you hadn't cheated. You still could have made millions and gotten into Cooperstown and been famous for the right reasons instead of for the fact that your skull expanded significantly throughout your career.
Cam Newton clearly wanted to be the Next Big Thing when he debuted in the NFL in 2011. The desire was palpable. Throughout the first two years of his career, he has had flashes of brilliance, but for the most part, he hasn't been able to get the job done.
Time for him to start taking accountability and stop whining and doling out blame whenever his team loses.
Newton made plenty of headlines in 2012 for his attitude as his Panthers went 7-9. There was the infamous "suggestion box" rant, which may have directly led to the firing of Carolina GM Marty Hurney. Instead of doing the right thing and admitting that he can be erratic and can't hit his receivers—and instead of actually putting the team on his shoulders and playing better—he blamed his front office.
Cam Newton has a pretty nice life. He has an incredible amount of talent, a Heisman Trophy for his mantle and a fully-guaranteed $22 million rookie contract. Life could definitely be worse.
And nobody likes a guy who keeps throwing his colleagues under the bus.
Jay Cutler is always whining about something. He is the king of pulling the "I feel disrespected" card.
Cutler didn't like the idea of being involved in trade rumors, and he made a ginormous deal of it. That got him traded from Denver to Chicago. Once he got to Chicago, he only waited one game into the preseason before he started complaining about new teammate Devin Hester. Once he got tired of complaining about his teammates, he moved on to complaining about the turf at his home stadium.
Cutler has a great life. He has managed to stay tolerated in Chicago despite the fact that he is a mediocre quarterback who is always hurt and has never won a Super Bowl. He has a hot wife and a cute kid. And he has made $30 million for, again, being an OK quarterback who has never won the big game.
Next time he feels like complaining, he should focus on that.
There are plenty of guys in the world of sports who aren't good teammates. They keep to themselves, they do their jobs, they go home at the end of the day and they don't concern themselves with making friends. That's totally fine.
And then there's Stephen Jackson.
Stephen Jackson's personal struggles are well-documented. At some point or another, he has racked up misdemeanors for assault, disorderly conduct and battery. The weird thing about Jackson, though, is that his former teammates and coaches seem to have this idea in their heads that he was actually a great teammate and a person of high character.
Why, then, was he cut by the Spurs in mid-April of this year, just before they were about to embark on a playoff run that would eventually lead them to the Finals?
According to the rumors, Jackson "butted heads" with head coach Gregg Popovich. He "didn't buy into the system and culture" that the Spurs were propagating. And the Spurs did just fine without him, stretching the Heat to the limit before losing the championship in seven games.
Jackson could have just kept his mouth shut and tried to focus on being a good basketball player instead of being a distraction. Maybe then he could have helped San Antonio win it all.
Objectively, Chris Paul has a team that has what it takes to win. In fact, there are a lot of leaders in the NBA who have it a lot worse than he does.
Chris Paul has Blake Griffin. He has Eric Bledsoe. He has young, developing talent like DeAndre Jordan and veteran talent like Caron Butler. He has a lot to work with, and yet still, his summer vacation has included sending his front office on a wild goose chase to get him everything he thinks he needs in order to build a true contender.
Clearly, Paul runs the show. While rumors circulated for weeks about whether or not Doc Rivers would become the Clippers' next head coach, the news slowly trickled out that Paul essentially demanded the team bring in Rivers or else he wouldn't sign an extension.
You always love it when your star player issues an ultimatum. That always turns out well.
Plus, how is someone who has accumulated $45 million so dissatisfied? I get that the guy wants to win, but Doc Rivers isn't going to magically conjure a championship. The Heat won two titles with Erik Spoelstra as their coach. That should tell us something.
Why does it always seem like Brett Favre wants people to feel bad for him?
He had a pretty good run, didn't he? Eleven Pro Bowls, three NFL MVP awards and a Super Bowl ring in 15 years as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. He was royalty in Green Bay. He was a god. He was universally idolized.
Until he wasn't.
There was absolutely no reason Favre had to make such a public display of his decision about whether or not to retire for several years in a row. No reason at all. Athletes should—and most do—make those decisions privately. And the fact that someone like Aaron Rodgers was just waiting in the wings, his future incumbent upon Favre's yearly flip-flopping, made it even worse.
Favre's legacy in Green Bay could have been great. He was one of the best quarterbacks ever; he brought them a Super Bowl, he was a legend. Then he started acting like a diva—and oh yeah, he took pictures of…himself and sent them to someone who was not his wife, a team employee at that—and his pristine image shattered.
It seems like this whole debacle could have been avoided.
It's basically part of the job description for NFL wide receivers to be mouthy and obnoxious and self-congratulatory. It worked for Chad Johnson when he was a) still playing and b) still playing well.
Now, Johnson is doing neither of those things and hasn't been since about 2009. That, apparently, is when he decided to throw everything down the drain.
Since 2009, Johnson has accumulated 1,107 total yards in 29 games. He has also racked up a couple of arrests, a domestic violence charge and a brief stay in jail for acting like a total degenerate during a recent court appearance.
Johnson could have aged gracefully. He could have saved some money, done some TV, made a second career out of analyzing the sport he was once so good at. Instead, he decided to be an idiot, go bankrupt, abuse his wife, get divorced and go to jail.
And he brought it all upon himself.
Is there a more perpetually dissatisfied member of the NBA than Dwight Howard? The guy just can't stop thinking that the grass is greener on the other side—on any other side.
First he decided he wanted to be traded away from Orlando. Then, he decided he wanted to stay in Orlando. Then he wanted to be traded. Then not traded. And this went on and on for months until he decided he wanted to stay in Orlando but wanted head coach Stan Van Gundy to be gone, so he tried to give the Magic front office an ultimatum.
Eventually, Howard got what he wanted: a trade to L.A. At least, it's what he thought he wanted. Once he got there, he realized the grass wasn't, in fact, greener. It was just about the same shade. He discovered that winning wasn't easy and he actually had to work hard, and then he started warring with Kobe Bryant. He allegedly complained about his new head coach Mike D'Antoni in his exit interview.
Howard gets paid millions of dollars and, at present, is worth about $65 million. And he's only 27. There's a lot more where that came from. Perhaps he should just go with the flow and try to actually work with his team and his coaches. Then maybe he'd have some rings to go along with all that money.
Clearly, Sergio Garcia suffers from some sort of inferiority complex when it comes to Tiger Woods. He wants to be Tiger so bad that when Tiger bests him, it provokes Shooter McGavin-level meltdowns.
But really, all Sergio has to do is try not to say racist things to the media and try not to hunt for things to complain about when it comes to his much more well-known counterpart. It's really not that difficult.
Last month, en route to losing in epic fashion to Tiger in the Players Championship, Sergio successfully got into his own head when he claimed that an eruption of cheers from Tiger's entourage interfered with his swing.
We all know that Sergio blew the whole tournament when he sent two straight shots into the water on the 17th hole during the final round—and if that wasn't bad enough, Sergio insisted upon taking a racist dig at Tiger a few days later. At the European Tour's gala players' awards dinner, he said that he would have Tiger over for dinner during the US Open and "serve fried chicken."
All you have to do is be a good sport, Sergio. Actually, you can be a bad sport. Just don't say racist things to the media. Baby steps.
FIRST OF ALL: Patrick Kane is pretty good at hockey. Let's all agree on that. He's now a two-time Stanley Cup winner at the ripe old age of 24, he scored almost every goal that mattered for the Blackhawks during the 2013 Cup run, and, in case you hadn't heard, he's only 24.
But an emotionally evolved individual, Patrick Kane is not.
You would think that spending all that time with bona fide Good Guy Jonathan Toews would do him some good. Maybe it has, at this point.
But here's the thing: Kane doesn't deserve a medal for managing to not make a fool of himself in the last 12 months. He doesn't deserve an award for not beating up any cab drivers over 20 cents, or for not embarking on another drunken trek of destruction through a college campus (but there's still time!). Most importantly, he hasn't consumed a beer like this recently, and we've even forgiven him for being the proprietor of a ginger mullet.
His life really isn't that hard. All he's being asked to do is not publicly humiliate himself. All he's being asked to do is not be a frat boy. Plenty of people do it. So let's simmer down before we laud him for being a pillar of society.
Tim Thomas will forever be immortalized in Boston for having a ridiculous run to the Stanley Cup in 2011. He deserves it. He has a great story to back up a great postseason run, and he did bring the ultimate prize to Beantown, which was a revelation not only for the fans but for his teammates, who were then given the opportunity to do things like this.
But there comes a time when a little bit of common sense is necessary. And a little less selfishness, too.
For example, when the leader of the free world invites you to his big White House so he can honor you for winning some hockey games, it's just plain polite to show up. It doesn't matter if you voted Obama or not. It doesn't matter if you agree with Obama or not. He's the president. You don't have to like him, but it would be nice of you to respect him.
Plus, as a colleague pointed out, do you think that every athlete who visited the White House during George W.'s reign liked him? Given his approval ratings, it is a near impossibility that even half of them did.
Secondly, when it's time to retire, just retire. Don't leave your team in limbo for a year while you mull it over and devise a grand plan for how you're going to end up in net for the 2014 Olympics.
You had a terrific run. You were one of the most beloved athletes ever in a city that loves to hate people. It wouldn't have been that hard to keep it that way.
Poor you, Kurt Busch. People hold you accountable for it when you screw up. How sad.
When you have a temper like that of Kurt Busch, you're going to get in trouble. Until you learn to contain it, you're going to make undesirable headlines. That's just the cold, hard truth.
So instead of attacking reporters because they ask you about the implications of the fact that you're on probation, why don't you just not get put on probation for reckless driving? It's not the reporter's fault that you can't follow the rules.
And seriously, stop harassing the media. Reporters have jobs to do, too. Just because you're in a bad mood because you lost doesn't mean you can borderline verbally assault them or swear at them whenever you feel like it.
Just do your job, collect your enormous paycheck and go home.
When you're Tiger Woods, you can get away with pretty much anything. Even being drunk at the Met Ball. Because apparently, when you're Tiger Woods, nobody cares that you conduct yourself like a frat boy at the Playboy Mansion.
So just step back and recognize how good you have it. And Tiger, you have it pretty good, considering you haven't won a major since 2008.
For one thing, the whole world doesn't hate you, and that is a remarkable feat, considering you cheated on your wife with about 800 other women. For another thing, you still have fans even though you can win all the Farmers Insurance Opens you want but perpetually crumble at tournaments that actually matter (and I mean majors, not Players Championships).
When you're a public figure and you screw up as badly as Tiger did, people are going to care. Just like they're going to care when you're establishing yourself as one of the best golfers ever. It's a two-way street.
And don't ask for people to stop caring because I guarantee you that when they do, it will be way worse.
Considering what you've done, you have it pretty good, Tiger.
Every once in a while, we all need a little perspective.
That time is now for you, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
First of all, it's important that you recognize you are public figures. With that comes a lot of benefits. Money, for example. Fame. Notoriety. Free clothes and shoes.
Second of all, you get to play a game you love for a living, and there are millions of people worldwide who will use an entire paycheck to see you do that. It is a privilege.
So instead of spending your time using the media to engage in an epic cat fight, then blaming the media for twisting your words (which, let's face it, didn't happen), spend your time thinking about, I don't know, how you're going to win Wimbledon. Don't spend your time giving the media a scene straight out of Mean Girls and saying things like, "She's still not going to be invited to the cool parties" or waxing poetic about why a rape victim got raped.
That is not what you get paid to do, ladies. Also, you are adults. So there's that.
Johnny Manziel gets a free pass for pretty much everything because he's still young enough to pass himself off as someone who doesn't know any better.
Enjoy it now, buddy. It's not going to last long.
When Manziel screws up—when he says something dumb, when he gets photographed doing something dumb—he always seems to get out of it. But here's an idea: stop saying and doing dumb things.
You're a college sophomore. Find a way to go to class without causing a riot. You're not the president of the United States. If Cam Newton can go to class, so can you. He's an NFL quarterback.
If you're going to use Twitter, exercise some common sense. Don't tweet about how excited you are to leave the school that has forged its current identity around YOU. Not only is it stupid, but it's mean. Don't be mean.
Finally, don't ask people to feel bad for you. Don't tweet things like, "Don't ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes."
There are millions of people who would love to walk in your shoes. You're 19 and you're the king of College Station. You have the most prestigious award in college football on your mantel. In a few years, someone is going to pay you millions of dollars to throw a football for a living.
For the love of God, Johnny, stop complaining.
Everyone gets injured, especially in hockey. Everyone plays through pain, especially when you start getting deep into the playoffs. Not that I take any opportunity to bring this up or anything, but certain people played when their broken ribs were puncturing their lungs and their shoulders were about to fall off.
When you're Sidney Crosby, you shouldn't need to make excuses for losing. Especially when those excuses are truly, 100 percent bogus.
When you're Sidney Crosby, you're a former No. 1 draft pick, a Stanley Cup winner and the youngest-ever person to win the Art Ross Trophy. You can score goals in your sleep. For the most part, people like you and are excited to have you as the face of the NHL.
Also, for what it's worth, if you're Sidney Crosby, you're the proud recipient of a $104.4 million, 12-year contract extension.
So don't blow it if you're Sidney Crosby. Don't go instigating fights out of nowhere when you're not playing well, then running away like a child when that (seven-foot tall) person actually decides to give it a try. Don't cry when you get hit the exact same way every other player in the NHL gets hit. Don't try to initiate a witch hunt against a player for a clean hit two weeks after it happened.
Just lay low. You're Sidney Crosby. You can afford to. People will still know who you are.
Oh, A-Rod. Your job was so simple. You were one of the most physically gifted, five-tool players of your generation. You got paid a lot of money to hit a ball, which you were really good at doing.
All you needed to do was keep your mouth shut, stay out of the press and not take steroids. You failed on all three counts. And now, you seem to have an addiction to digging yourself deeper.
With Rodriguez, it's not that he hasn't tried hard enough. The problem with him is he has just tried to hard. In every facet of his life. He tries too hard to be a good teammate and ends up getting on the nerves of everyone around him. He tries too hard to be a good hitter, decides to use PEDs and everything completely backfires. He tries too hard to keep the fans' spirits up and ends up getting told to "shut the f*** up" by his general manager.
You had a simple job to do. You had all the tools right in front of you. Why couldn't you have just done it legally?
Lolo Jones, it seems, will do anything just to scrounge up a bit of attention.
Everything, that is, except the obvious: just win a race.
Since she can't do that, though, she has to resort to other means to drudge up public sympathy. Like talk about her sex life (or lack thereof) in the weeks before the Olympics. Or making Vine videos about how little she got paid for seven months of bobsledding.
OK, Lolo. Let's have a chat. You are an Olympic athlete. You've made plenty of money through endorsements throughout your career DESPITE THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE NEVER MEDALED AT THE OLYMPICS. You are a millionaire. Pretty much everyone in America who has the most marginal interest in the Olympics knows your name, and it's because you're great at generating headlines for yourself despite the fact that you can't win.
You've done pretty well. Just relax. If you don't want your $741, I'll take it.
Never has somebody who makes so much money to stand around in the outfield a few nights a week complained so much.
It's disgusting, really. Most likely, what happened is that Crawford woke up from the dream world that is playing in Tampa Bay and realized, once he got to Boston, that people actually care how you perform. People actually care if the team wins or loses. That's why, when Crawford looked around while he was in the on-deck circle at Fenway Park, he saw that there were actually people in the seats.
With fans come expectations. With a seven-year, $142 million contract comes expectations. Crawford didn't perform, and he knew it. The pressure in Boston was too much for his Tampa Bay-conditioned soul, and he knew it.
So what did he do? He blamed Boston. He said it was "toxic."
Well, paying someone that much money to hit .255 and then try to blame it on the city he lives in is something. Maybe not "toxic," but something.