The Longest Suspensions in Sports History
Think back to recess time in the schoolyard. A jubilant game of hide-and-seek. Laughter. Frolic. Fun. Until someone notes that the seeker is a peeker. That's right, instead of covering his eyes as he counts, he's watching you all hide. A brief trial—elementary-school style—and little Johnny Peeker gets ousted. He sits alone on the see-saw grumbling about the injustice of it all.
Not so different from the culture of professional sports, is it? Just replace the peeking with juicing, fighting or nasty tweeting. And instead of Johnny grumbling on the see-saw, he is sitting in his 5.2 million dollar mansion learning from his accountant that the loss of income means he can't afford his mortgage payments.
Click on to see the athletes who were shut out of the playground.
Ryan Braun, Manny Ramirez, Guillermo Mota, Neifi Perez
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Length: 65 games (Ryan Braun)
For: Allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs.
But Braun's three-score plus suspension is garter snake in length compared with the python-length suspensions of Manny Ramirez (100 games for alleged drug violations), Guillermo Mota (100 games for alleged steroid offenses) and Neifi Perez (80 games for alleged amphetamine use).
Sam Morris / Associated Press / November 12, 1997
Length: 68 games
For: Death threat + assault
The term coach killer is not generally taken literally. But it seemed Latrell Sprewell was truly considering committing coachicide when, during a practice, he choked Golden State coach P.J. Carlesimo and dragged him to the ground.
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Length: 18 months
For: Delivery of wrong fluid
Not the longest (there have been multiple two-year bans), but the most recent of hefty tennis suspensions.
Viktor Troicki handed over pee-pee instead of blood, and it cost him dearly. Troicki has claimed that an official had told him the urine would be acceptable, but the tribunal didn't buy it.
He's eligible to play again at the end of January 2015.
Length: Life (dropped after 2.5 years, but Billy Coutu never played in the NHL again)
For: Pummeling one ref, tackling another and starting a bench-clearing brawl. This happened during the 1927 Stanley Cup Finals. Allegedly, Bruins head coach Art Ross had ordered Coutu to start the rampage.
Length: 8 months
For: Cleaning his cleats in the chest of a taunting fan
Eric Cantona's kung fu kick at Matthew Simmons is now an often-read page in the book of soccer lore. The aggression not only earned him a suspension, but also a prison sentence (later reduced to community service).
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
Length: 50 games
For: Packing heat in the team locker room
Gilbert Arenas and another player, Javaris Crittenton, apparently got into a dispute over a card game. Both players admitted to bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room.
Arenas didn't help his case at all by apparently making light of his case with moments such as these:
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Length: 1 year
For: Testing positive for marijuana metabolites
Nick Diaz failed a post-fight test after his UFC 143 bout with Carlos Condit in February 2012. When his suspension came to an end, he promptly had his ego torn out, shredded and handed back to him by Georges St. Pierre in UFC 158.
Diaz then retired, leaving the scandals and suspensions to younger brother, Nate.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Length: 25 games, 30 games
For: Barbarianism on ice
Apparently being a New Yorker makes Chris Simon ornery. As a New York Islander, he took a swing at another player with his stick earning himself a 25-game vacation (the unpaid kind). The next season he hammered his skate down into the foot of another player. This time he was awarded a 30-game holiday.
Length: 1 year
For: Alleged juicing
In 2008, Carina Damm tested positive for the steroid Nandrolone and was slapped with a one-year ban by the California State Athletic Commission. Damm fought in her native Brazil during that suspension period.
Then, in 2013, Damm allegedly handed over her urine-sample cup with an un-pee-pee-like fluid. A suspicious doctor described it as cold and clear.
A lab then confirmed the sample was not, in fact, urine.
Damm was suspended for another 6 months.
Getty Images/Getty Images
Length: 25 games
For: Crosscheck to the face
In October 2007, Jesse Boulerice of the Flyers served up a steaming mug of crosscheck, and Ryan Kesler of the Canucks unwittingly drank it down.
For the un-hockey-educated, what does a crosscheck to the face taste like? Not so palatable. Watch Kesler take the drink in this video at 0:50.
Sion Touhig/Getty Images
Length: 6 months
For: Sketchy commentary
Vinnie Jones, infamous for "hard play" on the field, was banned for 6 months (suspended for 3 years) for "his commentary in a video glorifying football violence and dirty tricks" as stated by The Independent.
Not a soccer fan? Well you may recognize Jones as Bullet Tooth Tony.
Length: Life reduced to 73 games (+ playoffs)
For: Palace rampage
The man whose adopted name is a call for tranquility across the globe, Ron Artest went berserker on the night of November 19, 2004, attacking players and fans alike in the historic Malice at the Palace brawl.
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Sport: Rugby League
Length: 18 weeks
In rugby league, a king-hit is a massive wallop that lands full-force, often delivered when the receiver of the hit is not looking. Melbourne Storm player Danny Williams utilized this royalty of clobberings in 2004 on West Tigers' player Mark O'Neill.
Williams claimed he had been suffering from post traumatic amnesia at the time. That didn't fly with officials, and Williams received the longest suspension in nearly two decades.
Length: Life (reduced to 8 years)
For: Conversing with a known gambler
Merle Hapes, a fullback for the New York Giants was offered a bribe of $3,500 to fix the 1946 title game against the Chicago Bears. Hapes notified authorities, but was still suspended for life.
Eight years later, the commissioner lifted the ban, but Hapes never returned to football.
For: Alleged substance abuse
Stanley Wilson, with two suspensions already under his belt, was apparently discovered in his hotel room bathroom majorly coked out—sweating, shivering, the works—on the evening before he was to play in Super Bowl XXIII.
Art Schlichter was Peyton Manning before Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning—the Colts' golden boy. A clean-cut kid with a powerful arm. A new hope.
But Schlichter had a potent affinity for gambling. After an all-too-brief NFL career, he was suspended indefinitely from the league in 1983, reinstated in 1984. Still gambling with ferocity, he squandered his second chance and was gone for good shortly thereafter.
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Length: 8 years (reduced to 2)
For: Doping violation
In 2003, Mariano Puerta was suspended for 9 months when he tested positive for Clenbuterol, an asthma medication with some steroid-like properties.
Then, in 2005, trace amounts of a cardiac stimulant were detected in his system. The second infraction cost him 8 years, the longest in tennis history.
The charge was appealed and the suspension later shortened to two years.
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images
Length: Life (reduced to 3.5 years)
For: Draft evasion
In 1967, at the peak of his career, Muhammad Ali received a draft notice. Deeply religious and unwillingly to kill, he refused to go. He was found guilty of draft evasion, banned from his sport and stripped of his heavyweight title.
He wouldn't fight again until late in 1970. Luckily for the world, it turned out he still had some great fights left in him.
Test Cricket: The Suspended for Lifers
© ESPNcricinfo Ltd
Sport: Test Cricket
For: Match fixing
Numerous cricket players have found themselves ousted from their sport for alleged match fixing. Several had their suspensions reduced or overturned. Others, such as TP Sudhindra (pictured here), are still officially blacklisted.
In July 2012, Sudhindra was caught in a sting operation. Allegedly, he agreed to bowl a no-ball in a local match in Indore for 50,000 Indian rupees (about $825).
MLB: The Suspended-for-Lifers
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball-Reference counts a total of 37 players who have been suspended for life. That list, however, includes many that were later reinstated. Following are some of the infamous lifers who were NOT reinstated.
1. Allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series
Chicago players Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Lefty Williams, Ed Cicotte, Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, Happy Felsch, Fred and McMullen
Henry "Heinie" Zimmerman
Lance Armstrong plummeted from his pedestal of greatness and struck the ground with such force that he created a Chicxulub-sized crater. But, instead of wiping out the dinosaurs, the only thing he extincted were his seven Tour de France titles.