The Biggest Quitters in Sports of the Past 15 Years

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2013

The Biggest Quitters in Sports of the Past 15 Years

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    No one ever wants to be labeled a quitter, especially when that person happens to get paid a lot of money to play a sport.

    Unfortunately, for whatever reason, there have been some athletes and coaches who often dog it during times of duress that make fans curious about the "Q" word.

    Though there's no real proof, we've seen some cases of people in sports doing this, which is why I'm giving you the biggest (presumed) quitters in sports over the past 15 years.

LeBron James

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    Am I going to catch serious flak for starting this article off with the mention of LeBron James?

    Of course I am.

    People will say that I'm playing the Cleveland card and that I'm just being a homer.

    OK.

    They'll say I hate the greatest basketball player on the planet.

    Not true—though I hate that he never won a title in Cleveland (as he promised).

    But you know what? Over James' entire career, the dude never played as piss-poor and looked as disinterested in a playoff series as he did during the 2010 second-round series against the Celtics—which just so happened to be his last six games in a Cavs uniform—and that raised the question of quitting.

     

Jorge Posada

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    Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada will go down as one of the most successful players of his generation before he called it quits after the 2011 season.

    Winning five World Series rings and five trips to the All-Star game, he was more than just solid behind the plate in the Bronx for 17 seasons.

    But I bet he wished he hadn't made the blunder he did in May 2011 when he pulled himself from the lineup because manager and former teammate, Joe Girardi, dropped the catcher to ninth in the order.

    It's one thing for a prima donna to do this, but for a leader like Posada? Kind of bizarre.

Vince Young

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    As someone who lived in Nashville during the Vince Young years on the Titans, I can personally tell you that this city would have done anything to defend the former quarterback.

    That is, of course, until he put himself above the team after being benched by ex-coach Jeff Fisher.

    First, Young tossed his shoulder pads into the stands in a game that he was pulled from.

    Then he blew up on Fisher and told him that he wasn't "running out on my teammates, I'm running out on you".

    Fair or not, the quarterback is the identity and leader of a team, so Young pulling this move proved he didn't have what it takes to be a good one in the NFL—no matter how much he thought he did.

Austin Krause

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    Some of you may remember this story coming out earlier this year. I still find it to be one of the most hilarious acts of quitting ever seen in sports.

    Defending a 2-1 lead with just a few minutes left in regulation, Minnesota high school hockey player Austin Krause grabbed a loose puck from behind his net, tossed it into his own goal and promptly skated off the ice with his middle finger waving towards his bench.

    As classic as it is that he actually did it, his reasoning is even more epic, saying he did it for himself because his career was coming to an end.

    Oh, to be young and dumb.

Santonio Holmes

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    As a former first-round pick, wide receiver Santonio Holmes has always had the skills to be an explosive player.

    The problem is that his decision-making ability has gotten in his way.

    Sure, Holmes made one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history, but he's also got a rap sheet full of off-the-field problems.

    But it was the receiver's decision to quit on his Jets teammates in the final game of 2011 that led many of his peers to label Holmes in a pretty negative light.

Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin

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    I'm a big fan of Pete Carroll's, but he screwed over Southern Cal when he left for the Seahawks amid the NCAA violations a few years back.

    Just as Carroll did with the Trojans, former protege Lane Kiffin did the same to Tennessee, bolting Knoxville for pretty much the same reasons that Carroll left the Men of Troy.

    Ironically enough, Kiffin then replaced Carroll and picked up all the mess anyway, so it would seem like a lateral move if you ask me.

Ricky Williams

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    You can't blame a guy for wanting to retire, but when Ricky Williams walked away from his Dolphins teammates just a few days before training camp in 2004, it raised some serious eyebrows.

    Williams, one of the most introspective and interesting athletes of the past 15 years or so, didn't decide to leave because his body wasn't up to it or his passion was gone.

    No, he left because he wanted to smoke weed and "find himself"—yes, you read that right.

    At the time, Ricky had tested positive with the substance in his system, earning him a hefty fine and four-game suspension, making his decision to leave the team a cowardly and interesting one.

    He did make a comeback, but he wasn't nearly the same player as he'd been before he left.

2010 French National Soccer Team

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    What makes this one so bad is that it wasn't just one player who made the call to turn his back on the other guys in the locker room, but actually the entire damn team!

    After getting lucky even to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the French team probably got what they deserved as they struggled mightily, embarrassing themselves on the sport's biggest stage by pulling a mutiny on their former head coach, Raymond Domenech.

    From runners-up in 2006 to finishing 29th of 32 teams is a bad look.

Barry Sanders

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    Now, before I explain my reasoning for putting Lions great (and '14 Madden cover boy) Barry Sanders on this list, please know that I think he's one of the game's greats and I have the utmost respect for him.

    His agility, durability and ankle-breaking moves are traits we won't see for a long time in the NFL.

    But when he hung it up for good in 1998 at the age of 30, there was more to the story than he originally let on.

    Frustrated with Detroit's front office for the unwillingness to build a contender, Sanders may have done the classiest thing at a fault, retiring from the game instead of causing a big fuss like so many guys do these days.

    Right or wrong, it goes down as quitting in my book.

Alex Bogomolov Jr.

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    Arguing in sports is one thing—it shows that you actually care about winning and losing.

    But after the initial argument's over, no athlete should just pack up their crap and openly walk off the playing surface because they didn't win their claim—unless they get ejected.

    Unfortunately, tennis player Alex Bogomolov Jr. didn't follow this rule, quitting mid-match at last month's Nielsen Pro Tennis Championship.

Bobby Petrino

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    When you talk about a cowardly quitter, former Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino instantly pops into my mind as one of the worst.

    Just 13 games into his NFL head coaching career, Petrino found that the big man's league was a little tougher than the college ranks, pulling a disappearing act on his players to return to campus by taking the gig at Arkansas.

    Instead of addressing the team and handling things like a man, all he wrote was a farewell note.

    Classy.

    Turns out karma's a real bia because Petrino's stint in Fayetteville didn't go as he probably had planned.

Erik Bedard

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    I know that this is a recent situation of an athlete calling it quits, but it was such an extreme case that I couldn't help but put it this high on my list.

    Erik Bedard, the same guy with 10 years of big league service to his name, decided that tossing his first career no-hitter wasn't all that important.

    After tossing 6.1 hitless innings (albeit in 109 pitches), Bedard chose to give his three-time surgically repaired left arm the rest of the night off, pulling himself from the game against his former Mariners team.

    I get it, he was just looking out for his future, but to squander a no-no for it? Kind of a lame move, bro.

Rory McIlroy

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    If you polled 100 sports fans and asked them if, in their opinion, they would agree that Rory McIlroy has had a good past 12 months, I'd bet at least 90 percent of them would nod yes.

    With a mega-deal from Nike, a Major title (PGA Championship) and collecting the world's No. 1 ranking at one point, the Irish golfer seemed to have everything going for him in the past year.

    Well, that is until he decided using the lame excuse of having wisdom teeth pain was good enough to walk away from a pathetic showing at the Honda Classic earlier this year.

    Dropping seven shots in eight holes might blow, but there's no reason to get all whiny about it.

Randy Moss

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    Randy Moss is arguably the most talented wideout in the history of the NFL—and based off his stats, he proved he had all the goods.

    Like some athletes, though, Moss struggled with the mental side of things, selfishly putting himself and his numbers before his team, which has basically been the story of his career.

    Currently a free agent, there's no doubt in my mind he could contribute to a team like he did with the Niners last season, but with his reputation as a quitter on teams like the Vikings, Titans and even the Patriots, GMs may have lost patience with the 36-year-old.

     

Allen Iverson

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    Dammit, why did Allen Iverson have to turn out to be such a selfish jerk?

    After Jordan left the league, I admit to jumping hard on to the A.I. bandwagon, loving the ruthlessness and skill of the one-time MVP.

    Though I'll never question his passion for the game, there were a number of times when Iverson proved that turning his back on teammates was more a priority than playing.

    His famous "We talkin' 'bout practice" tirade still lives on as an all-time great soundbite, but it unfortunately only helped his legacy as a quitter.