The 20 Most Aggressive Liars in Sports
There are few things more obnoxious than someone lying to your face and insisting they didn't do something you actually saw them do. Or even that you know they did, but didn't witness it first hand.
Remember the three-year-old boy whose lie went viral in February 2013? Little John was confronted by his mother about shotgunning the family sprinkles and he repeatedly denied any involvement in the great sprinkles caper.
He refused to back down, despite evidence of his obvious guilt being stuck all over his little lying face. His mother wisely stopped filming before the discussion took a serious turn and all the cards were laid on the table. Apparently nearly five million people thought it was cute—but what's cute at age three is less cute as a teenager. Eventually it becomes downright disturbing.
Most of us learn at a very young age that lying is bad and telling the truth is good. It's a black and white issue for kids because that's how they learn right from wrong, good from bad.
Later in life shades of gray become apparent, like when you have to lie to spare your professor the hurt of knowing you simply couldn't be in class because getting wasted the night before was more important. Or something less terrible.
Point being, by the time people reach adulthood the days of being a pathological liar should be well behind them. A white lie every now and again is no big deal, but making it a lifestyle is unacceptable. In sports there is nothing worse than a liar or a cheat. Except maybe lying about being a cheater.
Here are some of the most aggressive liars in sports.
20. Manti Te'o, San Diego Chargers
I don't think we're ever going to know exactly what former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o knew about the realness of his imaginary girlfriend Lennay Kekua and when he knew it. In reality, all we have is the word of a proven liar.
With everything to be said on the matter having already been said, it seems he was probably an unwitting victim of a hoax to start, but wasn't in a hurry to clear things up once he became privy to what was going on.
The timeline of all this is hazy, however, we do know that a full six weeks passed between when Te'o found out about the lies and when he finally came clean. Which is a big part of why his many subsequent explanations were very difficult to believe in their entirety.
And just to be clear—it really has all been said. Te'o answered a slew of questions prior to being drafted by the Chargers, but that was because he had to. It will be a cold day in Samoa before he willingly walks down this road again.
19. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Everyone knows that Lakers star Kobe Bryant likes to talk. It's rare that you have such a big star so willing to say everything and anything that's on his mind at a given time, which is why there are always plenty of people more than happy to listen to him and give his comments their due.
All that talking Bryant does means that he often gets a free pass to say whatever he wants with immunity from too much media scrutiny—at least locally.
Just in the last few weeks he's made a number of unsubstantiated claims about his knee rehab. Maybe he's months ahead of schedule or maybe he's just saying whatever he wants because he knows no one will question him.
Bryant obviously routinely painted a rosier picture of his relationship with former teammate Dwight Howard than actually existed, especially considering they're no longer teammates. Bryant has also been publicly accused of being a liar by both his parents and wife.
18. Jim Harbaugh, NFL Coach
I can't say that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has a long history of being a liar. He might, but I don't know that to be the case. It's just the one that he definitely told was such a ridiculously blatant head-scratcher that you really have to wonder what's going on in that brain of his.
You may recall that the Niners were one of the teams in the mix during the Peyton Manning sweepstakes in 2012. After all, I recall that happening. The media certainly seems to recall that happening as well.
The only person that doesn't seem to remember that happening is Harbaugh, who said months later that "there's a perception out there and it's an erroneous perception that we were flirting with Peyton Manning. … It's silly and it's untrue. It's phony."
Except that it wasn't silly or untrue or even phony. What was actually phony was Harbaugh saying "there's no scenario, other than Alex choosing to sign with another team, that we would consider him not as our quarterback."
That's right, Alex Smith! You can take that to the bank. Oh wait...
17. Tiger Woods, PGA
Golf great Tiger Woods is the only person on this list whose lies have been mostly in his personal life. Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o only lied about his personal life, but he did it an extremely public forum through various print and television interviews.
Woods never spoke publicly about ugly scandal that ultimately ended his marriage to Swedish beauty Elin Nordegren in 2010. But then again, he really didn't have to. All of the "ladies" he had been getting down with over the years really did the work for him in that arena.
Actually, the dozen or so "ladies" that came forward to claim their 15 minutes of fame for having had sex with a celebrity are only the tip of the iceberg. There were reports that put Woods actual number of affairs somewhere in the neighborhood of 120.
Considering they were married for just over five years before the story broke in November 2009, that represents and awful lot of lying on the part of Woods.
As for lying professionally? Well, he's done that too. Without giving any undeserved coverage to Woods' Spanish nemesis Sergio Garcia, whose fame hinges on Tiger's existence alone, let's just say he's lobbed some accusations Woods way in 2013.
16. Kevin Hart, Football Player
At some point in our lives most of us have had that awful experience of telling a lie that ends up being bigger than intended. That sinking feeling that comes along with being busted in a lie by a family member or worse, a friend, is one of the worst things in the world.
Now imagine the lie got so big that it was nationally reported by media outlets like ESPN. That's what happened to Kevin Hart, a two-star recruit out of Nevada, back in 2008. He famously (or infamously) staged a phony press conference in which he proudly announced he had decided to play his college ball at Cal, rather than Oregon.
On the deciding factor, Hart said: "Coach [Jeff] Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind of gave me a real personal experience with that coach. And we had like a really good relationship." The rub? He wasn't recruited by either of them, or any other programs he claimed were pursuing him.
Yeah. He definitely overplayed his hand with that press conference. People soon got wise to his game (gee, I wonder why?) and that's when Hart claimed he was pranked…then scammed…before ultimately being forced to admit he made the whole damn thing up.
In January 2012 Hart resurfaced with new claims of recruitment glory. Suffice it to say, they were met with a very skeptical eye.
15. Rafael Palmeiro, Retired MLB
I was actually pretty conflicted about the addition of former Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro to this list. It has long been assumed that his testimony to Congress in 2005 was an outright lie, but there is certainly some reasonable doubt in this case.
After becoming the fourth player in MLB history with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, he tested positive for a banned substance. Palmeiro famously testified: "I have never used steroids, period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that."
Palmeiro has always claimed that he was unknowingly injected with steroids by [then] teammate Miguel Tejada, who told him that it was a B-12 shot. Tejada denied the allegations, but Palmeiro has never backed off his claims of innocence.
In January 2011 his claim was bolstered slightly by former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis who said "I feel bad for him. … I believe that he didn't know he was taking steroids. I think he told the truth." And then there's all this.
That being said, this is baseball we're talking about. You look at Ryan Braun's recent situation and it's just hard to trust anything these guys say. And it was even harder back in 2005.
14. Johnnie Morton Jr., Retired NFL
Lying to the public about steroid use is one thing. Lying to a grand jury during the course of a criminal probe into your shady business dealings? Well, that's something else altogether. And that's exactly what former NFL wide receiver Johnnie Morton Jr. did in 2009.
Morton was peripherally targeted by authorities because of his connection to Neang Chhorvann, a business associate who was under investigation by the IRS for money laundering and other charges related to him not paying his damn taxes.
Although it was later revealed he gave Chhorvann over $2 million to be invested, Morton straight up denied he had any affiliation with him. Apparently it didn't even occur to him that there might be an actual reason he was being questioned—like knowing about the money he invested.
The thing about lying to a grand jury is that, when you get to that point, you've already been lying to a lot of other people for quite awhile. And those IRS folks do not play. Morton was lucky to get off with just two years probation for the incident. Hopefully he learned a lesson.
13. Brian Cashman, Yankees GM
For those of you expecting to see embattled Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez on this list—sorry to disappoint you. Yes, A-Rod did lie to Katie Couric about his use of PEDs after the Mitchell Report was released in late 2007. (Seriously, who hasn't lied to Katie Couric at least once in their lives?)
But he was just trying to save his ass—most people would do the same thing when backed into a corner. Eventually he came clean and he didn't do it through a series of half-truths either. Honestly, Rodriguez's biggest crime is being an unlikable turd, rather than a liar.
The only person who seems to be constantly calling A-Rod a liar is Yankees general manager Brian Cashman—a well noted liar himself. An affair with former alleged mistress Louise Neathway was discovered. Of course Cashman was still outed as an adulterer, a liar and a bully, and ultimately divorced by his wife, but the scandal could have been much worse.
Speaking of much worse...the ridiculous war he's waged with Rodriguez over the last nine months has been nothing but a smokescreen to divert from his own terrible business decisions. He was the one that signed A-Rod to that monstrous contract. He signed Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, Randy Johnson and Kevin Youkilis to big money deals too. Cashman can pretend like his willingness to spend is what keeps the Yanks competitive year-after-year, but it's not—and he knows it.
The Yankees don't spend because they want to, they spend because the have to. That's how baseball works. Do you think the Mets are happy about paying Bobby Bonilla, who hasn't played since 2001 and hasn't played for the Mets since 1999, $1.25 million a year through 2035? Of course not! But those were the terms of his contract and that's baseball.
The truth that neither he, nor the Yankees, are willing to admit is that it's Cashman's terrible business decisions that are forcing the team to reign in their spending. Cashman has obviously drawn a line in the sand with Alex Rodriguez, but trust me, that's more about Cashman than it is about A-Rod.
12. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. has a serious gambling problem, a history of domestic violence and a very short fuse that has landed him in hot water time and time again. So the fact that he's a liar is actually pretty well down on the list of concerns people have about him.
Of course that doesn't make Mayweather any less of a liar. First you have the dozens of explanations he's come up with over the years for dodging a fight with Manny Pacquiao. Every time he's been asked about it, Mayweather comes up with a new and inventive way to blame the Pacquiao camp. I suppose saying "I'm afraid he'll beat me" doesn't really fit his image.
In November 2011 he was sanctioned by a South Carolina judge who learned Mayweather was actually out at a club burning money instead of resting up from injuries he sustained in a fight. He lied to the judge in order to get out of giving a deposition. Nice. Something tells me that community service he earned didn't set him straight.
And how about that much reported-on feud between Mayweather and rapper 50 Cent, his former BFF and hetero life mate? Well, according to 50 it was nothing more than a hoax orchestrated by an attention-seeking Mayweather who loves nothing more than seeing his name in print and his face anywhere...everywhere.
11. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers sure learned a lesson about who to trust (or who not to trust) this summer. Too bad he had to learn it from his so-called friend Ryan Braun, the Brewers left fielder who was recently suspended by MLB for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
After vehemently coming to Braun's defense on Twitter (#EXONERATED) when his suspension in 2012 was overturned on nothing more than a technicality, Rodgers said he was "shocked" and "disappointed" adding, "It doesn't feel good to be lied to."
Rodgers also said of Braun: "He looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations and said they were not true." Well don't worry A-Rodge—you were not alone. The loathsome former NL MVP basically looked America in the eye at his redemption press conference last year and did the same thing.
There have been few stars in sports that have fallen harder and faster than Braun and he has no one to blame but himself.
9-10. Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino
Former Dolphins coach Nick Saban and former Falcons coach Bobby Petrino proved they were birds of a [lying] feather by the way they each left their respective NFL coaching positions in 2007. They each had unimpressive tenures the league. They each bolted for a college team in the SEC. And neither of them gave a damn about the players or the organization they were leaving behind.
In November 2006 Saban said of the Miami job, "This is the challenge I wanted. I had a good college job. Why would I have left that…?" In December he said, "I'm flattered that they may have been interested in me, but it never really progressed." Two weeks later he added, "I guess I have to say it. I'm not going to be the Alabama coach." Six days later he said he'd never comment on the speculation again because the media was just trying to create a story.
On January 4th Saban announced he had accepted the position at Alabama. He said goodbye to Dolphins players via text. (I imagine it was something like this: "L8er H8ers! Off to 'Bama—stay cool! Have a bitchin' summer! #ROLLTIDE")
At least Saban had the guts to stay put and make a formal announcement following the end of the regular season. And he stuck it out for three seasons before bailing. Petrino ducked out in December of the same year with a full month left in the season. After a particularly brutal Monday night loss, he skipped down in the middle of the night and was in Fayetteville for a press conference announcing his hire on Tuesday.
Petrino was kind enough to leave his players a typed form letter in the Atlanta locker room which, he said, was out of respect! I'd hate to see what he does when he doesn't respect you. Oh wait...he probably pays you for sex [in the form of cash gifts and a job] and makes you flee the scene of a motorcycle accident before police arrive. Boy, his wife is a lucky lady.
After Saban fled, ESPN writer Pat Forde wrote a column entitled "Saban only lied when his lips were moving." Well, that goes double for Petrino and all his recent "coming home" nonsense regarding his new job at Western Kentucky. It's easy to go home when you're radioactive everywhere else.
8. Marion Jones, Track and Field Athlete
In December 2004 former U.S. track and field Olympian Marion Jones filed a lawsuit against BALCO founder Victor Conte for allegations he made against her during interviews with ABC's 20/20 and ESPN The Magazine.
Said Jones, "There exists no-one who can truthfully testify that I have ever used performance-enhancing drugs simply for the reason that I never have." Adding, "The truth is my friend and transparency my ally in this matter."
She was adamant Conte's assertions that she used HGH, insulin and an endurance-boosting hormone to get ahead were blatantly false. Jones was seeking a whopping $25 million for all the lost endorsement money his lies would ultimately cost her. His lies. Ha.
Of course we all know how this story ends. Not three years later Jones, facing jail time, was forced to admit to a long history of steroid use. She attempted to pass some of the blame to her coach, essentially stating that she trusted someone she shouldn't have.
In January 2008 Jones was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to lying to federal agents about her use of PEDs. And that's all she wrote.
7. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions
Argue to you're blue in the face about whether or not Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a dirty player, as long as you don't bother trying to say he's not a liar. On Thanksgiving Day 2011 Suh was ejected (and later suspended two games) for stomping on Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.
It was clear he was frustrated. It was even clearer that he intentionally stomped on an opponent. Suh never admitted any wrongdoing, insisting he was merely trying to catch his balance. The incident came just weeks after he and a teammate were accused of taunting Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan after he was hurt on a play. He also denied that before adding the injury was just "karma."
And then, of course, there was the mysterious car accident Suh was involved in while serving his suspension in his hometown of Portland in late 2011. Months after the incident it was revealed that he had attempted to orchestrate a coverup, instructing passengers to lie about their injuries and the circumstances leading up to the accident.
He never verbally admitted any wrong doing—stunning, I know—but he did agree to pay a six-figure settlement in January 2013. That's admission enough.
3-6. Ugh...These Guys
Other MLB players on this list got their own slide because of separate incidents. Ryan Braun stands out because his suspension is very recent and Rafael Polmeiro's Congressional testimony is particularly memorable as a standalone event.
When it comes to Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and, to a slightly lesser extent, Roger Clemens, their public shaming all runs together because they were all from the same era. They're right around the same age too. Clemens is 51, Bonds and McGwire are both 49, and Sosa is almost 46.
And together they represent baseball's steroid era. Yes, they've all been implicated in different things at different times. And yes, the degree to which each of them has come clean varies dramatically. Clemens and McGwire eventually confessed. Bonds has danced around the issue, but basically has stuck to the story that it was all an accident.
As for Sosa? Well he didn't admit to cheating when he was busted with a corked bat. And he didn't admit to cheating, despite testing positive for PEDs. But at least he fessed up about his freaky whitening skin in 2009.
2. Pete Rose, Retired MLB
For all of the lying that Pete "I never bet on baseball" Rose did about his not betting on baseball, he deserves a modicum of credit for eventually coming clean. But just a modicum—no more, no less.
Because, after all, he did bet on baseball. He did lie about betting on baseball. And although he did eventually come clean, it took him 14 years, a lifetime ban from baseball, and an opportunity for financial gain to finally nudge him into being (almost) a human being about it.
The again, Rose adamantly denied ever betting on the reds—the team he played for and later managed—in his 2004 autobiography My Prison Without Bars. So if his first confession came 14 years too late, the admission that he bet on the Reds "every night" while he was manager of the team came 17 years too late.
Rose finally copped up to the worst allegations against him in 2007, which was long after we all knew he was guilty and long after most of us stopped caring. The only thing worse than having to come clean is having to come cleaner three years later. Remember that.
1. Lance Armstrong, Cyclist
Ugh. This guy. The magnitude and overall scope of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong's decade plus of lies can hardly be covered in a single slide. All of his major individual lies could fill a slideshow double this size on their own. Armstrong is going to be up to his eyeballs in litigation for the foreseeable future because of everyone he lied to, personally destroyed or bilked out of large sums of money—they're all coming for him.
The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, is certainly going to look to recoup the $500,000 they coughed up to settle a libel suit filed by Armstrong, who was just appalled that anyone could possibly think he was cheating.
A Dallas firm is seeking $12.5 million in bonuses he received for wining the Tour de France from 2002-04, citing the fact that Armstrong lied under oath about doping. And honestly, that's nothing.
For some reason Armstrong decided he was going to "come clean" in January 2013 and agreed to an interview with Oprah Winfrey. It didn't help matters. He came across as cold and detached and, according to the CEO of USADA, he lied to Winfrey several times. Which is really no surprise coming from the guy who says he doesn't owe the USPS (his team sponsor) anything because they should have known he was cheating.
Armstrong isn't just a liar, he's also a life ruiner—he literally ruined lives. He wasn't content to deny the allegations of everyone who threatened to expose him along the way, he actively sought to destroy them. Armstrong may not be occupying the same space as the O.J. Simpsons and Rae Carruths of the sports world, but he's definitely the next step down on the rung of the worst people in sports history.
**If you want to talk about what a terrible person Lance Armstrong is, follow me on Twitter. And if you want to keep it light, I can do that too! Follow @blamberr