15 Incredibly Awkward Sports Interviews
Interviews and awkwardness—they go together like the lamb and tuna fish.
In other words, uncomfortable moments happen on live television, and when they do, it's unfortunate and difficult to consume for all parties involved.
The following is a collection of 15 awkward interviews that have occurred (more or less recently) in the world of sports. It's not a definitive "best of all time" collection, but a selection of some of my favorite awkward turtles from the past few years—complete with awkwardness level ratings, for maximum discomfort!
With that, let the artless bungling begin!
Eminem Goes Krazy Eyez with Brent Musberger
This is Eminem playing a dude giving an interview to two other dudes—or that's supposedly what happened when Slim Shady entered the booth with Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit at halftime of the Michigan-Notre Dame game.
Eminem was there to promote the release of his new album, Marshall Mathers II, and instead, slipped into a confused funk as "Berzerk"—a character he portrays in his new single of the same name.
What followed was the strangest love fest that will ever be aired on national television, as a rapper and an aging sportscaster exchanged volley after volley of rambling compliments as a mind-blown Kirk Herbstreit looked on.
Crowning Moment: "I'm really uncomfortable right now."
Awkwardness Level: Long car ride with your friend's mom.
Andy Reid Wants Nothing to Do with You
He's not your pal, Sal.
Andy Reid just wanted some space after taking down his former team on Thursday Night Football last week. The game was likely an emotional roller coaster for Reid, and he had allegedly told the media that he would not be conducting a walk-off interview after the game.
This announcement either eluded or didn't concern ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, who approached Reid anyways. Reid, as you can see, did everything short of calling Paolantonio a "serf" and shooing him off with a broom.
Crowning Moment: "That was as big as Sal Paolantonio, baby."
Awkwardness Level: Telling the homeless man by the drive-thru ATM you "don't have any cash."
Matt Harvey Will Only Talk Qualcomm
"Today is about Qualcomm," Matt Harvey said in an interview with Dan Patrick, host of The Dan Patrick Show.
For those of you unfamiliar with The Dan Patrick Show, it's a highly rated and respected sports radio broadcast. It's also a sports show about sports—a distinction which eluded Mets pitcher Matt Harvey.
Harvey recently went on The Dan Patrick Show with the expectation he'd only be discussing his sponsor Qualcomm, and was totally caught off guard by Patrick's questions about his career-altering elbow injury.
The pitcher declined to speak at any length on his arm and instead dove into a 90-second spiel about how fans can use their phones to order food and check the pitch-count while on the john.
Crowning Moment: "You can even check the game stats...and...and...what's going on with the game from the bathroom."
Awkwardness Level: Dodging fat weirdoes with "Free Hugs" signs who smell like patchouli oil.
Craig Sager and Pop: A Match Made in Purgatory
An entire slideshow can be done (and probably has been done) on awkward Craig Sager and Gregg Popovich moments alone.
That being said, this is one of my favorites. Pop used 12 words total in this interview with Craig, which has to be some kind of record.
Crowning Moment: "...whoever you put out there?"
Awkwardness Level: Nearly running into someone while walking, and then stepping in the same direction.
Chael Sonnen Works His 'Charm' on Sage Steele
ESPN titled this video "Chael Sonnen Being Chael Sonnen," but a more apt title might be "Chael Sonnen Digging into Sage Steele's Hair and Throwing Loose Game in Her Direction."
That might not fit in the title box, however.
Crowning Moment: "No, I don't hate people. Women especially."
Awkwardness Level: "Well, if you two are broken up...could I,...like...you know...Like it's totally cool if it's not okay."
BBC Reporter Misses the Point with Andy Murray
After winning Wimbledon in July, Andy Murray received a strange question from BBC reporter Garry Richardson.
Richardson pointed out that former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was in the crowd, and that Ferguson was a man who often berated his players for playing down to their opponents' levels. Having thrown that out there, Richardson asked if Murray's coach Ivan Lendl would chew him out after struggling to put away his Wimbledon final opponent Fernando Verdasco.
Murray was surprised and agitated by the question, considering he had just won Wimbledon—not exactly a victory to complain about or overanalyze. Murray left the interview shortly after the gaffe, with Richardson begging after him for another question.
Crowning Moment: "I thought we were gonna..."
Awkwardness Level: Telling the ticket-taker at the movies, "You too!" when they say, "Enjoy the show!"
Chuck Liddell Goes Full 'Godfather' During Morning Show Interview
He said it was "Lunesta" and "Nyquil," but "alcohol" and "more alcohol" were the only thing viewers guessed were inside of UFC fighter Chuck Liddell during this Good Morning Extras segment.
Liddell said he had been up late suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms and was running on three hours of sleep at the time of the interview.
Crowning Moment: "You hang in there today. Take care of yourself."
Awkwardness Level: Calling your girlfriend "mom."
Holly Rowe Elbows Other Reporter out of the Way
This is ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe, who did everything but a finishing move while trying to secure an interview with Michigan head coach Brady Hoke after the 2012 Sugar Bowl.
It's always good to have the live feed rolling when you start laying down the elbows.
Crowning Moment: I don't know, maybe the part where Rowe barrels elbow-first into another working professional.
Awkwardness Level: Getting out of your car at the same time as another driver and passively racing them to the door of the Starbucks.
Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard: Best Friends
Stan Van Gundy was in the middle of telling reporters that Dwight Howard wanted him fired as head coach of the Orlando Magic when—lo and behold—Howard walks up and gives him a hug.
The buddy-buddy atmosphere lasted all of 10 seconds, as Van Gundy quickly exited the awkward situation.
Crowning Moment: "Yea, Stan. We're not worried about that." (Puts arm around Van Gundy).
Awkwardness Level: Honk at another driver. End up next to them at a light.
David Stern Asks Jim Rome If He's Stopped 'Beating His Wife' Yet
Jim Rome had a simple question for David Stern after the 2012 NBA draft: Was it rigged?
The New Orleans Hornets—a team the NBA owned and was in the process of selling—had won the lottery, prompting basketball fans to question the legitimacy of the lottery itself. Stern was on Rome's nationally syndicated radio show when the host asked the question about the draft's legitimacy.
Stern bristled at the allegation, and shot back with the line, "Are you still beating your wife?"
To be clear, the commissioner was trying to make a point about the fruitlessness of participating in no-win situations, where even answering the questions admits guilt. Regardless of what he meant, the question still came off as crass and presumptuous—precisely the effect the commissioner was looking to create.
Crowning Moment: I don't think there is one here.
Awkwardness Level: A level all its own. Even if you're trying to make a theoretical point, asking someone if they physically beat their wife on national radio is pretty much on its own plane of awkwardness.
Heather Cox Denied Interview After Rose Bowl
Generaly speaking, the network that televises a ball game is allowed a quick postgame interview with the winning coach and a star player.
That wasn't the case after the Rose Bowl this January. Stanford head coach David Shaw was like a kid in a candy shop after beating the Wisconsin Badgers, and couldn't stand still for a brief interview with ESPN's Heather Cox.
The best part is Cox's sign off line, which she should—but probably won't—trademark.
Crowning Moment: "Are you kidding me??"
Awkwardness Level: "Hey, Dan! Long time, no see!"
"Heyyy...uh...man...been awhile, right?"
Nick Saban Hates the Word 'Committee'
I guess "committee" is a dirty word in some parts of the country.
It certainly didn't stir up any warm feelings in Nick Saban's heart, considering how the Alabama head coach shrugged off this softball question from ESPN's Heather Cox.
You could just tell her how three backs allowed you to run Michigan ragged in the first half, or you could do what you did, which is act like she threw you an off-speed pitch about player benefits.
Crowning Moment: Saban looking into the camera like America just asked him if it could borrow money.
Awkwardness Level: Not having any cash to tip the bathroom attendant.
Welp, No Wants to Ask Chris Bosh Questions
Being the third wheel can get lonely, but never was the difference in star power between Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat's "Big Three" more visibly illustrated than this postgame interview during the 2011 playoffs.
Put simply, Bosh had a disappointing night—and no one cared. The media sat by listening to Bosh talk to himself as one would listen to the sad drunk guy at a party.
Oh yea? You and your girlfriend just broke up? That's crazy. I'm gonna go find somewhere else to stand.
Crowning Moment: "Damn...hell dog..."
Awkwardness Level: When your girlfriend's engaged friend asks "So, when are YOU TWO getting married?"
Quinton Rampage Jackson Dry-Humps Reporter
There's plenty I could write about Rampage Jackson humping Heather Nichols.
I could tell you about how Nichols considered kneeing him in the junk at one point during this "interview," or that he's done this before. We could get into all that, but it wouldn't change the fact that you're all fixated on Rampage Jackson gyrating on this poor young reporter.
Crowning Moment: Welp, I don't know if I can use the term "crowning" here, but the most ridiculous part is that a man offstage had to poke Rampage to get him to stop grinding against Nichols.
Awkwardness Level: You meet a girl at the dog park. Your dog eats her dog and then humps her leg.
Hosts Try to Interview Dick Vitale, Who Cannot Hear Them
Dick Vitale is a busy man come March Madness, and he somehow ended up doing double time with WGN in Chicago and another news station in 2012.
Viewers in Chicago were treated to an awkward minute of television as their hosts did bad Dickie V impressions and yelled at the hapless old sportscaster, who couldn't hear them at all. When Vitale did finally come on the air, he was fielding questions about the Duke Blue Devils.
Solid work, crew.
Crowning Moment: "Chicago, Chicago...great, great city..."
Awkwardness Level: Accidentally holding the door for a guy your age and no one else.
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