Athletes Having a Much Worse Year Than You Are
I'm not sure about you, but as I reflect on the past year, I can admit it's been a pretty solid past 365 days for me.
Assuming you look back on things and realize how fast it goes as you get older, thinking about where you were this time in 2012 and where you are now might just seem like a quick blur.
As easy as it is for us normal folks to get over some of the hardships we have, some athletes aren't quite as lucky; some of the things they battle always seem to linger in the media, on the Internet and around the water coolers.
So, you might be celebrating another great year, but these athletes are just counting down the days 'til the calendar changes to 2014 because this year has been pretty rough for them.
20. Jonathan Walters
I don't know much about Jon Walters besides the fact that he plays for the Irish national team and Stoke City in the English Premier League.
But as someone who has played soccer since he was three years old, I know that putting the ball in the back of your own team's net is never a good thing.
Unfortunately for Walters, he didn't just do it once in a game against Chelsea earlier this year, but twice!
It's OK, buddy, I know you didn't mean to—and your day might not be the worst anyone has ever seen.
19. Claude Giroux
I've admitted I'm not the biggest hockey fan out there, but even I know that Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux should be playing a hell of a lot better than he is currently.
It's gotten so bad that there are questions about whether or not he should even play for his native Team Canada in the upcoming Olympics—ouch.
18. Rajon Rondo
How would you like to be the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo these days?
Ignore the fact that he's one of the most dynamic point guards in the NBA—when healthy—or that he'll earn at least $55 million after a big extension he signed a few years back for a minute, and let's focus on how his Celtics front office abandoned any hopes he may have had at a title during the time he's been out with a torn ACL.
Sure, Boston may not have been a serious contender even with Rajon healthy last season, but after trading away both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce over the summer, as well as letting Doc Rivers leave for the L.A. Clippers, Rondo suddenly finds himself on a team that's locked in a hard rebuild, and that's in addition to the questions about his knee/health, instantly going from a playoff team to a likely lottery team.
17. The Atlanta Falcons
As sports fans, we all know that nothing is won until the games are played, and this year's Atlanta Falcons are in the midst of experiencing it firsthand after a piss-poor performance of a 2013 season.
Coming into the year, last year's NFC title game hosts were considered strong contenders to win the Super Bowl.
For going from Super Bowl dreams to team doctor nightmares, the Falcons find themselves on this list.
What a difference nine months makes, huh?
16. Desmond Bryant
When it comes to athlete mugshots, there isn't one much better than current Cleveland Browns defender Desmond Bryant's following his arrest over the summer.
It's bad enough that Bryant got busted for criminal mischief, which was initially thought to have stunted his free-agent prospects, but thanks to this little dandy of a photo, he found himself the butt of jokes and Internet memes everywhere.
A picture might be worth a thousand words, but Bryant's might be measured by a number of mumbles. Way to rep the Ivy League proudly, Desmond.
15. Nerlens Noel
It has to be a fun, yet stressful, time whenever a college athlete hears his name mentioned by the so-called "draft experts" as potentially becoming the first overall pick in his draft class.
And for current Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel, it wasn't anything new for him, as he was the top-ranked player in the nation just a year prior.
Things didn't seem to work out for Noel as planned (or hoped), though, as he not only slipped from the potential No. 1 pick to the No. 6 spot, but then was also involved in a draft day trade that saw him go from New Orleans to Philly.
Oh yeah, and then there was that news that his knee was going to sideline him for his entire rookie season, too.
Overall, not a great start to his NBA career thus far.
14. Cade Foster
Sorry to all of you Alabama football fans out there, but even after only letting the Tide's Iron Bowl loss marinate for a few days now, the team's kicker, Cade Foster, has to be on this list.
I'm not one to kick a guy when he's down, so I'll refrain from mentioning anything more than the fact he missed three field goals in the classic rivalry game this past Saturday, which put his season total to just four!
I feel for the kid, so shame on anyone who sends him negative notes or death threats, and props to his teammates and the certain fans who realize it was more than Foster's missed kicks that lost the game.
Still, he won't soon forget about the worst football game of his life.
13. Kris Humphries
Anytime a guy gets traded, it's always hoped that he'll rejuvenate himself and take advantage of his new opportunity.
For Boston Celtics big man Kris Humphries, I really hope that's the case, because he's had quite the crappy 2013.
Not only did he find himself in a overly dramatic, nonsensical divorce battle with Kim Kardashian, but then he also got accused of giving another lady herpes and, oh yeah, is still one of the most disliked players in the NBA.
Add in the trade to Boston from Brooklyn over the summer and the viral laughs he got when a ref nearly blocked his free-throw attempt last season, and this year is one that Humphries probably wishes he could have just skipped over.
12. Michael Vick
I'm not sure if people should feel bad for Michael Vick or not?
On one hand, the dude has done everything needed to try to make people forget about his prison sentence for the whole dogfighting sting from a few years ago. But on the other, he was given a second chance that many people don't usually get, even being handed a fat contract during it all.
Still, Vick finds himself atop the NFL's "Most Disliked Players" list for this season, and after being sidelined and losing his starting gig because of injury, he heard his head coach proclaim that the guy who replaced him, Nick Foles, will be the Eagles' starting quarterback for "the next 1,000 years."
11. Wayne Rooney
It's been a tumultuous 2013 for one of the finest players in the world, culminating with questions circulating about where his future might be.
Wayne Rooney has always been looked at as England's next wonder boy, playing at Manchester United and figuring to be the face of the national team.
Yet, after Man U tried their damnedest to lock Rooney up with a huge extension last month to quiet the whispers of him leaving after the season, his future remains just as foggy, as he refuses to talk contract with the "Red Devils."
After the squad added Robin Van Persie in the offseason, Rooney has seemed to feel disrespected, letting his aggression come out on the pitch at times.
Needless to say, it hasn't been the finest year for the guy.
10. Kobe Bryant
Go ahead and say what you want about Kobe Bryant being one of the biggest jerks in sports, or how his new mega-extension with the L.A. Lakers is mind-blowing given his age and the wear and tear on his body.
But before thinking that Bryant has it made, let's take a look at how bad his 2013 has actually been.
First, he found himself on a Lakers team that underperformed all of last year, eventually getting swept out of the first round.
In the midst of the playoff exit, Kobe found himself on the bench as a cheerleader thanks to his torn Achilles, making the most fiery guy in sports nothing more than a spectator.
And while he may have gotten his lifetime Lakers deal—fair or not—even when he does return from his injury, he finds the current roster more dysfunctional than it was when he first got injured, lacking any playmakers alongside him.
The Black Mamba's all about titles, but that's not happening with the guys he has around him, making it a bad year for him and his mates.
9. Matt Schaub
But that's been the life of Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub this year, who, after leading his team to the playoffs the past two seasons, seems to have many Texans fans asking, "What have you done for me lately?"
After going to the Pro Bowl last year, Schaub looks like he's nothing more than roadkill on the side of a deserted Texas road these days.
8. Derrick Rose
Honestly, there isn't a guy on this list I feel for more than Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.
As a former league MVP and one of the most explosive players on the planet, D-Rose has had some poor luck this year in his attempts to get back and remain on the basketball court.
Here's to hoping he comes back full strength next season, because the dude's an absolute joy to watch—and the main reason why the Bulls could win a title.
7. Tim Tebow
I've read the comments plenty of times before, and one thing I know about B/R readers is that they hate when I "find a reason" to put Tim Tebow into one of my pieces.
Well, with apologies to all of you out there, I'd say he's warranted in this one.
After going from golden boy college hero at Florida to somehow maintaining a spot on an NFL roster until last season, it appears Tebow's NFL career is all but over.
He's a good dude, so I wish him the best, but I'm secretly glad to not have to see that funky, wobbly windup he calls a throwing motion anymore.
6. Mark Sanchez
Speaking of Tebow, his former New York Jets teammate Mark Sanchez has had quite the year himself.
It started late last year when he had one of the most epic fumbles in NFL history, stripping himself of the ball after running into his lineman's butt, and then celebrating the one-year anniversary with cornrows.
The booty shaking didn't stop there, though, as "Sanchize" was the culprit of showing his own ass at a drunken fiesta over the summer with some girls, only proving how serious he really was about the newly formed quarterback competition with recently drafted Geno Smith.
Speaking of, the choice to go with Smith was made easier when Sanchez's season ended abruptly after erroneously playing behind backup offensive linemen in the fourth quarter of a preseason game, causing him to get injured.
If Sanchez's life sounds like a soap opera to you, you're not alone.
5. Any Eastern Conference Team Not from Indiana or Miami
In case you haven't noticed, and I'm sure you have, every team in the NBA's Eastern Conference outside of Miami and Indianapolis is seriously miserable.
Teams like New York and Brooklyn were supposed to challenge for a top spot in the standings, yet find themselves toward the bottom of the conference, and they aren't even trying to tank for a top draft pick!
When the Charlotte Bobcats have the No. 6 seed on lockdown, things are a little bit out of control—and that's on top of the conference's putrid display of basketball ability so far this season.
4. Richie Incognito
Who knows what actually happened between Miami Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, but one thing's clear: Incognito came out looking like a giant bully.
Whether you had or hadn't heard of Incognito before this, it seemed every single thing the guy may have done in the past surfaced to make him look like a bad guy.
He may be, but until all of the details are discovered, he's suspended, waiting for an outside chance to potentially come back to join his teammates.
3a. Alex Rodriguez
While we've all seen some bad stuff happen to athletes in the past, the year that Alex Rodriguez has had to live through must seem like one straight out of hell.
One of the biggest drama queens in sports, A-Rod seemed to do everything he could to draw as much attention to himself during a time in which he probably should have just kept hush-hush.
He opened a Twitter account—where he got blasted by his GM for posting details about his comeback from injury—and, after returning to the lineup, struggled mightily.
The cherry on top of it all was the 211-game suspension handed to him by MLB in August, which he's currently appealing with his legacy and the remainder of his career in the balance.
3b. Ryan Braun
While Alex Rodriguez's PED case was/is much worse than Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun's is, the former NL MVP still comes off as a major egomaniac following his denial of using illegal substances at a press conference.
After being suspended for the remaining 65 games of the 2013 season, it seems to have come back to bite him in the ass, though.
2. Lance Armstrong
Although there's just one athlete who lands ahead of Lance Armstrong on my list here, I'm not sure there's a person in sports who lost more than the former seven-time Tour de France champ did this year.
Breaking his silence to Oprah in January of this year, Armstrong admitted to doping and provided the relief that every sports fan all but knew already.
He subsequently was axed from Nike and found himself resigning from his Livestrong organization.
All in all, just a miserable year for the dude.
1. Manti Te'o
Oh, who else but Manti Te'o could hold down the No. 1 spot here?
After a 2012 season while still at Notre Dame that saw him become the darling of college football by leading his Irish team to the national title game and finishing runner-up in the Heisman voting to being the headline on arguably the most insane sports story of the past decade, Te'o will never live down the hoax.
As great as last year was for the now-San Diego Chargers linebacker, the past year has been the complete opposite, with his team getting smashed in the title game, slipping in the NFL draft and seeing limited time in the Chargers lineup.