More often than not, athletes are contractually required to speak to the media. Although that's beyond their control, the one thing an athlete can control is what comes out of his or her mouth when a microphone is present.
The best way for a player to avoid inadvertently becoming the headline during media questioning is to keep it simple. Be vague and remember that sometimes less is more. Don't air dirty laundry in public, and keep emotions in check.
Then of course, there's the golden rule: If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Some of us don't live by that rule in our own lives, but our petty trash-talking doesn't have the potential to become national news.
Honestly, it doesn't seem all that hard, yet there are plenty of athletes who have no idea what they should make public and what should be kept in house. They're operating without a filter and, often times, without the least bit of common sense.
One of the best ways to judge how much an athlete runs his mouth is to do a simple Google search and peruse the headlines. If the headlines are mostly about a team, that's good. If they're mostly about Twitter wars, fines, feuds or settling the score, that's bad.
Here are 15 athletes who talk way too much.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is about as entertaining an athlete you will ever find. He's epic on the football field and even more epic off the football field. That being said, sometimes Gronk gets a little too real for the media.
•Sports Illustrated, November 2013: Rob Gronkowski apologizes for racially insensitive comments
•Deadspin, November 2013: Rob Gronkowski Thinks Planes And Cars Are Time Machines
•TheScore.com, February 2013: Gronkowski apologizes for partying during Super Bowl week
•NFL.com, February 2013: Rob Gronkowski wears his 'Sorry for Partying' apology
•CBS Sports, April 2012: Rob Gronkowski discusses Tim Tebow and would 'take his virginity'
This guy may talk too much, but we wouldn't want it any other way. Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick, on the other hand, probably would want it any other way. Buzzkill police...
It's absolutely stunning that Dwight Howard was concerned about taking a LeBron-like reputation hit during free agency. If that's how he conducts himself when he actually cares, things are really gonna get ugly when he stops.
•NBA.com, December 2013: Howard Says Rockets Lacking Effort
•USA TODAY, November 2013: Dwight Howard would do a UFC fight for $10 million
•Yahoo! Sports, October 2013: Dwight Howard now takes his inspiration from Batman’s butler Alfred, and not Superman
•SlamOnline, April 2013: Dwight Howard Calls the Lakers’ Season a Nightmare
•Sports Illustrated, March 2013: Dwight Howard clarifies Magic comments, meant no disrespect
So Howard doesn't appreciate the Rockets' lack of effort? Well, now he knows how the Lakers felt about the sad performance he mailed in during the playoffs last season.
Boy, that Ryan Lochte sure is good at swimming—amirite? He's less good at talking and even worse at talking while walking. Which is why he might want occasionally considering zipping it.
•Entertainment Weekly, April 2013: Ryan Lochte talks getting teary during 'What Women Want,' his new show, and more
•MyFoxPhilly.com, April 2013: Ryan Lochte's Response To 'Good Day' Anchors Laughing At Him
•US Weekly, August 2012: Ryan Lochte: I've "Never" Had a One-Night-Stand, Mom's Comment Taken "Out of Context"
•LAist.com, August 2012: Ryant Lochte Struggles to Walk and Talk Simultaneously for "90210" Role (But Looks Good Trying)
•Yahoo! Sports, June 2012: Ryan Lochte wants help shaving his back
If you didn't see the video of the Good Day NY anchors having a giggle at Lochte's expense, you really should. His people need to keep him off live television, for his own sake.
The thing about Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace is that he's not having nearly as bad of a year as many fans think, but he's not having nearly as good of a year as he thinks.
•CBS Sports, December 2013: Mike Wallace: 'It was a little bit of a challenge for (Haley) to use me'
•NFL.com, December 2013: Miami Dolphins' Mike Wallace: 'I'm a great player'
•Los Angeles Times, April 2013: Miami WR Mike Wallace doesn't understand homosexuality, he tweets
•Sporting News, April 2013: Mike Wallace tweets, then deletes, reaction to Jason Collins announcing he is gay
•ProFootballTalk, September 2013: Mike Wallace tells media to "ask coach" about his game
Good job insulting the Steelers inability to properly utilize your greatness a few days before facing them at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Wallace better be as great as he thinks because 'Fins fans are going to be even less forgiving next year when he's making $17 million.
U.S. women's soccer star Hope Solo is pretty well known for speaking her mind at this point. She says whatever she wants, whenever she wants and she never even considers apologizing for anything. If you can't handle her truth bombs, you best get out the way.
•SeattlePi.com, August 2012: Hope Solo: 'I speak the truth, and people either love me or they hate me'
•Jezebel.com, July 2012: Hope Solo says that the Olympic Village Is Just a Giant, Booze-Fueled Orgy for Super Fit People
•USA TODAY, July 2012: Hope Solo admits to being drunk on the 'Today' show
•Christian Science Monitor, July 2012: Hop Solo explains why she failed a drug test
•Sports Illustrated, July 2012: Solo, Chastain war of words obscures U.S. Team's success
Solo also makes a habit of throwing around accusations of physical assault. In the past she has accused her Dancing With The Stars parter Maksim Chmerkovskiy of slapping her and a former coach of shoving her. Both Chmerkovskiy and the former coach deny the accusations.
Since being drafted No. 16 overall by the Rockets in the 2012 NBA Draft, anxiety-plagued baller Royce White has played in exactly zero regular season games. Yet somehow he is never at a loss for words!
•USA TODAY, December 2013: Royce White says he still wants to play in NBA
•Minneapolis City Pages, October 2013: Royce White gets released, retweets haters
•FOX Sports, July 2013: Royce White Says 'Hell, No' To Making 100 NBA Flights
•Sports Illustrated, May 2013: Royce White takes Twitter jab at Kevin Durant after Rockets win
•ESPN, May 2013: Kevin Durant shrugs off Royce White
Did this dude seriously call out Kevin Durant?
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn't a constant yapper, but he does tend to run his mouth under certain circumstances—the first being when he doesn't get his way (like when Bruce Arians was fired and replaced by Todd Haley), and the second being when the Steelers are losing.
•PennLive.com, September 2013: Ben Roethlisberger's comments criticized
•ProFootballTalk.com, September 2013: Ben Roethlisberger isn't counting on Le'Veon Bell
•ESPN.com, September 2013: Roethlisberger: "We're worst team in the league"
•Sports Illustrated, December 2012: Ben Roethlisberger apologizes for Haley comments
•Dallas News, December 2012: Tony Romo responds to Ben Roethlisberger saying the Steelers are the 'World's Team'
You can't really blame the guy for getting frustrated with losing, but venting to the media is one of the least productive ways to improve a situation. The Steelers have improved this season, but it probably has nothing to do with their quarterback dumping on his teammates.
Of all the stars in the NBA, there may be no other that routinely generates the kind of negative press as the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony. LeBron James had a pretty long stretch of bad publicity after "The Decision," but it isn't his constant state of being. Anthony, on the other hand...
•TheScore.com, October 2013: Carmelo Anthony: 'I want to be a free agent'
•Sports Illustrated, October 2013: Knicks' Carmelo Anthony: 'I don't want to go anywhere' in 2014 free agency
•NJ.com, October 2013: Knicks' Carmelo Anthony on Charles Barkley's comments: 'I don't listen to that guy'
•Deadspin.com, December 2013: Carmelo Anthony Is Reading Your Mean Instagram Comments About Him
•KnicksJournal.com, August 2013: Why Saying 'No Comment' Would Probably Benefit Carmelo Anthony
Is it just me, or is the thought of Carmelo Anthony sitting at home steaming over Instagram comments…like, the saddest thing ever?
Mike Ditka has been a part of football for more than 50 years now; first as a player, then as a coach and now as an analyst on ESPN. He's always been known as combative and brutally honest, and if you think age has softened him one bit, think again.
Comcast SportsNet, November 2013: Mike Ditka calls Jonathan Martin 'baby,' leaves many wondering
Dallas News, November 2013: Former Cowboy Mike Ditka on NFL brain issues: If this is what is going to happen to me, fine
Deadspin, January 2012: Here's Mike Ditka Calling Dan Orlovsky A Polack, Then Apologizing
USA TODAY, September 2011: Mike Ditka: 'I'd spit on' author of Walter Payton book
Chicago Sun Times, October 2010: Ditka: Zero sympathy for Jenn Sterger
Ditka has been saying nasty things for so long, it's become a "Manny being Manny" situation. "Ditka being Ditka," if you will. Unfortunately, that explanation doesn't make this angry old man any more palatable to those of us with a soul.
Donovan McNabb has always had a lot to say; first as an unemployed quarterback and now as a member of the sports media. What's most interesting though is that most of what he has to say seems to be directed at the Eagles, Redskins and Vikings. Isn't that interesting.
•USA TODAY, November 2013: Donovan McNabb says NASCAR drivers aren't athletes, fans revolt
•CBS Sports, August 2013: Donovan McNabb: RG3 'getting brainwashed' by Redskins
•USA TODAY, January 2013: Donovan McNabb doesn't want Chip Kelly to coach Eagles
•DailyNorseman.com, September 2012: Donovan McNabb Throws Entire Vikings Franchise Under The Bus
•CBS News, March 2012: Donovan McNabb rips Redskins, says RG3 a bad fit
Also interesting is McNabb's vehement assertion that NASCAR drivers aren't athletes. Especially considering that he was often described as fat, lazy and unforgivably out of shape during his career in the NFL. Isn't that like the pot calling the kettle fat?
Nationals slugger Bryce Harper isn't too well liked outside of Washington, but the hometown fans sure seem fond of him. That is…at least for the time being.
•CSNWashington.com, September 2013: Bryce Harper: "Screw what people think"
•Washington Post, September 2013: Bryce Harper plans to relax, then 'get big as a house' after first full season
•Washington Post, August 2013: Bryce Harper on dwindling Nats fans: 'They have a whole winter to watch RGIII'
•NBC Washington, May 2013: Bryce Harper Aggravates Knee Injury, Chastises Reporter for "Dumb Comment"
•USA TODAY, June 2012: Bryce Harper to reporter: 'That's a clown question, bro'
If the Natties rebound from this past season and find the success they enjoyed in 2012, then Harper can keep being a jerk and nobody will care, but his dismissive attitude won't play well on a losing team.
Between Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, I imagine everyone in the Knicks PR department as chain-smoking, prematurely aged bundles of stress and nerves—especially when combined with the fact that the team is eternally sucky.
•NY Daily News, November 2013: J.R. Smith declares Twitter war on Pistons' Brandon Jennings over comments about Smith's brother
•Gothamist.com, November 2013: JR Smith Got Trapped In A Garage, Tweeted About It
•TheScore.com, November 2013: J.R. Smith 'panicking' after Knicks lose fourth straight
•NESN, September 2013: Paul Pierce Responds to J.R. Smith's Trash Talk With Indifference, Asks 'Who?' When Told of Knicks Guard’s Comments
•HollywoodLife.com, January 2013: Kris Humphries Dissed By JR Smith With Kanye West Tweet
First of all, if Smith "declares war" on everyone who thinks it's hilariously stupid that the Knicks are paying his D-League brother in anything but condescending head nods, well then he's going to be way too busy to help this brick of a team succeed. Last of all, nice work on the Humprhies dis.
At this point, considering the nearly universal loathing of the embattled Yankees slugger, everything Alex Rodriguez says is like an ice pick to our collective national earholes. Maybe that's not fair, but sometimes life just isn't fair.
•Sports Illustrated, November 2013: Alex Rodriguez says he and his legal team 'crushed it'
•Deadspin, November 2013: A-Rod Storms Out Of Hearing, Says MLB Is "Full Of Shit"
•NY Daily News, October 2013: Alex Rodriguez tells panel he was duped into taking steroids: source
•CBS News, August 2013: Emotional Alex Rodriguez: It's "been a nightmare"
•CBS News, March 2001: A-Rod Clarifies Jeter Talk
Only people like A-Rod could use the term "crushed it" in a situation like his without even the slightest sense of irony. Unless he was talking about his career…or his legacy…or his credibility…or his future employability…then yes, in that case, he definitely crushed it.
The fact that all the headlines for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III are from the last month is pretty indicative of the amount of gum flapping this guy has been doing throughout the last 12 months.
•NY Daily News, November 2013: Robert Griffin III says anyone talking about his father's locker room visit 'needs to back up'
•Sports Illustrated, November 2013: Robert Griffin III's postgame comments create a schism in Washington
•Washington Post, November 2013: RGIII talks about his private parts
•NFL.com, November 2013: Teammate: RGIII's comments were 'cold-blooded'
•New York Post, November 2013: Redskins turmoil: RG3 trades shots with Shanahan
If his rookie season in Washington was a fairy tale, then his sophomore season is…well…the opposite of that. With the 'Skins already eliminated from playoff contention, there's probably a lot more talking still to come.
Here's a good rule of thumb: When you've loss any and every semblance of credibility, the less you say publicly, the better. We all know, though, that disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong doesn't play by anybody's rules except his own…and sometimes not even those.
•The Washington Times, June 2013: Lance Armstrong: I'm still Tour de France record-holder
•TheWire.com, June 2013: Lance Armstrong Says Winning Tour de France Was 'Impossible' Without Doping
•USA TODAY, November 2013: Lance Armstrong says former UCI president helped cover up doping
•BusinessInsider.com, July 2013: Lance Armstrong Says It's The Postal Service's Fault For Giving Him $41 Million When He Was On Drugs
•Gawker.com, July 2013: Lance Armstrong Says Everyone Should Have Known He Was Doping
•CNN.com, July 2013: Lance Armstrong says his doping still 'polarizing topic' for many
Anyone else curious as to what Armstrong meant when he said his doping was a "polarizing topic?" Maybe you hate him with the fire of 1,000 suns and I hate him with the fury of an angry honey badger, but that's not polarizing. Nice try, dude.