15 Athlete Interviews That Went Bad

Laura DeptaFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2014

15 Athlete Interviews That Went Bad

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    Athletes and reporters—they might not always like each other, but deep down in places they don't talk about at parties, they need each other. 

    Some of the fights in this tumultuous marriage have been real doozies over the years. Things got aggressive, things got inappropriate—and sometimes things got just plain weird. 

    The following are 15 athlete interviews gone bad—bad in a way that makes PR teams cringe and silently celebrate at the same time. There’s no such thing as bad press, right? 

    Buckle up. We are going to hit everything from Mexican vacations to nosebleeds, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride. CAN’T WAIT!

15. Pete Rose and Jim Gray

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    Prior to Game 2 of the 1999 World Series, Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from Major League Baseball was temporarily lifted so he could be honored as a member of the MLB All-Century team. 

    NBC’s Jim Gray thought that immediately following the ceremony would be a good time to ask Pete Rose about that pesky gambling business. Things got ugly.

14. James Harden

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    After falling behind 0-2 to the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2014 Western Conference playoffs, James Harden didn’t show much patience with reporters. 

    According to ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh, Harden asked a long-time reporter, “You've never seen someone shoot 29 percent in two games? You must not watch basketball.” Oh, and he also called the reporter a “weirdo." 

    Sticks and stones, James Harden.

13. Flying Bart Scott

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    This interview has it all—flying, preaching, unnecessary yelling and of course, media criticism.

    Jets linebacker Bart Scott was pretty amped about beating the New England Patriots for a trip to the 2011 AFC Championship game. So amped, in fact, that he gained the ability to fly.  

    He also called out Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson for being “non-believers” and informed viewers that the Patriots defense “can’t stop a nosebleed.” Classic.

12. Practice

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    Allen Iverson is a walking sound byte, but we all know his most famous rant. That’s right—we talkin’ ‘bout practice. The media members at this 2002 press conference likely didn’t expect a monologue in which Iverson said the word “practice” over 20 times, but that’s what they got, along with a lifetime of laughs and a pop culture reference that will live in infamy.

11. Drunk Joe Namath

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    Not all athlete-reporter relationships are adversarial. Joe Namath likes Suzy Kolber so much that he once tried to kiss her on the air during a Monday Night Football broadcast.

    It was a valiant effort, but Kolber was successful in thwarting Joe’s liquid-courageous advances. The best part was the dude in the booth trying to smooth things over by saying, “Joe’s just a happy guy.” Happy—is that what we’re calling it these days?

10. Crying T.O.

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    Post-game interviews can be emotional—especially when your teammate is taking mad heat for going on a Mexican vacation with his pop star girlfriend.

    Following a loss to the New York Giants in the 2008 playoffs, Terrell Owens was moved to tears as he defended Tony Romo—his quarterback—against the evil tyranny of media scrutiny. How dare the media blame Romo’s mediocre performance on his bye-week siesta! It’s so unfair. Hold on…I need to get a tissue.

9. Richard Sherman

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    Erin Andrews was the interviewer, but Richard Sherman’s aggression was directed at the San Francisco 49ers and wide receiver Michael Crabtree following the 2013 NFC Championship Game. For his fiery rant, critics dubbed Sherman a “thug” and weeks of heated debate ensued about his interview’s status as inappropriate vs. understandably passionate.

    Nonetheless, that is one interview Andrews will not soon forget.

8. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Brian Kenny

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    Floyd Mayweather, Jr. makes not one, but two appearances on this distinguished list. In this 2009 interview with ESPN’s Brian Kenny, Mayweather took offense to Kenny’s reference to him as the “former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.” 

    Mayweather demanded to know how he was not the current best fighter in the world, and Kenny replied rationally and hilariously, “Because you’re retired.” 

    Logic is so maddening sometimes.

7. Derek Anderson

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    Following an embarrassing loss on Monday Night Football, Arizona Cardinals QB Derek Anderson insisted to reporters that he did not laugh with a teammate during the fourth quarter. He was also appalled that a reporter would dare accuse him of not taking his job seriously. 

    Since the year was 2010 and video technology did in fact exist, no one was buying his denial. The scene ended with the only appropriate action to take when you know you’ve been owned—a walk off.  

6. Look Michael Strahan in the Eye

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    For a man who would eventually become a prominent member of the media, former NFL defensive end Michael Strahan certainly didn’t have kind things to say to or about them back in 2006. He also apparently never learned to chew with his mouth closed.

5. Prolonged Awkwardness with Rampage Jackson

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    While this 2009 interview wasn’t exactly, uh, professional to begin with, Heather Nichols still got more than she bargained for from MMA fighter Rampage Jackson. 

    Of the 30-second dry hump, Nichols later told Jimmy Traina from Sports Illustrated, “I tried to play along a little bit because I knew he was trying to be funny, but after about the first 5-10 seconds, it was just plain awkward.”

4. Don’t Mess with Ryan Leaf

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    Former NFL QB Ryan Leaf never exactly had a reputation for getting along with people. During his rookie season with the San Diego Chargers, Leaf absolutely unleashed on a San Diego Tribune reporter and had to be physically restrained.

3. Iron Mike Tyson

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    Choosing just one Mike Tyson interview to feature here was challenging, to say the least. But this 1999 gem with Russ Salzberg could not be denied.  

    With the most obvious comment of all time, Salzberg told Tyson, “You take into the ring a lot of rage.” The interview ended abruptly a short time later after a minor disagreement about foul language.

2. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Round 2

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    “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass.” 

    In 2011, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. took the WBC welterweight title from Victor Ortiz by knockout. Trouble was, Mayweather delivered the final blows during what appeared to be a break in the action. Timeout! I said timeout! Mom! Floyd hit me even though I said timeout! 

    HBO’s Larry Merchant promptly called out Mayweather for his atrocity, and well. Things escalated.

1. Jim Rome Calls Jim Everett “Chris”

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    Jim Rome, not exactly well-known for his tact and likeability, was on the wrong end of Jim Everett’s fists after this one.

    Some time prior to this 1994 interview, Rome thought it would be funny to start calling the NFL QB “Chris” in reference to female tennis star Chris Evert. Ah making fun of boys by calling them girls—so original, so hilarious.   

    Everett warned Rome to knock it off. One guess how that turned out.