Worst Ideas in Sports so Far This Year
To err is human. It’s a phrase that means bad decisions and the occasional mistake are as much a part of the human condition as eating, breathing and sleeping.
No one is immune to making mistakes, certainly not those within the sports world. Athletes, owners, executives and those within the sports media have proven time and time again that their judgement is no less flawed than anyone else’s.
We’re not even halfway through 2014 yet, and already there’s been of bad decisions permeating the sports world. Here are some of the worst so far.
NFL Bans Dunking over Goal Post
The NFL often takes action on things that have to make you wonder how their priorities got so out of whack. How…and when…and why.
Concussions and the long-term impact of repeated head injuries? Denied and otherwise ignored for decades, with accusations that a systematic cover up had been implemented early on.
A player celebrating a touchdown by dunking the football over a goal post? A top offseason priority in 2014, apparently. In March it was announced it had been banned and will now be penalized.
The NFL remains the most popular and profitable sports league in the U.S., but they have a pretty serious image problem at the highest level. This kind of stuff only makes them look more punitive and out of touch.
David Ortiz’s Presidential Selfie
When the World Series championship Red Sox visited the White House in April, Boston slugger David Ortiz took an epic selfie with President Obama that instantly went viral on social media.
The initial photo was well received, but the story began to take on a different tone after it was revealed to be part of a Samsung promotion. It wasn’t quite as obnoxious as some of the recent viral hoaxes, but it wasn’t far off.
Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer was especially displeased, having said “perhaps maybe this will be the end of all [presidential] selfies” on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Eric Decker’s GQ Sexy Pregnancy Photo Spread
Jets wide receiver Eric Decker and his wife Jessie James are both very attractive individuals, both of whom possess the model good looks required for a multiple-page photo spread in a magazine like GQ.
The couple were featured in sexy photo spread in the February 2014 issue to promote their reality series, Eric & Jessie: Game On. The photos were, perhaps, just a little too sexy, given that James was roughly seven months pregnant in them.
Please note that I am in no way saying that pregnant women are gross or should be hidden away for nine months—I’m not. There’s just something very weird and fundamentally icky about these awkwardly staged lingerie photos.
Pacers Sign Andrew Bynum
When Andrew Bynum was traded away by the Lakers, nobody was particularly sad to see him leave.
When Bynum was released by the 76ers after being paid, but never playing, for the entire 2012-13 season, nobody was sad to see him leave.
When Bynum was traded by the Cavaliers to the Bulls midway through the 2013-14 season, nobody was sad to see him leave.
Bynum was then waived by the Bulls in a salary-dump move almost immediately, having never been issued a uniform. Nobody was sad to see him leave.
It really makes you wonder why the Pacers thought it was a good idea to sign him in February. Bynum played in just two games before being unceremoniously cast off. And nobody was sad to see him leave.
Johnny Manziel’s (Kinda, Sorta) Threatens Texans
Listen, everyone knows former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is a talented character with confidence to spare. It’s part of his charm…or it’s part of why you hate him. Whichever.
That being said, in February, Manziel, more than convinced of his No. 1 overall potential, had some words for the Texans, who possessed the No. 1 pick. Perhaps classifying his comments as “threatening” is a bit excessive, but not too excessive.
Passing on him, well, “It would be the worst decision they’ve ever made,” Manziel told the Houston Chronicle. He added, "I'd be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Frito into a Dorito."
The Texans, as we now know, did pass on Manziel. Although it’s hard to imagine his comments were the major deciding factor, they certainly didn’t help his case.
Cristiano Ronaldo Bares Too Much for Vogue
Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is, without question, is among the top five greatest footballers in the world today—if not the best. As is always the case with matters of opinion such as this, it really depends on who you ask.
Greatness on the pitch aside, there’s also a widely pervasive assessment that exists of Ronaldo, which paints him as a high maintenance, overgroomed, over-tanned, overly dramatic, fashion-obsessed diva.
Ronaldo’s recent cover of Vogue Espana has done absolutely nothing to dispel that notion. Impressively hairless and butt-ass naked, Ronaldo shares the cover with his girlfriend, Russian model Irina Shayk, who is not butt-ass naked.
Florida State Announcing Logo Change
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s a standard issue cliché with an undervalued message. The vast majority of people don’t love change. Think of the ridiculous uproar every time Facebook has made minor changes over the years. People get legit angry over nothing.
Same goes with logo changes in sports. While there have been some welcomed changes occasionally, more often than not change for the sake of change begets nothing but scorn. Such is the case with Florida State’s recent decision to change their logo and uniforms.
According to a report in USA Today, it was a decision that had fans “furious.” Although the hubbub has since died down, the question that still remains is “why?” They have such a passionate fanbase that it seems silly to get them all riled up with relatively arbitrary and minor changes.
If you're thinking the answer to that question has to do with money and the needless changes are just a marketing ploy to sell more merchandise, join the club.
Miami Dolphins on Twitter
The last seven months haven’t been great for the Dolphins organization, which was forced to clean (part of the) house in reaction to the fallout from the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying situation.
It was all very unpleasant, but there a few players who didn’t let the “PC police” stop them from saying ill-advised things on Twitter. In February it was Incognito himself, who lashed out at Martin in a series of angry tweets.
More recently it was Mike Pouncey, who tweeted “Great pick! I can’t wait for our gifts he’s getting us lol” regarding the team’s first-round draft pick Ja’Wuan James. The joke making light of the Martin incident was not well-received. Pouncey’s Twitter account was deleted not long after.
Dolphins defensive back Don Jones decided to get in on the terrible tweeting action during draft weekend too. Jones was reprimanded and fined an undisclosed amount for tweeting “OMG” and “horrible” after Michael Sam was drafted by the Rams in the seventh round.
Chasson Randle Gives Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden the Giggles
A day prior to No. 2 Kansas taking on No. 10 Stanford in the NCAA tournament, Jayhawks freshman Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden, Jr. were asked about defending Cardinal leading scorer Chasson Randle during a joint press conference.
The cocky frosh didn’t bother feigning humility or even attempting to pay lip service to Randle. Wiggins and Selden giggled amongst themselves before dismissing the specifics and offering up broad answers about playing team defense.
A day later Randle got the last laugh when Stanford upset Kansas 60-57. Wiggins and Selden combined for six points in the game, while Randle finished with 13.
Davone Bess’ Series of Increasingly Unfortunate Events
Former Browns wide receiver Davone Bess was signed to a four-year deal worth $14.18 million in early 2013. In late December, he posted to Instagram a photo of himself smoking weed and kept the terrible ideas coming well into the new year.
In mid-January he tweeted another questionable photo. Bess wasn’t personally featured, but his alcoholic drink, blunt, baggie of weed and scattered pile of weed were. Days later he was arrested at Fort Lauderdale International Airport.
Bess, whose pants were falling down, assaulted an officer and was reportedly “acting irrationally.” One day later he tweeted out a nude photo of himself standing in front of a mirror. Bess was released in March and in April pleaded no contest to the airport assault.
Jimmy Haslan Reveals His Draft “Advisor”
The Browns don’t usually make that much of a splash in the draft each year, but their decision to move up and draft Johnny Manziel No. 22 overall certainly made them one of the biggest stories of the 2014 NFL draft.
Manziel is anything but a sure thing as a pro prospect, but he’s as explosive and dynamic a playmaker as exists at the college level. Cleveland fans, who desperately need/deserve something to be excited about, were understandably enthused.
Then, in classic Browns fashion, owner Jimmy Haslam immediately stepped in and tainted it. According to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, Haslam said that he decided to draft Manziel on the advice of a homeless person whom he encountered on the street after dinner.
The only thing crazier than drafting a quarterback in the first round on the advice of a homeless man is telling ESPN you drafted a quarterback in the first round on the advice of a homeless man.
Jameis Winston’s Great Crab Caper
Because it’s illegal and people are rarely as slick as they think they are, shoplifting isn’t a good idea for regular folks. It’s a much worse idea for famous people, because they’re almost always being gawked at.
That’s a lesson Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston learned in April, when he was busted and cited for stealing $32.72 worth of crab legs from a Tallahassee Publix. Perhaps one of the most ridiculous things that has ever been stolen from anywhere.
Winston’s crab legs caper was particularly brazen, given his immense local fame. He’s coming off a rookie season in which he led the Seminoles to a national championship and won the Heisman. That’s in addition to his well-publicized (non-shoplifting related) legal issues.
The absurd nature of the whole incident assured the story had…legs…and it has persisted online via social media for weeks now. It was given a boost recently when the video surveillance was released to the public.
Tigers Sign Miguel Cabrera to 10-Year Deal
When the Tigers locked up Miguel Cabrera for 10 years and $292 million in March, the general consensus seemed to be that it was a very terrible idea. Then there were the lukewarm defenders who maintained it wasn’t quite as stupid as it sounds.
That being said, the Tigers did what they had to do to keep Cabrera in Detroit. If they win a World Series or two and Cabrera, who was 31 when the deal was sealed, maintains remains productive for even half that time, perhaps the level of regret won’t reach Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez status.
Those are some very serious “ifs” though. And considering the dire financial struggles the city of Detroit has been facing in recent years, you know Cabrera is going to hear about it from those fans the moment he does start to slip.
Daniel Snyder’s Self-Serving Charity
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is one of the more loathsome characters in professional sports. Not only did he recently send a cease-and-desist letter to LaVar Arrington mandating that he stop publicly calling himself a “Redskins great,” he also decided to finally address the fact that his team name is a racial slur.
Did he come to his senses and agree to a timetable in which to make a change? No—this is Dan Snyder we’re talking about. Did he at at least apologize and publicly acknowledge the name is offensive, promising to examine the issue while remaining purposefully vague about the particulars? Not even.
Instead he announced his creation of a charity called the Original Americans Foundation, noting that “it’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more.” Snyder has since cited his generous charitable endeavor in discussions about why the team name, which he describes as a “badge of honor,” will never be changed.
A plan so self-serving and terrible that even Donald Sterling probably thought, “Oh, I don’t know about this.”
Harlem Globetrotters Go to North Korea with Dennis Rodman
In January Hall of Fame basketball player Dennis Rodman made a return visit to North Korea, this time with several members of the Harlem Globetrotters and a crew for HBO’s Vice documentary series in tow.
The trip certainly made for a very entertaining episode, but it certainly didn’t do much to dispel the widely prevailing notion that Rodman is a, for lack of a better word, lunatic. Not that anyone expects better from him at this point.
The real bad decision-makers in this case were the players that agreed to join him. In this live video in which Rodman has a complete meltdown while speaking to CNN’s Chris Cuomo, you can actually see that realization on there faces as it sets in.
Michael Sam’s Reality Show
Former Mizzou defensive end Michael Sam became a bona fide media sensation when he made the decision to come out as gay via an ESPN interview in February. It was a move that was praised by many, but Sam’s celebrity persona came under particular fire after a very disappointing performance at the combine.
Originally pegged as a mid-round pick, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year stayed on the board until the Rams selected him in the seventh round. Initially a feel good story, things turned sour for Sam when word got out that he had negotiated a deal with the OWN network for his own reality show prior to the draft. Something he did not disclose.
The reaction to the news was swift and harsh, with almost universal condemnation from the sports world. Unable to secure permission from the NFL to film, and likely concerned about the negative publicity, within days of the story breaking, Sam’s camp announced the show had been put on hold indefinitely.
Alex Rodriguez Sues MLBPA
In January embattled and stunningly unpopular Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez filed suit in federal court against MLB. According to a report in the New York Times, A-Rod was seeking to have the season-long suspension he was slapped with overturned.
Suing the league is one thing, but suing the player’s union did not go over very well with many players. Three unnamed sources later told Yahoo Sports that MLBPA representatives “overwhelmingly agreed that [Rodriguez] should be kicked out of the union during a 90-minute conference call the day he sued..."
Said another source, “[Rodriguez] needs to be scared of coming back and facing people he sued. If he can’t fear the wrath of getting kicked out or not being included, he’s going to be forced out.” Classic A-Rod, making friends everywhere he goes.
Donald Sterling’s Interview with Anderson Cooper
Clippers owner Donald Sterling found himself in exceedingly hot water after audio recordings surfaced in which he could be heard saying some unforgivably racist things to his one-time female companion, V. Stiviano. Or, as she has classified herself, his "silly rabbit."
The investigation into the recordings was swift and the fallout harsh, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver slapping Sterling with a $2.5 million fine and lifetime ban within days of their publication. Silver also announced his intention to force a sale of the team.
Sterling remained silent on the matter for more than two weeks before finally agreeing to sit down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Any thought that we’d see a contrite and apologetic Sterling was put to bed the moment he opened his mouth.
Sterling expressed some level of “remorse” for what he said, but maintained he is not a racist and that he was “baited.” Then he addressed Magic Johnson specifically, who was personally referenced in the audio.
Sterling called Johnson a “good guy,” then went on to say that he’s a bad example for children, has done nothing to help minorities and that he slept with every woman in America. Basically his overarching message was, “Yeah, I’m sorry…sorry Magic Johnson HAS AIDS.”
It was the most ill-advised interview and one of the worst public relations disasters in sports history.