Prefix-Gate: Sports History's Most Notable Crimes and Scandals

Brad HinkleContributor INovember 25, 2010

Prefix-Gate: Sports History's Most Notable Crimes and Scandals

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    In the 1970's president Richard Nixon was linked to a break in of the Democratic National Committee. The resulting scandal, named Watergate, tarnished his already shaky legacy and left such a lasting impression that further scandals have since included the suffix "gate."

    There have been many scandals and crimes within the realm of the sports world as well, typically tarnishing the legacy of those involved. Some have climbed back into good standing with fans across the world, while others live with their bad decisions and will likely never redeem themselves.

    In the following slides, you will be taken through 10 crimes and scandals that are either pivotal for being famous, or for affecting players and entire sports as a result of their happenings.

    As one of my grandfathers' sayings go, "Not all of the stupid are poor, nor are all the rich smart."

10: Woodsgate

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    The former darling of the sports world, Tiger Woods was touted as being one of the best individuals in sports. The guy had everything going for him in money, fame, skill and a great life around the house. Strangely enough, Woods wasn't satisfied with one woman, and allegedly committed multiple acts of adultery.

    The news went public, and Tiger Woods proceeded to plow into a fire hydrant, among other things.

    In the year since the official news broke, Tiger Woods still hasn't regained the composure that once made him the greatest golfer to ever exist. He officially divorced Elin Nordegren on August 23 of this year, and a good chunk of his fortune went with her. The rest of his ad-based income vacated as well.

9: Spygate

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    In 2007, the Patriots were filming the Jets' defensive signals. All is well and good, until they are caught in the process. Apparently, this is a little trick that has been going on since 2000, according to videos sent to the league offices. Things don't bode well for the Patriots when the commissioner is on to their stunt.

    The Patriots had a talent-packed team, and this particular year happened to be the one where Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes (23 of them to Randy Moss), and the Jets were nothing more than a stepping stone, so there was no need to film their signals.

    Bill Belichck was fined $500,000, and the team was fined another $250,000 and lost their first round choice in the 2008 NFL Draft.

    That year the Patriots swept the Jets, outscoring them 58-24. The first game of the sweep was a 38-14 beatdown in a season where the Pats constantly threatened to score 40 or more on anyone.

    Today, the Patriots are still an elite team and Belichick is still regarded as a coaching and drafting genius.

8: Gamblegate

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    Pete Rose, good ol' Charlie Hustle. This man is the all-time leader in the Major Leagues in hits, games played, at-bats and outs. He owns three World Series rings, earned three batting titles, two Gold Gloves, and the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards all while playing in the World Series six times. He also played five different positions during his career.

    This very same man is not allowed in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Pete gambled on the Cincinnati Reds as a player/manager. That is a violation of league rules, and not just in the MLB. One only needs to ask a certain former NBA referee that betting on a game that you play a factor in is a bad life decision that will most likely cause you pain.

    Today, Pete is still heralded for his playing career, and there are some out there who would like to see the ban on him lifted so he could be inducted into the Hall. Personally, I don't have a preference. Part of me would like to see a great player like him in, but another part of me is glad that his stupid decision was made an example of so that future players may not repeat the same mistakes he did.

    I am sure he looks back and regrets doing what he did to this very day.

7: Dogfightgate

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    Holy mother of PETA, I'm sure most readers knew that this was coming sooner or later.

    A certain mobile quarterback, then of the Atlanta Falcons, was found to have allowed dogfighting on the premises of one of his properties, and in 2007 he was implicated on the charges after admitting to them. Vick spent 21 months in prison and essentially lost everything to either his team, his lawyers or to the government. Vick filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in July 2008.

    After serving out his sentence, Vick was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, as half of the league wanted nothing to do with him, including his former team which had moved on with Matt Ryan. After a season of playing under Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb, Vick got his chance and literally ran with it.

    As of right now, Vick is one of the top quarterbacks in the league and is using the Eagles' weapons to bite large chunks out of opposing secondaries, and gnash them when they're down with swift running. He is set to earn back quite a bit of money, and I doubt many people fear his bark more than his bite anymore.

    Bad pun time, over.

6: Crazygate

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    In the white corner, the former heavyweight champion and completely crazy dude, Mike Tyson.

    Iron Mike took the boxing world by storm and eventually did something that no one before him ever could, and that was hold the WBA, WBC and IBF heavyweight championships at the same time. He is also the youngest to ever hold these titles, still to this day.

    The downward spiral began in 1992 when he was convicted of sexually assaulting Desiree Washington, for which he served three years.

    There was a period of comeback, but like today's stock market, Monday's big gains are followed by Tuesday's bigger losses.

    He was able to win back part of his heavyweight championship shortly, but lost it to Evander Holyfield in a 1996 bout. Well, that just didn't quite sit well with Tyson, so "The Baddest Man on the Planet" wanted some revenge.

    In 1997 he got that chance, and proceeded to use it to bite part of Holyfield's ear off in what is still regarded as perhaps the craziest and stupidest moment in boxing history. Tyson would be disqualified and things only got worse from there.

    In 2002 he lost to Lennox Lewis in a championship fight, getting knocked out in the process. He would then be knocked out in back-to-back matches in 2006 before retiring entirely from professional boxing. In 2003 he lost all of his money and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as well.

    But if you thought things couldn't get worse for the champ, you would be wrong.

    On December 29, 2006, Mike was charged with driving under the influence and possession of cocaine in Arizona after nearly hitting a police car and then being seen wiping "white powder" off his car dashboard by the policeman he nearly hit.

    Boy, he's crazy.

5: Black Sox Gate

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    Here's an old one for baseball fans. I'm talking 1919 old, specifically speaking. The 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds.

    To make things simple, Sox first baseman Arnold Gandil came up with the idea of the mafia-fed plan to fix the World Series to make everyone involved a bunch of money. The team didn't like owner Charles Comiskey, either, so that made throwing the Series all that much easier.

    In short, the Sox blew the Series but a bunch of the team's players were banned—including one (Buck Weaver) who didn't participate in the fix but knew of it and didn't report it—and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.

    Some believe the term Black Sox didn't actually originate from the scandal. Some believe that the term came up as a result of the disliked, tightwad owner not paying for players' uniforms to be cleaned. I don't know about you, but my white socks don't stay white for very long if I'm working hard.

    And I'm sure most people stop working hard when a scheme for easy money falls into their laps as well.

4: Saltwatergate

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    The 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City. What you may not know is that a bunch of Olympic Committee members received secret bribes to vote for the Olympics to take place in Salt Lake City. It makes sense. There isn't any other way that the Olympics would be within a state's range of Utah without some illegality involved.

    The event had some shaky officiating and oversight. A French judge was bribed to favor the Russian pairs skating duo, but when she was caught, her scores were thrown out, and the Canadian figure skating team was awarded the gold along with the Russians.

    South Korean speed skater Kim Dong-Sung was also disqualified, allowing Apollo Ohno to capture the gold medal.

    There were allegations of further bribery abroad as far as judging was concerned, and plenty of athletes were disqualified.

    In the end, those committee members enjoyed their rewards and were forced to resign, while nothing interesting has happened in Utah since the event's conclusion.

3: Marvin Harrison, You Shouldnt Murder People...gate

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    Marvin Harrison owns four businesses in Philadelphia.

    1. A strip joint notorious for drug trafficking.

    2. A mini mart that makes no money (see No. 1 and how it talks about drug running)

    3. A sports bar

    4. A car detail shop called Chuckie's Garage

    Let's go to location four. On April 29, 2008 a convicted drug dealer, Dwight Dixon, was shot just outside of the main building. Someone didn't give the Hall of Fame receiver a good deal for his crack. In all seriousness though, Marvin had denied Dixon into location three earlier in the day and then another incident later. All of this culminated in Dixon being shot, allegedly by Harrison himself.

    Dixon ends up filing a lawsuit against Harrison for shooting him, and police confirmed that a handgun in Harrison's possession matched the shots that were fired, but they didn't know who pulled the trigger.

    To me, it doesn't seem too hard to put one and two together, but the cops must have been having a bad mental day. The story got more interesting as the Philadelphia DA wasn't going to pursue charges when this is clearly something really bad, and clearly related to the former Colts receiver. I don't know about you, but something sounds pretty corrupt about that situation in particular.

    Dixon was convicted of filing a false report and was sentenced to six months in jail while another eye witness to the shooting, Robert Nixon, filed charges against Harrison for being in the crossfire of the earlier shooting. He also stated that Harrison himself was the gunman.

    Fast forward.

    Two blocks away from Harrison's sports bar, Dwight Dixon was shot dead inside his car in July 2009, after filing a civil lawsuit against Harrison. Police confiscated a 9mm pistol from Harrison to see if it matched the bullets used to kill Dixon. Harrison admitted to being in possession of the alleged murder weapon, and even attempted to hide it from police after a traffic stop.

    This case is still pending and the FBI is involved, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of media coverage over this incident. I find it to be very serious, and Marvin seems to be getting a little bit of help from somewhere within the police station to be able to fend off what would otherwise be an easy arrest and conviction.

    Career stats

    128 receiving touchdowns/ One pending murder conviction

2: Roidgate

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    BALCO (Bay Area Laboratories Co-Operative) was a company responsible for distributing for THG or "The Clear" to American athletes and was discovered to be doing so after a federal investigation in 2002.

    What made this particular steroid so useful to cheaters was that it was essentially undetectable at the time.

    What makes this scandal so important is that it involves essentially every single major steroid user, such as Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones and Bill Romanowski.

    This scandal helped create baseball's first anti-steroid policy, as the MLB was the only league at the time to have not instituted one. Baseball still is very lax as far as player monitoring and testing are concerned, but it really opened America's eyes to the growing problem of performance enhancing drugs' place in sports, and it is unlikely that the leagues and associations will ever be so blindsided again with the tougher crackdown on offenders.

    If we have to thank BALCO for anything, that would be it.

1: TheGloveDoesntFitgate

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    From a mile away, you say you saw it? If I were you, I wouldn't be surprised either.

    O.J. Simpson managed to combine Mike Tyson's repetitive idiocy with Marvin Harrison's urge to kill stuff, and there really isn't much that you probably don't know about his downfall at this point.

    1989: O.J. and Nicole Brown separate after a domestic abuse charge is filed and Simpson pays child support

    1994: Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman are found dead. Simpson is charged with their deaths. O.J. doesn't turn himself in and gets caught up in a low speed pursuit. It's like he was just casually trotting along in his car, knowing that he was safe as long as he was moving. For whatever reason, this trial is viewed widely as "the trial of the century," and there seemed to be a racial split over the thoughts regarding the case.

    In 2006 and 2007, two smaller but related cases spawned off the failure to convict Simpson in the first place, but they were unsuccessful. The federal courts also disallowed Simpson from gaining any money off a canceled television and book deal surrounding the incident.

    Since then, O.J. had turned to doing such petty things as pirating DirecTV and ended up losing nearly $60,000 after being found out. At this point, that wasn't money he had lying around the house anymore.

    But all of this bad fortune culminated in one last hurrah as OJ and a group of people broke into the Palace Station hotel and casino and essentially robbed old sports mementos of his back at gunpoint. He was charged and convicted with multiple federal charges, and is currently serving out his sentence in Nevada at Lovelock Correctional.

    The glove fit this time.