14 Least Apologetic People in Sports
When famous people have to publicly apologize for something, it never seems like they want to or even believe they need to. The odds are, apologizing is something they were made to do.
So, if public figures struggle to appear genuinely contrite about some wrong they (or someone else) hope to right, you can't really blame them—even if you count yourself among those who think an apology is deserved.
Sincere apologies are precious commodities, but the mere formality of apologizing, regardless of the true motivation behind it, is one essential ingredient in the glue that keeps civilization from descending into chaos.
For men and women in sports, the reality is candor is highly valued but not usually appreciated, so athletes and other public figures sometimes end up in a situation where a team, league, sponsor, employer or all of the above expect them to publicly say "I'm sorry" for something they feel is perfectly acceptable.
And if the things they say don't get them into hot water, then the fact that they're human will; we make mistakes and are awesome at making terrible decisions. The average "official" expression of regret may be dry and choreographed, but there have been some people in sports whose apologies may have sounded like "I'm sorry" but felt like something more of a middle finger.
These are the least apologetic people in sports.
Bill Simmons, ESPN
The relationship between Grantland creator Bill Simmons and his ESPN overlords has long been known as uneasy, but these days it’s acrimonious on its best days. Despite what looks to be quite the mutually beneficial relationship, Simmons has been openly critical of many instances in which he deemed the Worldwide Leader had overstepped boundaries in policing his endeavors.
In the past Simmons has feuded openly with other ESPN personalities, such as Rick Reilly, Keith Olbermann, Magic Johnson and, more recently, Mike Golic. In September 2014, Simmons was slapped with a three-week suspension for comments made on his podcast about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, during which he dared ESPN to take action against him. And he has never once apologized for all this cage rattling.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Patriots stud tight end Rob Gronkowski has issued two public apologies in his career, neither of which seemed to be of his own volition. The first was in October 2011, when Gronk showed faux contrition for tarnishing the franchise’s sterling brand by allowing an adult film star to pose in his jersey and then post the photo to Twitter.
In November 2013 Gronkowski came under fire for a video in which he appeared to be mocking an Asian-American man who turned out to be a friend of his. He said his friend was not offended but apologized to anyone who was. Gronk’s offseason antics have made plenty of headlines in the last few years, which inspired his legendary “Sorry For Partying” shirt—the ultimate non-apology.
Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn Nets
Nets big man Kevin Garnett has a long and storied career as one of the NBA’s biggest trash-talkers. The best you can hope to get out of him is a clarification as opposed to an apology. When KG was accused of calling Charlie Villanueva “a cancer patient” in 2011, he claimed it was a simple miscommunication, having called him “a cancer.”
In October 2013 LeBron James publicly called out Garnett for his treatment of former Celtics teammate Ray Allen after giving him the cold shoulder—he declined to apologize. More recently KG has offered no apologies for taunting Anderson Varejao, trying to pretend bite Joakim Noah and headbutting Dwight Howard, for which he was recently suspended.
James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
Longtime Steelers linebacker James Harrison has never apologized for his fine-inducing play on the field. Nor was he particularly apologetic for calling out various players, including two of his own teammates, during an interview with Men’s Journal in 2011 (h/t CBSSports.com).
His inflammatory comments about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the same interview, however, forced the hollowest of PR apologies, with Harrison claiming they were “taken out of context.” A tweet Harrison directed at Goodell last September, via For the Win's Chris Strauss, suggests he’s anything but sorry.
Chael Sonnen, Retired MMA
A legendary trash-talker whose mouth often wrote checks his butt couldn’t cash, former UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen took the thinking-man’s life philosophy of “no ragrets” to impressive heights on his podcast last October. Sonnen was reflecting on the two failed drug tests, one last May and another in June, that prompted his retirement from MMA and ultimately the termination of his broadcasting contract with Fox Sports.
He wasn’t caught off guard by the positive tests, having admitted to “a plethora of things” in his system. And as for contrition, he has none. “I’m not going to apologize because I’m not sorry,” Sonnen said. “I’m a consenting adult. I knew exactly what I was doing. This was a premeditated decision.” Say what you will about Sonnen, but at least give him credit for telling the truth and owning his professional failings.
Lane Kiffin, Forever Being Promoted
Lane Kiffin, currently Alabama’s offensive coordinator, has continually displayed an amazing propensity for failing upward, making no apologies for his inexplicable career trajectory. As one of the most hated people in all of American sports, it’s become abundantly clear that human misery and disdain are like oxygen to Kiffin.
Fired by the Oakland Raiders in 2008 after going 5-15, Kiffin was soon hired by Tennessee, which he ditched after one season to become the head coach at USC—which was apparently very impressed by his 7-6 record in Knoxville.
After three years of diminishing returns with the Trojans, they were so ready to kick Kiffin to the curb that they did so five games into the 2013 season, pulling him off the team bus following a road loss and leaving him at the airport.
Naturally, Kiffin was out of work all of five minutes (give or take) before Nick Saban hired him as Bama’s OC in 2014. Despite questionable play-calling in the Sugar Bowl and a disappointing season by Tuscaloosa standards, Kiffin is (at present time) now the front-runner for the OC position with the San Francisco 49ers, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
And he's soooooooo not sorry about any of it.
Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is the kind of egomaniacal rich person who never has to say he’s sorry because he can always find a few people willing to agree with him after having enough money thrown at them.
Snyder didn’t like what the local sports media used to say about him, so he bought them all off (link NSFW)—and those he couldn’t buy, he unsuccessfully sued. Snyder refuses to acknowledge the reality that his team’s name is a derogatory racial slur, so instead he employs an army of people to defend it and stand beside him at public events.
As if that wasn’t enough, on top of all that, the team has been absolutely terrible since Snyder acquired the franchise in 1999. After years of treating the Redskins as his own personal (terrible) fantasy team, they’ve become such a joke that even Jeff Fisher can’t help but publicly mock them.
Hope Solo, US Women’s Soccer
U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo is not one for apologies, a self-implemented blanket policy that saves her from having to answer for any and all of the terrible things she says and does. Solo is one of those people who thinks “telling the truth” easily trumps basic human decency.
In November 2011, Solo lashed out backstage after being eliminated from Dancing with the Stars, later accusing her partner of slapping her during rehearsal—a charge he vehemently denied. In July 2012, she lashed out again, this time at former teammate Brandi Chastain over relatively innocuous criticism made during an Olympic broadcast.
In November 2012, Solo married former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, who has a jarring criminal history, just hours after he was arrested and then released on suspicion of domestic violence. In June 2014 it was Solo herself who was arrested after being accused of a very ugly altercation with family members at her home. Don't worry, there's probably an innocent explanation for everything, haters.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Longtime Lakers star Kobe Bryant is perhaps the only athlete today who could end up with a broken nose and concussion playing in an All-Star Game, which is exactly what happened in February 2012. He’s the kind of guy who, early in his career, said he “wanted to cut [the] hearts out” of his hometown Philadelphia 76ers when they met in the 2001 NBA Finals.
Bryant isn’t sorry for never passing the ball, nor does he apologize for the bloated extension the Lakers gifted him in 2013. He has never expressed regret for his part in the "him or me" situation with Shaquille O’Neal and later showing little interest in adjusting to Dwight Howard's presence.
Bryant is one of the most outspoken and frank players in the NBA, having unapologetically offered up juicy soundbites over canned talking points for the better part of two decades.
Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills
Even though things eventually went south with the New York Jets, it seemed for a while there that Rex Ryan and Gang Green Nation were a match made in heaven.
Big, bold and unapologetically brash, Ryan made it his mission to needle the perennial division-winning New England Patriots during his tenure, even when his Jets were in the toilet—which, let’s face it, has been much of their existence since Joe Namath led them to an unlikely Super Bowl win in 1968.
Ryan never once questioned his own handling of the quarterback position, which was an albatross around his neck in four of his six seasons in New York. Nor was he willing to apologize for his ineffective game strategy down the stretch with the Jets, who went 4-12 in 2014.
Not only is Ryan not the least bit sorry about how the circus of his own making played out in New York, but he has already set up his tents in Buffalo, promising the same old show.
Charles Barkley, Retired NBA
Hall of Fame great Charles Barkley has never had a problem speaking his mind. It was he who once said, “I’m not a role model. ... Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” And Sir Charles has operated as such, saying what he wants, when he wants, and apologizing for nothing.
In April 1993 Barkley was not sorry for dumping a beer on a woman for being “rude” after denying her more than one autograph. In June 2009 he wasn’t sorry for using an expletive to describe his producer on live TV. In May 2014 Barkley was not sorry for making jokes at the expense of San Antonio women during the NBA Finals.
Those examples are just a drop in the bucket of the countless things Sir Charles is not sorry for.
Don Cherry, CBC
The Canadian cancer known as Don Cherry has spent his entire broadcasting career, which now spans nearly 35 years, saying unforgivably terrible things, usually without most people so much as batting an eye.
Things like calling people who ride bicycles “pinkos.” Or calling out three former players speaking out against fighting as “turncoats” and “hypocrites.” Or referring to Russian players as “cheaters” and “lazy.” Or mockingly dismissing players who choose to wear safety visors as “Europeans and French guys.”
In May 2014, Cherry even admitted to once threatening to kill Hall of Fame center Stan Mikita, which is pretty much the only noteworthy happening of his unremarkable and brief career in the NHL. The only time Cherry actually apologized for anything was after the "three hypocrites" threatened legal action.
Darnell Dockett, Arizona Cardinals
Off the football field, Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett has an entire secondary career as a social media superstar. Back in June 2011, Dockett famously live-tweeted an incident in which he was pulled over by police. This past December he did the same thing with jury duty—or at least pretended to.
Dockett loves to start fires and almost never apologizes for doing so. There were all those times he needled AJ McCarron about Katherine Webb. There was the time he mocked the 0-6 Raiders, using nothing more than a whiteboard and a smile. And there was that time he posted a weird leering photo of 16-year-old Malia Obama to Instagram and then told everyone to chill.
Donald Sterling, Former NBA Owner
At this point it’s impossible to say with certainty, but there is at least a slight chance former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling might still own the team if he was physically capable of issuing any sort of apology. Sterling had skated on a lot of bad behavior since buying the Clippers in 1981, but leaked audio of his racist ramblings published by TMZ in April 2014 proved too much to overcome.
In the wake of an onslaught of negative publicity and unprecedented action by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who initially hit the former Clippers owner with a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine, Sterling still couldn’t bring himself anywhere even close to an apology during an ill-advised interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
The best he could do was something along the lines of, “Am I sorry? Yeah, I’m sorry…sorry Magic Johnson is a bad role model.” Seriously.