Professional atheletes. We Love them. We Smear them. We Cheer them. We Identify with some. We Sympathize with others. We Cannoize them as Saints. We Demonize them as Devils. This is the nature of American sports fanaticism, and these are the days of our lives. Our feelings about athletes depend largely on the who, what, where, and why of it all. Then, every once and again, strange things transpire. Indeed, on rare occasion, athletes and the sports they play, transcend the realm of entertainment, and leave notions of fun and games, far behind. When issues of true gravity arise, they force us to confront emotional realities in consideration of a specific athlete. In the most severe cases, these emotionally charged considerations can, and often do, take us places where we … end up hating them.
The historical landscape of American sports culture has pockets that are populated with the despised athlete. We are all familiar with them, from tangenally, to specifically, we know their names. They are the sports personalities that people love to hate. The reasons for the vitriol can be, and are usually varied, but the one constant that runs along the spine of each of their stories, is that at some point their behavior, and/or effects of their behavior … crossed the rubicon.
AMERICAN POP Presents : 10 Controversial Athletes we LOVE to HATE…
Duke Basketball // 13 NBA Seasons
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): To be clear Christian Laettner is one of the greatest college basketball players to ever perform in NCAA competition. He’s also one of the most competitively successful collegiate athletes in history. That said, he is widely considered the biggest prick to ever play the game of college basketball. Indeed, in many instantly observable ways, Christian Laettner exists as a runaway figment of fan imagination who has been transformed into a caricature. Specifically, the ‘Attitude’ walking, Sh*t talking, Personification of Sports Villain‘. This is true not only because he competed with a distinct air of arrogance, but also because Laettner wreaked of the kind of entitlement that Duke University (right or wrong) embodies. In addition, the fact that he also had model good looks, including cool hair … pissed people off. Yes. Christian Laettner was a very talented, very successful player. However, his attitude of arrogance and predilection for in-game antics, also made him the kind of player whom it was quite easy for people to dislike … if not flat out hate.
2 X NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion (1991, 1992). Most Outstanding Player NCAA Final Four (1991). Consensus National College Player of the Year (1992). Consensus 1st Team All-American (1992). ACC Player of the Year (1992). USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (1991). NBA All-Star (1997). NBA All-Rookie First Team (1993).
Life’s social ‘rules’ have long stated that ‘perception’ is the foundation of a person’s ‘reputation’. Perception also supports the full weight of assumed reality. That presupposition being stated, based on perception, the following assertions about Christian Laettner, will likely ring ‘True’. Especially, in the event that you are now, as you were back then, NOT a ‘Dukie’ (aka Duke fan). Those of you who haven’t been indoctrinated into worship of Duke University, and its so-called ‘mystique’, frankly speaking, will likely remember, that you hated Christian Laettner … and that you probably still do. The ‘why’ is simple, Because he was an arrogant prick and a world-class ‘A-hole’. That’s ‘why’. You remember, don’t you? If so, you’ll also remember his severely irritating, ‘in your face’ type of competitive personality. Indeed, Laettner was the kind of guy who relentlessly tries to get inside the recesses of your head, in the brief moments when he isn’t pointedly getting under your skin. This is potentially a serious problem to deal with while trying to play basketball, is it not?
The bottom line si this – Christian Laettner was an obnoxious competitor. He played his entire college basketball career tip-toeing around, over, and at times, even through the letter of the law’ found in the rules. Moreover, Laettner excelled at the skillfully diabolical tactic of testing assumed boundaries of good, if not barely acceptable sportsmanship. He did this by deftly riding the lines of propriety, albeit while assuming the risks of the precarious behavior which he often engaged. People also despised him because in addition to everything else, he always got away with sh*t. Indeed, it seemed that he had an inherent ‘Ace’ up his sleeve. Compounding the issue was that Laettner played for Duke, and frankly, there isn’t a college basketball fan in America with the possible exception of those with loyalties to the institution at Durham, who don’t understand that Duke typically gets outsized consideration from the referees, as well as most of the ancillary ‘lucky breaks’ that occur in-game.
For basically the entirety Christian Laettner’s college career, and despite his predilection for ‘dirty play’, underhanded ‘tactics’, and spirit of the law ‘antics’, (for which he was rarely, if ever sanctioned) … Christian Laettner managed to win a metric ton of games, back to back NCAA Championships, and earn a mantle full awards. He is also responsible for hitting two of the three greatest game-winning NCAA tournament buzzer beaters in history … That pisses people off. Moreover, prior to hitting the legendary game winning shot against the Kentucky Blue Devils in the 1992 NCAA Regional Finals, Laettner had stomped a Kentucky player, directly in his midsection (stomach/chest) as he was down on the floor, on his back … yet inexplicably. Laettner was NOT ejected from the game. That REALLY pisses people off.
// Miami Dolphins // NFL Career: 2005 – Current
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): Richie Incognito – In truth, there is a profound shortage of conciliatory words, and proactive statements available for use, while attempting to politely describe, with any kind of accuracy, the malignant, hateful character of a man who without provocation, routinely badgered, bullied, and berated undeserving human beings. The fact that many of them were also his teammates, is not tangential, but virtually besides the point. but apparently team employees as well. How would you describe ‘Richie Incognito‘, the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman? The person who often used racially charged slurs via text message to bully and demean a teammate throughout his professional career? Indeed, what would you possibly infer about a man who would routinely use abhorrent racial slurs, mental abuse and coercion, pursuant to extortion demands (I know. Crazy much?) and the issuing of death threats to his teammate AND his family? Yuck. Richie Incognito is gross. In with judgmental recesses of my mind, the descriptive term ‘Awful Human Being’ is playing on an uninterrupted loop. There is no shortage of people who feel the same way.
4X NFL Pro Bowl Selection (2012, 2015–2017). 1st Team: All-Big 12 Conference (2003).
Consistently bullied and berated more than a few of his Miami Dolphin teammates, typically with the use of racial slurs, threats, and rank social obliviousness. In an awful form of particular, Incognito brow beat, harassed and frankly, terrorized one of these teammates, a soft-spoken Stanford educated offensive lineman named Jonathan Martin, so severely, that one day Martin just up and quit the team. For obvious reasons, but as stated officially: “Jonathan Martin fears retribution, primarily from Incognito.” Hmmm…this begs the question, was this professional football organization or a training ground for future organized crime figures?
Infuriating: If in fact Incognito was actually repentant and sincerely remorseful for his actions, and mot simply upset at being exposed in addition to being summarily suspended indefinitely for ‘conduct detrimental to the team’. Indeed, 5 years after the fact, NFL fans, and American public at large, have not been wholly convinced. The infuriating thing is that the public should be, and hopefully Jonathan Martin was, because frankly, the fact that we have to guess and/or assume … is the definition of a ride in Larry’s Lame Limosuine.
// American Pro Tennis Legend // 109 USTA World Titles
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): Although Jimmy Connors is a professional tennis legend, who has many fans who have religiously supported him all throughout his 20 year professional tennis career, as they continue to do today, the fact of the matter is that there exist just as many, if not decidedly more, people who despise him … along with the tennis racket that he would figuratively ride in on. It could easily be argued, if not flat-out asserted with certainty, that Connors was: A. Severely overly competitive to detrimental levels. B. Consistently ill-tempered. C. An unapologetic poor sport asshole.
At the time of his retirement from professional tennis, Jimmy Connors was celebrated, and well-known as a former #1 tennis player in the World. In fact, Jimmy Connors is widely considered to be among the greatest tennis players to ever play the game. During one remarkable stretch in his playing career, he dominated the sport of men’s tennis, holding firmly in hand the #1 ATP ranking for 160 Consecutive weeks (1974 to 1977) which was the all-time record at the time. Although, that record has been surpassed, Jimmy Connors continues to hold three USTA Men’s Singles records: (A) 109 Titles (B) 1535 Played Matches. (C) 1256 Match Victories. In addition, Connors trophy mantle can boast of a registry that includes Eight (8) Majors Titles. Five (5) US Open Titles. Two (2) Wimbledon Titles. One (1) Australian Open Title. Seventeen (17) Grand Prix Super Series Titles. Additionally, in 1974, Jimmy Connors won Three (3) Majors in a Single Calendar Year. Hmmm … That legacy isn’t too bad … at all.
It is said that Jimmy Connors was only 1/2 of an asshole when he wasn’t pointedly playing tennis, and literally trying to win at all costs. ‘At all costs’ meaning ‘regardless’ of …well anything. Connors had a sell your mother, and rent out access to his own, competitive attitude. It should come as no surprise that this kind of personality flaw and the intentionally of the objectionable behavior that it manifests, really pisses people off … typically to the limits of ‘no end’. his mother and The problem is that he was always trying to win at all costs. Indeed, when it comes to Jimmy Connors, any notions of ‘competitive grace’, ‘good sportsmanship’, and ‘humble decorum’, needed to be placed in all places where ‘the damned‘ are accepted. Indeed, more often than not, that’s exactly how he condemned them. they were be damned when gracefulness successfully avoided condemnation. Historical case in point – ‘The Aaron Krickstein’ debacle.
(1) At the 1991 United States Seniors Open Semifinal, which was also Jimmy Connors 39th birthday, he played a fourth-round match with then 24-year-old Aaron Krickstein, playing for nothing more than the good grace of friendship, and some practice against some of the former greatest players in the world. The match was difficult because of repeated rain-delays, the match became uncomfortable, to the extent that it became as much emotionally grueling, as it was physically taxing. What should have been a respectful, if not wholly comfortable match got ugly … better stated, Jimmy Connors got very ugly. Even though reality was insistent that Connors was 39 years old (nearly double Krickstein’s age) and that a close match, and even a loss would have been more than understandable, the ruthlessness of Connors notorious competitive streak came out to play, and with a vengeance. The problem’s stared with the fact that initially critical plays in the match were not going well for Connors, certain calls did not going his way, during a tiebreaker at the end of the 1st set. Reportedly, the chair umpire overruled a questionable call that at best 50/50, and at worst, maybe he should have swallowed his whistle. Connors literally lost his sh*t on the umpire. Like seriously lost it on him, ‘colorful’ language inducing verbal diarrhea, in the form of incessant berating. The tirade that Connors unleashed would make pre-conviction John Gotti run and take cover. In a cynical showing that was likely nostalgia driven, the crowd took Connors side and literally turned on the umpire AND his opponent, the still wet behind the ears, 24 yr old Aaron Krickstein.
(2) By the end of the match Connors had bullied the umpire to the extent that he literally got the benefit of every single close for the reminder of the match … a match that, unsurprisingly, Jimmy Connors ended up winning in five sets. Krickstein was literally shell-shocked by the events of the match, as he stated later, “During the match, he did some things and said some things that were uncalled for.” adding, “It was a win-at-all-costs attitude, and I wound up losing to a 39-year-old” Here’s the infuriating thing, not only did Connors not apologize to the younger Krickstein for his actions during the match … He ENDED their friendship. Completely. Krickstein was a legitimate friend, who looked up to Connors as an inspiration and mentor. Connors, due to the destructive nature of his competitiveness, those Krickstein and his friendship in the trash.
// New York Yankees // 22 Major League Seasons
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): It isn’t much of a secret that over the course of his playing career, Alex Rodriguez failed in virtually every effort to ingratiate himself to the news media, fans, and even his teammates, both past and present. Frankly, this is due largely to an unfortunate combination of issues in Alex’s life. (1) A severely stunted, if not permanently disfigured ability to effectively socialize and/or interact with other human beings. When he tried, he tried way too hard, and as a result, Alex usually came off as condescending, if not flat-out insincere. Then he decided to change tact and be more quiet and reserved, he came off as aloof, arrogant and superior. It was always a social no-win for Alex, from jump street. (2) Now, please add the fact that he also had superior physical gifts, generational talent, and Hall of Fame level ability. This reality was as much curse, as coveted gift. Because the effect was that it left his peers in awe of him, if not privately resentful, as well as the fact that it further removed Alex from any classes with ‘normal’ in the title. (3) To make things even worse, he found himself obscenely rewarded with the largest, most lucrative contract in the history of professional sports, Alex was never going to win. People were going to hate him, and they had several reasons from which to choose. Then to cement his unpopularity, Alex went ahead and got busted for performance enhancing steroids. Then he callously denied it using with his trademark unconvincing communication ‘skill’, which continued to lack sincerity. He did this only so that later he would inexplicably come clean, and cop to using PED’s. No ‘publicist, Alex? Anyway, here we are, and there he is #7 on this list.
Over the course of a decades long, illustrious and historic career (during moments free of controversy). There is no reasonable question as to the historical impact and transcendent nature of Alex Rodriguez’s statistical output. Frankly, Alex put up a litany of Hall of Fame worthy numbers. His career earnings were numbers that might understandably induce tears of joy/amazement. Let’s start with Alex’s 700 … wait, that’s not correct … 696 Career Home Runs, that’s correct. Alex surpassed the magical 3,000 hit plateau, by hitting 3,115 of them. In addition he drove in over 2,000 runs (RBI) finishing with 2,086. Feel free to add a career OPS of .930 as well as 329 Stolen Bases for good measure. All-Star Game? Alex was a 14X American League All-Star. MVP Awards? Sure, Alex has three (3) American League MVP Awards. Did someone ask about Silver Slugger Awards? Alex has two (2) of those as well. In case, you were wondering, yes … Alex Rodriguez won Gold Gloves. Two (2) in fact. Not to put too fine a point on it … Putting all the drama, innuendo and static, to the side, Alex Rodríguez was one of the greatest individual talents the game of baseball has ever seen .. Also Alex currently holds the MLB record for Grand Slams with 25.
(1) The 2007 Opt-Out Controversy: Following the final year of Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $252 million deal, Alex had repeatedly been quoted making the commitment to return, remain a Yankee until the end, in effect agreeing NOT to leverage his opt-out clause. Then inexplicably, on October 28th 2007, during Game #4 of the World Series, Rodriguez announced through his agent, Scott Boras, that he would not renew his contract with the Yankees after all … stating that he had become “unsure of the future composition” of the Yankees future team. This was yet another reason that people simply do not like Alex Rodriguez. He received a virtual avalanche of fan, and media criticism alike, and rightly so, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that he had not been bothered to meet with Yankee brass prior to his decision.
(2) The Performance Enhancing Drug Controversy: In 2007 Alex strongly professed to never using PED’s in an on-air/televised interview with Katie Couric. Fast forward to February 2009, when Sports Illustrated investigative writers, Selena Roberts and David Epstein released credible and substantiated reporting that stated Alex Rodriguez had indeed tested positive for several PED’s back in 2003. Included on the list of substances was the anabolic steroid, ‘testosterone’. Once again, Alex Rodriguez was caught lying. Once again, Alex Rodriguez was exposed as untrustworthy and insincere. That kind of sh*t pisses people off … Royally.
Frankly speaking, the case of Alex Rodriguez is more sad and annoyingly disappointing than ‘infuriating’. It’s reasonable to believe that more likely than not, that stripped down, and underneath it all, Alex Rodriguez is probably a decent human being with noble intentions. Unfortunately, he’s had close to 30 years of controversy, bad press, and scandal. That’s more than enough to become a polarizing, if not despised sports personality.
// San Francisco Giants // 22 Major League Seasons
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): Barry Lamar Bonds was always destined to be one of the greatest players of his generation. He is the progeny of a terrifically talented father who enjoyed respectable levels of success playing Major League Baseball in multiple decades. Likewise, and at the risk of forcing parallels, Barry Bonds was destined to have a contentious relationship with the media, having seen, heard, and read much of the negative opinions which were inevitably going to be asserted, about his father and his performance of lack of on any given day, week, or year, over the natural course of his (Barry Sr.) career. It just so happened that Barry Sr’s career existed at the same time that Barry Jr was developing his future opinions and forming the foundations of his character. That said, it’s not like Barry Bonds was ever going to win any awards for being ‘Mr. Congeniality’. He was always aloof. He was always a superior talent, he knew it, and he treated opponents and even his teammates, like they better know it. Nevertheless, Barry Bonds’s legacy has been tarnished needlessly. He was already a 4-time perhaps even 5-time National League Most Valuable Player, in the years BEFORE he started messing with ‘BALCO’ and their ‘cleat’ version of PED’s (allegedly). It’s beginning to seem likely, that at the end of the day, that fact is perhaps the most tragic.
Barry Bonds played 22 marvelous years in the Major Leagues. He was always an exceptional talent who put up exceptional numbers. Towards the end of his career, for whatever reason you’d like to assign, he began to put up extraordinary numbers that honestly began approach the fictitious realm of video games, and the absurdity found in Saturday morning cartoons. With all of that said, Let’s take a look at these numbers/achievements: Seven (7) National League MVP Awards. 762 Home Runs. 2,935 Hits. 1,996 Runs Batted In. 514 Stolen Bases. 6X OPS Leader. Most Home Runs in a Season 73 (2001). Eight (8) Gold Gloves. 14 National League All-Star Selections.
As was mentioned earlier, from the outset of his playing career, Barry Bonds was saddled with a (well-earned) reputation for being surly and argumentative, on those odd-numbered days when he wasn’t behaving in standoff-ish fashion. The long and short of it, is that irrespective of his talent level, which was extraordinary, Barry Bonds was known to be a difficult person to deal with over the course of his career, up to and including the end of his playing days, which were of course, besieged by fallout behind the PED scandal. As for the scandal, starting approximately in the year 2003, Bonds became a principal figure in the investigation and subsequent indictment of the Bay Area Laboratory named ‘BALCO’. Barry Bonds’s involvement with the company that sold and marketed a synthetic version of an illegal performance-enhancing anabolic steroid called ‘tetrahydrogestrinone’ aka ‘the Clear’, was the focus of federal criminal investigation. This association was also the focus of an investigation by Major League Baseball A major part of the legal ruckus was the fact that this ‘drug’ was virtually undetectable by any number, if not all, steroid targeted testing. On November 15th of 2007, Barry Bonds was indicted on Federal Charges, specifically ‘Perjury’ (Lying), and ‘Obstruction of Justice’ (As a result of lying). None of this was good, all of it was bad, and Barry made it considerably worse by maintaining an attitude of deviance, and doubling down on his well established personality dominated by abject douche-baggery.
The fact that Barry Bonds was already a lock for 1st ballot Hall of Fame induction years before he decided to indulge in the morally questionable, certainly legally dubious realm of PED chemistry, is for sure infuriating. It was a decision based solely on the hollow standard of competitive vanity. In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captured the hearts and minds of the baseball world with their Home Run race, and quite frankly, Barry Bonds felt slighted, even offended that these players of lesser talent (in his opinion) were being celebrated in royal fashion … while he was only being celebrated. Like almost every player in the league, Bonds knew that those guys were using PED’s to help achieve their success and notoriety, so in his infinite wisdom, Bonds decoded to do the same (allegedly). Part of what resulted and transpired, was the outrageous ballooning of Bond’s power numbers, as well as the fact that major league pitchers couldn’t get any strikes past his bat … virtually ever. So what most of them did was pitch around Bonds. Deciding that if they had to ‘walk’ him, then so be it, they’d ‘walk’ him. Bonds’s became the poster child for everything that was wrong with PED use, and as such was demonized. Barry Bonds is 110% responsible for his legacy problems.
// Oakland A’s //
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): It is the editorial opinion, and stated position of ‘American Pop’ that a ‘rat’ is a ‘rat’ is a ‘rat’. By definition, and in consideration of most any barometer, and/or reasonable measure, Jose Canseco is a ‘rat‘. That being stated, it is clearly understood that the issue of PED’s in Major League Baseball had metastasized to dangerous, untenable levels, manifesting disjointed performances that were starting to damage the historically revered, eternally cherished statistical benchmarks that are of religious importance to the game of baseball, institutionally. These factual realities are not lost, and have not been dismissed. Nevertheless, it is a bridge too far to give Jose Canseco a pass for (at first) dropping dime on certain individual players, while omitting the names of others. Frankly, it would have seemed more appropriate for the media to blow the whistle, which in fact was already beginning, albeit in drips and drabs. Jose Canseco decided to blow up the whole program, without warning … simply an effort to sell books for financial gain. It is ‘American Pop’s’ position that Jose Canseco … sucks.
American League Rookie of the Year (1986). American League MVP (1988). 4X Silver Slugger Award Winner (1988, 1990, 1991, 1998). 6X American League All-Star (1986, 1988–1990, 1992, 1999). 2X Major League Home Run Leader (1988, 1991). 2X World Series Champion (1989, 2000).
In 2005, Jose Canseco released what would become a culturally consequential, ‘tell all’ book (aka snitch chronicles) “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big” It would’ve been bad enough had Canseco released his book but exercised discretion by changing, obscuring, or otherwise protecting the identities of the players he discussed in the book. Canseco decided to do exactly none of that. Instead, he unilaterally ‘dropped dime’ (quarters really) on his old teammates and ‘friends’. He sold everyone out who was unfortunate enough to get caught in the gravitational pull of his moronic orbit. Including (literally) player’s cousins, and team ball boys. Indeed, not even the ‘regular joe’ clubhouse manager, who ironically, understood that ‘what happens in the locker room stays in the damn locker room’. Jose Canseco violated literally every code of clubhouse decorum ever invented. He also obliterated all manner of social codes which formerly assumed clubhouse privacy, by deciding to use the real names of real players. Many, if not all, of whom were still playing in the league at the time, on the grind and trying to continue competing, trying to prolong their (on average) already relatively short careers, while maximizing their earnings. In what can only be described as a callous, self-serving, monumental sized, ‘dick move’ … Jose Canseco blew up the legacies, careers, and by extension … the lives of the following players with intentional anecdotal exposure in his book : Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Iván Rodríguez and Juan González. Worse still, Canseco asserted/claimed in detail how he had personally injected these outed teammates … his teammates. Putting aside the morality, or even legality of the use of PED’s, it’s still not cool to ‘rat people out’. Sorry, there are rules that we learned in the 3rd grade that continue to remain bedrock paramount. ‘Don’t be a damn snitch’ is almost certainly top 3, if not the #1 rule of the street.
As clearly espoused above, powered with universally understood certitude and conviction, Jose Canseco is a world-class rat who violated locker room privacy, and sold out his friends and teammates … for a little cheese.
// Atlanta Braves Relief Pitcher //
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): If you happened to be a native New Yorker around the turn of the 21st century (1999-2000) then it’s more likely than not that you came to know the name John Rocker. Apparently, this previously obscure Atlanta Braves relief pitcher/closer decided that citizens of New York City were as a group ‘less than’, who needed to hear his opinion as he readily exposed the depths of his bigotry. It wasn’t long before the entire nation had relegated the name and face of John Rocker to the waste basket in the recesses of their minds, labeled ‘objectionable persons’ . As the story goes, sometime during the 1999 MLB Playoffs, John Rocker ‘gifted’ the world with the bowel gas stench of his bigoted verbal diarrhea, in a December Sports Illustrated article interview. In that article Rocker unleashed a bigoted tirade, derogatorily ripping into New York Mets fans. However, it did not end there. He went on to expand the scope of his racist hatred by making bigoted statements about a litany of American citizens, specifically, those from non-white ethnic backgrounds. Rocker referred to these Americans as ‘foreigners’. He proceeded to issue a variety of racist stereotypes in blanket indictment form. Rocker made assertions such as “I’m not a very big fan of foreigners,” to which he added, “‘How the hell did they get in this country?” This was in addition to calling out an African-American teammate … as a “fat monkey”, this in addition to making bigoted statements regarding “those flaming gays”. John Rocker issued off-color at best, bigoted/racist at worst denunciations about almost every other minority group that the ignorance reinforced concrete of his head could identify.
*John Rocker has zero accolades and/or notable professional achievements to highlight from the entirety of his 6 year Major League Baseball career. This makes him the only athlete on this list without any observable credits to his professional legacy with which to give contextual balance to his despicable nature. Sweet.
John Rocker became well-known specifically for being a contentious, belligerent asshole to opposing fans. As previously stated he espoused his personal animus in a Sports Illustrated article. In that article Rocker opined about the (disagreeable) notion of playing baseball for a New York team, stating, ‘”Imagine having to take the ‘7 Train’ to the ballpark? Feeling like you’re riding through Beirut (sitting) next to some kid with purple hair, next to some ‘Queer’ with ‘AIDS’, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some dirt poor 20-year-old mom with four kids … It’s depressing.” (Actually, Mr. Rocker, the malignant depths of you bigoted ignorance … is what counts as ‘depressing’) It took less than 6 years for MLB and it’s fans to tire of Rocker’s daily issuance of foul mouth antics, which included disturbing forms of taunting which more often than not, reached ‘beyond the pale’ levels that transcended sports fanaticism. Even the player’s union could no longer defend him. To wit, by 2001 the Braves were fed up with Rocker, and traded him. He bounced around the league for another 2-3 seasons until finally the weight of his negative behavior reached levels of notoriety which became too much for any Major League ball club to accept on their roster. Indeed, by 2005, Macon, Georgia native John Rocker was out of ‘The Show‘, demoted by attrition, and relegated to signing a minor league contract. Ironically, with a franchise based just outside of New York City. The ‘Long Island Ducks’ of the independent ‘Atlantic League’.
(1) Following the Sports Illustrated controversy and subsequent media firestorm and debacle, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, suspended John Rocker for the rest of the Major League Baseball season. In aggregate, ‘rest of the season’ was the equivalent off 73 days. Mr. Selig added that (Rocker) had “dishonored Major League Baseball by disparaging many groups of society”. True words indeed, I suppose it’s possible that John Rocker may have been able to find solace in the fact that with his (well deserved) suspension, he became the very 1st Major League player to be disciplined by suspension … for the vile content, and offensive nature of his speech.
(2) Quite literally, everything about University of Georgia alum, John Rocker’s bigoted attitudes, objectionable antics, and belligerent behaviors are infuriating. So to Mr. Rocker ‘American Pop’ reinforces the feelings of MLB from 2005 in bidding him a none to fond, ‘good riddance‘.
// World Class Cyclist //
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): The case of legendary American cyclist Lance Armstrong is imbued with notable dramatic complexity, and certainly requires nuanced consideration. Namely because of the fact that Armstrong is at the same time an inspirational figure for his remarkable resilience in overcoming the life threatening jeopardy, and unenviable odds of surviving Cancer. (At 25 years old, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with ‘Advanced Stage 3’ Testicular Cancer. A form of Cancer known medically as ‘Embryonal Carcinoma’) as well as an inspiration to athletes for being an American born World Champion Cyclist with remarkable achievements. This reality in addition to being considered a persona non grata form of social pariah following the detailed disclosure, and exposure of his performance enhancing drug use. Indeed, the story of Lance Armstrong can arguably be considered … quixotic. However, the residue from a PED scandal riddled with denials, obfuscation, fabrications, and flat-out lies, has relegated Lance Armstrong as a hated public sports figure … certainly with a notably large section of American society, as well as European society. If nothing else the Lance Armstrong saga is evidence that human beings are flawed, and complex, with emotional complications that are often hidden and/or surpassed. A coping mechanism that is effective … until it isn’t.
National Sprint-Course Triathlon Champion (1989,1990.1992). National Road Race Championships (1993). Champion ‘Trofeo Laigueglia’ (1993). Champion ‘Clásica de San Sebastián’ (1995). ‘Stage 8’ of the ‘Tour de France’ World Championship (1993, 1995). Champion ‘Clásica de San Sebastián’ (1995). Champion ‘Tour DuPont’ (1995,1996). Champion ‘Tour de Luxembourg’ (1998). Champion ‘La Flèche Wallonne’ (1996)
The fact of the matter is that rumors of illegal PED use (aka Doping) had followed Lance Armstrong like faint whispers within the darkness of shadows. To the extent that Armstrong couldn’t avoid the questions, he consistently, and vehemently denied any and all doping allegations, and for many years. Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong was ‘killing it’ in the European dominated sport of professional cycling. His grueling, albeit eventually successful, battle with Cancer offered somewhat of a reprieve from the scrutiny of PED allegations. People tend to give the sick a break. Following the heavily media driven publicity, and subsequent successful nature of his comeback, it seemed as if Lance Armstrong was a unique form of super human, surely capable of accomplishing the unprecedented, if not doing the impossible. Indeed, for many years, Armstrong’s reputation had the tensile strength and sharp shine of stainless steel. His PED use denials were universally accepted, as were notions of Armstrong’s supreme athletic ability, which bordered on the mythic … UNTIL one fateful winter day in January of 2013. On this day, while operating under extraordinary public pressure, and legal scrutiny from a Federal investigation … Lance Armstrong was forced to finally admit to ‘doping’.
As it turns out, betrayal lifted the curtain on Armstrong’s truth. In 2009, Floyd Landis, a former long-time cycling teammate of Armstrong, went very public with doping allegations, and unlike previous allegations that could not be substantiated, Landis had nard evidence in the form of a damning set of e-mails from May of 2010. Not only did Landis admit to doping throughout his career, he went ahead and took Lance Armstrong and more than a few others to the gallows of reckoning right along with him. The evidence credible nature of Landis’s allegations motivated Federal Prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation which involved Armstrong, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although, the investigation eventually closed two years later on February 3rd of 2012, with no charges being filed against him, Lance Armstrong’s reputation was destroyed. All of the mythical notions surrounding the miraculously graced, superhuman cyclist, were shattered on the virtual ground all around him. Destroyed virtue which resembled jagged shards of broken tempered glass.
Considering the pervasive extent of Lance Armstrong’s PED involvement, in conjunction with his unprecedented professional success, and extraordinary perseverance in successfully overcoming Cancer. It remains unclear, certainly difficult to ascertain what choice Lance Armstrong really had prior to exposure. It would seem that the Armstrong myth had grown so large that he likely dared not attempt to get out from under it … for fear of being crushed. That said, what is infuriating is how his fall from grace devastated the celebrity endorsed, highly visible, Cancer research publicity machine called ‘Live Strong’. The reputation damage that Armstrong suffered extended well beyond him and his unfortunate choices. It had far-reaching effects that did damage to a movement and organization that truly was beneficial in terms of education and fund-raising. The damage to the credibility of ‘Live Strong’ is what has infuriated many people.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER Jr
// Legendary Boxing Champion //
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): The thing that immediately strikes people about Floyd Mayweather Jr, is his remarkable penchant for holding court for the purpose of re-telling self aggrandized stories. This seems to serve two purposes. The first is to reinforce and/or massage his own ego with notions of his personal greatness. The second purpose is to unapologetically remind his audience that they are in the presence of greatness. The immediately observable, if not emotionally taxing problem in dealing with Floyd Mayweather Jr, is that he clearly has a blind spot that completely obscures certain critical realities. Chief among them is that with the exception of family and entourage members, very few people find the braggadocio insistence of inflated ego and arrogant self promotion … charming. In fact more often than not it serves to highlight a virtual bright red flag with ‘Douchebag’ emblazoned in white. That said, I would be remiss in failing to mention that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is without question one of the most gifted and talented prize fighters that the world has ever known. Likewise, he is also among the most obscenely financially successful prize fighters in the history of the sport of boxing. The factual validity of his boxing prowess and success is not up for debate, rather it’s the dual 800 pound gorillas that doggedly exist in the orbit of his character. The first gorilla is his off-putting attitude and behavior. The second gorilla is his reputation for being a woman beater. One gorilla is very annoying. The existence of the other … is absolutely abhorrent.
Career Boxing Record: 50 Fights / 50 Wins / 27 TKO / 0 Losses
1996 Olympics: Bronze Medal Featherweight Division. 3 U.S. Golden Gloves Championships (Light Flyweight, Flyweight, Featherweight). U.S. National Championship Featherweight. 2X Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year (1998 and 2007) 3X Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year (2007, 2013, and 2015) ESPN Greatest (Pound for Pound) Boxer (2016) BoxRec #1 Fighter of All-Time. Retired with an undefeated record, Floyd Mayweather Jr is widely considered the best defensive fighter in the history of professional boxing.
June 1st of 2012, was the first day of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s eventual 87 day prison incarceration term within the walls, and behind the bars, of the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather was sentenced to serve this term as a result of an earlier felony conviction for ‘Domestic Abuse‘. It is difficult to separate and/or compartmentalize the negative thought process that ensues upon the consideration of men known to engage in the act of physical violence against women. Frankly speaking on a personal level, violence against women (and children) absolutely infuriates me. This is likely due to the glaring nature of the physical inequity of gender. Nevertheless, violence against women is a purely detestable, and is an example of behavior that is void of basic decency that manifests human cruelty, as well as a virtually inexplicable form of moral bankruptcy. Floyd Mayweather weaponizes his personal conceit to the point that it obliterates any residual notions to be found in the realm of social grace. He weaponized his body and fists to earn a living and create an incredible boxing legacy. However, when Mayweather jr, weaponized his fists to beat a woman. Indeed, the tarnish left on that legacy is analogous to spray paint vandalism recklessly applied to a Picasso painting.
Floyd Mayweathr Jr’s felony conviction and subsequent incarceration for ‘Domestic Violence’ makes him a detestable figure. It also makes him ‘Persona Non Grata’ in the sovereign nation of Australia. To wit, on February 4th of 2015, Floyd Mayweather Jr, was flatly denied a travel visa to enter Australia expressly as a result of his criminal record which included a felony conviction for domestic violence. It would appear that Floyd Mayweather Jr. infuriates important people on the international stage.
ORENTHAL JAMES ‘O.J’ SIMPSON
Buffalo Bills // Football Hall of Fame // *Acquitted of Double Murder (1996)
Prevailing Public Perception (PPP): The story of O.J. Simpson is an American tragedy of unparalleled human drama. In many ways it stands as the modern archetype example of the ‘great fall from grace’ axiom. Unlike all of the malfeasance associated with the other athletes on this, Simpson stands alone as a man once arrested, charged, indicted, for the brutal murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and another innocent human beings named Ronald Goldman … double murder charges leave very little room from the bottom rung of alleged human behavior. All of this pf course stands in direct contrast to the beloved version of O.J. Simpson that existed prior to June of 1994. That version of Simpson was a universally admired celebrity athlete, movie star, corporate spokesman. When it came to marketing, you name it … O.J. was involved. These stark contrasts in social gravity are expressly why the case of O.J. Simpson stands as the 20th centuries modern Shakespearean tragedy.
4X NFL Leader in Rushing (1972, 1973, 1975, 1976). 2X NFL Leader in Rushing Touchdowns (1973, 1975). 5X NFL Pro Bowl Selection (1972–1976). NFL Most Valuable Player (1973). NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1973). Associated Press Athlete of the Year (1973). NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
O.J. Simpson: 1st NFL Running Back over 2,000 Rushing yards in a season (1973) College Football Hall of Fame (1983). Pro Football Hall of Fame (1985)
Although O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double murder charges in the mid-1990’s, it is all but universally acknowledged that there is an extremely high probability that he did in fact, murder his ex-wife and her friend, and essentially got away with it. That said, he did manage to look a ‘gift horse in the mouth’ almost a decade to the day later. In a set of transpired events that would otherwise seem comical, Simpson went to Las Vegas supposedly to star in an ill-advised game of ‘Souvenir Gangster’. Long (ridiculous) story short, O.J. did in fact get busted for a number of felonies, including armed robbery. Thus putting a fine point on the part of the story where he royally screws his way up the river and into federal prison, with paperwork for a 10 year sentence in his prison guard confiscated luggage. Frankly speaking, O.J. Simpson has inexplicably managed to disgrace himself and his legacy, in large part because O.J. Simpson is possessed of a disingenuous, narcissistically driven character, plus he’s a world-class douchebag.
O.J. Simpson more likely than not, committed a vile, wicked and notorious act, which was followed by a highly publicized trial for brutal double murder in 1995. His eventual acquittal, which had symbolism that was greater than Simpson himself, absolutely infuriated many people who believed him to be guilty as sin. Nevertheless, O.J. Simpson managed to squander the unlikeliest of criminal reprieves and miraculous freedom he secured, by committing another serious felony and winding up in federal prison anyway. This infuriated everyone else who believed that he was innocent back in 1994. Congrats Orenthal, you have a full house of haters, and an empty pot.