THE BIOGENESIS FIVE: Ok, ok, just so we're clear: Two former MVPs -- A-Rod and Ryan Braun -- were linked to Tony Bosch, a shady PED peddler, who ended up accepting money from MLB's Bud Selig and Rob Manfred, the supposed good guys in all this, to rat on his former rule-breaking clients? Ok, got it. Unfortunately.
MAURKICE AND MIKE POUNCEY: The brothers, offensive linemen for the Steelers and Dolphins, respectively, were photographed on their birthday wearing hats that read “Free Hernandez” in support of their Florida teammate and accused murderer Aaron Hernandez. They chose … poorly.
CARLOS QUENTIN: Everyone loves Zack Greinke, the Dodgers pitcher known for his affinity for sabermetrics and refreshingly candid quotes (“I could play for the worst team if they paid the most”). Well, everyone except Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin. After Greinke plunked him during an April game, Quentin charged the mound, colliding shoulder-on-shoulder with the pitcher and breaking Greinke’s collarbone. Sure, Greinke had beaned him twice before, but Quentin, who notoriously crowds the plate, boasted 115 HBPs going into the game. And while Quentin received a deserved eight game suspension, Greinke would unfairly miss eight weeks rehabbing his shoulder.
IGNORANT SPORTS TALK RADIO PERSONALITIES: It was a busy year for the fraternity. In June, Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro (above right), and Chris Dimino (above left), who manned Mayhem in the AM on Atlanta’s 790 the Zone, mocked former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, on air. On November 3, Dan Sileo, a host for Palm Beach’s WMEN-640 sports, tweeted an offer to give $1000 to any Miami player that “TAKES THIS KID OUT” while attaching a photo of a Florida State player. Then on November 7, Damon Bruce, a midday host at KNBR in San Francisco, launched an eight-minute rant about how women were ruining sports, which are “set to men.” Because Bruce is the only one whose jackassery didn’t cost him his job, KNBR boss Lee Hammer gets honorary membership in this club of cretins.
DAN SNYDER: It's his team, so he doesn't have to change its name. That's his right. But the ship of public opinion has sailed, and even a far more charismatic man than Snyder would have a hard time changing its course. Enjoy your island, Dan.
DANA WHITE: After popular UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre defeated Johny Hendricks by controversial decision in November, the lumped-up and seemingly dazed fighter said, "I need to hang up my gloves for a little bit … at least, make a point of my life." Showing little regard for the fighter’s health or ability to make his own personal decisions, the UFC head retorted, "GSP will not retire … He will not retire after that fight. He owes it to the fans, he owes it to this company, and he owes it to Johny Hendricks to come in and do that fight again." Hey, it's only one fight. You can endure a litle more brain damage for that, right GSP?
DENNIS RODMAN: International diplomacy has rarely witnessed a scene as bizarre as Rodman, the former NBA eccentric, schmoozing with Kim Jong Un, the 29-year-old nuke-rattling leader of North Korea. The U.S. State Department decried Rodman’s overtures to a notorious tyrant, but The Worm insisted that North Korea is “not as bad as you think” and Kim is “an awesome guy”. Oh.
DWIGHT HOWARD: Every sport needs a good heel. It's just a role no one ever saw the erstwhile NBA class clown assuming. A pouty season on the Lakers might have been forgiven if Howard hadn't been such a clown—bad variety—during free agency. But he was, and now he is what he is, which is something we never thought he would be.
ED RUSH: The Pac 12 was unexpectedly forced to investigate the difference between jokes and legitimate threats after the 2013 conference basketball tournament, as then-head of officiating “jokingly” offered $5,000 or a trip to Cancun to his crew should any of them assess a technical foul or eject Arizona head coach Sean Miller in a semifinal against UCLA. It’s impossible to know whether referee Michael Irving was mentally packing his bags as he hit Miller with a controversial technical foul (Miller was upset about a double-dribble call on point guard Mark Lyons) with 4:37 remaining in the game. Arizona lost the game, Miller was fined $25,000 for his response to the technical foul, and Rush was forced to resign in light of his inappropriate method of encouragement. Whether Irving jetted to Mexico or picked up a cool $5,000 is unknown.
MARTY MAGID: The former agent of former Broncos linebacker Elvis Dumervil blew his client’s contract renegotiation with Denver when he faxed in the paperwork six minutes after a league-imposed deadline. Dumervil fired Magid, hired Tom Condon, and shortly thereafter signed with Baltimore for less money than he would have made in Denver.
ANYONE INVOLVED WITH FANTEX: Texans running back Arian Foster and 49ers tight end Vernon Davis were both announced in October to be early offerings at Fantex, a company that planned to trade shares in professional athletes based on the player’s off-field earnings. Two weeks after Fantex trumpeted the deal, Foster was ruled out for the season with a back injury, and not long after that Davis missed time with a concussion—thereby confirming that what seemed like a stupid, stupid idea on paper was in fact a stupid, stupid idea in practice.
FIFA OFFICIALS: Given his history of tone-deaf verbal gaffes and machiavellian moves, FIFA president Sepp Blatter should really receive a lifetime Turkey award. But we award him in 2013 for his sexism (said Blatter on three women being named to FIFA's Executive Committee: “We now have three ladies on the board. Say something, ladies! You are always speaking at home, say something now!”) and the continuing absurdity of awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, given reports of rife exploitation of migrant workers in the country's construction sector and potential searing 50 degrees Celsius heat. Naturally, Blatter passed the buck, saying recently that the vote to award the Cup to Qatar was influenced by "political pressure from European countries ... because there were so many economic interests.”
EVERYONE BEGGING THE JAGUARS TO SIGN TIM TEBOW: At various times this year, Jacksonville fans have pleaded with the Jaguars organization to sign Tim Tebow. They’ve petitioned the White House, held rallies, hired skywriters, and taken out newspaper ads. Even Chuck Norris jumped into the fray. When a team ignores you in favor of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, it might be time to take up a new pet cause.
THE JAGUARS: Even if Tebow won't give them the best chance to win games, it’s not as if being 2-9 is a great consolation prize. If Jacksonville did sign Tebow, their games would take on a whole lot more intrigue, there would be fewer empty seats, and sportswriters would once again have something truly worthy of yelling at each other about on TV.
JEN BIELEMA: When Jen’s husband, Bret, left the University of Wisconsin football team to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks, many Badger fans were happy to see him go. Immediately after Wisconsin lost a controversial game to Arizona State, Jen tweeted #karma. Since that time, Arkansas has gone 0-8 and been outscored 300-132. What's that you were saying about #karma, Jen?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Last year, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing substances "a massive fraud now more fully exposed," stripped him of his record-seven Tour de France titles, and banned him from cycling for life. If that investigation was full exposure, Armstrong’s sit-down confessional with Oprah Winfrey in January and this year’s “The Armstrong Lie,” a documentary by director Alex Gibney, showed the cyclist’s deceit in extreme close-up. The film, which picks up where the Oprah mea culpa left off, started as a chronicle of Armstrong’s 2009 comeback and became quite another story after the 2012 USADA sanctions came down. Gibney’s behind-the-scenes access leading up to ’09 juxtaposed with the cyclist‘s confessions and rationalizations today paint a stark picture of the hollow victory at the heart of winning at all costs.
LARRY SANDERS: After signing a four-year, $44 million contract extension with the Bucks this summer, the 6-foot-11 center suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb while allegedly participating in a Nov. 3 bar fight at a night club in downtown Milwaukee. Sanders was alleged to have broken champagne bottles over a man’s head during the incident, but a Milwaukee District Attorney ruled it would not file charges. The Bucks center, who is expected to miss six weeks after undergoing surgery, was averaging just 2.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks through the first three games of the season, and had previously complained to new coach Larry Drew about diminished playing time. Sanders was also cited twice in January for cruelty to animals after leaving two German Shepherds outside for hours in 17-degree weather without providing adequate food or shelter.
LUIS SUAREZ: The Liverpool star is as talented a forward as there is in the world, but he can't escape controversy. Between his intentional, goal-saving handball in the 2010 World Cup, biting a player while playing for Ajax in 2010, getting involved in a racism episode with Manchester United's Patrice Evra in 2012, and having an overall reputation as a diver, Suarez has a knack for making the headlines for the wrong reasons. He added to his dossier with another biting episode in April, unfathomably sinking his teeth into the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and drawing a 10-game suspension by the English FA. His hunger for the game apparently knows no bounds.
MATT BARNES: The Clippers might have signed Barnes because of his reputation as a tough guy, but the 6-foot-7 forward might not help his teammates the next time a skirmish with an opposing team breaks out. Barnes was ejected in the second quarter of a Nov. 13 win over the Oklahoma City for shoving Serge Ibaka after the Thunder forward got tangled up with Clippers forward Blake Griffin. Barnes later tweeted, “I love my teammates like family, but I’m DONE standing up for these n-----! All this s--- does is cost me money,” a message that, in conjunction with his behavior during and after the scrum, earned Barnes a $25,000 fine from the NBA. Barnes later retreated from his comments and took a subtle shot at other athletes who defend regrettable Tweets by claiming their accounts were hacked. “[…] Now I could have took the easy way out & said ‘My twitter was hacked’...But that’s not what I’m about.”
HEAT FANS WHO LEFT FINALS GAME 6 EARLY: Miami faced a five-point deficit in the final 30 seconds of a win-or-go-home Game 6 against the Spurs—and though the game had not officially ended, and the trailing home team featured both the reigning MVP and perhaps the most clutch three-point shooter of his generation, Heat supporters began to exit the arena in droves. As the mass exodus reached its zenith, Ray Allen channeled classic Ray Allen, draining a late three to send the game into overtime. As many as 2,000 Heat fans were refused re-entry, pounding on locked doors in desperation as Miami ultimately fought for a 103-100 overtime win. Needless to say, everyone in attendance stayed put for Miami’s championship-clinching Game 7 performance.
MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING: Amid allegations of race-fixing at Richmond during the final stop of the regular season, NASCAR fined Michael Waltrip Racing a whopping $300,000 (the largest fine in the organization’s history), docked its teams 50 driver points and 50 championship owner points each, placed all three crew chiefs on probation, and indefinitely suspended G.M. Ty Norris. The points penalty bumped driver Martin Truex Jr. out of the 10-race playoffs. Less than two weeks later, NAPA Auto Parts—Truex's primary sponsor—withdrew its estimated $15 million partnership with MWR, which will field only two full-time teams in 2014 because of the revenue loss. (Truex has since signed with Furniture Row Racing.)
MIKE RICE AND THE RUTGERS ADMINISTRATION: When the video of men’s basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing his players went viral last April, it exposed not just an out-of-control coach, but an administration prone to blunder. Rice was fired by AD Tim Pernetti, who was then ousted by president Robert Barchi for not firing Rice when Pernetti saw the video in November (even though Barchi approved Rice’s suspension at the time.) Pernetti’s replacement, Julie Hermann, seemed like the perfect scandal corrective—until a reporter made the calls Barchi’s people had not and learned that some of Hermann’s former volleyball players at Tennessee had accused her of verbal and mental abuse.
MEMBERS OF THE PRO HOCKEY WRITERS ASSOCIATION: Imagine an entire All-Star consisting only of Alex Ovechkin. Well, the Professional Hockey Writers Association headed down that road last July when the Capitals star forward earned enough votes to be named as the NHL’s first-team All-Star right wing as well as the left wing spot on second team. That came despite the PHWA sending out an email specifying that Ovechkin should be considered as a right wing given he played the majority (in 44 of 48 games) of games there in 2012-13. "We know we got this wrong," a sheepish PHWA president Kevin Allen said in a statement, “and our objective is to make sure it never happens again."
RAY EMERY: With the NHL pondering harsher penalties for fighting, the Flyers’ hotheaded goalie picked a bad time to go psycho. When a scrap broke out during the third period of a 7-0 whupping by Washington, Emery left his crease to pummel counterpart Braden Holtby, who clearly wanted no part of a fight. What ensued was a one-sided crazy man beatdown that led NHL discipline czar Brandon Shanahan to wish he could suspend Emery, but no such rule existed. Commissioner Gary Bettman was moved to approach Emery and say, "So just hypothetically, if there was a rule that said if you cross the red line to get into a fight with the other goaltender and you get a 10-game suspension, would you have done it?" Emery's response: "What? Are you crazy?"'
RICHIE INCOGNITO, AND PERVASIVE MACHISMO: When Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin abruptly left the team earlier this season, accounts surfaced of mistreatment by Incognito, including a voicemail in which Incognito used a racial slur and threatened violence against Martin. Incognito was suspended from the team indefinitely. The independent investigator digging into the locker room culture that gave rise to L’Affaire Incognito-Martin has yet to file his final report, but fairly or unfairly, the situation has branded Incognito the face of bullying in America, implicated Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland (who allegedly told Martin’s agent that Martin should “punch” Incognito to solve the problem), and given a black eye to the Real-Mean-Solve-Problems-With-Their-Fists ethos of the NFL.
RILEY COOPER: The Eagles receiver hadn't been known for doing anything notable in his NFL career until video of him screaming that he would "fight every n----- here" at a Kenny Chesney concert surfaced. Cooper apologized for his remarks and paid an undisclosed fine enforced by the Eagles. But after Jeremy Maclin suffered a torn ACL in training camp, Philadelphia couldn't afford to cut Cooper after his racist outburst. Awkward, especially for cornerback Cary Williams, who wasn't as willing to forgive as some of Cooper's other teammates. At one practice, Williams started a fight with Cooper, and the two had to be separated. Cooper has improved his productivity and play as the season's progressed, but his incident won't soon be forgotten.
RORY MCILROY: After struggling for two months with his new gear and a balky swing, the world No. 1 was seven over through eight holes in the second round of the Honda Classic when he withdrew, citing distraction from a lingering toothache. He ended the year winless and embroiled in a bitter legal fight with his former agent.
ROY HIBBERT AND TYLER SEGUIN: "No homo" is a no-no. You know this.
SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD: One of the top freshmen in the country at UCLA last year, Muhammad’s draft stock declined after concerns surfaced about potential character issues. It didn’t help that his father misled the media about Muhammad’s age, telling the Los Angeles Times in March Muhammad was 20 when common knowledge throughout his single collegiate season held he was 19. After being drafted 14th overall by the Timberwolves, Muhammad was dismissed from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program for breaking a rule by bringing a female guest into his hotel room. Muhammad was fined and will have to repeat the program next summer with the 2014 class of rookies.
THE NEW ORLEANS POWER GRID: With a commanding 28-6 lead over the 49ers to open the second half of Super Bowl XLVII, it appeared as though the Ravens would cruise to victory. That is, of course, until an electrical relay device meant to protect the Mercedes-Benz Superdome failed, leaving both teams (and the 71,024 in attendance) in the dark. For 34 minutes, lights flickered on and off; players stretched and commiserated on the dimly-lit field. Once power was restored, the lights switched on for the 49ers as well: Baltimore saw its lead evaporate as San Francisco came within a failed goal-to-go possession in the game’s waning moments, nearly depriving the Ravens organization of its second Super Bowl in franchise history.
VON MILLER: The Broncos’ Pro Bowl linebacker landed in a wee spot of trouble in August after he failed a drug test. Miller, a repeat offender, appealed his four-game suspension, but was found to have colluded with a star-struck urine sample collector to cover up the dirty test result. The ruse was flushed when a second collector discovered that Miller was not in Miami at the time of his supposed test. Miller, who in March had brashly predicted a Super Bowl win for Denver, was then suspended without pay for the first six games of the season. The collector was dismissed and the NFL and NFLPA moved to tighten the league’s drug test collection procedures.
LANE KIFFIN: With Kiffin as head coach, USC's football team started the year 3-2, losing to Washington State at home and giving up 62 points at Arizona State in a game that was so embarrassing that university athletic director Pat Haden fired Kiffin in the LAX parking lot. Since Kiffin was replaced by Ed Orgeron, the team has gone 5-1, including an upset win over Stanford. (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MANTI TE'O: It was a heart-wrenching story for the ages: Notre Dame linebacker (and Heisman candidate) Te’o lost both his grandmother and his girlfriend, Stanford student Lennay Kekua, on the same day. The Hawaii native didn’t miss a down a mere four days after his devastating losses, tallying 12 tackles as he led the Fighting Irish to a surprise 20-3 upset over Michigan State. Te’o’s season-long bravery inspired teammates, coaches, and fans alike. The catch? Kekua never actually existed. She was created by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, an acquaintance of Te’o’s who later admitted to Dr. Phil that he had fallen in love with the linebacker and used the Kekua identity as some form of wish fulfillment.
(Photo: David J. Phillip/AP)
JAMES DOLAN: As the Knicks continue to struggle, Dolan is taking out his frustration on the famous Knicks City Dancers. According to reports, the Knicks owner ordered that the girls’ roles be reduced to mostly throwing T-shirts into the crowd.
TIGER WOODS: The little-known golfer committed an illegal drop on the 15th hole at the Masters this April, placing his ball about two yards back to give himself a better angle during the second round. A TV viewer alerted Augusta officials to the violation; the Masters rules committee reviewed the play, found no wrongdoing and allowed Woods to sign his scorecard. Woods all but admitted to the infraction in an interview with ESPN, forcing the committee to revisit the drop before he teed off on Saturday. Though dozens of players have disqualified themselves after signing an incorrect scorecard, Woods let the committee determine his punishment. With what appeared to be deference to the power of Woods as a ratings draw instead of the integrity of the game, the committee assessed a two-stroke penalty, allowing the polarizing golfer to complete all four rounds at Augusta. Woods finished in a tie for fourth, four shots back. (Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP)
BASEBALL WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA: For deciding that grandstanding and "making a point" about steroids was more important than voting in some of the many deserving Hall of Fame candidates currently on the ballot. (From commenter JohnLammTX)
THE NCAA: The purveyors of shamateurism could probably find a spot on this list every year, but the past several months have been particularly egregious. They ruled student athletes ineligible for participating in military and church leagues, declared that improper use of a school water hose constituted a secondary violation, and completely bungled their investigation of the University of Miami's athletic department. Just another year at the office for the Association.