December 11, 2009

Unlike Mark McGwire, I'm here to talk about the past. Specifically, I'm here to talk about the best sports quotes of the 2000s, which I've broken down by a series of categories: The News, The Rants, The Asterisks (anything performance-enhancer related) and The Funny.

I promise you one thing: A lot of good will come out of this list. Though I cannot guarantee that I did not misremember a quote or leave one off, hopefully you will get a little snapshot of the past 10 years in sports. Maybe you will even laugh a time or two. If you don't, then you can come after me! I'm a man!

"Yes, I did, and that was my mistake, not coming clean a lot earlier."-- Pete Rose, baseball's all-time hit king, who has been banned from the sport, when asked by ABC's Charles Gibson in January 2004 whether he had bet on baseball games as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. For almost 15 years, Rose had denied ever betting on the game, but finally admitted so in his 2004 autobiography My Prison Without Bars.

"That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that."-- Don Imus, radio host, referring to members of the Rutgers women's basketball team on his nationally syndicated program in April 2007. He apologized for his remarks, but his Imus in the Morning program was canceled eight days later.

"What can I say? I tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."-- Pedro Martinez, Red Sox pitcher, after a September 2004 loss to the Yankees, a defeat that dropped Boston's record in Martinez's 23 previous starts against New York to 6-17. The quote prompted Yankees fans to chant, "Who's your daddy?" at Martinez during the '04 ALCS.

• "We do not intend to become a trophy in their display case. There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet."-- Hootie Johnson, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, in a July 2002 press release about the National Council of Women's Organizations, its chairperson, Martha Burk, and her push to get the all-male membership of Augusta National to admit a female member. Seven years later, Augusta National remains an all-male club.

• "I would retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're [riding through] Beirut 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 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."-- John Rocker, Braves closer, in the Dec. 27, 1999-Jan. 3, 2000, issue of Sports Illustrated, when asked by writer Jeff Pearlman if he'd ever play in New York City. Rocker was suspended for the first two weeks of the 2000 season and fined $500 for his comments.

"Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."-- Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio host, questioning Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb's ability during an appearance on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown in September 2003. Four days later, Limbaugh resigned from his position as commentator on the pregame show.

• "I still am in shock that I did that. I just can't believe that I did that. I am such an idiot."-- Phil Mickelson, pro golfer, after recording a double bogey on the 72nd and final hole of the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, thus blowing a one-shot lead and handing the tournament to Geoff Ogilvy.

"I could give a s--- about Carolina right now."-- Roy Williams, Kansas basketball coach and North Carolina alumnus, to CBS reporter Bonnie Bernstein after his team lost the 2003 NCAA championship game to Syracuse. He was asked whether he would accept an offer to become the Tar Heels' coach if it was made. Exactly one week later, Williams left Kansas for North Carolina.

"I'm not going to be the Alabama coach. I shouldn't even have to comment on this."-- Nick Saban, Dolphins coach, on whether he would be leaving the NFL for Tuscaloosa in December 2006, one of many denials he made to the media on the subject. Two weeks after this statement, Saban accepted an offer to become Alabama's coach.

• "I'm out at my third Pro Bowl, I'm about to go in and throw a touchdown to Jerry Rice, we're honoring the Hall of Fame, and we're talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off. The sad thing is, he's a good kicker. He's a good kicker. But he's an idiot."-- Peyton Manning, Colts quarterback, in a sideline interview during the 2003 Pro Bowl about teammate Mike Vanderjagt, three days after the kicker told a Canadian television network that Manning should show more emotion during games.

• "I've got my family to feed."-- Latrell Sprewell, Timberwolves guard-forward, to reporters in November 2004 when explaining why he wanted the team to sign him to a contract extension or trade him. Sprewell made $14.6 million for the 2004-05 season.

• "I play when I want to play."--Randy Moss, Vikings receiver, in November 2001 after being criticized for not giving 100 percent all the time.

• "I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless."--Tim Tebow, Florida quarterback, after a September 2008 loss to Mississippi ended the program's chance at the its first undefeated season. After that loss, the Gators won 10 straight games to claim their second national championship in three seasons. The speech is now immortalized on a plaque outside the football facility at Florida Field.

• "It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that. There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves."-- Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the U.S. women's soccer team, about coach Greg Ryan's decision to start Briana Scurry over her in the 2007 Women's World Cup semifinals against Brazil. Scurry allowed four goals in a 4-0 loss. Solo, who was temporarily banished from the team, started in goal against Brazil 11 months later in the Olympic gold-medal game and led the U.S. to a 1-0 victory.

• "I'm innocent. I didn't force her to do anything against her will. I'm innocent. I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery." -- Kobe Bryant, Lakers guard, after he was charged with felony sexual assault stemming from an encounter with a 19-year-old concierge at an Edwards, Colo., resort in June 2003. The charge was dropped one year later. A civil lawsuit between Bryant and the woman was settled out of court in 2005.

"I just got caught up in the moment and oh well."-- Lindsey Jacobellis, U.S. Olympic snowboarder, to NBC's Bob Costas in 2006 after she fell while attempting a showboat move near the end of the final of the first women's Olympic snowboardcross, causing her to lose a seemingly insurmountable lead and, as a result, the gold medal. Jacobellis came in second.

"At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football."-- Brett Favre, Packers quarterback, during a tear-filled February 2008 news conference. Five months later, he reported to camp with the Packers, who then traded him to the New York Jets, for whom Favre started 16 games.

• "It's time to leave."-- Favre, in a February 2009 conference call to announce his next retirement. Six months later, he signed with the Vikings.

"If I can't practice, I can't practice. It is as simple as that. It ain't about that at all. It's easy to sum it up if you're just talking about practice. We're sitting here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice. I mean listen, we're sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we're talking about practice. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it's my last, but we're talking about practice, man. How silly is that? Now I know that I'm supposed to lead by example and all that, but I'm not shoving that aside like it don't mean anything. I know it's important, I honestly do, but we're talking about practice. We're talking about practice, man. We're talking about practice. We're talking about practice. We're not talking about the game. We're talking about practice. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you've seen me play right, you've seen me give everything I've got, but we're talking about practice right now... Hey, I hear you. It's funny to me, too. Hey, it's strange to me, too, but we're talking about practice, man. We're not even talking about the game, when it actually matters, we're talking about practice."-- Allen Iverson, Sixers guard, responding to criticism from coach Larry Brown during a May 2002 news conference.

"Come after me! I'm a man! I'm 40!"-- Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State football coach, referring to Jenni Carlson, a columnist for The Oklahoman, after she wrote an unflattering story about Cowboys quarterback Bobby Reid in September 2007. Gundy ended his 200-second tirade by saying, "That's all I've got to say. It makes me want to puke."

"The Bears are who we thought they were! And that's why we took the damn field! Now, if you want to crown them, then crown their a--! But they are who we thought they were! And we let them off the hook!"-- Dennis Green, Cardinals coach, after his 1-4 team blew a 23-3 lead in the final 16 minutes of an October 2006 game against 5-0 Chicago and lost, 24-23."I'm damn sick and tired of getting outrebounded!"-- Kevin Borseth, Michigan women's basketball coach, in a February 2008 news conference after his team gave up 25 offensive rebounds and squandered a 20-point second-half lead in a 69-67 loss to Wisconsin.

• "It is more about them than it is about the team. Cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them. Can't do it. I want winners. I want people that want to win."-- 49ers coach Mike Singletary, going off on tight end Vernon Davis following a 34-13 loss to the Seahawks on Oct. 26, 2008.

"I'm the best ever. I'm the most brutal, vicious and most ruthless champion there's ever been. There's no one can stop me. Lennox [Lewis] is a conqueror? No. I'm Alexander. He's no Alexander. I'm the best ever. There's never been anybody as ruthless. I'm Sonny Liston. I'm Jack Dempsey. There's no one like me. I'm from their cloth. There's no one that can match me. My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable. And I'm just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his children. Praise be to Allah."-- Mike Tyson, former heavyweight champion, taunting champ Lewis in a postfight interview with Showtime's Jim Gray after Tyson's June 2000 knockout of Lou Savarese in just 38 seconds. Tyson and Lewis met in June 2002 in Memphis with Lewis winning via eighth-round knockout.

"You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game."-- Herman Edwards, Jets coach, in an October 2002 news conference when asked if it would be natural for a team eliminated from playoff contention to give all-out effort every Sunday.

"Playoffs? Don't talk about -- playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game."-- Jim Mora, Colts coach, addresses the postseason chances of his 4-6 team after it committed five turnovers in a 40-21 loss to San Francisco on November 25, 2001.

• "Yeah, I don't give a hell. It's about this U, man. I don't give a flyin' you know what about a Vol. I don't give a damn. He'd do the same thing to me. It's war. They don't give a freakin' you know what about you. They will kill you. They are out there to kill you. So I'm gonna kill them. You write that in the paper. You write that. You make money off of that. No, man, I'm pissed. All y'all take this down. I'm pissed, man. We don't care about nobody except this U. We don't. If I didn't hurt him, he'd hurt me. They were coming for my legs. I'm gonna come right back at them. I'm a f------ soldier!"-- Kellen Winslow Jr., University of Miami tight end, in a 2003 tirade when asked if he knew if Tennessee's Corey Campbell was hurt from a hard block Winslow laid on him while taunting him. (Campbell was slow to get up from the hit.)

• "I realized when I hired you that you were young and inexperienced and that there would be a learning process for you. Your mistakes on player personnel and coaches were overlooked based on our patience with you. But I never dreamt that you would be so untruthful in statements to the press as well as on so many other issues. Your actions are those of a coach looking to make excuses for not winning, rather than a coach focused on winning. ... I do realize that you did not want to draft JaMarcus Russell. He is a great player. Get over it and coach this team on the field, that is what you were hired to do. We can win with this team!"-- Al Davis, Raiders owner, in a letter to his head coach, Lane Kiffin, dated Sept. 12, 2008. On Sept. 30, during a press conference announcing the coaching change, a copy of the letter was displayed on an overhead projector as Davis explained his decision.

"You'd better be f---ing right! You don't f---ing know me! I swear to God, I'm going to take this ball and shove it down your f---ing throat!"-- Serena Williams, tennis star, to a lineswoman who had called a rare foot fault on her in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals against Kim Clijsters. The fault gave Clijsters match point, and Williams' tirade led to a point penalty, thereby giving Clijsters the victory. Williams was fined a record $82,500 for her outburst.

• "Where do I begin? He's a moron, first of all. Secondly, he really believes that any news for the NHL is good news. Thirdly, he loves the limelight and I don't think anyone in hockey will dispute that. Lastly, he's in a pathetic hockey market where they can't get on any page of the newspaper let alone the front page of the sports, so any of this stuff carries on. He's an underachieving wannabe in terms of success in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings? Who cares, it's just a little pathetic that he carries on."-- Kevin Lowe, Oilers GM, responding in July 2008 to harsh criticism from Ducks GM Brian Burke, who said, "If I had run my team into the sewer like that, I wouldn't throw a grenade at the other 29 teams and my own indirectly" after Lowe presented a five-year, $21.2 million offer sheet to Anaheim free agent winger Dustin Penner, who hardly deserved quite that much money or term.

"Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids. Period."-- Rafael Palmeiro, finger-waving Orioles slugger, during a congressional hearing in March 2005 to discuss the use of steroids in baseball. Almost five months later, Palmeiro was suspended for violating baseball's performance-enhancing-drug policy, and he admitted to testing positive for a steroid but denied taking it knowingly.

• "This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period. You guys can say whatever you want."-- Barry Bonds, Giants slugger and newly minted home run king, on the night in August 2007 that he hit No. 756, breaking Hank Aaron's record.

"I think he misremembers the conversation that we had."-- Roger Clemens, in a February 2008 hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about friend and former teammate AndyPettitte's statements in a signed affidavit that Clemens told him he had taken human growth hormone.

• "There exists no one who can truthfully testify that I have ever used performance-enhancing drugs simply for the reason that I never have."-- Marion Jones, track and field star, and winner of five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics (including three golds), at a news conference in June 2004 in response to allegations that she had taken performance-enhancers. In October 2007, Jones admitted to steroid use before the 2000 Olympics and was stripped of her medals.

"I'm not here to talk about the past."-- Mark McGwire, former major league slugger, before a congressional hearing in March 2005 to discuss the use of steroids in baseball.

• "Yeah, it would be like finding a gray area. In motorsports, we work in the gray areas a lot. You're trying to find where the holes are in the rule book."-- Danica Patrick, IRL driver, when asked by SI's Dan Patrick whether she would take a performance-enhancing drug to win the Indianapolis 500, assuming that she would not be caught.

"No."-- Alex Rodriguez, Yankees third baseman, to CBS' Katie Couric in a December 2007 interview when asked if he had ever used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing drugs, or if he had ever been tempted to use them. He later admitted that he had.

"At first, I felt like a cheater. But I looked around, and everybody was doing it."-- Ken Caminiti, former major league third baseman and the 1996 NL MVP, about using steroids during his career, in a 2002 Sports Illustrated cover story by Tom Verducci. Caminiti's admission was the first by a prominent former player. In 2004, he died of a heart attack at age 41.

• "As coaches we failed to make our coaching points and our points more compelling than their fat little girlfriends'. Now their fat little girlfriends have some obvious advantages. For one thing, their fat little girlfriends are telling them what they want to hear, which is, 'How great you are,' and, 'How easy it's gonna be.' "-- Mike Leach, Texas Tech football coach, on the distractions before his team's 52-30 loss to 21-point underdog Texas A&M in October 2009.

"I want to kiss you. I couldn't care less about the team struggling."-- Joe Namath, to ESPN sideline reporter SuzyKolber during a Patriots-Jets game in December 2003 after she asked what the Jets' struggles meant to him. Kolber responded, "Thanks, Joe. I'll take that as a huge compliment."

• "When you go to a club at four in the morning, and you're just waiting, waiting, a 600-pounder looks like J-Lo. ... So, Nationals: Jennifer Lopez to me."-- Julian Tavarez, free-agent reliever, on why he finally signed with the woebegone Nationals just three weeks remaining before the 2009 season opener.

• "Phil [Jackson] took us to the Finals [four] out of the five years, and you want to fire him and bring in Mike Krzyzewski? Come on, man. That's like being married to J-Lo, then dropping J-Lo for a girl that's 5-10, 480 pounds."-- Shaquille O'Neal, Heat center, on his former team the Lakers' pursuit of the Duke coach in 2004.

• "A buzzer-beater, because it's harder. You can get sex every day."-- Gilbert Arenas, Wizards guard, on what feels better, hitting a buzzer-beater or having sex.

• "The policeman said Gerard was one of the finest, nicest persons he's ever arrested."-- Carmen Policy, Browns president, after defensive tackle Gerard Warren was apprehended for possession of an unlicensed firearm in November 2001.

• "I was thrilled to death when he told me he was, until I realized I was thinking college and he was thinking high school."-- John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach, upon meeting teenage sensation LeBron James in 2003 and asking him whether he intended to finish school.

• "I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony. I know what to do. I just don't know where to start."-- Pat Riley, Heat coach, commenting on his team's 11-46 record in February 2008.

• "Let's talk about bras."-- Anna Kournikova, tennis vixen, brushing off questions about her love life during a June 2000 news conference to promote her new line of sports bras.

• "He's like me -- except he's 7-6 and Chinese."-- Steve Francis, Rockets point guard, on his similarities with teammate Yao Ming, in 2002.

• "I was too sick to watch it on TV. My hair hurt."-- Gene Keady, coiffure-challenged Purdue basketball coach, on what it was like to miss the first game of his coaching career, in 2005, because of the flu.

• "I should have named my kid Tidewater."-- Ron Gardenhire, Twins manager, after learning in September 2004 that Braves third baseman Chipper Jones had named his son Shea because he had hit so well in New York's Shea Stadium.

• I've never been a part of a tie. I never even knew that was in the rule book."-- Donovan McNabb, Eagles quarterback, after Philadelphia and Cincinnati tied 13-13 on Nov. 16, 2008.

• "Then why are you covering the Nationals?"-- Ralph Nader, 2008 independent presidential candidate, responding to The Washington Post editors' decision to not cover his campaign because he had no chance of winning.

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