2010 Turkeys Of The Year
As sports fans give thanks for their blessings in 2010, Tiger Woods and the following 23 athletes and events likely won't be among them. Tiger's tale began last year with a Thanksgiving SUV crash at 2:55 a.m. outside his home in Florida. Golf's biggest star then spent 2010 weathering a storm of salacious revelations about his adulterous sex life, a stint in sex rehab, a divorce and the loss of more than $35 million in endorsement revenue as well as his world No. 1 ranking. The most squirrely moment? His televised apology in February, with friends and family present.
After yet another will-he-or-won't-he retirement drama, the grizzled signal-caller opted to come back for his 20th NFL season. He should have stayed in Mississippi. While taking a brutal battering on the field as the Vikings staggered to a 3-7 start, Favre's image was roughed up by revelations that he sent text message come-ons (and allegedly photos of his mighty sword) to comely Jets sideline hostess Jenn Sterger in 2008. And to think a Vikings fan took out a full page ad in the Hattiesburg American begging Favre to return.
No charges were filed, but a squalid restroom encounter with a 20-year-old college student in a Georgia gin mill cost the Steelers quarterback a six-game suspension without pay (later reduced to four) for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Said Commissioner Roger Goodell, "You are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans."
While his team wandered through yet another dreary season, the closer came off the spool on August 11 and tore a thumb ligament while attacking his girlfriend's father in the Mets' locker room after a loss. K-Rod was arrested, charged with third degree assault, second degree harassment and criminal contempt, and slapped with orders of protection that demanded he stay away from his girlfriend and her father. For good measure, the Mets suspended him without pay.
Poor Cleveland. It was bad enough that the capital of sports futility was forsaken by its biggest star, but King James chose to announce he was leaving during a crass prime time TV special on ESPN entitled "The Decision" in which he chose to sign with the Miami Heat, thereby inspiring his former fans to burn his jersey in the streets.
With brash owner Jerry Jones licking his lips in anticipation of his Cowboys becoming the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home field, their affable coach guided them to a lethargic and calamitous 1-7 start and was shown the door in November.
Umpire Jim Joyce was reduced to tears of remorse, Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga gracefully forgave the painfully obvious blown call at first base that denied him a perfect game against the Indians on June 2, and a nation was inspired by their reconciliation. Yet, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball could not bring himself to get in on the class act by reviewing the play and overturning the ruling. Even the White House weighed in. "I hope that baseball awards a perfect game to that pitcher," said spokesman Robert Gibbs. "We're going to work on an executive order."
The loose cannon wideout, who was fined $25,000 by the NFL for failing to cooperate with the media, found himself with three NFL teams in the space of a month. He was traded by the Patriots to the Vikings on Oct. 8 for a 2011 third-round pick after voicing displeasure about his contract status, then waived by Minnesota on Nov. 1 after calling out their coaching staff and saying that he missed New England after a 28-18 loss to his former team in which he caught one pass for eight yards. The Tennessee Titans bravely claimed Moss and the final year of his $6.4 million base salary.
His initial 17-year, $102 million free agent contract brought down the wrath of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, whose charge of salary cap circumvention was upheld by an arbitrator, ultimately costing the Devils a $3 million fine and the loss of two draft picks. With a readjusted 15-year, $100 dollar deal in his pocket, the high priced sniper scored four goals, was a minus-10 in his first 19 games and got his butt benched for missing a team meeting as the Devils staggered to a 5-13-2 start.
Not quite the birthday present he wanted: As he turned 28 on Jan. 6, the Washington Wizards point guard was given a suspension without pay for the rest of the 2009-10 season. "Following an argument on the team's flight home from a game in Phoenix, both Mr. Arenas and [teammate Jason] Crittenton brought guns to the Verizon Center locker room and -- with other players and team personnel present or nearby -- displayed them to one another in a continuation of their dispute," said NBA Commissioner David Stern, who gave Crittenton the same suspension. Arenas later pled guilty a felony weapons possession charge.
In August, the Cleveland Cavalier guard was suspended for 10 games after pleading guilty to weapons charges in a Sept. 2009 incident in which he was stopped for speeding on a three-wheeled motorcycle in Washington, D.C. and found to be armed to the teeth: one shootin' iron in his waistband, another strapped to his leg and another in a guitar case on his back.
With the World Cup tournament four months away, a British judge lifted a gag order against the media, thereby unleashing reports that the center back had been enjoying a little extra-marital slap and tickle on the side with a French underwear model who happened to be teammate and close friend Wayne Bridge's former girlfriend as well as the mother of Bridge's three-year-old son. To preserve morale, Terry was stripped of his captaincy of England's national soccer team.
The NHL's discipline czar ordinarily takes heat for his maddeningly inconsistent rulings, but Campbell (left) really found himself in the soup after embarrassing e-mails were made public. In one exchange with then-director of officiating Stephen Walkom, Campbell referred to Marc Savard as "the biggest faker going" and raised suspicions that his refusal to suspend Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke for concussing Savard may have been based on his personal dislike of the Bruins center.
He was no Saint: The former Trojans running back became the first player ever to forfeit a Heisman Trophy after his alma-mater, USC, was hit with sanctions of four years' probation, a two-year bowl ban and loss of scholarships due to its NCAA rules violations during the 2005 season. Bush and his family allegedly accepted more than $100,000 in improper benefits from marketing agents.
Up 3-0 in the first period of Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semi-final playoff series with the Philadelphia Flyers, the B's found a way to become only the third team in NHL history to flush a three-games-to-one lead and lose a seven-game series. The killer: the winning goal was scored with 7:08 left in the third period after the Bruins were called for having too many men on the ice.
Not only did the woebegone Bucs extend their North American major pro sports record to 18 straight losing seasons, they had it nailed at their earliest date ever: August 20. "The streak, the singular defining trait of this franchise's current state, fair or not, is now older than most of the team's recent draft picks," noted Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If it were a living entity, it would be old enough to drive, to vote, even to serve in the Armed Forces. Three more years, and it could drink away some of the pain."
After concussing Browns wideouts Joshua Cribbs and Mohammed Massaquoi during a savage October weekend that prompted the NFL to levy fines and tighten enforcement of helmet hits, the Steelers linebacker threatened to retire. "I'm going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach (Mike Tomlin) tomorrow and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective," Harrison, who was slapped with three fines totaling $100,000 for hits deemed dangerous, told a Fox Sports Radio show. "If not, I may have to give up playing football." He's still playing.
Hey, that's not cricket, mate! A TV camera caught the captain of Pakistan's national cricket team trying to doctor the ball by biting it during a January match against Australia in Perth. Afridi apologized, but still got hit with a two-match suspension.
With NASCAR in need of stronger TV ratings, The Great American Race turned out to be a circus of wrecks with a pothole seemingly imported from New York City's Cross Bronx Expressway causing two hours 24 minutes worth of stultifying delays that sent fans to the exits and prompted officials to issue an apology. By the end of the long day, Jamie McMurray was the surprise winner over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who groused about "21/2 miles of hole" and complained about the track surface saying, "It's so damn slick. It shouldn't be like this. It's 2010."
Maryland hoops fans
After their beloved No. 22 Terrapins snapped a six-game losing streak against No. 4 Duke on March 2, Maryland partisans stormed the court and engaged in mayhem outside Comcast Center in College Park, MD. Cops in riot gear entered the fray with clubs, pepper spray and pepper balls, arresting 28 people in a scene described by one student as "a war zone." Five people, including a police officer who was punched in the kisser, were treated at a local hospital.
Knicks and Nets
Hard to see how either team could win: On March 6, the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area's eyesore basketball teams met, with the 21-40 Knicks setting a league mark for bad marksmanship (0-for-18 in three-point attempts) in an ignominious 113-93 defeat to the 6-55 Nets, who would go on to barely avoid suffering the worst regular-season record in NBA history.
The Belmont Stakes
For the second time in four years, and only the third time since 1970, the third leg of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown had neither the winner of the Kentucky Derby (Super Saver) nor the Preakness (Lookin at Lucky). Before an announced crowd of 45,243, the immortal Drosselmeyer, who had been excluded from the Derby for failing to win enough money, took the mile-and-a-half race.
The cyclist for HTC-Columbia, and lead-out man for Mark Cavendish, was tossed from the Tour de France for trying to headbutt Julian Dean three times during a bunch sprint finish in the final 400 meters of the 11th stage. Top race official Jean-Francois Pescheux said after the race: "Renshaw was declassified immediately but we have decided to also throw him off the race. We've only seen the pictures once, but his actions are plain for all to see. This is a bike race, not a gladiator's arena."
After vowing to protect athletes from snakes and rhesus monkeys by employing snake charmers and tangur monkeys, the 11-day event in Delhi, India was threatened with cancelation mere days before it opened. Athletes expressed fears for their safety as many of the venues were still scenes of uncompleted construction chaos. A bridge collapsed near the main stadium and the athletes' village was pronounced "unfit for human habitation" by teams from Scotland, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland.