2010 Unsportsmen of the Year
Provoked by face-mask pushing by Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan, Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson ripped Finnegan's helmet off, punching him two times. Finnegan then tore off Johnson's helmet before the refs finally restored order, and both players were fined $25,000. "This is not hockey; this is the NFL," Finnegan said after the Nov. 29 game. "It's crazy to me to see people condoning this like I got what I deserved."
In one of the more egregious sideline moves in NFL history, Jets head strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi tripped Dolphins player Nolan Carroll during a Dec. 12 game. Jets management later said Alosi instructed players to stand where they were forcing the gunner in the game to run around them. He was suspended for the rest of the season and fined $25,000.
Not only did Uruguay's Luis Suarez deliberately handle the ball on the goal line to stop a Ghana shot on July 2 -- this effectively prevented the African country from reaching the World Cup semifinal -- but he then boasted about it. "The hand of God belongs to me," he said. "I made the best save of the tournament." Ghana should have converted the ensuing penalty kick, but ... well, somebody should have shoved a vuvuzela down the throat of the striker, who in November was suspended for biting a player in a Dutch league game.
If you can't beat 'em, feign injury. That was the game plan by Cal (and before that Arizona State and others), which faked injury to slow down Oregon's fast-paced, high-octane offense on Nov. 13. Cal eventually suspended its defensive line coach, Tosh Lupoi, for instructing defensive lineman Aaron Tipoti (pictured) to take a dive.
On Sept. 1, Nyjer Morgan, the clenched fist outfielder who plays for the Nationals, charged the mound after Florida pitcher Chris Volstad threw behind him, a boiling point of the simmering tensions between the teams. Morgan, who was decked by a classic body block by Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez after landing an initial punch, finally left the field but not before giving fans a salute even WWE wrestlers might find tacky.
Australian track cyclist Shane Perkins withdrew from the Commonwealth Games team sprint event after he gave officials a two-finger salute after being disqualified for dangerous riding in the semifinal of the keirin. Said Perkins: ''Obviously on my part it was a bad judgment call and I've taken it upon myself to apologize personally to the judges and commissaries, and they're happy with that."
Rangers agitator Sean Avery drives opponents to distraction ... and NC 17 activities. During a Columbus Day matinee, fed-up Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski, in front of a crowd that included NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and a fair number of children, pantomimed fellatio in Avery's direction. Huh, Pops, what's that guy ...
After the Broncos' 49-29 victory against the Chiefs in Denver on Nov. 14, Kansas City coach Todd Haley refused to shake Josh McDaniels' hand, wagging his finger and scolding his counterpart. Haley later admitted what he did was "not right."
Is Dutch international and Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong the dirtiest player in soccer? Well, he fractured the leg of Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden during a friendly in March and flew into Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa in October with both feet, breaking both the tibia and fibula in the Frenchman's left leg.
In a much-talked-about MMA moment in 2010, Paul Daley (bottom and inset right) approached Josh Koscheck from behind after the horn sounded in their May 8 fight at UFC 113 and sucker-punched him with a left hook. That came after Koscheck was a runaway winner between the two welterweights. UFC fired Daley on the spot but he later signed with Strikeforce.
The University of Alabama fired an employee who played songs directed at Auburn quarterback Cam Newton -- whose father tried to arrange a pay-for-play plan for his son at Mississippi State -- during warmups at the Iron Bowl. What were the songs? Take the Money and Run and Son of a Preacher Man . Alabama claimed the part-time staffer did not get those songs cleared.
In a strange effort to court more fans, FIFA president Sepp Blatter joked that gay soccer fans "should refrain from any sexual activities" during the World Cup in Qatar, where homosexual behavior is illegal. "It was not my intention and never will be my intention to go into any discrimination," Blatter later said, as he attempted to dance his way from his nonsense. "This is exactly what we are against. If somebody feels that they have been hurt, then I regret and present apologies."
Kyle Busch flipped off a NASCAR official, which was caught on live TV, after he was told he was busted for speeding on pit road at Texas Motor Speedway in November. He was fined $25,000 for the obscene gesture. "I lost my cool, plain and simple," Busch said in a statement afterward.
Giants running back Brandon Jacobs threw his helmet 10 rows into the Lucas Oil Stadium stands during the third quarter of a September loss at Indianapolis. Security personnel had to retrieve the helmet from the fans. "I was frustrated and went to throw it down on the ground, and it got caught on my finger and went into (the stands)," Jacobs said. "I apologize for that. It was frustration on my part."
Baylor star Brittney Griner was suspended for two games in March after throwing a punch at Texas Tech's Jordan Barncastle, who suffered a nasal fracture. "There's no place for that in sports," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "It was ugly for women's basketball. It was ugly that coaches were on the court, that benches cleared, and I will take care of that with my team."
Serving up an ugly moment at an exhibition benefit in March for the Haiti earthquake fund, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras settled old scores and played out hostilities from the pages of Agassi's memoir. Agassi wrote about Sampras' alleged stinginess and robotic nature, and emphasized those points again while mic'd during the exhibition match. In response, Sampras served at Agassi's head.
Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour hit the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger in the face with an open-handed punch as the quarterback was celebrating a touchdown pass during a Nov. 21 game. As Roethlisberger jumped into the arms of tackle Flozell Adams, he appeared to say something to Seymour, who turned and struck the quarterback in the jaw. Seymour was ejected from the game.
In a ridiculous bit of acting during the final game of the opening round of the World Cup, Ivory Coast's Kader Keita collided with Brazil's Kaka and dramatically fell to the ground. The Ivorian clutched his face, even though television replays showed had been barely nudged in the chest by Kaka. Referee Stephane Lannoy flashed a second yellow card at Kaka and sent him off.
In one of the more disturbing high school basketball scenes, Mason Holland of DeSoto High in Florida charged a referee and threw him to the ground after he had been ejected for shoving an opposing player. The clip of the December incident quickly went viral and has been viewed by thousands of people. Holland was suspended from school and banned from playing. "It was totally unacceptable behavior," DeSoto coach Joe Sheridan said. "It was everything we are not.''
After hitting a walk-off home run for Single-A Bakersfield during a June game, Texas Rangers minor leaguer Engel Beltre openly taunted Visalia, pointing at the opposing players as he rounded the bases. Visalia players confronted him before he crossed home plate and a brawl ensued. After things quieted, Beltre stomped down on home plate and shouted a few more choice words.
Auburn's Nick Fairley hit Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray two steps after Murray released a pass during their game on Nov. 13. The Auburn defender drove his helmet into Murray's back and was called for a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty -- just one example, Fairley's critics say, of his dirty play this season. Many believed the play was worthy of an ejection.
Really, for a former SI Sportsman of the Year, Derek Jeter should have known better. He feigned being hit by a pitch by Tampa Bay reliever Chad Qualls on Sept. 16, conning gullible home plate umpire Lance Barksdale into awarding him first base with some serious scenery-chewing. Gamesmanship, shamesmanship. The Yankees' captain should leave the theatrics to Minka Kelly.
In a surreal scene, Texas A&M defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie appeared to grab the groin of Nebraska tight end Ben Cotton at the bottom of the pile during the game's first quarter in Nov. 20. Cotton ended up being flagged on the play after kicking at Jerod-Eddie. The Nebraska tight end later said the Texas A&M player was "just trying to find his way to the football."
Penguins winger Matt Cooke nailed Bruins center Marc Savard with a deliberate hit to the head March 7, a vicious, concussive blow that brought out a stretcher and helped bring on a rule change for 2010-11: Rule 48, which penalizes blindside hits that target the head. Curiously, Cooke was not suspended for an obvious intent to injure.
On Oct. 22, in a low-tech version of Spygate, D.J. Hernandez, football coach at Southington High School in Connecticut, kept the arm band that had slipped off the wrist of a Manchester High School receiver near the end of the first half and consulted it in the second half when Manchester had the ball. Hernandez admitted using the cheat sheet for four plays in the second half of Southington's 28-14 victory. The coach was suspended for one game.
Juan Marichal used to have the highest leg kick in baseball, but now top step on the podium belongs to Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto, who went on a kicking rampage that punctuated a brawl between St. Louis and the Reds on Aug. 10. Cueto left Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue with a concussion. MLB suspended Cueto for a mere seven games; in other words, one start.
During Breeders' Cup weekend Nov. 12, jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano got into a dust-up following a race in which Borel was convinced Castellano had cut off his mount. For a moment it looked like a NASCAR fight. While we admit to experiencing a slight frisson watching jockeys fight -- we feel the same way when hockey goalies chuck knuckles -- gents, next time please take it inside.
Sure, we understand heckling. Part of the game. But since when does an owner actually heckle his own players? Yes, we know it's Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, but still. Sterling engaged in a verbal barrage aimed mostly at Clippers guard Baron Davis, reportedly saying, "Why are you in the game?" and "Why did you take that shot?" and "You're out of shape."
Ohio State president Gordon Gee was archly dismissive of Boise State and Texas Christian University on Nov. 24 when he said that even if their teams won all their remaining football games, their conference affiliations should preclude them from playing for the national championship. "We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor," Gee said of the Buckeyes' schedule. "We play very fine schools on any given day." Gee once was president of Brown University, one of the Little Sisters of the Rich.
Rufus, the Ohio University bobcat mascot, twice pounced on Brutus, the Ohio State mascot, in premeditated attacks Sept. 18 in an incident in which the fur really flew. Rufus later apologized to his costumed colleague. (Apparently Ohio U. is one of the Little Sisters of the Middle Class.)
In Russia, they generally serve vodka, not whine. But in the aftermath of the Olympic men's free skate on Feb. 18, former Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko was less than complimentary while discussing the winner, Evan Lysacek of the U.S. "If the Olympic champion doesn't know how to jump a quad, I don't know," Plushenko, the 2010 silver medalist, said through an interpreter. "Now it's not men's figure skating. Now it's dancing."
Yuko Mitsuka might be contemplative on a golf course but she certainly makes up her mind quickly when it comes to a perceived injustice. Infuriated by a two-stroke penalty for slow play during the first round of the Ladies World Championship in Japan in May, Mitsuka stalked off the course in protest. When officials fined her $21,500, she announced she was withdrawing from 11 tournaments -- eight in Japan and three overseas. So there.
San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary is supposed to all be about character, right? (c.f. Davis, Vernon; tight end.) So it was a pity when he blew off the traditional postgame handshake with Atlanta coach Mike Smith after San Francisco's 16-14 loss on Oct. 3. At least Singletary conceded a few days later that he had exhibited poor sportsmanship.
On Aug. 16, Sri Lanka's Suraj Randiv intentionally bowled a "no ball" to Virender Sehwag -- the bowler overstepped the mark by a significant margin - to ensure India's win in a One Day International while denying Sehwag, who had been sitting at 99 runs, a chance to score a century. Sehwag hit the ball for six -- that's a home run to you - but because the umpire had ruled "no ball," Sehwag's shot came after the end of the match. Randiv later apologized but was fined and suspended for one match Sri Lanka Cricket.
Completing a miserable World Cup, French manager Raymond Domenech refused to shake the hand of South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira after France was eliminated. Instead, Domenech shook his finger at Parreira and tried to walk away. Asked afterward why he did what he did, Domenech said, "I have no intention of replying to this question. Parreira said he believed Domench was upset because Parreira talked to reporters about France's controversial pre-World Cup win over Ireland.
On Nov. 20, Wisconsin romped 83-20 over Indiana, a trouncing that elicited cries of "running up the score" from everybody but Badgers coach Bret Bielema and, surprisingly, Hoosiers coach Bill Lynch (inset), who saw nothing amiss with Wisconsin throwing the ball in the fourth quarter nor stud freshman running back James White getting late carries. To quote Kevin Bacon's character in Animal House , "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"
Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields was celebrating a victory against Dan Henderson at a nationally televised event in Nashville on April 17 when the appropriately nicknamed Jason "Mayhem" Miller traipse uninvited into the cage. Miller loudly demanded a rematch with Shields despite succumbing to a one-sided decision last November. Shields shoved Miller in the chest. In an instant fists flew and Miller was swarmed on by Shields and a few of his Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu teammates. Order was quickly restored, no one was hurt, and fans in the arena thankfully didn't get into the act.
A scuffle broke out late in the first half of the Titans' 31-17 win over the Texans on Dec. 19 ... between two teammates. Texans defensive end Antonio Smith ripped off linebacker Brian Cushing's helmet after Houston stopped Tennessee on third down. Cushing was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct because his helmet came off, and that made Rob Bironas' subsequent field goal attempt much shorter (he made a 30-yarder). Anderson said later that, after his heated exchange with the Titans' Leroy Harris, Cushing came over to try to calm him down. "I grabbed his facemask to pull him close to me so we could get eye-to-eye to say what I had to say, but then teammates came between us, and the helmet comes off, and it looks like a big ordeal," Smith said.
The Cubs removed Carlos Zambrano from his start and suspended him after a dugout tirade June 25 in which the volatile right-hander made foul-mouthed comments about his teammates and he and first baseman Derrek Lee had to be separated. The incident came after Zambrano allowed four runs in the first inning of a 6-0 loss to the White Sox. Zambrano underwent anger management therapy and rejoined the team a month later.
Nov. 21 was not a good day for Titans quarterback Vince Young. After getting booed and injuring his thumb in Tennessee's overtime loss to Washington, Young had a heated exchange in the locker room with coach Jeff Fisher and stormed out of the stadium. Young reportedly told Fisher, "I'm not running out on my teammates, I'm running out on you." The next day, the up-and-down signal-caller was asked not to attend a team meeting at which the Titans would discuss "Young's situation." Meanwhile, Young's texted apology to Fisher did not go over well with the coach, who said, "I think face-to-face is a man thing."