Now that Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb have rejoined forces on the new season of Pros vs. Joes debuting tonight, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most volatile teammate relationships in the history of sports. (Spoiler Alert: Terrell Owens only appears once.)
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7. Michael Westbrook vs. Stephen Davis
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Long before the Washington Redskins were a mediocre football team filled with massive egos and locker room turmoil, they were actually a pretty talented football team filled with massive egos and locker room turmoil. Headed into the 1997 season, the Redskins were considered a dark horse Super Bowl contender thanks to a solid rushing attack and complete absence of Dan Snyder in the owner’s box. (Plus, they had Gus Ferotte starting at quarterback. Yes, the Gus Ferotte!)
The excitement of the upcoming season lasted nearly two weeks, until star running back Stephen Davis decided to urinate all over his team’s chemistry by letting everyone know that the franchise’s top receiver, Michael Westbrook, was gay. Had Westbrook actually enjoyed the company of men, this probably wouldn’t have been a big deal.
"For about three years, I wanted to lock myself in the house and never come out,” he said while discussing his mild displeasure with the rumor. The two teammates would never quite reconcile after the event and the Redskins were unable to recapture their Mark Rypien glory days during the season.
6. Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan
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Believe it or not, hiring your ex-husband to savagely assault a rival teammate can have negative consequences. In 1994, Tonya Harding found this lesson out the hard way after a laughably awful plot to eliminate her most talented teammate went horribly awry.
Without getting into the gory details, Harding orchestrated a plan to have a large thug who resembled a Dick Tracy villain club Kerrigan’s knee in order to destroy her chances at the Olympics. The plan (sort of) succeeded with Kerrigan’s knee suffering severe damage from the attack. The only part of the plan that wasn’t properly executed was the whole “don’t get caught” thing.
Eventually, the evidence pointed back to Harding, who became the least popular athlete in a sport which ironically benefitted from her escapades. Both skaters would go on to participate in the ’94 Olympics, with Kerrigan winning a heart-warming silver medal and Harding leaving Norway with deep shame and a poor short program performance.
5. George Steinbrenner vs. Billy Martin
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Granted, the two weren’t teammates in the traditional sense of the word, but given the volatility of their relationship and timeliness of George Steinbrenner stories it seems like a good fit.
Beginning in 1975, Steinbrenner hired and fired Billy Martin five different times for various (insane) reasons that became baseball lore throughout the 20th century. The two routinely fought in public with Martin once being relieved of his managerial duties for mocking his boss’ involvement in Richard Nixon’s Watergate conviction.
The two were the Sid and Nancy of the baseball world, with a love-hate relationship that has never been emulated in the world of sports.
4. Shayne Corson vs. Alexander Mogilny
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Perhaps the most interesting – and naughty – story to ever emerge from the NHL came from the Toronto Maple Leafs' locker room. In the early 2000s, hundreds of reports claimed the Shayne Corson (one of the team’s top players) routinely got with the wife of Alexander Mogilny (the team’s undisputed top player) throughout the season.
Once the news broke, Mogilny expressed his frustration with Corson and most of his teammates rallied behind him. That is, except for Darcy Tucker. Tucker, a talented forward, was married to Corson’s sister and felt obligated to stand up for his brother-in-law no matter how wrong he was. The fight essentially tore apart the team’s locker room and forced Mogilny to take a “personal leave” from the franchise to figure out why he was unable to sexually satisfy his wife.
Corson was eventually traded, allowing Mogilny to return to a Leafs team that would begin a slow decent into mediocrity over the following decade.
3. Barry Bonds vs. Jeff Kent
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Shockingly, two of the least likeable players in the history of baseball did not get along while sharing a dugout in San Francisco. Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent reportedly never spoke on road trips, rarely showered together, and routinely badmouthed one another to teammates who were contractually obligated to listen.
In fact, one of the only times the two ever looked each other in their soulless eyes was during a locker room fight, which inspired Kent to tell his manager, “I want off this team.” (Which, by the way, nearly ended up winning the World Series.)
Kent would eventually get his wish and extend his career in Houston without winning a single championship, while Bonds spent the next eight years avoiding jail time and disappointing an entire sport. (So clearly, the split worked out great for all parties involved.)
2. Terrell Owens vs. Donovan McNabb
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In all fairness, who could have seen this coming? Usually when general managers sign players based on a driveway sit-up performance, it results in a Super Bowl. With Terrell Owens, however, things could have gone a little better in Philadelphia (or Dallas, San Francisco, and Buffalo).
After questioning the sexuality of his starting quarterback in the Bay Area (a classic motivational technique), Owens signed with the Eagles and began feuding with franchise signal caller Donovan McNabb. Oddly, Owens’ strategy sort of worked, and the Eagles made a Super Bowl run in his first season with the team.
Though he was unable to carry them to a victory on a broken leg, Owens did manage to throw McNabb under the bus by blaming him for the loss and questioning his toughness (seriously, when is this guy going to start working with children?). McNabb wasn’t particularly happy with Owens’ comments and the two eventually parted ways several months later.
1. Shaquille O’Neal vs. Kobe Bryant
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Any time a story ends with the phrase “and then Kazaam asked him how his ass tasted while Michael Doleac cheered him on” probably isn’t going to be a heartfelt tale of lifelong friendship.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal – despite both being rappers/basketball players – never quite meshed together. Some blame O’Neal’s brash personality. Others claim that Phil Jackson simply couldn’t control the egos. A small faction of fans believe that Kobe Bryant telling authorities that O’Neal repeatedly cheated on his wife to deflect attention away from a rape charge may have slightly damaged the big fella’s trust in his all-star shooting guard.
It’s tough to pinpoint an exact reason, but regardless, there has been more ass-tasting than handshaking in this feud since the two split over five years ago.