Thugs, Bullies, And Bigots: Mike Rice And The Worst People in Sports

April 8, 2013

Please note – In the interest of taste and decorum, we made an effort to not include anyone convicted or suspected of serious crimes.

This week, shocking footage was released that resulted in the firing of Rutgers head coach Mike Rice. The video shows Rice abusing his players during practices, shoving them around the court, clocking them in the head with basketballs, and lambasting them with homophobic slurs. You know, the kinda stuff you do to inspire kids.

The video is disturbing, but Rice is just the latest in a line of sports figures on the collegiate and pro level that are straight up not cool to the people around them. We've compiled a list of some of the more awful folks that have sullied their respective sports with their presence.

The grand-daddy of them all, and by "all" we mean all those jerks who are addicted to power and use it to work out their issues and inflate their own egos at the expense of the people around them under the auspices of "passion." It is one thing to be passionate about what you do, but another thing entirely to send chairs flying and abuse people. That's not drive, that's being a jerk.

Cobb was the original bad-guy all-star, setting records and attaining accolades while developing a reputation as a reckless player on and off the field. If you weren't worried about him sliding into you cleats-first, you'd have to be on your guard after the game if he was angry and/or you were black. Like so many other bigots, Cobb was apologetic and recanted his racist tone later in life, far removed from the time and place where a less hostile and ignorant attitude would have made a real difference.

Individually these men did enough to rile up sports fans with their egos and out of control tempers, but together they brought out the absolute worst in each other. People tolerated it because they stayed in contention and won two World Series, but there's a very real argument to be made that the constant conflict, public snipes, and distracting turmoil cost them even more.

For many years we actually felt a little sorry for the guy, because it seemed like people hated him simply for his success. In recent years, however, he's revealed himself to be nothing short of a spoiled brat with little to no self-awareness. We're not sure if that's because he's forgotten his media training or he's just accumulated enough of what we call in the business "f*** you" money. All we do know is that he's drained any and all sympathy out of us.

Despite attempts to cull his behavior and reform his image, Yvel will probably go down as one of the most notorious fighters in MMA history. Yvel's reputation as a dirty fighter was cemented with incidents where he bit opponents and his infamous fight with Don Frye where he raked his face, gouged his eyes, and grabbed the ropes to avoid being taken down (amazingly it was actually that last infraction that got him disqualified). There was also that time when a referee tried to restart a fight in the same position he had stopped it, and Yvel let the ref know he disagreed with the placement by punching him in the head and stomping him on the ground. WE USE OUR WORDS, NOT OUR HANDS, GILBERT. Because of his bad behavior, Yvel still runs into trouble attaining a license to fight in the United States and spent years and for many years was basically declared persona non grata on US soil.

Current Avalanche player Downie has a reputation as one of the meanest, dirtiest players in the NHL. He earned that reputation right at the start of his NHL career when, as a rookie, he drove an opposing player head-first into the boards on a blind crosscheck. The hit gave him instant infamy and one of the longest suspensions in NHL history. Even before turning pro, 16-year-old Downie was making headlines for his poor sportsmanship, hitting a blind cross-check and attacking his own teammate while knocking out three of his teeth in the process. Why? Because the kid refused to strip naked and get into a bus's bathroom with the other rookies. Sports are weird.

Jeff Pearlman's The Bad Guys Won is the ultimate documentation of this ragtag collection of some of the worst-behaved players in Major League Baseball history. Their hard partying, drug use, and general disregard for every human being not wearing a Mets cap (and many still who did) left a trail of wreckage in their wake even more astonishing than their 108 regular season wins and eventual World Series championship.

Speaking of Pearlman, an assignment for Sports Illustrated to do a piece on Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker led to one of the biggest black eyes ever given to the sport. Rocker, who most people just knew as kind of an oaf, made hostile comments regarding the gay community, minorities, New York City, and most of the non-John Rocker population. He quickly and rightfully became one of the most hated figures in sports, although he does have his fans who believe him when he said he was railroaded by Pearlman. What can you say to a guy whose best defense is that he didn't realize that saying things to a reporter who was writing them down meant it was probably going to end up printed?

So people don't react well to rejection. Then there's Brett Favre, who decided that instead of taking a hint from a sideline reporter that wasn't interested in him, the best course of action would be to send unwanted and unsolicited pictures of himself and leave pathetic, rambling voicemails. It exposed what some critics always suspected, which is that for all his greatness on the field, he carried with him an unbearable sense of entitlement.

This guy's name might as well be "The Unlikable." When televised poker took off on cable, Hellmuth was one of its early stars. Unfortunately, this meant we got to know a little bit about him. Admittedly, he's a good poker player. But he's also one of the worst losers we've ever seen, going on tirades after losing games and claiming he was thrown off because his opponents (who just beat him) don't know how to play poker. In other words, if he loses, it's because he's a better player. That's a Hell of a leap.

Margarito was thought to be a rising star until a suspicious substance on his hand wraps during his fight with Shane Mosley revealed his gloves were loaded with plaster of Paris. An investigation and suspension followed, and markings found on the wraps used in his previous fight with Miguel Cotto led to suspicion that this wasn't the first time. Unfortunately, that incident didn't stop his bad behavior. In the lead-up to his fight with the legendary Manny Pacquiao, HBO films captured Margarito cruelly mocking Manny's trainer Freddie Roach for his Parkinson's. Perhaps driven by this slight, Pacquaio delivered one of the worst beatings we've ever seen to the much larger Margarito.

We'll never forgive or forget what he did to poor Brooke. Hope that title's worth it, you jerk.

IMPACT WRESTLING Featured Clip: The Rise of Bully Ray - Part 1
Spike Full EpisodesSpike Video ClipsSpike on Facebook

Got some haterade you wanna share with us? Leave a comment!

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/ Getty Images Sport