Many athletes spend time crafting their trade in gyms and on the practice field.Intentionally or not, athletes also spend time working on their brand. Everything a sports star says and does will affect how the public perceives him or her.
In most cases, athletes keep a relatively low-profile and don’t ruin their own image. Others however, have found themselves in sticky situations.
Most NBA players had no issue with Magic Johnson coming back to the NBA after he contracted HIV. Karl Malone, however, tried to stop the entire thing from happening.
Citing the bumps, cuts, and bruises that he would receive in every basketball game that he played, the Mailman felt that having Magic on the court put himself and other in harm's way----even though medical professionals said that's practically impossible.
To be fair, Malone wasn't the only basketball player to say something, but he was certainly the most vocal. He never did get HIV, but his reputation started going downhill at this point. There will be more on Malone later.
Ryan Leaf's first two games in the league as a rookie starter weren't good, but they weren't the worst games ever played. His third game in the league where he completed one of his fifteen pass attempts for a grand total of four yards might have been.
After that game, Leaf received a lot of negative press. He didn't make matters any better with this outburst. From that moment on, Leaf's fate had been determined.
John Rocker was once interviewed by Sports Illustrated. Typically when an athlete gets interviewed, they remain fairly guarded, but John Rocker was anything but that.
He gave SI numerous quotes that were considered racist and homophobic. When asked what he would do if he were ever traded to New York, Rocker stated that he would retire first because he couldn't envision himself riding the 7 train next to 'some queer with AIDS.' He added that he really didn't like the city because it 'is full of foreigners.' He also called teammate Randall Simon, an overweight African-American, a 'fat monkey.'
Rocker's career ended up tanking a few seasons later, and his public standing obviously never recovered.
Kobe Bryant was never convicted of rape, but his admittance to adulterous behaviour was enough for the court of public opinion to convict him. Bryant and his accuser did settle out of court after the judge dismissed the criminal charges since she was unwilling to testify in court. Kobe did lose a few endorsements initially, but he has since gained back several of them. He also bought his wife a very large diamond ring in order to make amends with her, which was a media event in itself.
Fans have targeted Kobe for his incident in chants and on blogs ever since his accusal. Details of the sexual encounter were made public and have been used as fodder against Bryant before.
When T.O.'s relationship with San Francisco soured, he started talking about the personal life of his former 49ers teammate, Jeff Garcia. When asked by a reporter if he thought Jeff Garcia was gay, T.O. replied, 'Like my boy tells me: if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it is a rat.'
T.O. later backed off the comments, but his reputation as a player that will throw his teammates under the bus stuck around for a while.
T.O.'s first year in Philadelphia went pretty well. He averaged a touchdown a game until he broke his leg after taking a horse collar tackle. After the Eagles lost the Super Bowl, things started to unravel.
The receiver was seen wearing a Michael Irvin Cowboys jersey before a team flight, which is a big no-no in Philly. Hugh Douglas, who retired from playing football to work as a team ambassador, got into a fight with T.O. in front of the Eagles locker room after a heated argument. Owens was suspended for his role in the fight.
A short time later during an interview, Owens was asked whether or not he agreed with a statement made by Michael Irvin on ESPN where he said that the Eagles would have gone undefeated in 2004 if they had Brett Favre as their quarterback. Owens agreed, and he was done in Philly.
After struggling mightily during the 2005 season, Keith Foulke had enough of the Fenway faithful booing him on a nightly basis. The former All-Star closer told the press, 'Like I've told you guys plenty of times, I'm more embarrassed to walk into this locker room and look at the faces of my teammates than I am to walk out and see Johnny from Burger King booing me. I'm worried about these guys, not everybody else.'
The comment was seen as an affront to Red Sox Nation, and they never forgave him for it.
Apparently, he was trying to be funny. He ended being unemployed. Here is the first segment of his terrible video, and you can find the rest of them here. There are some racist jokes, blurred nudity, and some bad language, so you've been warned.
On the morning of September 27, 2006, Terrell Owens was found unresponsive after overdosing on hydrocodone, a pain medication. Initial reports said that the incident was a suicide attempt, but T.O. said at a later press conference that those reports were inaccurate, and he's 'happy to be here.'
T.O's publicist, Kim Etheridge, made the issue worse when she accused the cops of taking advantage of him for the story, thus making Owens look bad, even though he never said those things. To top it all off, at the press conference after the incident, Etheridge said that T.O. has '25 million reasons to live,' which was the amount of money left on his contract. Wow.
OJ Simpson's PR was bad enough as it is after his infamous murder trial, but he (along with Judith Regan) came up with the idea of making things way worse.
OJ penned a 'hypothetical' description of the murders that he was of accused of carrying out. The book in it's original presentation was cancelled. Due to the civil suit OJ lost that determined he was responsible for the deaths of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, the rights of the book went to the Goldman family.
The book was repackaged with a new title, an introduction by the Goldman family called 'He Did It,' and comments from the Goldman family were added into the manuscript.
Tim Hardaway was once one of the best point guards in the NBA, but he has the unwanted distinction of being a good player that never got a ring. He also has the unwanted distinction of being a homophobe.
After former Orlando Magic centre John Amaechi came out of the closet becoming the first openly gay NBA player retired or not, Hardaway flatly told radio host Dan Le Batard that he 'doesn't like gay people.' He went on to say that he wouldn't welcome a homosexual on his team.
A-Rod has done a whole bunch of things to ruin his public standing. Here are some of those things:
In 2007, he told Katie Couric that he had never taken any performance enhancing drugs. In 2009, a report from Sports Illustrated came out that indicated A-Rod had tested positive for steroids. After another week of denials, he told ESPN that the reports were true.
He said the he did steroids because he was 'young and stupid,' implying that he didn't know right from wrong, but he was 27 at the time he tested positive.
A-Rod had some sort of connection to at least four strippers and Madonna while he was married. Alex and his now ex-wife Cynthia got a divorce in 2008.
This photo also happened.
In 2007, A-Rod announced that he was opting out of his record setting 10 year, $252 million contract. He announced this during the World Series, which was seen as pretty rude. He did end up getting a new deal worth more than that previous contract.
It's amazing that Michael Vick is rebounding from the PR mess that were his dog fighting charges. He served his time, and although he was subject to heavy scrutiny when he initially broke back into the league, Vick has re-found most of his popularity (although, he will never get it some of it back).
However, Vick was one of the most hated people in the country when his charges were first announced, and he lost all of his endorsements.
Brett Favre's constant state of 'should I stay or should I go' was more damning for his reputation than his alleged text messages. When the Jenn Sterger incident broke, Favre's public opinion was already hovering somewhere above The Plague and somewhere below olive pits.
Favre first announced his retirement from the Green Bay Packers in March of 2008. He said that he 'didn't want to play anymore.' A few months later, Favre decided he wanted to play again, but for another franchise besides Green Bay. Eventually, the team traded him to the New York Jets.
After finishing one year with the Jets, Favre 'retired' again. This time, Favre was released by the Jets, so if he did come back, he could go where ever he wanted. He decided to go to Minnesota, the hated rival of Green Bay. Many fans saw this as a betrayal of one of the most loving and passionate fan bases in all of sports, and Favre was officially no longer a beloved athlete.
Favre fake retired one more time after his first season with Minnesota after previously saying 2009-10 would be his final year in the league. He rejoined the Vikings right before they played their second preseason game. The 2010-11 season was a dismal failure for Favre, and it appears that he has finally retired, but we can never really know for sure.
Karl Malone is the father of Demetrius Bell, an offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills. However, Malone has no relationship with his son whatsoever, and he intends to keep it that way.
Malone actually has three children out of wedlock. Daryl and Cheryl Ford (who know plays in the WNBA) are fraternal twins that were conceived when Malone and their mother were 17. Demetrius, however, was conceived when Malone was 20. Demetrius's mother was 13.
The combination of Malone impregnating a 13-year old as an adult and not having a role in the life of his son has tarnished the image of the NBA's second all-time leading scorer.
Apparently, Tiger cheated on his wife. You might have heard about it.
Woods hung onto most of his endorsements, and remains a popular athlete (despite the fact he hasn't won a single tournament since the scandal broke), but his reputation as a loving family man was irrevocably destroyed.
Serena Williams had a sterling, winning reputation for the longest time. After she threatened a line judge during the U.S. Open after calling a phantom foot fault during a match point, her public standing slipped.
Her opponent, Kim Clijsters, received a point due to Williams' conduct, and thus won the match. Williams was fined $82,500 for the incident.
'The Decision' is the moment most people point to when trying to figure out when exactly LeBron James because one of the most hated athletes in sports.
'The Decision,' which was a nationally televised event where LeBron told the world he was 'bringing his talents to South Beach.' He didn't contact his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, beforehand. LeBron is a native of the Cleveland area, so his decision to leave town really hurt the town. A lot of fans who were not from Cleveland felt badly for them, and they also felt that LeBron choosing to choose in this fashion was supremely arrogant.
Fans felt robbed of the possible mystique LeBron would have had if he just stayed in town, and in some of their minds, he can never ever come close to being Michael Jordan no matter what happens in Miami.
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