Who’s the Biggest Jerk in Sports?

By: Guy T. Saperstein

It’s so easy to criticize Tiger Woods. Some of us even enjoy making fun of him. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/guy-t-saperstein/whats-bad-for-tiger-aint_b_390347.html. But the guy just gives us so many opportunities, criticism becomes almost irresistible.

Take the U.S. Open as the latest example. He finished tied for 4th, which is no disgrace for a guy with the personal problems he is carrying around. It would have been appropriate for him to say that he played well, but not well enough to win, and congratulate the winner, Graeme McDowell. Instead, he complained about the greens as being “awful,” criticized his caddy, Stevie Williams, for giving him the wrong club on the 6th tee and encouraging him to fire at the pin on the 10th green, as though it wasn’t his responsibility to make the final call on both shots. I mean, when Woods hit a great shot to the 18th green on Saturday, did he say afterwards, “I give Stevie all the credit for suggesting I hit that shot?” In fact, has he ever given Stevie credit for hitting a great shot? Well, actually, no—because the golfer hits the shot, not the caddy. And, instead of congratulating the winner, when asked about how the course was set-up, he complained about the USGA’s Mike Davis setting up the course to give “more guys the chance to win. It’s more open now, with the graduated rough and being firm and fast like this.” Maybe more players did have “the chance to win” but that is a good thing, not a bad thing, and rather than suggesting the set-up conditions were too egalitarian, it would have shown some grace to say that they all played under the same conditions and McDowell won—congratulations to him. But grace and Tiger are two words which apparently can’t be used in the same sentence.

This dreadful lack of minimal manners followed Tiger’s even more egregiously graceless comments following Phil Mickelson’s winning the Masters in April. The fans had welcomed Woods back with warmth and compassion after months of sordid revelations about his sexual escapades, and Woods had played well, also finishing 4th, but not only had Mickelson won the tournament, it was one of the most popular wins ever because Mickelson is perhaps the most popular player in golf today and Mickelson’s wife and mother were in the middle of battling cancer. But instead of acknowledging the fact that golf fans had welcomed him back with equanimity and congratulating Mickelson, when the TV reporter asked Woods what he thought of the tournament, Woods said, “I didn’t win. It’s as simple as that.” End of story. Apparently, for Woods winning is not just the most important thing, it is the only thing. The fans welcoming him back didn’t merit even a comment from him. Mickelson’s win didn’t merit even a perfunctory congratulation. And acknowledging the strain Mickelson has been under due to his wife and mother’s serious illnesses was beyond him.

Who’s the biggest jerk in sports? Let the bidding begin: I bid Tiger Woods.

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  1. Adam Lambert
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Woods has always been about Woods, but since his “return” he has been much worse than usual.

    I’d be hard pressed to find someone that I CURRENTLY dislike more, but there are a number of them in different sports who give him a run. Certainly none that are at the top of their sport, but guys like Claude Lemieux, Bill Romanowski and more recently Ben Roethlisberger make the list.

    Are we just talking about sports jerk or jerk that is an athlete? Tiger fits the former but maybe not the latter…..

  2. Russ Wellen
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    1. Roethlisberger, 2. Woods, 3. Randy Moss, 4. Terrell Owens. I’m a little down on Tiki Barber these days, too. See my post above.

  3. Matt
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Chris Pronger. He’s arguably the cheapest player in the NHL, has no respect for his competitors, jumps from team to team, and always has that shit eating grin on his face. He’s also got the second biggest front tooth gap in sports, right behind all time great Michael Strahan.

    Coming in at a close #2 is Brett “The Waffle” Favre. He knows what he did.

  4. Adam Lambert
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Moss and Owens are all good picks and fall into the “cancer to the team when things aren’t going great” category, while Favre is a prima donna that gets way too much slack than his harder working teammates deserve to deal with.

  5. EZ Leban
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Picking a jerk in sports is like shooting fish in a barrel, nonetheless let me shoot away with some that were mentioned and a new one or two:

    Albert Haynesworth
    I’m (NOT) Tiger Woods (2010 edition of old Nike ad)
    Gilbert Arenas

    A classic shout out to Bill Lamebeer

    And a dumb*ss award for Vince Young

  6. fikshun
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    No votes for Sean Avery? I can’t think of anyone else offhand in major league sports who was suspended for being a jack*ss. He didn’t do anything illegal. Wasn’t accused of doing anything illegal. It wasn’t drugs or alcohol; nothing of the sort. It’s a shame his ban was ever lifted.

  7. Valatan
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    No votes for José Canseco? Or while we’re on baseball, Bud Selig? I think I’d have to go for old Bud. No matter what an actual playing athlete does, it doesn’t undermine the fundamental basis of the game in the way that Selig has done for baseball. Similarly, I’d nominate Juan Antonio Samarranch if he were still alive. What that man did to the Olympics still infuriates me.

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