The Wrong Advices: 2005 Sportsmen of the Year

By now, you've probably read countless "year in review" pieces written by sports journalists, praising the accomplishments of men like Lance Armstrong, who overcame testicular cancer and this year won an unprecedented seventh Tour de France. Or Matt Leinart, the USC Quarterback who passed up millions of dollars in the NFL draft to stay in school, finish his senior year, and lead his team to another undefeated season. And Joe Paterno, the 79-year-old Penn State coach who this season resurrected his program and is now gearing up to play in one of college football' premier bowls.
These men, we are told, represent what sports is all about-heart, character, hard-work, iron will.
Oh, really? Screw that. Here at CRACKED, sports and sportsmen are represented by an entirely different character set: greed, arrogance, disrespect for the law, womanizing and general disregard for the common good. And so, we present CRACKED' 2005 Sportsmen of the Year- those athletes who did all they could to reinforce the stereotype of the athlete as a brutish caveman.


8) Mike Tyson: Verbalizing what most CRACKED readers think to themselves in the deepest, darkest hours of the night, Tyson declared before his June fight with Irishman Kevin McBride: "My whole life has been a waste. I've been a failure. I just want to escape. I'm really embarrassed with myself and my life"���¦I believe I'll die alone. I'm really a sad, pathetic case." We hear that, Mike. Then, after throwing in the towel in the sixth round of his bout with McBride, Iron Mike said: "I don't have the guts to be in this sport anymore. My heart is not into this anymore." You couldn't have told us that before we paid the fifty bucks to watch the fight?


7) The NHL: Thank God the NHL is back, after last year' season was scrapped due to a work stoppage. How did we get by without seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets and Atlanta Thrashers battle it out on the ice for 60 minutes, culminating in an exciting 0-0 draw? If TV ratings are any guide, people are taking notice that pro hockey is back. USA Today reported in October: "Things looked a bit bleak after Monday's Panthers-Rangers game drew 0.1% of the Outdoor Life Network' households and - this isn't a joke - finished in an eight-way tie for the 386th-ranked TV show of the night. But Tuesday's Bruins-Canadiens game provided a much-needed boost: It tied for 195th."


6) T.O.: Makes the list by default, but we still maintain that retired Eagle Hugh Douglas had no business walking into the locker room and accusing T.O. of faking an injury. In October, the washed-up lineman strode into the Eagles' training room and, in front of star receiver Owens who was rehabbing a bad ankle, declared, "I know there are people in here faking injuries." Oh yeah, Hugh? I know there are people in here faking that they're still on the team. Don't stick your beak in. Your comment sparked a fistfight that ended with Owens being thrown off the team. Eagles fans have Douglas to blame for their miserable season.


5) Kenny Rogers: In June, the Texas Rangers' left-handed pitcher broke a bone in his right hand after punching a water cooler in the Rangers' dugout. A week later, after being pressed on the incident, Rogers assaulted two cameramen on the field, sending one to the hospital. That earned him a 20-game suspension. Said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "Mr. Rogers' behavior was unprofessional, unwarranted and completely unacceptable." Seems to us that "unprofessional, unwarranted and completely unacceptable" could be the motto for just about any professional sports league in America. Nice work, Mr. Rogers.


4) Paul Bryan: Bryan had been an assistant coach with the San Pedro High (CA) football team for 23 years. That came to an end in October. With his team trailing in the fourth quarter, Bryan, after a crucial fourth down play had been whistled dead, surreptitiously moved the first down marker back a few yards to ensure that his squad got the first. Little did he know the whole thing was being recorded. After being caught, Los Angeles school officials banned him from coaching for life. What? Why? We think the Coach should be applauded for giving that extra effort to help his team win. You have to wonder how many times in his 23 years Bryan pulled the same stunt without getting caught.

3) Nehemiah Ingram: There are plenty of reasons Ingram deserves recognition. The Temple University student is one of the few NCAA athletes to play Division I ball in two sports-football and basketball. Fortunately for Ingram, he'll never be remembered for that. Instead, he'll go down in history as the "goon" that Temple Basketball Coach John Chaney sent into a game for the expressed purpose of injuring an opponent. Chaney, upset that St. Joseph' University players were setting illegal screens, sent the 6'8", 250 pound Ingram into the game, where he proceeded to break an opponent' arm. Said Chaney after the game, "I'm a mean, ornery son of a bitch. I see something wrong, I try to right it. I was sending a message. I sent in my goon." Just like that old song, "Send in the Goons." Right, Coach? When Ingram graduates and begins applying for jobs in the real world, "GOON" will undoubtedly be featured prominently on his resume.

2) Fred Smoot: Smoot is accused of organizing the famous Minnesota Vikings sex boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka, where strippers allegedly performed oral sex on Vikings players in front of petrified teenage cruise ship employees. Smoot denies that he had a hand in organizing the event. What humility! Smoot saying he didn't lead his 16 teammates onto that boat is like John Elway saying he wasn't involved in engineering the Drive, or Michael Jordan saying he had nothing to do with the Bulls' six NBA titles. Fred Smoot is a team player, and someone kids everywhere can look up to.

And the 2005 CRACKED Sportsman of the year is"���¦

1) JOSE CANSECO: 2005 may forever be remembered as the year of the steroid, and no one was more instrumental in bringing that about than Jose Canseco.

True, Rafael Palmeiro has become the face of the steroid scandal, and no player' reputation was more tarnished by roids than Raffy. Palmiero began the year as a surefire Hall of Famer, a member of the elite 3,000 hits / 500 home runs club. By year' end, he had been cut by the hapless Baltimore Orioles, had all-but perjured himself in front of Congress and had been exposed as a lying cheater.

But don't let that fool you. While steroid use has been the elephant in baseball' living room for years, it wasn't until the publication earlier this year of Canseco' book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, that the issue of steroid use boiled over. In that seminal text, Canseco admitted to having used steroids during his career, claimed that he had injected steroids into Mark McGwire' ass and that he had witnessed Palmeiro and countless other major leaguers juice up (the book also contained lurid details of a sexual encounter with Madonna). Those allegations, more than anything, prompted the Congressional hearings where Palmeiro swore he had never used steroids, and where a host of players all but compared Canseco to Hitler. Well, who' laughing now?

Canseco followed the successful publication of his book up with a stint on VH1' Surreal Life where, in one memorable moment, he stripped down to a G-String as part of a cast performance. Also this year, Jose-with twin brother Ozzie-was slapped with a 1.5 million dollar civil lawsuit, stemming from a 2001 Miami bar fight where Canseco allegedly broke a man' nose and assaulted the man' girlfriend.

And so, who can argue that Jose Canseco, more than any other athlete this year, stood up for what sports is all about-cheating, selling out your teammates for a quick buck, breaking the law and embarrassing himself off the field? Well done, Jose, and congratulations on being named CRACKED' 2005 Sportsman of the Year.

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