#2. Marv Albert
Marv Albert is a dirty bird. We found that out in exhaustive, sometimes horrifying detail after he was arrested and charged with forced sodomy, assault and battery in 1997. People who willingly have sex with Marv Albert don't even want to know as much about his inside-the-bedroom tendencies as we learned from watching him sweat out a potential life sentence from underneath one of the most ridiculous hairpieces in the game. During testimony, it was revealed that Albert forced a female companion into his hotel room bed, bit her 15 to 20 times and then forced her to perform oral sex on him (that counts as sodomy, too, Jesus fans).
And Marv Albert didn't deny a bit (ha!) of it. His only defense was that the assault was consensual. And that's when another woman came forward and claimed that he'd pulled a similar, but this time far more dramatic stunt with her. In this incident, Albert called a hotel employee up to his room to "help him send a fax."
"Gets 'em every time!"
She arrived to find Albert wearing a garter belt and women's underwear, fully aroused. She claimed that the freaky sports legend tried to force himself on her, but she was able to escape by, and I'm not joking, knocking his toupee off his head and running out of the room. I can only hope she yelled "No!" first in her best Marv Albert voice.
Why It Should Have Destroyed Him
Sports is an unforgiving world. If you don't believe that, go look for Pete Rose's plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame. On top of that, it's a God-fearing, buttoned-down kind of world that prefers their sports guys to be sports guys, as opposed to guys who wear lingerie and sometimes bang dudes. When NBC finally fired him a few months into the scandal, it was safe to assume that we'd seen the last of Marv Albert.
But Marv had something going for him that would ultimately save the day.
Why It Didn't
Irreplaceable. That's what Marv Albert was when it came to basketball on NBC. If you think that's not true, consider who they brought in to take his place. Bob goddamn Costas.
That's like being replaced by Louis CK in a comedy show. The hole you've left is so vast that it can only be filled with the maximum amount of talent available. It's like when Lindsey Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac and they had to hire two people to replace him. Calling in Bob Costas is effectively calling in two people. He's that fucking good.
But he's not as good as Marv Albert. Not as good at calling basketball games, anyway. Don't take my word for it, though; here's a quote from the Cos himself on the matter:
"If someone says Marv Albert is the signature voice of the NBA and the games are not the same without him, I not only have no problem with that, I agree with it."
This was in response to public ridicule of Costas' work calling the Chicago Bulls' sixth NBA title, a fact I mention solely because I was born and raised in Illinois. Regardless, it was clear what had to be done. Bob Costas had to keep the job, because Marv Albert totally mouth-raped someone.
Just joking. NBC hired Albert back less than two years after the scandal that briefly cost him his career. And then, because karma is sometimes a very real thing, NBC lost their television contract with the NBA just two short seasons into Marv Albert's return.
#1. Michael Vick
Michael Vick's reputation took a hit after he knowingly infected a woman with herpes in what came to be entertainingly known as "The Ron Mexico Scandal," but lucky for him nobody remembers that shit, because not long after that unsavory affair, Michael Vick went to prison for owning and operating an illegal dog-fighting ring.
In the weeks and months leading up to his incarceration, more and more heartbreaking details of dogs mistreated and killed came to light, all of which painted Vick as nothing short of a psychopath. Hours after he pleaded guilty to criminal charges, the NFL gave him an indefinite suspension without pay from the league. As for the court of public opinion, well, this all happened in 2007. As of 2012, he's still topping "Most Hated Athlete" lists.
But it's gotta be nice to win something for a change, at least.
Why It Should Have Destroyed Him
Everything mentioned in the Marv Albert entry about the unforgiving nature of the sports world plus killing dogs equals a lifetime ban from the good graces of just about everyone alive. Or at least you'd think it would have. Sure, he was going to get out of prison with fresh legs and the toned physique of someone who has nothing to do all day but lift weights, but would any team really take on the PR nightmare of having thousands of angry dog lovers protesting in the parking lot of every game your team plays? Because that's what we were all pretty sure was going to happen. No team was going to touch this guy, and everybody knew it.
Why It Didn't
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid knows a thing or two about young people with problems. His sons (one of whom tragically passed away earlier this year) have been in and out of jail for drug-related offenses during his time in Philly. So it should have come as no surprise when, at the urging of then quarterback Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid signed Michael Vick to a new contract as soon as he was released from prison and his suspension was lifted.
The mustache of a man who cares.
Vick sat the bench most of his first year back. But when McNabb was traded away in the offseason and starter Kevin Kolb went down with an injury early into his second season back, Michael Vick was inserted into the starting lineup and played at an insanely high level. He's been the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback ever since. It's the kind of ending Disney movies are made of, provided that movie is 101 Dalmatians and the script is rewritten so Cruella de Vil wins.
But guess what? We have to accept it! Why? Because Michael Vick committed a very specific crime for which he was punished in a few very specific ways. Once criminals have served their time and paid their fines and proved that the punishment has reformed them, they're allowed to re-enter society and hold down jobs like the rest of us. Even the Humane Society is working with the guy these days.
That's exactly how the justice system is supposed to work. It's just sad that it only works that way for a select few people.