The Poor Sportsmen of the Year for 2006

It was another banner year for sports in 2006. Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth on the all time home run list, only to be booed mercilessly for doing so. Barbaro seemed poised to be the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 18 years, but then broke his leg in the opening seconds of the Preakness Stakes and barely avoided an on-the-spot execution.

The Winter Olympics made their quadrennial appearance, but were overshadowed by Bode Miller’s drug scandal. Terrell Owens tried to kill himself—uh, allegedly—and then capped off his year by spitting in an opponent’s face. And, to really get people in that Christmas spirit, George Karl called Isaiah Thomas a “jerk” and an “asshole” after their two teams brawled in mid-December at Madison Square Garden.

Great. And these were just the tip of the iceberg. Here, we honor the cream of the crop—those athletes and other sports-related figures who did their best in 2006 to embarrass themselves, to bring shame upon their families, to let their teams down, and to stain the honor and dignity of their respective sports.
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10. Joe Cullen

We start our list with what is, at least to our knowledge, a new crime in the annals of sports misbehavior: driving while nude. On the night of August 24th, Detroit Lions Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen pulled his SUV up to Wendy’s and picked up his burger, fries and Coke totally naked.

“The suspect did nothing obscene, other than being naked at the drive-thru,” said the Wendy’s employee who called the cops on him. Toss in the fact that a week later Cullen was arrested for drunk driving—clothed, unfortunately—and we’ve got a budding star on our hands.

9. OJ Simpson

It’s good to see OJ back on track, isn’t it? After keeping mostly quiet for the past few years, The Juice returned to the scene this past November and hit a new low by agreeing to a $3 million joint book  and TV special about the murders of Ron and Nicole, entitled “If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened.”
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Unfortunately, FOX and Regan Books caved to public pressure and cancelled the deal—meaning now we’ll never know how OJ would have done it, although we can probably safely assume it involved knifing two people to death.
8. Marco Materazzi

If the World Cup is the biggest event in the sports world, then Italian Defender Marco Materazzi certainly belongs on this list for bringing shame upon both the Cup and its biggest star, French legend Zinedine Zidane. Sure, everyone remembers Zidane getting tossed from the World Cup final for decking Materazzi with a head butt to the chest, but it was Materazzi who started it by getting in the Arab-blooded Zidane’s face and calling his sister a, quote, “terrorist whore.”
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Materazzi later claimed those weren’t the words he uttered, offering the following excuse: “I don’t even know what the word [terrorist] means.” So, we guess that means he’s either retarded or secretly 9-years old—but either way, we salute him. 

7. Tank Johnson

Chicago Bears Defensive Tackle Tank Johnson had a bad weekend in mid-December. On Thursday, December 14th, Johnson was arrested for the third time in 18 months when police raided his home and seized six unregistered guns—two assault rifles, three powerful handguns, and a .308 Winchester hunting rifle.

The next night, Tank’s friend and bodyguard, Willie Posey—who was also arrested during the previous night’s raid—was murdered at a Chicago night club. Police are now trying to figure out why Posey was murdered, but we think the answer’s obvious—because he didn’t have those six guns on him, duh.
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6. Keith Hernandez

One time Met great and current broadcaster Keith Hernandez—now most famous for allegedly spitting on Kramer and Newman—was labeled a sexist after comments he made on the air this April. Spotting a female massage therapist in the San Diego Padres dugout, Hernandez mused: “What’s going on here? You have got to be kidding me. Only player personnel in the dugout. I won’t say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don’t belong in the dugout.”
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Now what’s sexist about that? I mean, it’s not like he said women belong in the kitchen or anything. And besides, Hernandez smoothed everything out at the conclusion of his commentary when he added: “You know I am only teasing. I love you gals out there. Always have.” Nice, Keith. I mean, what’s the deal with girls in the dugout anyway?
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5. Stephen Jackson

The 28-year-old Pacers forward showed potential as a great sports criminal in 2004, when he was suspended for 30 games for his role in the infamous Pacers-Pistons melee at the Palace of Auburn Hills. He might have one-upped himself this October, however, during an incident at an Indianapolis nudey bar. Jackson and some of his teammates got involved in a 3 AM argument with some of the other nudey bar patrons.

They eventually took it outside. It was there that Jackson was punched in the face and run over by a car—at which point he wildly fired five shots from his 9mm pistol into the air, hitting no one. As one fan wrote on the Indianapolis Star message board: “Guns, strip club, 3 AM – is this a good image?” We think so, yea…
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4. Maurice Clarett

Pretty good year all-around for Ohio State. Troy Smith won the Heisman Trophy. The Buckeyes earned a spot in the National Title Game against Florida. And the men’s hoops squad landed Greg Oden, the most-hyped high school player since LeBron James. And then there’s Maurice Clarett and all that he accomplished this year.

First, in the wee hours of New Years Day, a drunk Clarett was arrested for flashing a gun and robbing a cell phone from two people. Then, in August, Clarett led Columbus police on a high-speed car chase after making an illegal U-turn. Once his SUV was stopped by police spikes, the cops subdued Clarett with mace—only after their attempts to use a stun gun on him were thwarted by the bullet-proof vest he was wearing.
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Police didn’t find much inside his car, though—only a hatchet, a loaded AK-47, a Hi-Point pistol (whatever that is), two other handguns, and an open bottle of Grey Goose.  Good thing he left Ohio State early though, right? Now he can watch this year’s OSU-Florida BCS Championship Game from the comforts of his solitary Toledo jail cell, where he’ll be spending the next three and a half years. O-H…I-O!
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3. Janet Jones Gretzky

You can call Wayne Gretzky’s wife Janet a lot of things, but you can’t call her a freeloader.  Her husband has hundreds of millions of dollars, is an international sports icon, and is coach and part owner of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes—but that didn’t stop Janet from trying to earn her keep. Allegedly, Janet spent a lot of her down time placing bets on sporting events. And not only that, but she placed her bets with a nationwide gambling ring allegedly-financed by Coyotes Assistant Coach Rick Tocchet.
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Nothing like a nice gambling scandal to get the NHL back on track.  When asked about his wife’s involvement in the gambling ring, “The Great One” wasn’t exactly the epitome of chivalry: “The reality is, I’m not involved, I wasn’t involved and I’m not going to be involved.” Way to stick up for your girl, Wayne.
2. Eddie Griffin

Eddie Griffin has always had the whiff of unfulfilled potential about him on the court, but the Timberwolves forward really came into his own off the court this year. In late March, Griffin—drunk—crashed his Escalade into a parked car in a grocery store parking lot. Of course, crashing Escalades is dime a dozen for athletes. But Griffin took this relative routine crime to new heights when he told the owner of the car he hit that he had been masturbating to a pornographic DVD when he crashed his ride.
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Police did in fact find several pornographic DVD jackets in the front seat of the Escalade—in fact, the porno was still playing when cops arrived. The owner of the car that was hit is now suing Griffin—but as they say, if masturbating in the front seat of your car to pornographic DVDs while driving around an abandoned grocery store parking lot is wrong, well, then we don’t want to be right.

1. The Cincinnati Bengals

Teamwork is as important off the field as it is on the field. When a team is acting as one, then it is almost impossible to stop. And that’s why, rather than honor one individual, we’ve decided to name the Cincinnati Bengals Franchise CRACKED’s Poor Sportsman of the Year for 2006.  The Bengals had an amazing 8—count ‘em, 8—players arrested this year, some of them multiple times. Impressively, they’ve had as many players arrested as they have wins this year. Here’s the rap sheet:
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  • Cornerback Deltha O’Neal, arrested for drunk driving.
  • Receiver Reggie McNeal, jailed for resisting arrest after elbowing a security guard in the chest outside a nightclub.
  • Defensive Tackle Matthias Askew, zapped with a stun gun and charged with resisting arrest.
  • Defensive End Frostee Rucker, spousal battery and vandalism.
  • Linebacker A.J. Nicholson, tossed in the hoosegow for stealing $1,700 worth of electronics from a college teammate’s apartment.
  • Linebacker Odell Thurman, suspended for the year after being arrested for a DUI with a blood alcohol level of .17—and he was already on probation for substance abuse.
  • Wide Receiver Chris Henry, arrested an astounding five times in the last 18 months, mostly on DUI, but also for brandishing a pistol and giving booze to a minor.
  • And, our favorite, Guard Eric Steinbach, snagged on the Ohio River for boating under the influence.

This is a clearly a team of destiny. Congratulations, Bengals—you are the 2006 CRACKED Poor Sportsmen of the Year.
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