5 Sports Scandals That Could Be Crazy AF Movies
Sports scandals generally come in two flavors: 1) Someone gets caught cheating and/or doing coke with their teammate/manager/the mascot, or 2) A complex match-fixing scam that requires not only that you know the team's last five seasons to the minute, but also that you have two PhDs and a graphing calculator. But there's also a third flavor which is perfect for sports fanatics and sports dum-dums alike: stories where the details are so strange that you can't NOT pay attention to them. Stories like ...
The "Horse Murders" Scandal Was Exactly What It Sounds Like
We're used to hearing about people destroying their own property for the insurance money. Gadgets, cars, homes, businesses, prized thoroughbred horses -- you name it, and someone somewhere has taken a metaphorical (or literal) match to that motherfucker.
... Wait, what was that last thing again?
Throughout the '80s and '90s, the equestrian world was consumed by a full-fledged criminal conspiracy. Wealthy horse owners would buy top-quality thoroughbreds, insure them for all they were worth, and then have them killed if they failed to perform in any minor way ... or if their upkeep was proving too expensive ... or if their owner was having financial difficulties ... or if their value had plummeted ... or if- OK, you get the point.
Although hard figures are hard to come by, it's estimated by the FBI -- who take their horses very fucking seriously -- that anywhere between 50 and 100 horses were murdered by shady veterinarians, dodgy breeders, and professional killers like Tommy "The Sandman" Burns. This was a lovely character who over the course of a decade sent over 20 BoJacks to that great glue factory in the sky by, um, wiring a mains extension cord into their ass and switching on the power. "They go down immediately," Burns once described. "One horse dropped so fast in the stall, he must have broken his neck when he hit the floor. It's a sick thing, I know, but it was quick and it was painless. They didn't suffer."
What this method lacked in finesse, it made up by being completely undetectable to veterinarians. Burns soon became a niche celebrity on the equestrian circuit, to the point where people would approach him during shows and openly ask him to "take care" of a problem horse. That said, he never got rich off this gig. Despite the vast sums of money up for grabs, his typical take-home pay was $5,000 per job.
Burns' arrest in 1991 was the beginning of the end for this conspiracy, and over the next several years, 35 people -- ranging from owners to breeders to ass-assins -- were convicted of crimes including insurance fraud, obstruction of justice, extortion, and racketeering. It proves that murder-for-hire doesn't provide a stable income, the police don't horse around, and crime doesn't nei[EDIT: THE REST OF THIS JOKE HAS BEEN CANCELLED.]
The New Orleans Saints Secretly Rewarded Players Who Injured Opponents
Injuries are an unavoidable part of being a sports professional. It's just business, nothing personal. It's not like players go out there with the intention of injuring opponents, right? Well, it depends. Is there an extra paycheck involved?
Between 2009 and 2011, the New Orleans Saints operated a secret slush fund that would pay out to players who injured members of competing teams. The fund, which was made of contributions from players and the team's then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, was tiered in such a way that "bigger" injuries netted bigger payouts. Was this a very shitty way to play sports? Undoubtedly. Was this an effective team-building strategy? Considering that the bounty pot was a reported $50,000 when they made it to the Super Bowl in 2009, we'd say yes.
We'd direct you to specific spots in this video directing the Saints defense to inflict concussions, but every second is damning.
It isn't known how many bounties were paid out exactly, but when the NFL discovered the scheme and drop-kicked their asses, they found that 27 players had been involved, and that most of the team's leadership had known about this in some way. As punishment, the Saints were docked $50,000, while the team's management was temporarily suspended. As the ringleader, however, Williams was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Thereafter it was soon alleged that he'd run similar schemes during his years coaching the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, and Buffalo Bills.
An Australian Race Car Champion Was Brought Down By Crystals
During the 1980s, Peter Brock was a wo- actually, we're not going to be condescending. You already know who Peter Brock is. The two-time winner of the Australian Touring Car Championship? The nine-time winner of the Bathurst 1000? One of the most famous racing drivers in Australian motor sports history? Exactly. That guy. Whom we all know intimately. But not that intimately.
That said, Brock isn't famous just for his long, illustrious career in racing. He's also famous for being the guy who got big into New Age crystals and was laughed out of the sport by practically everyone. This was a time when it would've been more socially acceptable to get into crystal meth.
Throughout most of his career, Brock was associated with the car manufacturer Holden. In 1980, they teamed up to revitalize the then-fledgling "Holden Dealer Team" into a high-spec tune-up shop -- an arrangement which saw Holden sending Brock cars fresh off the assembly line for him to turn into high-performance, modded-the-ass-off "HDT Special Vehicles." This arrangement worked amazingly. That is, until 1987 and the launch of the HDT Director. Not because of its looks or performance, but because each car came with an "Energy Polarizer" -- a plastic box containing a collection of magnets and crystals which, according to Brock, produced "orgone energy," which "aligns the molecules of the car" to make it "run smoother, ride better." Or to put it another way, it's "a magic cure [that] makes a shithouse car good."
If that sounds like a crock of bullshit, bad news: You were not the target audience for this car. After the (understandable) amounts of media attention this garnered, Holden inspected one of the bullshit boxes Brock was installing in their cars and ordered him to stop immediately -- not least because the Energy Polarizer required that the car's tires be dangerously under-inflated. Holden broke off their partnership with Brock, leaving him and his company ruined.
Brock eventually returned to racing, but sadly died in an accident several years later. In a perverse twist of fate, however, his much-hated orgone-infused HDT Directors became a hot property among collectors. One sold in 2010 for $250,000, while in 2011, Holden released a special edition of the HDT Director that came packaged with a terrible body kit, a loot box containing a best-of collection of New Age bullshit, and hopefully some inflated tires.
A Champion Ice Skater Was Nearly Barred From The Olympics For Being Ex-Stasi
In 2006, champion German ice skater Ingo Steuer found himself in deep doo-doo with the German Olympic Committee over allegations that he'd spied on a competitor several years prior. Big whoop, you might think. Given the massive stacks of cash, fame, and ass up for grabs, it's not totally surprising that a skater would resort to underhanded tactics. This is the sport that nearly saw someone kneecapped, for god's sake. Except Steuer didn't spy in an effort to win medals. He was spying for the Staatssicherheitsdienst, aka the Stasi, aka the East German secret police infamous for their all-encompassing surveillance and terrifying imagination for gaslighting.
Back in the '80s, Steuer (then a teenage skating protege) was approached by the Stasi and given a simple choice: spy on his fellow skaters or go to prison for the next infinity years. Steuer signed up and under the codename "Torsten" and monitored his fellows for any signs that they were planning to defect. His main target was beloved skater Katarina Witt. "If this had happened, it would have been a catastrophe," said Steuer. "I always looked up to her. I was always on the road with Katarina, and the state saw me as very close to her."
After the fall of the Wall, Steuer stayed in skating ... until two decades later, when his informant file was discovered among the thousands kept by the Stasi. Steuer was embroiled in a legal battle over his participation in the 2006 Olympics, ultimately being prohibited from wearing the German team's clothes and participating in multiple events. The furor eventually died out, and Steuer returned to coaching, albeit in a voluntary capacity. Which is fine, because he wasn't paid the last time he did something in service of his country either.
The Baltimore Colts Defected To Indianapolis In The Dead Of Night
Like any breakup, the only real way to face your beloved sports team leaving for another city/state is to suppress your anger with dignity, calm, and (if necessary) gentle weeping. That is, unless your team ghosts your ass in the middle of the night -- in which case fuck them.
In 1984, this was the situation Baltimoreans found themselves in after the owner of the Colts, Bob Irsay, got into a spat with the state of Maryland over who had to pay for some much-needed improvements to the team's stadium. The argument wore on until March 28, when the state legislature passed a law allowing Baltimore to seize the Colts from Irsay under eminent domain. Pissed the fuck off, Irsay hit up Indianapolis, Indiana, and signed a deal to quickly move the club there -- "quickly" being the operative word.
In a single night, the contents of the team's stadium -- including their training gear, memorabilia, and offices -- were packed onto 14 trucks and driven several hundred miles to Indianapolis. As one of the team's managers described it: "The drivers were instructed to scatter. We didn't want them to be in a caravan. We didn't want them hanging out together so as to draw attention to them. We told them to drive 100 miles or so and find a place to get some sleep, then call in the next morning and we would give them their next instructions."
Baltimore responded to this defection by suing the team, which ended with the city winning a small settlement and some Johnny Unitas merchandise. Funnily enough, that's also how our parents' divorce ended.
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