5th Annual Turkeys of the Year -2013

Here is my 5th Annual Sports Turkeys of the Year.  Each year it’s a blast to go back over the sports calendar and select the sports figures that made an ass out of themselves. My order is always up for debate so please comment below.  Honorable mention this year was extremely long.

Dennis Rodman – Rodman told SI.com that he should win the Nobel Peace Prize because of his friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, which Rodman insinuates is single-handedly keeping us from World War III. “My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries. Why it’s been left to me to smooth things over, I don’t know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it’s the black guy’s [Obama’s] job. But I’ll tell you this: If I don’t finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something’s seriously wrong.” He might not get your Turkey of the Year Award, but at least GQ honored him:  Via GQ:   He was the first prominent American celebrity invited inside the nation-sized prison that is North Korea, and he did literally the least interesting thing possible with it…. Dennis Rodman is a Q-list celebrity willing to commit borderline treason just to hang out with a dictator who himself aspires to be a Q-list celebrity.

Lance Armstrong – He finally publicly admitted to the doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January. While admitting in the interview to the things he did, he also said it was “absolutely not” true that he was doping in 2009-2010 and that the last time he “crossed the line” was in 2005.  This came out after the Justice Department officials recommended joining the federal lawsuit aimed at clawing back money from Armstrong.  Eventually, all of his sponsors dropped him, lost over $75 million.  Nike even cut their ties to his charity Livestrong in May.

Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito – In November, the Dolphins suspended Incognito indefinitely for alleged misconduct related to the treatment of teammate Jonathan Martin, who left the team a week earlier to receive help for emotional issues. Incognito’s conduct was said to be detrimental to the team. The Sun-Sentinel reported that “multiple sources” have said Incognito may have taken orders from Dolphins coaches to “toughen up” Martin too far. The Sun-Sentinel reported that the controversial voice mail message that ultimately led to Incognito’s suspension was made after Martin missed two days of the team’s voluntary workout program. The coaches asked Incognito, who by this time was the unquestioned leader of the offensive line, to make a call that would “get him into the fold.”  Who knows if we will ever know the true story.  Jonathan Martin probably deserves his own spot on the list, but I need to get more information on his mental state.

New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez –  In August, MLB suspended Rodriguez from August 8 through the end of the 2014 season for violating the league’s PED policy, a total of 211 regular-season games plus any postseason games. He was one of 13 players suspended for their roles in the scandal. Almost immediately after the suspension was announced, Rodriguez announced he would appeal. He was the only player to do so; the others accepted season-ending 50-game suspensions without appeal.  Although Commissioner Bud Selig had the option of using his best-interests-of-baseball powers to remove Rodriguez from the field immediately, he chose to suspend Rodriguez under the drug agreement and not the CBA, allowing Rodriguez to continue playing while the appeal is underway. If the suspension is upheld, he will not be able to play again until sometime in the 2015 season. At stake for Rodriguez, 38, is a large part of the remainder of his career and about $31 million of the $89 million he is owed by the Yankees. We should get some closure in January 2014.

Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun – After MLB’s investigation following the Biogenesis scandal in July, Braun was suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 season and playoffs (totaling 65 regular season games) for violating the league’s drug policy. On August, Braun released a statement in which he apologized for using PEDS. He admitted he used PED’s during the latter part of the 2011 season to nurse a nagging injury. The products he used were a cream and a lozenge that would expedite his rehabilitation Braun lost endorsement deals with Kwik Trip and Nike in 2013 after he was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. In September, SURG Restaurant Group, which manages Ryan Braun’s Graffito Restaurant and 8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill, announced that it will end its relationship with Braun

Aaron Hernandez – In August, Hernandez was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of
Odin Lloyd, and is currently being investigated in connection with other murders in both Florida and Massachusetts. Hernandez maintains his innocence.  The New England Patriots released Hernandez in June, shortly after officers from the North Attleboro, Massachusetts Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police arrested him at his home. In September, Hernandez was arraigned and plead not guilty to first-degree murder. He will be held without bail, but reserved the right to request bail later.

San Diego Chargers Manti Te’o – In January 2013, the sports blog Deadspin revealed that the existence and death of his girlfriend had been faked. An acquaintance of Te’o confessed to
orchestrating a hoax that lured Te’o into an online relationship with a nonexistent woman. This will take you back

Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria – In the offseason, Loria made a twelve-player trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for which local and national sportswriters and Marlins fans questioned the motive of Loria’s intentions of building a successful franchise, while simultaneously demanding Miami taxpayers’ dollars to pay for most of the ballpark’s construction and maintenance.
Despite the 2012 season, the trade, and calls of boycotting the 2013 Miami Marlins season by South Florida residents, politicians, and sportswriters, Loria defended trading away the stars saying that despite the 2012 payroll, the organization was not winning and they need “to take a new course” in winning again. In July 2013, hitting coach Tino Martinez, who had been handpicked by Loria, resigned following allegations that he verbally and physically assaulted players.  Just in their second season at the new ballpark they finished with an average of 19,584 fans per game which was ranked 29th in baseball.  Marlins finished 62-100.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel – Manziel has been making noise since winning the Heisman.  After getting a ticket, he took to Twitter to explain why he couldn’t wait to get out of College Station. Unfortunately that opened the floodgates for Manziel and A&M being
investigated on whether he was being compensated for signing autographs.  Manziel only served a one-half suspension in the Aggies’ opener vs. Rice. 

NCAA Football –Mark  Emmert – I am not sure how far to go with this one, but it seems every week there are new twists and turns in regards to the NCAA.  In today’s NCAA — tense with corrupt boosters and university faculties who would rather relish the joy of the win over the joys of social justice — the once-wholesome, all-American sport has become just an audition for the big time.  And with a litany of scandals, the corruption of college sports is constant
front-page news. We continue profess outrage each time we learn that yet another student-athlete has been taking money under the table. But the real scandal is the very structure of college sports, wherein student-athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves.   Somehow this must change, but with the intent to keep the foundation of the student-athlete in place.

I think the biggest story of the year has to be the Miami scandal.  It once looked like it would be one of the biggest, easiest takedowns in NCAA history.  Ex-Miami booster Nevin Shapiro was going to serve up everything from photographs to credit-card receipts to demonstrate that he had been lavishing NCAA-prohibited gifts on the school’s athletes for years. But the investigation went off the rails a few months ago when it emerged that the NCAA had inappropriately paid one of Shapiro’s own lawyers to help it nail Miami.

The following are many examples from this year on why we continue to have troubles with the NCAA, thanks to NY Times:

*North Carolina case in which five people have been indicted for funneling money to college football players; criticizes 13-year old bill drafted by the NCAA, and adopted as law in 41 states, that criminalizes contact between
sports agents and college athletes; argues law illustrates how good a job the organization has done in brainwashing Americans that it is wrong to compensate student athletes.

*NCAA needs to settle with current and former student athletes who sued the organization for licensing their names and images for use in game footage, photographs and video games; contends a settlement would mend the blatantly unfair collegiate-athletic system in a way that addresses the Title IX issue. 

*NCAA’s corruption investigation into the University of Miami football and basketball programs, which resulted in mere slap on the wrist, is latest  example of incompetence and lack of accountability at organization. NCAA penalizes the university with three years of probation and loss of 12 scholarships; decision marks end to inquiry that began in 2009.

*EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company are set to pay only $40 million to settle their roles in a high-profile lawsuit seeking compensation for college athletes; plan leaves NCAA as lone defendant in lawsuit filed more than four years ago by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon.

*The case of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who was penalized for signing memorabilia.

*NCAA restores football eligibility of former Marine Sgt Steven Rhodes amid criticism; originally declared Rhodes ineligible to play for Middle Tennessee State because he participated in organized football during his time
with the military.

*NCAA says it will stop selling player jerseys and other memorabilia through its Web site; organization is
facing legal and public scrutiny over its business practices.

*Lawyers suing NCAA over its handling of head injuries ask federal judge to let them expand lawsuit nationwide to include thousands of plaintiffs in case they contend could change college sports.

*NCAA, citing Oregon for failing to monitor its football program, places team on probation and penalizes former coach Chip Kelly, putting conditions on any return to college ranks in future; long investigation centered n Oregon’s ties to a recruiting service provider, who assisted the university’s football program in trying to attract players but used methods that violated NCAA rules. 

*Federal judge throws out antitrust lawsuit by Pennsylvania Gov Tom Corbett against the NCAA over
penalties against Penn State related to Jerry Sandusky.

*Estate of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and several university trustees and former players reportedly plan to sue the NCAA over the penalties levied against the university in Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

*University of Minnesota wrestler Joel Bauman is fined for violating NCAA bylaw prohibiting student-athletes from using their name to promote a commercial product; Bauman’s music has become popular on YouTube and is available for purchase on iTunes.

*Orlando Sanchez, who briefly played basketball for Dominican Republic, is asking NCAA to reconsider ruling that left him unable to play another year of basketball at St John’s; Sanchez’s situation is latest athlete-eligibility case
to highlight difficulties NCAA can face when determining who is allowed to play.

*NCAA sues Pennsylvania Gov Tom Corbett over new law designed to ensure that $60 million fie paid by Penn State over the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault scandal remains in the state.

*NCAA ousts chief enforcement officer Julie Roe Lach because of her role in botched investigation at University of Miami. 
Thanks to New York Times and their archives this year: Full details  -http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/national_collegiate_athletic_assn/index.html