Friday, January 11, 2008

2007 Sports Hall of Shame-Top 7 Worst Sports Moments

In 2007, we saw upsets, spy games, tearful apologies, indictments, fallen franchise darlings, and a host of other incidents of mischief and mayhem. Every now and then you have moments in sports that impact us leaving a lasting affect on our hearts and in our minds. Here are the Top 7 Worst sports moments that made the cut into my 2007 Sports Hall of Shame.


In a year of tragedies (shooting death of Denver Broncos cornerback, Darrent Williams at the beginning of 2007 outside a club in Denver after attending a New Year's Eve Party;Damien Nash, also of the Denver Broncos,a 24-year-old running back who died after a charity basketball game, Marquise Hill, 24 year old, New England Patriots defensive end that fell off a jet ski in Lake Pontchartrain and a host of other pro athletes cursed to die young.) the shooting death of Washington Redskins safety and Pro-Bowl All Star, Sean Taylor had to be the most profound. Taylor suffered an untimely death after being shot during a burglary in the wee hours of the morning on November 26,2007. Four suspects: Venjah K. Hunte,20; Eric Rivera Jr., 17; Jason Scott Mitchell, 17; and Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 18 broke into Taylor's newly purchased Miami home while he lay asleep with his girlfriend of 7 years and baby girl adjacent in another room. Two shots were fired after the suspects broke into the master bedroom, one shot injuring Taylor who died the next day from an ultimately fatal femoral artery wound. Taylor was 24 years old, leaving behind an 18 month daughter, an NFL community shook up and thousands of fans in mourning at a tragic loss of a young man who had touched the lives of so many.



Steadfast in not admitting her guilt to abusing steroids, Marion Jones finally broke down in a tearful apology worthy of an Oscar on October 5th. Since her admission, she has returned her five Olympic medals and records of her accomplishments during said Olympics in which she earned these medals have been erased. To add insult to injury, penniless Jones was recently sentenced to 6 months in prison for her love affair with Clear (the growth hormone she had ingested for 2 years during her 2000 Sydney Olympic run.), one of the two charges she had been sentenced for. For years Marion denied using steroids, even issuing this statement in 2004: “I have never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs.” She also sued BALCO founder Victor Conte after he repeatedly accused her of using performance-enhancing drugs and also testified that he had watched her inject herself.

“I am responsible fully for my actions. I have no one to blame but myself for what I’ve done,” she said. “Making the wrong choices and bad decisions can be disastrous.”

Way to go Marion! Admitting there is a problem is the first step in the road to recovery. Let's just say that crocodile tears might of gotten the baby faced American heroine a pass had Barry Bonds not issued a similar passionate denial against the use of performance enhancing drugs and we knew nothing of the other 79 big league athletes named for taking steroids in the 2007 Mitchell Report.


In the latest chapter of the Michael Vick saga, ex-Atlanta Falcons franchise darling and endorsement poster boy, Vick had the book thrown at him for his felonious activity as the "ringleader" of an illegal, interstate dog fighting ring. Judge Henry E. Hudson sentenced Vick to 23 months in prison, further tarnishing his once golden reputation and dimming the lights on any recovery of his promising NFL career. Already set to lose up to $150 million in salary and endorsements, stating that Michael Vick's future is uncertain is an understatement. PETA and the Michigan Humane Society have painted Vick as the devil incarnate launching several anti-Vick campaigns including selling anti-Vick tee shirts with proceeds to "benefit" charity.


NBA ex-referee Tim Donaghy plead guilty to two gambling related felonies on August 15th, one being conspiracy to commit wire fraud and the other conspiracy to transmit gambling information across state lines. In a confession, 40 year old veteran official, Donaghy admitted to rigging games in which he officiated since 2003, placing bets and taking cash in exchange for recommendations or picks on NBA games including games he worked on to individuals involved in sports betting. Donaghy faces up to 25 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 and $30,000 in restitution to the government for his double dipping. So much for loving what you do and getting paid for it! NBA commissioner, David Stern has since admitted to the frequency of gambling among refs and even rallied for referees in the following statement:

"Our ban on gambling is absolute, and in my view it is too absolute, too harsh and was not particularly well-enforced over the years," Stern said. "We're going to come up with a new set of rules that make sense."

He even went as far to say that all refs have been reported to engage in some form of gambling, whether its off season casino gambling, bingo or lottery tickets.

Can Donaghy now say he is the victim of a flawed system and hey, other refs did it too?


Perhaps the most mentioned of the names cited in the report that reads more like a best-seller tell all book penned by a scorned lover, Roger Clemens (no, not Barry Bonds. hate to disappoint you.) was listed on 9 pages totaling 82 times for use of steroids. The infamous Barry Bonds, Andy Pettitte, Eric Gagne , Miguel Tejada Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Troy Glaus, Gary Matthews Jr., Paul Byrd, Jose Guillen, Brian Roberts, Paul Lo Duca and Rick Ankiel were among other current players listed. Not all were associated with steroids as some were also linked to growth hormones. Widely known as the Greatest Pitcher of His Era, MVP and All-Star Clemens was accused in several excerpts by New York Yankees strength and conditioning coach, Brian McNamee who alleged that during the 2000 season, he injected Clemens with testosterone labeled Sustanon 250 or Deca-Durabolin to enhance his performance on the field.

"It is very unfair to include Roger's name in this report," said Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin. "He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations. He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong."

Interestingly enough, an aftermath of punishment and strict rule enforcement is unlikely. I suppose the injustice of it all is not widespread enough to cover all the commissioners, the players association and players who share in the blame for the rise of the "Steroid Era" over the last 20 years. With the exception of Barry Bonds of course, who is facing charges for lying to a federal grand jury about the use of steroids. Hmmm....admit steroid use, no penalities; deny steroid use, get indicted. Wait a minute! Didn't Marion Jones try that?



This story was actually a quotable posted in my yahoo group when it broke back in September and I struggled with posting it as my #6 worst sports moments in 2007 over the poor excuse of a game that resulted in West Virginia's pathetic loss to Pittsburgh, costing them a ride to the BCS National Championship game. It seems the Patriots head coach Bill Belicheck had mistaken taping of the Jets defensive signals as a live taping of America's Funniest Home Videos. Well the NFL didn't find it so funny. Though he avoided suspension, a questionable move contested by many around the league, Belicheck was fined $500,000 (the most by any NFL coach to date) while the team was hit with a $250,000 fine. The Patriots have also been ordered to forfeit the first round draft pick for the 2008 NFL draft. It seems that this isn't the Patriots first violation. The Patriots have been caught once before for shooting unauthorized video during a Green Bay game in November 2006. The Packers caught video assistant Matt Estrella red handed and told him to stop.

Suspicion of spy games didn't start and won't stop with Belicheck. In the early 1970's, Washington Redskins coach George Allen would routinely send security out to scout practice grounds to ensure the absence of spies. News of "Spygate" spread like wildfire across the league, resulting in outcries and raised questions of other suspicious activity players and coaches. A copy of the Patriots' videotape "mysteriously" found its way on air during Fox's pre game show the following Sunday. Whatever the Patriots' defense (4th ranked defense in NFL) "learned" from the Jets defense (25th ranked defense in NFL) is a mystery in itself. The world may never know.


In one of the most unimaginable upsets in college football history, Appalachian State blocked a 37 yard U of M field goal in the final seconds of an already close game to finish off Michigan 34-32, sending them on an 0-3 run. Talk about an early season smack down! Though the Mountaineers was certainly a worthy opponent, coming in as two time champs of former Division 1-AA, the unfathomable to many analysts and U of M fans, became reality on that eventful Saturday afternoon. And to think that this happened to one of the most celebrated programs in the Big Ten. While redeeming their season (Michigan finished 9-4) and winning the Capitol One Bowl game against Florida 41-35, Michigan will forever be mentioned in history books as the team that analysts and fans will be remembered for the slogan "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." Many have speculated that this game set the stage for other season upsets. Way to be a trend-setter! GO BLUE!!

The decision was certainly tough. Though you may or may not agree with my top 7, I based it on impact to the sports community and fans. Here are a few honorable mentions from the cutting room floor:


Pittsburgh dashes West Virginia BCS National Championship Game Hopes; Powerhouse Nebraska and Notre Dame Flophouses; Pistons Eastern Conference Finals jinx ; Curse of Miami, Dolphins Finish Season 2-12


James said...

Writer to Writer, This is a very great blog. You have definitely done your research. With statistics and links to back it up. Very Impressive...

Anonymous said...

That was definitely a great job in which you pinpointed all the bad stuff that happened in sports in 2007...I am surprise that you did not mention Golden State beating the Dallas Mavericks in six games of the first round of the playoffs..In addition to that, that it marked the first time in NBA history that two teams that went to the NBA Finals did not make it past the first round(Mavericks losing to the Warriors and Miami Heat losing to the Chicago Bulls[getting swept in four games)..Ricky Williams coming back to the NFL and then getting injuried in his first game back in the league on monday night football against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the worse of all is the Baltimore Ravens losing to the at the time 0-14 Miami Dolphins in overtime...

Future said...

Nice blog. 2007 was a tough one all around and Sean Taylor definitely tops the list. Well done