Anyone who gets a prediction about how a player's career will turn out wrong will likely be taunted with it for the rest of his life.
Scott Norwood, a Buffalo Bills kicker, will always be associated with two words: Wide Right. He missed a 47 yard go-ahead field goal (a long-distance field goal at that) in the final seconds of Super Bowl XXV, leaving them exactly one point behind the New York Giants. That the Bills would go on to lose the next three Super Bowls as well (their own Never Live It Down moment) probably didn't help matters.
To be fair to Norwood, at the time, approximately half of the field goals were successfully made for 40-plus yards on grass fields, and he was one-for-five throughout his career, meaning that not only was it his farthest so far, he was not very good at long distances on grass (the Bills have played their home games on artificial turf since 1973). Also, prior to the 1990 Bills season, Norwood already surpassed O.J. Simpson as the Bills' all-time leading scorer (which has since surpassed by Norwood's successor, Steve Christie).
The Bills losing four consecutive Super Bowls led to the derisive initialism Boy I Love Losing Superbowls.
Until the Bills lost four consecutive Super Bowls, the Vikings had their own Never Live It Down reputation as perennial Super Bowl losers - losing four (and winning zero) in an 8-year span.
Joe Namath was one of America's first rock star athletes, best known for his guarantee of victory for his underdog New York Jets over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Now most people, especially younger fans, think of him first and foremost for drunkenly hitting on ESPN's Suzy Kolber during a Monday Night game. It doesn't help that the incident provided the name for one of the most popular sports humor blogs around: Kissing Suzy Kolber.
Well, that and the pantyhose. He shaved his legs and wore pantyhose under his game pants in cold weather to keep his legs warm. Word got to the makers of Beautymist hose and they asked him to shill for them. The rest, as they say, is history.
Namath's guarantee of victory is an unusual good moment to never be lived down. Namath wasn't spectacular in the game (the Jets won 16-7 mostly because of exceptional defense), nor in his career (he threw more interceptions than touchdowns). However, because he made headlines for his statement, and because the game was a huge upset by a team from a supposedly inferior league, he's usually thought of as an elite pro passer.
Jim Marshall was a two-time NFL Pro Bowler, a member of the legendary Minnesota Vikings' "Purple People Eaters" defense, holds the record for consecutive games played (282) and started (270) for defensive players and who recovered more fumbles than anyone in history. But he's forever remembered as "the guy who ran the wrong way" - on October 25, 1964, he recovered a fumble and ran it 66 yards into the Vikings' own end zone, scoring a safety for the San Francisco 49ers (the Vikings still won the game, largely because Marshall forced another fumble later). There's a reason he's called "Wrong Way" Marshall.
Before Marshall, there was Roy Riegels, an All-American player who played center for the California Golden Bears. In the 1929 Rose Bowl, he picked up a fumble by the George Tech Yellow Jackets and ran the wrong way, with his quarterback chasing and screaming at him to turn around. He was finally caught at the Bears' 3-yard line, only to be piled on by Yellow Jackets. The next play, Cal elected to punt to avoid yielding a safety, but the punt was blocked and Tech got the safety anyway. For the ultimate insult, Tech won the game 8-7 - those two points on the safety was the difference (to his credit, he had moved on from it and was able to turn it into positives for his later life).
To Buckeye fans and faithful, Woody Hayes is remembered as one of their best college football coaches, leading Ohio State to two consensus and three non-consensus National Championships and 13 division titles and giving their football program the prestige and style it has today. To most others—and especially to Clemson fans—he's remembered for one thing: punching an opposing player after an interception ruined OSU's comeback and sealed Clemson's victory (and OSU's loss) in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Hayes was fired by Ohio State the next day.
Art Modell, prior to 1995, was seen as a respected NFL owner whose big claim to fame was the inception of Monday Night Football. But after, he's remembered for taking the Browns away from Cleveland. Even worse, the city he moved to, Baltimore, should have known better, seeing as the owner of the Colts is just as remembered for taking that team away from Baltimore.
Speaking of Cleveland, the Browns will probably never live down firing Paul Brown - the namesake of the Cleveland Browns, and the reason why the Browns were no-nonsense winners back in the 40s-50s. Naturally, Paul Brown was not very pleased, and created his own franchise to get back at the Browns organization— the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland's cross-state rival. To add insult to injury, the Bengals play in Paul Brown Stadium.
What Modell is to Cleveland, Bob Irsay is to Balitmore. The Baltimore Colts were one of the NFL's flagship franchises before Irsay bought the teamnote A team swap, really - Irsay attained the Colts from Carroll Rosenbloom, while Rosenbloom took over Irsay's Los Angeles Rams. The Rams turned into an NFC power under Rosenbloom's ownership. The Colts under Irsay went in the opposite direction. He gained a reputation as, to put it bluntly, a drunken lunatic more concerned with a perceived lack of respect than how his team was actually doing. This was cemented when, in a live impromptu press conference in 1983note partially shown in the ESPN documentary The Band That Wouldn't Die he went on a (possibly) drunken tirade against the media for stirring up rumors that he was moving the Colts to Memphis or Phoenix. This rant pointedly did not mention Indianapolis. This was followed just a couple of months later by the Colts' infamous midnight move out of Baltimore to Indianapolis in March 1984.
O.J. Simpson. Orenthal James Simpson was once a celebrated football player. Then, in 1994, he stood trial for the murder of his wife and her, uh, "friend." So began the infamous "Trial of the Century." As well as O.J. himself, most of the prominent names from that trial came away with some sort of permanent stigma:
Judge Lance Ito gave the lawyers on both sides pretty free rein, leading to his perception as a pushover who runs a circus of a courtroom.
Prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden - Incompetents who blew a slam dunk case.
Det. Mark Fuhrman - A racist Rogue Cop who framed a guilty man, or a racist, Too Dumb to Live cop who blew a slam dunk case, depending on how much you sympathize with O.J.
Poor Leon Lett, former defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys. He managed to have two of the NFL's all-time embarrassing blunders, within a year of each other:
In Super Bowl XXVII (Jan. 1993): While returning a Buffalo Bills fumble for a sure touchdown, he started showboating about twenty yards short of the end zone. This allowed Buffalo receiver Don Beebe to catch up and strip him of the ball. No harm done, though: The Cowboys were up 52-17 at the time. It did, however, cost the Cowboys the record for highest Super Bowl score ever.
The following Thanksgiving: With time running out, the Cowboys partially blocked a game-winning field goal attempt from the Miami Dolphins. All Dallas had to do seal the win is let the ball roll dead. Miami was barred by rule from touching the ball again unless it was touched first by Dallas... Which is exactly what happened when Lett charged in - past several teammates trying to wave him off - and tried to recover the ball. He slipped on the snowy surface and ended up booting the ball forward, where Miami recovered and subsequently re-kicked for the win.
Lett would then become one of multiple players on those Cowboys teams (along with Michael Irvin, Erik Williams and Nate Newton) to be involved in drug scandals. So he can consider himself lucky if he's still most remembered for just an on-field gaffe - especially since both happened in seasons where the Cowboys still won the Super Bowl.
Matt Millen was a former linebacker with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins (12 seasons and part of 4 Super Bowl champions during that span) followed by a prominent broadcasting career. He will be best known, however, for taking the job as the general manager of the Detroit Lions. His draft record helped sink the team from its position as relatively average to the Butt Monkeys of the NFL, which was also evident by his being an apparent Karma Houdini for much of that term. Ironically, he got the boot during the 2008 season, just as the Lions hit rock bottom (ultimately finishing 0-16).
Likewise, quarterback Dan Orlovsky will never get over defining the 0-16 season... after inadvertently running out of the back of his own endzone, giving the Minnesota Vikings a safety. The two points was the margin of victory for the Vikings.
Colts fans may give him a pass; he was partly responsible for saving the Colts from a winless season in 2011.
For further Detroit Lions infamy, there's the fact that they essentially forced out one of the game's all-time greats. Barry Sanders, currently third on the all-time rushing yardage list, played for the Lions. He retired at age 30 when he was in striking distance of the recordnote It's believed had he continued to play he would have not only broken the record, but that he'd have put the record out of everyone's reach., not because of health issues or injuries, but because he was tired of playing for an organization that refused to make moves to build a better team.
Matt Millen also will never live down his horrible track record when it came to the draft, particularly his love of drafting wide receivers. In his 8-year span, he took four of them: Charles Rogersnote Never did anything of note and was out of football after three years., Roy Williams note Went to a Pro Bowl, but that was about it., Mike Williams note Never panned out and had several failed comebacks with other teams., and finally, Calvin Johnsonnote Who, admittedly, has bucked the trend and turned out to be a topnotch player, even breaking the single-season receiving yards record..
The late Jack Tatum was a legendary member of the '70s Oakland Raiders. Known as "The Assassin", he was a three-time Pro Bowler, two-time All Pro, a member of the Raiders' Super Bowl championship team in 1977. He was even part of the infamous "Immaculate Reception" - he was the Raider that knocked the ball out of Frenchy Fuqua's hands and into Franco Harris'. But he could never shake the stigma of being "the guy who crippled Darryl Stingley". It didn't help his cause that he felt no need to apologize or to feel remorse for it (this attitude is thought by many to be the reason Tatum was kept out the Pro Football Hall of Fame).
Jackie Smith was Mike Ditka's successor at tight end for the Dallas Cowboys and a Hall of Famer in his own right. But his biggest moment came in the 3rd quarter of Super Bowl XIII where he dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone. The Cowboys settled for a field goal there and ultimately lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-31.
Not to mention his penchant for texting close-up photos of a certain part of his anatomy.
For many, former Atlanta Falcons/Philadelphia Eagles and current New York Jets QB Michael Vick will never be forgiven for his part in a dog fighting ring (and the killing of many of those dogs in an attempt to destroy evidence ahead of federal warrants). It should be noted that Vick did federal jail time for this (but for interstate gambling, not for the destruction of the animals).
Jim Everett was the quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams during the late 1980s and early 1990s; leading his team to the NFC Championship Game prior to the 1989 season vs. division rival and defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers. However, Everett will best be remembered for an incident during that game, where Everett (fearing the Niners' pass rush) curled up into the fetal position to avoid a hard hit, thus resulting in the play being known as the "Phantom Sack" and Jim Rome infamously nicknaming Everett "Chris" (referring to the female tennis great Chris Evert).
This led to Rome getting his own moment when Everett assaulted him on his TV show, Talk2, because Rome repeatedly called him "Chris" to his face. According to Everett, he thought the show was hosted by industry legend, Roy Firestone, and probably wouldn't have appeared had he known.
Over a 15 year career, Gus Frerotte reached the Pro Bowl once, lead two teams to the playoffs, and even had an NFL record tying 99 yard touchdown pass. But any time his name is mentioned, especially in the Washington, D.C. area, all people think about is the time he celebrated a touchdown by headbutting a wall,spraining his neck and causing him to miss the rest of the game. The game ended in a tie. If the Redskins had won, they would've made the playoffs.
Garo Yepremian was one of the greatest kickers in NFL history, and a key part of the Miami Dolphins dynasty of the early '70s. But mention his name to most people, and the first thing they think of is his embarrassing attempt at passing the ball in the closing minutes of Super Bowl VII, which led to the Redskins recovering the ball and scoring, thus preventing the Dolphins capping their otherwise-perfect '72 season with a shutout victory in the big game.
I keek a touchdown. — Garo Yepremian
Southern Methodist University's football team, which had great players like Doak Walker and Eric Dickerson, is forever remembered as the only college football program to receive the "death penalty" for major infractions. The fact that it took the program 20 years after reinstatement to have another winning season didn't help.
Earnest Byner had a solid NFL career rushing for over 8,000 yards and 56 touchdowns, but all anyone remembers is the fumble in the AFC Championship Game. It doesn't help that he played in the city of Cleveland where sports dreams go to die.
Ben Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls and played in a third as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, but he'll probably always be remembered for his two sexual assault cases, even though nothing came out of them. A common nickname for him on message boards is Ben Rapelispervert.
Herschel Walker is considered one of the greatest college players of all time. He was one of the marquee names of the USFL's brief tenure (rushing for an unofficial professional record 2,411 yards in 1985) and was an All-Pro in both of his first two NFL seasons. Then came the infamous 1989 trade that sent Walker from the Dallas Cowboys to the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings paid an unprecedented price for Walker; including three first-round draft picks, two second-round picks, and five players. The Cowboys turned those picks (one of whom was Emmitt Smith, who would become the NFL's all-time leading rusher) into a foundation for winning three Super Bowl championships in the next six seasons. The Vikings, in turned, floundered. They inexplicably tried to turn Walker into a straight-ahead power runner (whereas Walker had previously used his Olympic-class speed to get to the outside and take on much smaller defenders). Walker was a flop as a Viking and was traded to Philadelphia after only two-and-a-half seasons (where his total rushing stats didn't match his last full season in Dallas. "Herschel Walker Trade" has become code in the sports world for "incredibly lopsided trade". Walker, for his part, went on to become a respected all-purpose player for both the Eagles and New York Giants and currently ranks eighth in the NFL's all-time all-purpose yards list.
Joe Theismann, All-American quarterback at Notre Dame and 12-year veteran, Super Bowl Champion and two-time Pro Bowler with the Washington Redskins. Remembered for 1). changing his name pronunciation (from THEES-man to THIGHS-man) in college as part of a failed Heisman Trophy campaign, 2). getting his leg broke in two places from a Lawrence Taylor sack, which ended his playing career, and 3). Calling Patriots running back Danny Woodhead "Woodcock".
Abner Haynes was a solid running back for several years in the American Football League, scoring two touchdowns for the Dallas Texans (now Kansas City Chiefs) over the Houston Oilers during the 1962 AFL Championship. Unfortunately, Haynes' claim to notoriety was confusing coach Hank Stram's instructions for the overtime coin toss and saying "We'll kick to the clock"; giving away both the right to receive the ball for the first overtime AND the right to choose having the wind at his back (which Stram wanted in order to set up the possibility of having favorable winds for a game-winning field goal). Like Yepremian and Leon Lett in the Super Bowl; Abner would be let off the hook as the Texans got that wind advantage for the second overtime and scored an easy game-winning field goal.
As a result of the 2007 Spygate scandalnote In which they were punished for videotaping the New York Jets' defensive signals from an illegal location (i.e., the sidelines) that year, some football fans will always accuse the New England Patriots of being cheaters, leading to them being called "The Cheat-triots", and referring to Patriots coach Bill Belichick as "Bill Beli-cheat", despite him apologizing for the scandal. They even went as far as to question whether their Super Bowl wins are tainted because of that.
This happened to former Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels (who used to work for Belichick), when he was accused of videotaping the San Francisco 49ers in 2010.
McDaniels is also having a teeny bit of a hard time living down the fact that his attempt to trade for then-Patriots' QB Matt Cassel alienated then-Broncos star QB Jay Cutler to the point that he demanded a trade and was eventually sent to the Chicago Bears, who made the playoffs with Cutler while the Broncos floundered.
The year "Spygate" broke, the Patriots went undefeated in the regular season and the playoffs... but lost in the Super Bowlnote That fateful season is forever known to football fans as "18-1". The Patriots have yet to shake the reputation of being unable to pull through when it actually matters — especially since the next time they made it to the big game, they lost again, to the very same team that upset them in 2008 (the New York Giants).
The ironic thing about Spygate is that Super Bowl-winning coaches Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, and Dick Vermeil stated that it was common practice back then for teams to film their opponents' signals, and they've admitted to doing this.
Tony Romo will forever be remembered for botching the hold a on potential go-ahead field goal over the Seattle Seahawks in the 2007 NFC Wild Card Playoff. After recovering the ball, he attempted to run it for a touchdown or a first down at the one yard-line but was tackled a yard short of the marker.
Louisiana State University coach Les Miles was caught on camera during warmups performing his pre-game ritual: Eating some of the grass field. Endless grazing cattle jokes ensued.
Legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program had a good reputation. Key word being "had" until the news that one of his former assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, was molesting kids and Paterno (and Penn State in general) swept it under the rug. Years, no, make that decades from now, the Penn State football program will be more remembered for this scandal. And Paterno's achievements will be forgottennote read: officially expunged by the NCAA as part of the sanctions levied against Penn State over the scandal because of this horrible, horrible decision by Penn State to cover it up (and justly so, in many people's minds, especially since Paterno was seen as one of the good coaches in college football).
Mike McQueary, a member of the coaching staff already has his Never Live It Down: Being the person who caught Sandusky in the act of the molesting of a kid and instead of stopping the man from molesting the poor child or even calling the police, he decided that it would be okay to just tell Paterno himself. This is a fact which enrages many a person, as not only has the man been questioned on morality (or toughness, seeing as Sandusky was an old, wrinkled man while McQueary himself was a former Penn State starting quarterback) but the fact that he decided to tell Paterno was, for a lack of better term, really stupid. Being the witness to the crime, McQueary's word would be actually taken seriously if he went to the police, compared to Paterno's, which would be classified as a second-hand account of a crime he didn't witness (or hearsay, to make things short). Some even believe that if McQueary had just called the cops, Paterno would still have his job. To the media, he's a cowardly, subhuman scumbag for his lack of action and to the student body, he's a Replacement Scrappy who did not take action and benefited from it.
Drew Bledsoe - mentioned above - has been to four Pro Bowls and is in the top 10 all time for passing yardage, but to the casual fan, he's only known as "the guy who got injured so Tom Brady could take over"...and maybe "the guy who got benched so Tony Romo could take over".
Before the 2011 NFL season, former Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young was pretty excited about playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, saying that it was the "Dream Team". With a joint effort of the media overblowing this statement and the Eagles not living up to the hype, ultimately finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs, the nickname has instantly gone from one used by the fans to the ones used by the haters. If you're an Eagles fan who hasn't heard at least one detractor joke that the reason why they were called the "Dream Team" because A) they haven't woken up and started to play like how they're supposed to or B) they just keep dreaming of winning anything, consider yourself lucky.
Speaking of Philadelphia, fans of the Eagles have had quite a few incidents that have forever labelled the entire city as complete scum and the American equivalent to soccer hooligans, most notably, pelting opposing teams and Santa Claus with snowballs, cheering career-ending injuries to opposing playersnote though they were not aware said injury was a career-ending one at the time and most importantly, having so many fans being arrested during games that they felt it necessary to have a courthouse under their previous stadium. Needless to say, this is a label most Philadelphians consider to be unfair.
Bobby Petrino has been a very successful coach on the college level with Louisville and Arkansas. But he is—or at least was—most (in)famous for his one and (so far) only NFL season, with the Atlanta Falcons. Not only did Petrino resign from the Falcons with three games left in the 2007 season to take the job with Arkansas (the Falcons were a division worst 3-10 at the time), but he let his players know he was leaving via notes left in their lockers. This left him with a reputation as (to quote many MANY football forums) "a carpetbagging scumbag who will bolt for greener pastures at the drop of a hat."
After being fired from Arkansas due to the public finding out that he was having an affair with a 25-year-old female co-worker, and had arranged for her to be hired to a staff position in the football program, it's safe to say that his disastrous season in Atlanta is the least of his problems.
After a year in the coaching wilderness, Petrino is back on the sidelines—first for a season at Western Kentucky, a school that's a few notches below Arkansas and Louisville on the FBSnote Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level of NCAA football totem pole, and now for a second stint at Louisville.
The 2011 AFC Championship Game created two of the Baltimore Ravens' spiritual successors to Jackie Smith and Scott Norwood: Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff, respectively. Evans dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass, and one play later, Cundiff's 32-yard field goal attempt (which would have tied the game) went wide left.
Likewise, Kyle Williams has become the 49ers' equivalent of Leon Lett during the NFC Championship, when, after a Giants punt, the football grazed his knee, resulting in the Giants retaining possession of the ball. This, alongside with him fumbling the ball after a Giants punt during overtime, resulting in Williams receiving death threats from angry 49ers' fans.
Ah, the New Orleans Saints. While they will be forever known for giving the state of Louisiana its very own awesome moment by winning the Super Bowl five years after Hurricane Katrina, they will also be forever known for three less-than-awesome things:
Killing the promising career of their own star player: In their first few years of existence, the Saints were known as the Aints, and for very good reason. note fans of the Saints in those times have the distinction of being the first fans to start wearing paper bags over their heads. Their sole bright spot was their quaterback, Archie Manning (who is more known for being the father of Peyton and Eli Manning among the younger generation). Unfortunately, the Saints continued to be the Aints, dragging down Archie with them.
Shortening the promising career of other star players (a.k.a. "Bountygate"): In the offseason of 2012, it was revealed that the Saints defense and coaches were operating under a "pay-for-performance" scheme, established by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and funded primarily by the players. This scheme includes paying the defensive players extra for getting players carted off the field with injuries, which put them in a world of trouble with the commissioner because the practice circumvented the salary cap and caused them to earn the reputation for being cheapshot artists, which caused many angry Arizona fans to use this to as proof for being the cause for Kurt Warner's retirement. The scandal got worse when it was found out that head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis knew about this and did nothing to stop it and that Gregg Williams was found to have been practicing this system when he was on other teams, most importantly as the defensive coordinator of the Redskins at the time when Peyton Manning received what would be the start of his career-threatening problems with neck injuries.
The Ricky Williams trade: For the 1999 season, coach Mike Ditka (who had coached the 1985 Super Bowl winning Chicago Bears) traded all of their draft picks for that year, plus their 2000 first round draft pick, to the Washington Redskins to draft Ricky Williams in the first round. Despite this, Williams was plagued with injuries during the regular season games, and after posting a losing record, Ditka was fired from the Saints after the season ended. Related to that is their appearance on the cover of the August 9, 1999 issue of ESPN The Magazine, which shows Williams and Ditka as the bride and the groom, respectively.
Journeyman cornerback Charles Dimry had a similar moment early in his career, when as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, he was torched by the two-time defending champion (the divisional rival San Francisco) 49ers early in the 1990 season for four of receiver Jerry Rice's five touchdowns (Dimry was in single coverage all game due to the Falcons' frequent blitzing). The humiliating display led to Dimry gaining the nickname "Toast".
Then-Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard gained infamy when he accidentally injured Tom Brady in the Patriots' 2008 opening game, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Pollard, currently playing for the Tennessee Titans, became known as a "Patriot Killer" (which he says that he's "fine and dandy" with) due to him being involved, directly or indirectly, in the injuries of Wes Welker (in 2009, then as a member of the Houston Texans), Rob Gronkowski (in the 2011 AFC Championship Game, as a member of the Baltimore Ravens), and Stevan Ridley (in the 2012 AFC Championship Game, again, as a Raven).
Since coming back from his knee surgery in 2009, Brady has been perceived as being favored and protected by the referees (and having his toughness called into question) after Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs swiped at Brady's knee, causing Brady to call for, and getting, a flag against the Ravens, extending the Patriots' drive. This is despite Brady getting one of the fewest roughing-the-passer calls (from the 2010 season through the first few weeks of the 2011 season), alongside both Peyton and Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, and Tony Romo.
Tom Brady, if you're listening, take off the skirt and put on some slacks. Toughen up! — Rodney Harrison, NBC Sports commentator and Brady's former teammate
Bring up the Denver Broncos' AFL history, and the first thing you'll hear about won't be that they had the first black regular starting QB in pro football's modern era (Marlin Briscoe), it won't even be their status as the league's Butt Monkey (they were the only one of the original eight teams to have never posted a winning season). It will be the godawful yellow and brown uniforms (with matching striped socks)note Artist rendering here◊ they wore for their first two years of existence.note The socks were burned in a public ceremony during the official release of the 1962 uniform and are not worn as part of the throwback uniform (which is the 1965 version).
David Tyree became known for that helmet grab that kept the Giants' game-winning drive alive in Super Bowl XLII. In 2011, he's also known for his opposition to gay marriage, claiming that it would lead to "anarchy", and said that he "probably would" trade his Super Bowl win to ban it.
Some coaches tend to be better known for news conference rants than for their on-field accomplishments. Examples include Herman Edwards ("Hello ... you play ... to win ... the game!"), Dennis Green ("THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!"), Mike Gundy ("COME AFTER ME! I'M A MAN! I'M FORTY!") and Jim Mora ("PLAYOFFS?!?").
Being a high-profile draft bust in the NFL is something that is nearly impossible to live down. It doesn't matter that some eventually go on to do great things outside the sport (Heath Shuler, considered to be a top 10 biggest bust in draft history, went on to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives), or if some ended up being much better later on (when he played for the Green Bay Packers, offensive lineman Tony Mandarich was considered to be a top 5 biggest bust in draft history, but had a more successful stint in Indianapolis protecting a then-rookie Peyton Manning), most people will remember them for being a bust.
Everson Walls was a four-time Pro Bowler, three time All Pro selection, and a Super Bowl champion. Unfortunately, what most people remember him for was being responsible for giving up The Catch in the 81-82 NFC Championship Game. As a side note, 1981 was Walls's rookie year.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only undefeated team in modern NFL history (from 1960 onward) going 17-0, including the playoffs. Since then, some of those team members have had a goofy ritual where they'd pop champagne and light "victory cigars" after there are no more undefeated teams in a season. For a while, it was good fun, but after a few years it was largely seen as a group of sad old men celebrating their Glory Days. They haven't done this in at least a decade and for years before that point, Mercury Morris was the only one still publicly doing the ritual. But to this day, when the NFL's last undefeated team goes down that year, jokes about the '72 Dolphins breaking out the champagne abound.
It may take quite a few years (unless they pull off their promise soon) for Jets detractors to let them and their fans forget about the 2011 season, in which pretty much everything went wrong for them. After two good seasons in 2009 and 2010, the Jets enter 2011 and head coach Rex Ryan guarantees a Super Bowl win that season. So at 8-5 with three games to play, the Jets go on to...get destroyed by the Eagles (who they've never beaten in the regular season), get beaten badly by cross-town rivals New York Giants in a comeback that started with a touchdown play that ties for the longest in NFL history (this game happened on Christmas Eve no less), and then losing a very winnable game to the division rival Miami Dolphins, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs entirely. The Giants, who were average before beating the Jets, then went on to win the title the Jets promised to win that season, this win coming over the Jets' probably most hated rival, the New England Patriots, so even two full weeks before the Super Bowl, every non-masochistic Jets fan knew that this would suck. This chain of events claimed the innocent lives of many televisions belonging to Jets fans.
Speaking of the Jets, here are their blunderous drafting history, which is brought up before and during draft day. Some examples include them passing up Dan Marino for Ken O'Brien, Jerry Rice for Al Toon, Emmitt Smith for Blair Thomas, and Warren Sapp for tight end Kyle Brady (no relation to Tom Brady), despite the Jets fans loudly chanting "WE WANT SAPP!"
So New York, New York becomes Tight End, Tight End. — Chris Berman, during the 1992 NFL Draft, after the Giants and Jets drafted tight ends in the first round.
The 2012 New York Jets gained a reputation for being "a circus", which Rex Ryan has denied at the start of the season, and said that this year's team would be the best team he's ever coached. Here's what actually happened to them this season:
Traded for Broncos QB Tim Tebow, starting a QB controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tebow, then virtually sitting on Tebow for the entire season (he saw the field for fewer than thirty snaps for the entire season, the majority of which were on special teams). This was after Sanchez renewed his contract with the Jets, despite his disappointing performances the previous season. This also caused newly-signed backup QB Drew Stanton to demand a trade, as he was promised that the Jets would not sign another quarterback after him. (The Jets traded for Tebow less than an month after signing Stanton.) Sanchez's signing took place after the Jets considered signing free agent Peyton Manning, following his release from the Colts.
A 20-man brawl occurred during training camp, which was started by Jets players Joe McKnight and D'Anton Lynn.
Lost Darrelle Revis (their best defensive player) and Santonio Holmes (their best offensive player) to season-ending injuries in two consecutive weeks.
Getting humiliated 49-19 on Thanksgiving Night against the Patriots, in which their rivals scored 21 points in 52 seconds during the 2nd quarter, with one of the lowlights being Sanchez, trying to salvage a play, slid into Jets lineman Brandon Moore's butt, causing him to fumble the ball, which was recovered by Patriots safety Steve Gregory, who returned it for a touchdown. This play has since been dubbed "The Butt Fumble". ESPN's popular Not Top Plays had that particular play as the Worst of the Worst until it finally retired the play at the start of the 2013 season. By that time, the Butt Fumble had "won" for 40 straight weeks. Talk about changing the rules, as prior to that, Worst of the Worst plays lasted a maximum of 9 weeks.
Bypassing the still-popular Tebow twice when it came to QB switches: going to third-string Greg McElroy when they finally decided to bench Sanchez, then going back to Sanchez when McElroy got knocked out with a rib injury. At the point of the second switch, the Jets had been eliminated from playoff contention, so there was little reason not to give the fans what they wanted in Tebow (the only thing they wanted at that point, really). Ryan later claimed that Tebow's poor practice performances put Tebow in his doghouse from the start. Which only served to suggest that no one in the Jets organization did any research on Tebow, past SportsCenter highlights, since Tebow's horrible practice play was one of the most well-known things about him.
Not holding the supposedly mandatory end-of-season media day, which also led to yet another firestorm of controversy.
Owner Woody Johnson trying to pass the buck on the Tebow fiasco by claiming he was forced into trading for Tebow. But he wouldn't say by who or how (who could force a team owner to sign a player he didn't want?) He may have meant "talked into" rather than "forced", but that still begs the question "By who?" Head coach Rex Ryan clearly didn't want him and GM Mike Tannenbaum was clearly on Mark Sanchez's side (as evidenced by the massive contract extension he gave Sanchez).
Similar to the O.J. Simpson and Ben Roethlisberger examples, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, but to some people, he's known as a murderer, when he was involved in a murder case in January 2000.
Quarterback Earl Morrall, "The Patron Saint of Backup Quarterbacks". Over 20,000 career passing yards; won the NFL MVP Award for leading the Baltimore Colts to a 13-1 regular season in 1968; won Super Bowl V; played the balance of the Dolphins' 1972 perfect season, during which he became Comeback Player of the Year; in all, a solid 20 year pro career. Yet today he's best-remembered for losing Super Bowl III to the New York Jets.
Similar to Morrall, Steve DeBerg played for twenty years for six teams, along the way becoming the oldest player ever on a Super Bowl roster (with Atlanta in 1998). But what's he known for? Having his starting job repeatedly ripped from him by incoming future Hall-of-Famers: He was San Francisco's starting QB when they drafted Joe Montana (1980). He was then traded to Denver, who drafted John Elway (1983). He was then traded to lowly Tampa Bay, where he had some success... then the USFL folded and Tampa suddenly had Steve Young (1987)
Manti Te'o, who going into the 2013 NFL draft was a top 5 pick. Then news broke that he his dead online girlfriend was alive and not a girl at all. Now he's known as gullible and some people think he's gay.
Brian "The Boz" Bosworth was one of the most heralded, outlandish players in college football in the late 80s. Bosworth is considered one of the draft's all-time busts, a combination of injuries and not being able to adjust to the NFL's higher level of competition. His only memorable moment on the pro level was a Monday Night game where he hit Bo Jackson head-on on a goal-line play and Jackson simply ran right through him.
Jackson subverted this. Despite refusing to sign after being taken #1 overall, he is most remembered for his career as a two-sport athlete is a Memetic Badass in sports circles.
The New York Giants will never live down the Miracle at the Meadowlands. On the last play of the game, the Giants had the ball and all they needed to do was take a knee, but instead they ran a handoff. The exchange was fumbled at Eagles cornerback Herm Edwards returned it for a game-winning touchdown.
This is also an example of a good moment never being lived down; Herm Edwards says that this is basically all anyone remembers about his time as a player, which he's perfectly fine with because it was such an unbelievable play (though see above for his defining moment as a coach).
The Miracle at the New Meadowlands: The Giants led the Eagles 31-10 in the fourth quarter but the Eagles score 21 unanswered points to tie. The Giants get the ball back but after going three and out are forced to punt. DeSean Jackson returns the ball all the way to the Giants' end zone as time expired for the game-winning touchtown.
Likewise Giants punter Matt Dodge will never live down the decision to punt the ball in play rather than kicking it out of bounds which would have forced overtime and also completely whiffing on an attempted tackle of Jackson.
Bill Polian was one of the most successful general managers in the NFL, having built the Buffalo Bills teams that went to, and lost, four straight Super Bowls, as well as drafting Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf during his time with the Colts. He was also known for his controversial decision to forgo a chance for a perfect season when he pulled the Colts' starters against the Jets and the Bills in the last two weeks of the 2009 season (prior to the losses, the Colts were 14-0), stating that he wants to have the starters rested up for the playoffs, and that a perfect season was not a goal for them.
On the flip side of the Ryan Leaf coin was Bobby Beathard, the General Manager responsible for his being drafted by the Chargers. Beathard was a legendary executive; head of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins during their back-to-back championship years, then teaming with coach Joe Gibbs to turn Washington into a three time Super Bowl team (winning twice), then moving on to run San Diego, leading to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1994. Despite his track record as a champion builder, Leaf's brief, but disastrous time with the Chargers ultimately cost Beathard his job and much of his good reputation.
No matter how good of a player he was, Aaron Hernandez will always be remembered as the guy who was charged with three murders.
The Stanford University Band will always be known for "The Play" — an incident in 1982 where they stormed the field during play against Cal thinking the game was over, and allowed Cal to take advantage of the confusion and score a final game-winning touchdown, which ended in the trombone player being taken out in the end zone.
Jets coach Sal Alosi will never live down tripping a Dolphins player by sticking his knee out into the field of the play from the sideline. He was immediately suspended and later resigned for the incident and hasn't worked in the NFL since.
The 1976 AND 1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their inaugural and second seasons, put together an 0-for-26 losing streak that finally ended when the Bucs beat another team known for its Butt Monkey status (The Saints). There'd been other teams that went winless all season - the 2008 Detroit Lions - but no other team has as long a losing streak at the pro level. Even after winning a Super Bowl, the Bucs are still considered one of the most hapless franchises in pro football.
The Houston Oilers will never live down blowing a 35-3 lead over the Buffalo Bills in the 1993 Wild Card playoff. That's right, they lead by 32 points before the Bills closed the gap in the second half. Though Houston kicked a field goal to force overtime, Buffalo capped off the improbable comeback by kicking a field goal of their own.
Houston quarter back Warren Moon because of this game is best known for throwing the pick to Bills defensive back Nate Odomes that set up the field goal.
After the interception, wide receiver Haywood Jeffiresnote pronounced "Jeffries" sealed Houston's fate by committing a 15-yard face-mask penalty on Odomes that put the ball on Houston's 20-yard line.
Ricky Watters was one of the best running backs in the NFL during the 1990s with the San Francisco 49ers (winning a Super Bowl with them); Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks - rushing for just over 10,000 yards in his career. But usually the first thing to come to mind was his penchant of being a Motor Mouth; but in particular his comments during a press conference following his first game as an Eagle in 1995. During that game, he decided not to stretch to make a catch that would have likely resulted in his getting blasted by a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defender; and during the press conference when it was brought up, answered with "For who? For what?"
He's also known for puking during Super Bowl XXXIX.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have pretty much maintained their reputation of being one of the most successful and respected franchises in the NFL, famous for their Steel Curtain Dynasty in the 70s. That is until the 2005-2006 Season when the Steelers made it to the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. One disputed touchdown call during the Super Bowl tarnished what should have been a storybook season for the Steelers. However, the only thing most people remember about that Super Bowl outside of Pittsburgh, is the possible wrong touchdown call that ruined the game, and the suspicion that the game was fixed in the Steelers' favor. As a result, many fans whom aren't Steelers fans, especially those in Seattle have created the name "The Squealers", and believe that refs give preferential treatment to the Steelers, particularly in the postseason.
Happens to several officials; particularly in regards to questionable calls:
Jim Daopoulos, a former NFL official and later supervisor of officials, will likely be remembered for an incident during his first year as an NFL official in 1989 where he was on the receiving end of Houston Oilers head coach Jerry Glanville's "Not For Long" rant.
Gordon McCarter was a longtime NFL referee who had a solid, if unremarkable career until his final season in 1995; when his crew erroneously called the Pittsburgh Steelers for having too many men on the field in a game vs. the Minnesota Vikings; resulting in Steelers head coach Bill Cowher (who had obtained a photo proving the call was incorrect) jamming the picture in McCarter's pocket before walking into the locker room at halftime.note Cowher was fined $7,500 for that stunt; while McCarter lost a game check of $4,009 and line judge Ben Montgomery — who made the initial call — was out a game check of $2,826.
Phil Luckett would end up with two in a matter of weeks during the 1998 season. First, Luckett refereed the Steelers-Detroit Lions game on Thanksgiving; and would end up witnessing Steeler running back Jerome Bettis partially calling heads before apparently remembering he was supposed to call tails (resulting in the "Heads-Tails" incident). In any event, Detroit would win the toss and convert for the winning field goal. A week later, Luckett was referee for a game between the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks in which Luckett's crew erroneously ruled New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde had scored the winning touchdown despite reviews clearly showing the ball did not cross the goal line. The victory snuffed out the already faint playoff hopes for the Seahawks and almost single-handedly led to the return of instant replay.
The replacement referees during the 2012 season would become known for the "Fail Mary" game between the Packers and Seahawks. The Fail Mary ultimately led to the end of the Referee Lockout.
Which was truly bizarre, as 1. he has a long history of this type of behavior; it's not even the first time he headbutted someone, and 2. Materazzi reportedly provoked the attack. It says something that he's known more for this than stomping a downed opponent in the groin. Of course, that didn't make nearly as good of a gif.
Italy forward Alberto Gilardino did not really grow up to be the superstriker he was seemingly progressing to be after his impressive younger days. He flopped his big-time move to AC Milan and was involved in a very unsportsmanlike conduct by diving in what's probably his most famous video on YouTube. He has since rebuilt his career in Florence-based Fiorentina and is now actually a quite respectable striker. Most pundits and fans outside Italy, however, declared the said incident to be his Moral Event Horizon and he is still remembered mostly for being a flop.
In an inverse case of never living down something good, Gilardino's fellow teammate at the 2006 World Cup Fabio Grosso. He was an average player who performed astoundingly at the said World Cup — scoring the killer goal against Germany in the semi, complete with a goal celebration reminiscent to Marco Tardelli's celebration in 1982, probably the most iconic goal celebration of all time as well as burying the winning penalty which crowned Italy world champions. After the said fantastic display, he went back to being distinctly average, horrible even. Fans, however, always cherished him by fondly remembering his short-lived brilliance.
Even soccer fans can apply to this trope. Liverpool supporters may never live down their involvement in the Heysel Stadium tragedy in 1985, which led to the entire English league being banned from international competition for five years. Some people still believe that the Liverpool fans who were crushed to death in the Hillsborough disaster four years later "got what they deserved." Similarly, for Liverpudlians, the Sun will never live down its coverage of the Hillsborough event, which led to said (seriously ignorant) belief.
Nigel de Jong's that's-gotta-hurt-style kung-fu-kick-to-the-chest he delivered to Xabi Alonso. In The World Cup final at that.
Pretty much everyone involved in the 2010 final will likely have this trope on them.
Barcelona's Sergio Busquets was a relatively obscure player when he arrived in FC Barcelona's first team in July 2008, but eventually made a name for himself in a relatively short period of time, reaching the Spanish national team in less than one year after making his professional club debut. Nowadays he's only remembered for his often-mocked peekaboo against Inter. To put it in perspective, even Barcelona fans haven't let this go and he's become somewhat of The Scrappy among the squad.
Ronaldo was known for many things, including being one of the greatest footballers of his generation, marrying to a few supermodels, and being a little overweight. But then an incident with transsexuals ended up in the media. He claims he thought they were women, but still became the "transvestite-loving-player". Thankfully he resurrected his football career with Corinthians, and now this incident is kind of forgotten. Except by rival teams, of course (the supporters of Palmeiras, Corinthians' archrival, once sung to Ronaldo "Hey, you there! Left Cicarelli to get a transvestite!").
Perhaps one of the most tragic examples: Colombian defender Andrés Escobar committed an own goal against the United States leading to his team being eliminated from the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He is better known for being shot and killed in Colombia ten days later.
Eric Cantona was one of the most outrageously talented footballers of all time and won a clutch of top-level trophies with various clubs, most notably Manchester United, but he is most remembered for a flying kick at an abusive fan during an English Premier League match in 1995.
Roberto Baggio was one of the best Italian strikers of all time, winning two Serie A and a UEFA Cup, and being chosen as best player in the world in 1993. Yet the most memorable fact about him is missing a penalty in the 1994 World Cup final.
Likewise, Zico, a brilliant Brazilian player, is always remembered for missing a penalty in the game Brazil was eliminated in the 1986 World Cup.
Although Baggio is also remembered for his distinctive hairdo - not for nothing was he known as 'The Divine Ponytail'.
While it may be too early to conclude this, Thierry Henry will always be remembered as the French soccer player who hand-balled (twice!!) against the Republic of Ireland to send his country to the 2010 World Cup instead of the Irish, despite a stellar career previously.
And France's subsequent, possibly karmic implosion at the finals may well see an entire 'golden generation' of French footballing talent remembered for going out limply (eliminated in the first round without winning a match) amid a blaze of infighting, insults and inadequate performances, despite all their achievements over the previous dozen years.
Uruguay's Luis Suárez may experience a similar fate to Henry, after his excellent World Cup was overshadowed by his cynical goal-line handball in the last seconds of extra time against Ghana that ultimately stopped the latter becoming the first African side ever to advance to a World Cup semi-final. If he won't be remembered for that, then he'll be remembered for biting Italian player Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup, which led to him being suspended for 9 international matches and banned from all of association football for 4 months. (Even better: That's the third time he's bitten another player: He bit Otman Bakkal on the shoulder in 2010 while playing for Ajax, then he bit Branislov Ivanovic on the arm in 2013 while playing for Liverpool.)
Speaking of famous World Cup handballs, Diego Maradona is notorious for the infamous "Hand of God" - his own term, at that - goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England. Of course, people also recall the next goal he scored in that match... clearly enough to get it voted the Goal of the Century on the FIFA website in 2002. Still, for the casual fan outside of Argentina, Maradona is more the "Hand of God guy" than he is "One of the greatest players of all time".
It's too early to say, but England goalie Robert Green may never live down dropping the ball into the goal during the 2010 World Cup after he fumbled a tame shot, leading to England drawing their opening match rather than winning it - which their campaign never really seemed to recover from.
It should be noted that England's opponent for this match was the United States, and thus the match had been tremendously hyped by the media. Experts and fans largely agreed that anything less than an outright victory by England would be a great result for the U.S. (due to the two being heavily favored to advance from the group stage and England being universally regarded as the better team), and Green's blunder was 100% responsible for England not getting the win (the match ended in a 1-1 draw).
Goalkeeeper Gordon Banks said that while he won the World Cup in 1966, he's most remembered by an unbelievable save four years later.
Peter Bonetti is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of his time, who would have been an England regular if he hadn't been playing at the same time as the legendary Gordon Banks. Except for one match. Pressed into service in the quarter-final of the 1970 World Cup against West Germany when Banks went down with food poisoning, he let in three of the four goals he conceded during his seven-game international career and England lost 3-2 (although opinion differs on how many of the three goals were actually his fault). As a result, he went down in history as the man who cost England the World Cup.
Referee Graham Poll is known mainly for his blunder in the 2006 World Cup, during a game between Croatia and Australia. Although the officiating throughout the World Cup was criticized, Poll stood out for committing the cardinal sin of issuing 3 yellow cards to one player, Josip Šimunić (for those who don't know the rules of soccer, a player's 2nd yellow card in a game is supposed to be immediately followed by a red card that bans the player from the match, making 3 yellow cards impossible). Needless to say, he was not chosen to officiate in later rounds of the Cup, and he voluntarily decided not to officiate in tournament soccer games again.
Carlos Caszely, one of the most important players in Chilean soccer history, is still remembered mainly because of the penalty kick he lost while playing for the national team against Austria during the 1982 World Cup. 25 years laters, he had a symbolic revenge against Austrian goalkeeper Friedl Koncilia (who barely remembered the penalty), and also participated in a number of ads referencing that event.
Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen's reputation may forever be tarnished due to several questionable calls against the Canadian Woman's Soccer Team in their semi-final game versus their U.S. counterparts at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Gabriel Agbonlahor has played nine seasons with Aston Villa, and is the team's top goal scorer during the time they spent in the Premier League. However, all of that has been overshadowed by one incident. During a charity match organized by Stiliyan Petrov, he tackled and injured an up-and-coming rookie named Louis Tomlinson. Yes, that Louis Tomlinson. Because of that incident, fans of One Direction have bombarded Agbonlahor with death threats, but he has become a hero for many One Direction haters as well. Still, it's already overshadowed his entire career.
Clarence Seedorf was a relatively successful Dutch footballer during with a decent career. He misses one shot at an open goal, it gets put into a One-Hit Wonder about there being "Life after death" and now nobody will ever forget.
Brandi Chastain is probably better known for taking off her shirt in celebration after making the clinching penalty kick in the finals of the 1999 Women's World Cup than for actually scoring that goal.
Above all, a driver who died in action will likely most be remembered for the accident that took their above all else, such as Dale Earnhardt and Dan Wheldon.
Nelson Piquet, three-time Formula One World Champion in The Eighties and one of the most successful race drivers of all time, is mostly remembered for this.
Which is slightly better than his son, Nelson Piquet Jr., who will only be remembered for deliberately crashing his car so his teammate could win a race, which has effectively ended his F1 career.
But if you're a NASCAR fan who doesn't pay much attention to F1, then you might recognize Nelsinho as an up-and-coming star who's won in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. Time will tell if his stock car (and/or truck) talent will continue to grow there.
Nelson Sr. is also remembered for his cheeky sense of humour, but also with the unhappy caveat that he once insinuated in a "Playboy" interview that Ayrton Senna was gay and said that Nigel Mansell had a "stupid and ugly wife". Yeah...
Romain "First-Lap Nutcase" Grosjean was known to have records of collisions on the curcuits. He was infamous for his Spa-Francorchamps start in 2012, where he horrifyingly crashed out a series of potential world championships in the very first corner, and therefore got a race ban. The thing is, though Grosjean has vastly improved over the following seasons, he is still remembered as a crash maniac, along with an arguably more aggressive driver like Pastor Maldonaldo.
Inversion of Piquet Jr? Juan Pablo Montoya...sure, he's won the Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix, but many will remember him for crashing into a jet dryer in the 2012 Daytona 500, which eventually set the track on fire and nearly cutting the race 100 miles short as a result. note The race had already been delayed a day and a half due to rain; his crash red flagged the race for two more hours. And many will forget that it was caused by a mechanical failure due to a faulty part installed in his rear suspension, something which was proven when teammate Jamie McMurray had the same failure 20 laps later and triggered a multi-car wreck in the tri-oval.
Much like Piquet, Jr., it seems Clint Bowyer is never going to escape the stench of Spingate, where he deliberately spun himself out in order to get then-teammate Martin Truex, Jr. into the Chase for the Sprint Cup over Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon.note NASCAR undid this damage by ejecting Truex via a points penalty, which elevated Newman to the vacated spot, and later added a special Chase spot for Gordon after a separate scandal involving Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports came to light. Now, practically every race incident between Bowyer and another driver is chalked up to "Bowyer's cheating again". Not helping is that Bowyer got to keep his job while Truex was forced to leave Michael Waltrip Racing after losing his sponsor.note he's now at single-car team Furniture Row Racing, and struggling to elevate the them the way predecessor Kurt Busch did in '13
Mercedes is unlikely to ever return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans because they'll never be able to live down having two cars fly off the track in two separate years. The first occurred in 1955 and killed 83 spectators and the driver when the Mercedes collided with a slower car (remember, this was from one car leaving the track - there were no catch fences, only an earth barrier, in 1955). The disaster caused Mercedes to withdraw from all forms of racing until the late 1980s. Then in 1999 their ill-fated CLR did two separate back flips on its own during practice and the race morning warm-up session. Remembering the 1955 incident Mercedes considered withdrawing before the race but instead decided to continue with modifications to the car's aerodynamic setup. Shortly into the race one of the CLR's again somersaulted in spectacular fashion - this time in full view of the world's TV audience. Fortunately the crash resulted in no injuries, and there have been other incidents of prototypes flying through the air, such as a Toyota in 2012 (though that one didn't leave the track).
J.R. Hildebrand is unlikely to lose the stigma of being the first driver to ever crash while leading in the last corner of the Indianapolis 500, although there were a few extenuating circumstances that make his mistake look less like a massive choke job and more like a case of an inexperienced rookie caught out by bad luck: Hildebrand was baulked by a lapped car travelling far more slowly right on the racing line - many fans felt the lapped driver (Charlie Kimball) should have chosen to drive on the track apron as he was coasting to the finish conserving fuel; Hildebrand had inherited the lead as drivers ahead pitted for fuel and was trying to stretch his own fuel to the finish; he was being caught very rapidly by Dan Wheldon and slowing down and following the lapped car could have cost him the race anyway had his fuel-starved engine not responded to the throttle; many drivers had run the same line earlier in the race with no problem but the track had become more slippery and the racing line had narrowed; and lastly Hildebrand very nearly won the race with a wrecked car anyway and was perhaps unlucky to be passed by one car so close to the finish.
Brad Keselowski seems to be remembered less for winning the 2012 Sprint Cup than for showing up drunk on SportsCenter just after accepting the series trophy. Now, every time he wins, people joke about him giving drunken post-race interviews, even when obviously sober. His 2014 Kentucky win, where he cut his hand on the jagged end of a broken champagne bottle in Victory Lane, likely isn't going to help.
Bill Buckner was one of the best-hitting first basemen of his era, winning the 1980 National League batting title and finishing his career with over 2700 hits. Yet all anyone seems to remember about him is the error that he made in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
Made even more unfair in that if he had made the play it only would've preserved a tie score! The Mets were down two runs, with two outs, and nobody on, before three straight two out hits and a wild pitch tied the score. However history always implies that if he'd made the play the Sox would've been champs at that moment.
When the team commemorated the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, Buckner was among the dozens of former Red Sox to show up and briefly take the field as part of the celebration. He received thunderous applause as he emerged from the Green Monster.
Which was nice, considering the deplorable treatment he endured after the 1986 World Series.
In addition to the above example, Bob Stanley once held the Red Sox club record for saves (surpassed by Jonathan Papelbon) but is best known for throwing the game-tying wild pitch in that same Game 6.
As long as we're discussing the Red Sox... Grady Little. There probably isn't a Red Sox fan in the world who can hear Little's name without reflexively shouting "TAKE OUT PEDRO!" For those who don't follow baseball, the Red Sox (whom Little managed) in 2003 were five outs away from reaching the World Series when Little chose to leave tiring starter Pedro Martínez in the game rather than summon a fresher pitcher from the bullpen. The Yankees tied the game and went on to win on an 11th inning home run from the unlikely Aaron Boone, knocking the Red Sox out of the playoffs. Little was fired after the season, possibly the only time that a Major League manager was ever fired for a single in-game decision.
The 2003 NLCS also had a moment invoking this that took place two days before the "Take Out Pedro" game: no matter what he does in the rest of his life, good or bad, the name "Steve Bartman" will forever be associated with one foul ball. To explain: the 2003 NLCS was between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins. In Game 6, the Cubs led the series 3-2 and were up 3-0 in the top of the 8th and had already put two Marlins out that inning. Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo, up with all bases loaded and a full count, hits a foul ball, which goes towards the stands; Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou tries to catch it. If Alou catches the ball, Castillo is out, and the Cubs are just one inning and three outs away from winning their first National League pennant since 1945. But of course, that's not what happens. Instead, a fan (a Cubs fan!) named Steve Bartman, one of several trying to catch Castillo's ball, reaches out of the stands (although there is some argument about this), fails, but deflects the ball away from Alou's glove. Thus Castillo was not out, the Cubs ended up giving up eight runs in the eighth inning and lost the game. Needless to say, Bartman needed to be escorted from the stadium under heavy guard.
The Boston Red Sox in general can be summed up in one phrase: The Curse of the Bambino. For 86 years, the franchise dealt with the embarrassment of selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919 and watching him become the greatest player ever. This was supposedly why they never again won the World Series in that time span - though the idea of a "curse" didn't really become popular until Dan Shaughnessy wrote a book about it in 1990. The Sox finally eliminated the stigma once and for all in 2004 by beating the Yankees in the greatest comeback ever and then finishing off the Cardinals in the World Series. And in case you thought that was a fluke, they've managed to win it two more times since then.
Some umpires have it rough. Cardinals fans will forever remember Don Denkinger, who worked in the majors for 30 years, for blowing a call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. They also won't ever forgive him for ejecting manager Whitey Herzog and pitcher Joaquin Andujar from Game 7, with the team still giving him hell about the call.
Rich Garcia, another veteran umpire, is best known for blowing a call in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS: After Derek Jeter hit a catchable fly ball to right and 11-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached out from the stands and grabbed it before the Orioles' Tony Tarasco could field it, Garcia ruled it a home run instead of the expected fan interference call.
Umpire Jim Joyce will probably be forever remembered as the guy who cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga the final out of a perfect game in 2010... although most people have at least forgiven him, including (in a true heartwarming moment) Galarraga himself, due to Joyce openly admitting the mistake and him being frequently voted the majors' best umpire by the players. Fan ire has since been directed at the MLB office for refusing to retroactively credit Galarraga with the perfect gamenote Joyce's call was based on judgment and per MLB rules, judgment calls cannot be overturned.
Galarraga has had a hard time living down that incident as well; there was a month in 2012 where he wasn't on any baseball team's roster, major or minor, because front offices were superstitiously afraid to touch him. He's also stated that the near-perfect game still comes up all the time.
Robin Ventura played in the majors for fifteen seasons. He was a three-time All-Star and a five time Golden Glove (best defensive player at his position) winner. Most, of course, only remember Ventura being on the wrong end on one of the most hilariously one-sided fights in baseball history: On August 4, 1993, as the Chicago White Sox were visiting the Texas Rangers, Ventura charged the mound after getting hit by a pitch from the legendary Ranger Nolan Ryan (a player twenty years Ventura's senior). Ryan simply grabbed Ventura in a headlock and basically gave him "knuckle noogies" until Ryan's teammates separated them.
The Rangers frequently show a historical highlight reel prior to games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington that includes four Ryan highlights: the 5000th strikeout, the sixth and seventh no-hitters, and the Ventura incident. Guess which one always gets the most cheers. Whether it's overshadowed all those on-field accomplishments or if dominating a player barely half his age in a brawl is just icing on the cake is an opinion.
Since 2013, the Ballpark has abstained from showing the fight whenever the White Sox are in town. Ventura, now Sox manager, and Ryan, then Rangers principal owner and CEO (he sold his stake in the team near the end of the 2013 season after a dispute with the majority owners), finally decided to bury the hatchet. Of course, it's shown during every other home game; Rangers Nation won't let it go that easily.
Mets fans remember Ventura for the "grand slam single" he hit to win Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS against Atlanta.
On April 6, 1987, Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Al Campanis went on Nightline and aired his views that blacks "may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager." He tried to explain afterwards that he meant that what blacks lacked was experience, not intelligence. But he had long been forced out of his job by then.
George Brett, despite finishing his career with more than 3100 hits, is forever remembered for throwing a huge fit in 1983 when an umpire disallowed a home run for too much pine tar on his bat (a ruling that was later overturned). He doesn't mind this, though, since before that incident he was remembered for suffering from hemorrhoids during the 1980 World Series.
Steve Garvey is an All-Star baseball player and successful businessman. But ever since two paternity suits in 1989, he's become "that guy with all the kids all over the place".
This is mainly thought of as the reason why Garvey was never elected to Hall of Fame despite his successful career, though Garvey himself blames the inflated stats of PED users.
For fans of Cheap Seats, "paternity suits" is replaced with "stunningly unfunny host of 'celebrity' sporting events."
Roberto Alomar: Over 2700 career hits. Twelve All-Star appearances. Ten Gold Gloves. Led the Toronto Blue Jays to back-to-back world championships, the only ones in team history. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. What's he remembered for? Spitting on an umpire. Alomar narrowly missed being elected to the Hall his first time on the ballot. It's speculated that the spitting incident caused some writers to keep him off their ballots, though he would easily get in on his second try.
Armando Benitez when he was with the Orioles is best remembered for two things, giving up the Jeffrey Maier home run in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS and triggering a massive bench-clearing brawl when he hit Yankee Tino Martinez with a pitch. After being ejected from that game, Benitez cleared his locker and threatened to quit the team. He didn't but the Orioles sent him down to the minors.
Juan Marichal, another baseball Hall of Famer, for years was only remembered for an incident in which he attacked Dodgers catcher John Roseboro on the field with a bat.
Dave Winfield: 3,110 hits, 12-time All-Star, seven Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers and a Hall of Famer. Mention his name and all people seem to remember him for is the game where he killed a seagull.
Lou Piniella is one of the smartest, most successful managers that Major League Baseball has seen in many years. Though he's a very personable guy off the field, his on-field temper tantrums and heated arguments with umpires - in particular, an incident in which he uprooted a base and threw it across the field - are what the general public knows him for.
Roger Clemens, despite being one of the most feared pitchers in the majors, is now remembered for being suspected of lying before Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. (He was acquitted, though most observers felt it was because his accuser was even less credible than Clemens.)
Clemens also had a terrific meltdown after being ejected from Game 4 of the 1990 ALCS for arguing balls and strikes.
And also for throwing a piece of a shattered bat at Mike Piazza's direction during Game 2 of the 2000 World Series
Few sports executives have been hated for as long, and by as many people, as Walter O'Malley, who moved baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958. New York Post writers Pete Hamill and Jack Newfield, both native Brooklynites, once proposed collaborating on an essay devoted to "the ten worst human beings who ever lived", and began the project by each jotting down ten names on a bar napkin and comparing the lists. Both men had the same three names atop their lists, and in the same order: 1. Adolf Hitler, 2. Josef Stalin, and 3. Walter O'Malley.
John Rocker was a mostly-solid player for the Atlanta Braves who is most remembered for giving a fairly racist and homophobic rant to an interviewer about why he wouldn't want to play in New York City.
Randall Simon played for six teams during an unremarkable 8 year career. However, he will always be remembered as the guy who struck the Italian sausage with a bat during a Sausage Race in Milwaukee.
Fred Merkle's Boner. And, no, not just because it sounds funny. He is to this day known as "Bonehead" for an error that cost the New York Giants the 1908 pennant. While running to second base, Merkle saw the run that would win the game cross home, and headed to the dugout to celebrate, allowing the Cubs' second baseman Johnny Evers to nullify the run by forcing him out. What's not as well-known is that this was common practice at the time as the rule against it had never been enforced; it was just Merkle's bad luck that Evers was an expert on the official baseball rules.
When Snodgrass died in 1974, the headline to the New York Times obituary read "Fred Snodgrass, 86, Dead; Ball Player Muffed 1912 Fly".
Closers in baseball are very susceptible to this, as they are almost always in pressure situations. Some of the most notable:
Dennis Eckersley came back from alcoholism to become the pioneer of the one-inning stopper. But he may be most known for giving up Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series - especially since Gibson wasn't even expected to play as he could barely walk with his two bad legs.
Mitch Williams was never a great closer, but 1993 was his best season with 43 saves as the Phillies went to the World Series; he even won or saved all four of the Phillies NLCS wins. Then he became only the second pitcher to give up a World Series-ending walk off home run and his infamy was cemented.
Jonathan Papelbon, who set the club record with 219 saves for the Boston Red Sox, will be forever remembered for his final appearance with the club. In 2011, the Red Sox were tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League Wild Card with one game left to play. They led 3-2 over the last place Orioles in the bottom of the ninth, but Papelbon blew the save and allowed the winning runs to score. Minutes later, the Rays won their game and clinched the Wild Card by walking off in the bottom of the twelfth.
Donnie Moore is one of the most tragic examples, as he was truly never able to live it down. An effective closer for much of the 1980s, he gave up a home run to Dave Henderson with the Angels one strike away from winning the pennant in 1986; the Angels eventually blew their 3-1 ALCS lead. After more than two years of merciless booing and his release from the team, Moore shot and killed himself.
Lenny Dykstra had a successful 12-year baseball career and was popular with fans for his scrappy style of play. However, now he's known for a series of business mistakes which left him millions of dollars in debt and led to him declaring bankruptcy.
Pete Rose is at least as well known at this point for his permanent ban from organized baseball due to gambling as he is for his 23-year playing career (which would surely have gotten him in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot if not for the ban), his role in Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" dynasty of the '70s, his 44-game hitting streak in 1978, his breaking Ty Cobb's all-time hits record in 1985, or the rest of his managerial stint (where he once infamously shoved an umpire during an argument).
He's also rather infamous for steamrolling Indians catcher Ray Fosse to score at home plate... in an All-Star Game.
Lee Elia was a player and manager of little note (only four years of playing time in the majors, four seasons as manager of the Cubs and Phillies, only one winning season). But people who couldn't pick Elia out of a line up know about his legendary Cluster F-Bomb-laden rant from 1983 blasting Wrigley Field's "Bleacher Bums" for booing and heckling the home team. The Other Wiki has the full uncensored transcript. You can hear it for yourself (also uncensored) here.
Carl Mays was on 4 World Series champion teams, notched over 200 wins in his career (including 5 20-win seasons), and is considered one of the better pitchers of the early 20th century. But he remembered most for one pitch - a fatal beanball that felled Ray Chapman during a game in 1920.
Despite a .356 career batting average, a record 12 hits in the 1919 World Series and being labeled as one of the greatest players of the dead-ball era, Shoeless Joe Jackson is best remembered for his association with the Black Sox Scandal. His involvement, however, has been disputed.
Sammy Sosa is the first MLB player to hit 65 home runs in a season and although he never held the single season home run record at season's end, he is one of four people to eclipse Babe Ruth's record, one of three to eclipse Maris, and the only one to hit more than 60 homers three different seasons. But those accomplishments are thrown out the window as Sosa will forever be known as "the guy who corked the bat." During an interleague game against the (then) Tampa Bay Devil Rays on June 3, 2003, he was ejected after the umpires found out he had a corked bat. He was suspended eight games.
His steroids allegations (and his sudden inability to speak or understand English when he was asked about them) are right up there too, though. Which make his home run accolades pretty meaningless since it surfaced in 2009 that he failed a drug test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.
He got back spasms...from sneezing. Consistently listed as one of the most embarrassing sports injuries of all time.
He changed his skin color, which gained him even more criticism.
Danny Heep, despite winning two World Series titles, is more remembered for being the 4,000th strikeout victim to Nolan Ryan.
George Bell put up quite some numbers with his time with the Blue Jays, even getting on the team's Wall of Fame. However, he's best known for charging the mound after Red Sox relief pitcher Bruce Kison on June 23, 1985. After Kison threw a called strike, Bell charged the mound after him, attempting a karate kick and completely missed and Kison flattened him with a punch. Bell was suspended two games for the incident.
Alan Trammell is about as known for being part of one of the best double play combinations in baseball as he is for being the manager of the 2003 Detroit Tigers, the worst Major League team of the 21st century.
His teammate, Lou Whitaker, is also known for forgetting to pack his uniform for an All-Star game. He had to buy one from the concession stand and draw on his uniform number.
It doesn't matter how many more World Series titles the New York Yankees win: among Yankee detractors, they will always be remembered as the team who choked in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, allowing the Boston Red Sox to overturn three straight wins in a best-of-seven series for the first time in baseball history on their way to their first World Series title in eighty six years.
Amazingly, the man who blew the save in that Game 4, Mariano Rivera, could be the ultimate aversion. It was the third time in his career he blew a save that would have clinched a postseason series for the Yankees and instead led to them losing it. Many pitchers, as described above, can't live down doing it once - but Rivera bounced right back, reestablished his dominance for years afterwards, and will likely still be remembered as the greatest closer in baseball history.
The Chicago Cubs have not won a championship in 105 years—the longest championship drought of any North American team from any sportnote :Their last championship predates even the formation of the NFL, NBA, and NHL. Their last World Series appearance in 1945 predates the formation of the NBA. Even if they win next year, they probably will not live down that drought for some time.
Billy "Fuckface" Ripken's baseball career on the field would mostly be forgotten when juxtaposed next to the long, record breaking, Hall of Fame career of his brother Cal. Off of the field, he will mostly be remembered for an accident that happened while posing for his 1989 Fleer baseball card, in which, a certain obscene phrase◊ was written on the end of his bat. Ripken admitted that it wasn't a prank but was in fact written on his batting practice bat to differentiate it from his game bat.
Carlos Beltran, even with all the success he has had in the postseason, will forever be remembered by Mets fans for taking a called strike three with the bases loaded to end the 2006 National League Championship Series.
Minor League player John Odom never lived down being traded to the Laredo Broncos for equipment — 10 maple baseball bats, to be specific. See this article. It followed him around even after he quit baseball, as was constantly reminded of his indignity no matter how hard he tried to put it behind him. He would eventually die of a drug overdose brought on by the depression he was facing.
One day, Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp was sick and sat out a game. He was replaced by a guy named Lou Gehrig. Pipp may be the most famous example of The Pete Best in sports.
Rick Bosetti had a so-so career as a center fielder in the late 70s. After leaving the game, he had more success in local business and politics. However, when his name comes up, he's always the guy who relieved himself in the outfield during games and expressed his baseball goal as peeing in every Major League Baseball ballpark outfield.
Dusty Baker had a semi-successful career as a player, but he is best known for ruining promising young pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood (who was forced to become a reliever) by letting them pitch too much as manager of the Cubs.
He's also responsible for the rule that MLB batboys have to be at 14 years of age, after his then-3˝-year-old son Darren was nearly trampled while running on the field during play in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series, in which his father was managing the San Francisco Giants. J.T. Snow, who was running the bases after hitting a triple for the Giants, is mainly remembered for grabbing the younger Baker by the jacket as he crossed home plate.
Scott Cousins will likely always be known as the guy who steamrolled Buster Posey in a play at the plate, causing Posey to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. This resulted in the "Posey rule" that prevented players from deviating from the baseline to initiate contact with the catcher and prevented catchers from blocking the plate unless they had the ball.
Even if the team has won two World Series titles, mention the New York Mets and all everybody seems to remember about is their futility.
Going 40-120 in their first season of existence.
Not finishing higher than ninth place in each of their first seven seasons.
Suffering an epic collapse toward the end of the 2007 season, losing 12 of their last 17 games and blowing a 7-game NL East lead.
Perhaps the most spectacular inversion: Francisco Cabrera. Never played more than 70 games in a season for his career. In 1992, he had a total of 13 at-bats, regular and postseason combined. But he'll always be a hero in Atlanta for the penultimate of those ABs, as he delivered the game-winning hit in Game 7 of the NLCS that won the pennant for the Braves.
Improbable as it may seem, as of 2014 Cabrera remains the only player in MLB history to win a postseason series with a hit during an at-bat in which he would have represented the final out of the team that was losing.
There is a long list of Hall of Fame players - Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone - that must live down being players with great stats but "never got a ring," as in, were never part of a championship team. This can be applied to other team sports as well, but it seems more prevalent in basketball because, unlike other team sports where there are so many more components, this sport seems to carry the belief that one player can carry a team and, thus star players in this game must shoulder that burden more.
Kermit Washington was an All-Star NBA forward for the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. After his playing days, he was a popular radio host and was heavily involved in charity work. But mention his name, and 99% of people who recognize it will go straight to the night he nearly killed Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets with a freak haymaker (often inaccurately described as a "sucker punch")note Washington was involved in a scuffle with another Rocket. Rudy T was running in to try and keep hotheaded teammate Calvin Murphy from jumping in and making things worse. Washington sensed Rudy T coming and lashed out with a punch. The combination of Tomjonavitch's forward momentum and Washington's punch combined to dislocate Rudy T.'s skull.. And before winning championships and Olympic gold as a coach, Rudy T was most remembered as being the recipient of that punch (despite being an All-NBA level player prior to that night).
Tomjanovich, likewise, has noted that for much of his life people would come up to him and say, "I know you - you're the guy who got nailed."
The Portland Trail Blazers have never lived down passing over Michael Jordan and taking Sam Bowie in the 1984 NBA Draft. To be fair, Bowie never lived up to his potential. Despite 11 years in the NBA, he was frequently injured and only scored 1000 points for a season once, while Jordan scored more than 2000 points 11 times. But it seems to be retroactively assumed that everyone knew it was a bad draft choice even back in 1984. In truth, Portland already had a scoring guard in Clyde Drexler and desperately needed a center, with Bowie being the best one left after Hakeem Olajuwon (which the Houston Rockets have avoided flak for taking over Jordan since they got two championships out of him). Also at the time, people in Chicago were shaking their fists because Portland picked Bowie before they could; the Bulls' coach and GM at the time said they couldn't build a team around Jordan because "he's not seven feet tall". Likewise, Bowie will always be remembered as "that guy who got drafted ahead of Michael Jordan."
This seems to be a recurring theme with the Blazers: drafting big men who dominated in college only to fail in the pros because of injuries. Sam Bowie and now Greg Oden... Oden's proven to be the worst of the bunch.
Latrell Sprewell will forever be remembered as the guy who choked his coach.
Maybe supplanted by the fact that he put spinning rims on his sneakers.
Don't forget the time he rejected a multi-million dollar contract because "he has a family to feed"... he's good at outdoing himself.
Not long after rejecting that deal, Sprewell filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to his spending ways.
In the 1993 NCAA Men's Basketball Final, near the end of the game, Michigan "Fab Five" star Chris Webber called a timeout, unaware that Michigan had none left. His call resulted in Michigan getting a technical foul and turning the ball over to North Carolina, who went on to defeat Michigan and win the championship. Twenty years later, this kid, who wasn't even born when the game happened, had no problem giving Michigan's basketball team a reminder.
Bob Knight retired as the winningest NCAA Division I men's basketball coach evernote (since surpassed by his protege Mike Krzyzewski, aka Coach K), won any number of national championshipsnote (three, to be exact) and led the USA men's Olympic basketball team to gold in 1984 as just a few of his career highlights. He's known by people who follow college basketball as a tough, but highly controversial coach with a vicious mean streak — but he will forever be known as "that basketball guy who threw the chair" despite that incident occurring in 1985 — a full 23 years before his retirement in 2008.
Which is weird in itself, since he's racked up a veritable laundry list of these indiscretions over his distinguished career, including choking a player and suggesting that rape victims should "lie back and enjoy it".
Try being Timofey Mozgov after this dunk. Sure, it was a moment of awesome for Blake Griffin, but it's most likely all Mozgov will ever be remembered for.
In fact, other players who've been on the receiving end of Blake Griffin dunks (Kendrick Perkins comes to mind) are said by some commentators to have been "Mozgoved". In double-fact, currently, if you type "Mozgov" into Google, the word "Mozgoved" is the second suggested search option.
Isiah Thomas should be remembered as one of the top five NBA point guards of all time. But his post playing career has been one major embarrassment topped by another:
The guy who got left out of the Dream Team. Despite proving himself as a talented player and having already won two championships with the "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons, he did not make the legendary 1992 USA national basketball team that won a gold medal at the Olympics, mostly due to Michael Jordan telling USA Basketball "it's him or me" (this led to a rift between good friends Thomas and Magic Johnson, as Thomas felt hurt that Johnson didn't stand up for him).
The guy who put Barney on a jersey. His first non-playing job was president of the expansion Toronto Raptors - named for the dinosaur simply because Jurassic Park had just come out. The team uniforms he designed included a cartoon-like dinosaur in a basketball uniform on the front of the jersey. Thomas admitted he did it to appeal to kids; just about everyone over the age of 12 was less than impressed, and the image was removed soon after his departure.
The guy Larry Bird fired: His three-year stint as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, where Thomas showed a legit knack for judging young talent and an inverse knack for actually coaching them. Larry Bird's first act as Pacers' general manager was to summarily fire Thomas (Thomas and Bird were infamously "unfriendly" during their playing days).
The guy who killed the CBA: In 1999, Thomas headed a group that bought up the entire Continental Basketball Association - the NBA's de facto minor league. It went bankrupt within three years of Thomas' leadership.
And now (and probably forever) the guy who ruined the Knicks: In 2003 Thomas was hired as President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks - a move that raised eyebrows in light of the above-mentioned CBA debacle. He immediately crippled the Knicks for years with a series of bad trades and worse free agent signings (and even worse contracts for those signings). By 2006, the Knicks had the NBA's highest payroll and second-worst record. He was finally fired in 2008 and was thought of as one of the worst executives in the history of modern American sports.
The Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment suit during his Knicks tenure just added to the craziness and public contempt.
Ron Artest is one of the NBA's leading defenders, and helped lead the Lakers to a championship in 2010. But most people will probably forever associate him with a 2004 game in which, while playing for the Indiana Pacers against the Detroit Pistons, he went into the stands to punch a Pistons fan after being hit by a cup, which led to a full-scale brawl between the Pacers and Pistons fans.
In the months before the 2011-12 season began, Artest both changed his name to "Metta World Peace" and tweeted about his nipples being hard from excitement at a Céline Dion concert. It's almost as if he's trying to get people to forget the "basketbrawl."
A somewhat forgotten - though still infamous - one came during his first season in the NBA with the Bulls. He applied to a Circuit City so he could get the employee discount.
Nick Anderson is the only man to ever score 50 points off the bench in the NBA and was a major part of the infamous "Flying Illini" University of Illinois basketball team. He's best remembered, however, for missing four consecutive free throws in the 1995 NBA Finals. Had he sunk even one of those shots, the game would have been in the bag, but after a three pointer tied things up, Anderson's Orlando Magic lost in overtime. Cue lifelong derision as "Brick Anderson" and "Nick the Brick".
Earlier that same year, during Orlando's second-round series with the Bulls, Nick made the mistake of suggesting that Michael Jordan wasn't as good as he used to be since coming out of retirement. Though Orlando won that series, Michael made the rest of the league pay big time over the next three years, taking the Bull sot three more championships.
Allen Iverson was a fantastic, All-Star guard, though he just could never seem to win it all. Some of that might be because for all his strengths and natural talent, we're still sitting here, he's supposed to be a franchise player, and we're in here talking about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Practice. After allegedly skipping practices, he had a press conference repeating 20 times the word "practice", and almost as frequently the phrase "not a game", suggesting he did not understand how practicing could help a team. Several years, and two contracts later, a press conference was held by the Pistons after they acquired him in a trade. A Detroit reporter ribbed him about his practice habits. It's even been in theStupid Statement Dance Mix for Never Live It Down interview moments, as the chorus and focus interview. Even above "COME AFTER ME! I'M A MAN! I'M FORTY!"
It should be noted that Iverson's rant was mainly in response to the reporters on hand repeatedly asking him about his practice habits instead of that night's game.
To make a very funny point, Larry Brown, coach of the 76ers at the same time that Iverson was there, replied to a reporter, "He doesn't come to practice as many times as he can say it."
John Stockton completely rewrote the basketball record books for steals and assists; the latter record may never be broken. What's the first thing people remember him for? His shorts - he was the last player to never wear the baggy shorts look that Michael Jordan made popular.
Charles Barkley has a couple of infamous incidents: first, his infamous commercial in which he claimed "I am not a role model"; second, that time he sped while driving drunk because he was in a hurry to get oral sex.
No matter how big Louisville Cardinals player Kevin Ware makes it in the NBA, he will forever be remembered for the gruesome broken leg he suffered in the Cardinals' NCAA regional final against Duke in March 2013.note Postscript: Ware didn't make it through the 2013–14 season at Louisville. In a December game, he was kicked in the same leg that he had broken, and didn't play the rest of the season. At the end of the season, he left Louisville and went to Georgia State.
Jason Collins will likewise be remembered as the first active male athlete in a major North American sports league to come out as gay.
Emphasis on "come out". A few past athletes - notably Glenn Burke - made an Open Secret of their sexuality, but never officially or overtly came out.
Charles Smith was a fairly serviceable, though not exactly great, forward for several years during the 1990s who is best known for an embarrassing moment during the 5th game of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals between his New York Knicks and the two-time defending NBA champion Chicago Bulls. With time running out and the Knicks trailing 95-94, Smith took a pass from star center Patrick Ewing, had his shot blocked. Four times. Bulls point guard B.J. Armstrong scored a lay-up as time expired to clinch the win and a 3-2 series lead for the Bulls; who clinched their 3rd straight NBA Finals appearance in Game 6.
Stan Kroenke, owner of the Denver Nuggets, will never live down a conflict when his home area, the Pepsi Center, scheduled a WWE Monday Night Raw broadcast during playoff week when, should the team make the playoffs, there was a 50/50 chance they'd be playing a home game. Instead of alerting WWE to the possible conflict months in advance and allowing them the possibility that they may need to find another venue for that date, he waited until the Nuggets made the playoffs and the playoff schedule was officially announced (which deemed the Monday night game a home game). This gave WWE all of six days to move their event somewhere else and Kroenke offered them a much, much smaller venue to run their broadcast. He did all this to Vince McMahon, widely acknowledged as the world's richest carny, and the whole thing spun into a vicious firestorm of negative publicity for himself, the Nuggets, and the NBA. Vince was only too happy to stoke this, making the rounds of various sports shows to talk about how little confidence Kroenke had in his team. The Nuggets' playoff rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, got in on the Nugget-bashing by giving WWE their arena, the Staples Center, to do the broadcast. All in all, the whole fiasco meant tons of lost revenue for Denver and a whole lot of egg on Kroenke's face. In addition, the Nuggets would eventually lose the Western Conference finals to the Lakers four games to two.
LeBron James has two NBA titles, 4 NBA MVP awards, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, and is probably regarded as one of the best basketball players of his generation. But everyone still derides him for "The Decision" - a 75-minute special broadcast (but not produced or directed) by ESPN where he announced he was "taking his talents to South Beach" and signing with the Miami Heat.
Even after winning two championships in Miami, LeBron's been haunted by a comment he made during "The Decision", where he pronounced that he, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade would lead the Heat to eight championships. ("Not one, not two, not three..." etc.) This was especially true after the Big Three the took the Heat to the finals in their first year together but lost to the Dallas Mavericks, and when LeBron went back to Cleveland during the 2014 offseason.
Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers (the team LeBron originally left to play for the Miami Heat, only to return for the 2014-15 season), is unlikely to live down his response to James' departure — an open letter to Cavaliers fans attacking James for deserting the team, and guaranteeing that the Cavs would still be able to win an NBA championship without his help. The letter was posted on the Cavaliers' website all throughout LeBron's tenure with the Heat, and was mocked mercilessly for its childish tone and for being written entirely in Comic Sans, the most hated of all typefaces. In the years after LeBron's departure the mockery gradually died down, but he really felt the heat from this tirade after LeBron returned to Cleveland.
This was such a huge story that the entire basketball-watching populace of Cleveland, Ohio (and by extension all of Ohio) is still struggling to live down the actions of a few especially disgruntled fans in the wake of LeBron's departure, especially stunts like burning LeBron jerseys.
Collectively, the Vancouver Canucks hate Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis, which happens to be the Chicago Blackhawks' goal/win song. Even the Bruins organist got in on it. The Canucks have faced the Blackhawks in the playoffs three of the last four years; the Blackhawks eliminated them two years in a row while Vancouver barely took the 2011 series after going up 3-0 and then letting the Blackhawks win three straight to force a game seven, which Vancouver won in overtime.
To add on with the Canucks, they developed a huge reputation for diving, especially after the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. To many people, this did not help matters for them.
For that matter, Canucks fans have pretty much solidified a reputation for... not taking losing well. Some may have forgotten the riots in Vancouver after losing the Cup finals to the Rangers in 1994 - and then they did it AGAIN after losing the Finals to Boston in 2011.
And the salt in the wound, after the 1994 defeat, the entire team was dismantled and replaced with corporate suits who cared more about seasons tickets than winning the Cup. The effect is so profound that no team in Canada has won the Cup since. It had that of a negative effect and it may be called the Richter Cup now, after the NY Rangers goalie.
Continuing with '94, Stéphane Matteau scored a total of 144 goals in his 16-year NHL career with six different teams, but there's only one most hockey fans will know of: his Game 7 double-overtime goal in that year's Eastern Conference finals with the Rangers against the Devils.
Rangers radio announcer Howie Rose: (Viacheslav) Fetisov for the Devils plays it cross-ice, into the far corner. Matteau swoops in to intercept. Matteau behind the net, swings it in front, HE SCORES! MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!! STEPHANE MATTEAU!! AND THE RANGERS HAVE ONE MORE HILL TO CLIMB, BABY! BUT IT'S MOUNT VANCOUVER! THE RANGERS ARE HEADED TO THE FINALS!!!
Ty Conklin has been a brilliant regular-season goalie for Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and now Detroit. Nobody will let him play in the playoffs, however, because of one mistake in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, playing for Edmonton, which allowed an easy goal for the opponent.
Patrik Stefan, while considered to be a hockey player who never lived up to his potential, will probably never be able to live down a gaffe where he missed a shot and slipped and fell while on a breakawayon an empty net. The Edmonton Oilers skated down to the other end, and Ales Hemsky scored to take the game to overtime.
His career continued to tailspin out of control, quickly leaving the NHL for European Elite Leagues... then retired before the age of 30.
The Edmonton Oilers' Steve Smith was a mainstay for the Edmonton Oilers' cup runs, winning three Stanley Cups with that team, the last in 1990. However, he's best known for a critical own goal in the 1985-86 NHL playoffs against their arch-rivals, the Calgary Flames in the seventh game of the Conference Semifinals. The score was tied at 2 with 14:46 remaining in the 3rd period, and he passed it behind his own goal zone. It deflected off his own goaltender, Grant Fuhr, that somehow went into their own net, possibly giving the Flames an advantage (they eventually won, and moved on to play against St. Louis in the Conference Finals). Perry Berezan was credited with the goal.
The Toronto Maple Leafs made a deal with division rival, Boston Bruins, to trade a draft pick for one of their top players, Phil Kessel. The Bruins got Tyler Seguin with the draft pick that would've belonged to the Maple Leafs, and the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup the following season with big help from Seguin in the Eastern Conference Finals while the Maple Leafs remain the longest playoff appearance drought in the NHL.
Furthermore, the Leafs have a tradition to get screwed beyond possible since their last title in 1967. Harold Ballard ran the franchise to the ground between the Seventies and Eighties, the rebuild in the early 90s choked in playoffs (in fact, the 1993 conference finals will make sure referee Kerry Fraser never lives something down in Toronto: he failed to see Wayne Gretzky hitting a Leafs player with a high stick in game 6 - had the penalty been applied, Gretzky's Kings wouldn't have won the game, forcing a game 7 that lead them to the finals), Mats Sundin's teams between 1995 and 2004 were always close but no cigar, and following the 2004-05 lockout the Leafs spent 7 straight seasons without going to the playoffs.
The Leafs had a history of terrible trades under GM John Ferguson Jr.; Boston was just particularly good at ripping them off. In 2006, the Leafs traded prospect Tuukka Rask for then-Bruins starting goalie Andrew Raycroft. Since that season, Raycroft has simply been awful, to the point that Toronto bought out his contract, and Rask has become a solid goalie who has taken over as the Bruins' starter.
Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala might have been an average goaltender at the best of times for the Maple Leafs, but he's most known for letting in a 200 foot shot. Other goaltenders, such as Jonathan Quick, have let in similar goals but Toskala's status as a poor goaltender on a team with a lot of media attention sealed his fate.
Ulf Samuelsson will be forever known as a thug who took out Cam Neely in the 1991 Playoffs and contributed to ending Neely's career.
Similar situation with Claude Lemieux for knocking Kris Draper's face in the boards in Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals, which was escalated by one of Draper's teammates being so disgusted by it that, following the obligatory postgame handshake between teams, he (Dino Ciccarelli) said, "I can't believe I shook this guy's fucking hand."
Todd Bertuzzi, despite having been a tough, extremely skilled, and largely unstoppable player, will be forever known for ending Steve Moore's career with a sucker punch to the back of the head.
Atlanta hockey fans will never live down losing not one, but two NHL teams in the league's modern era, having their teams relocated to Canada in both instances. The first team, the Flames, moved to Calgary in 1980, and the second, the Thrashers, left for Winnipeg in 2011, becoming the second generation Jets.
Ilya Bryzgalov is quickly becoming less known for his goaltending (his playoff performances haven't helped, either) and more for his interviews on 24/7.
Hockey badboy Doug Gilmour will always be remembered as a hot head on the ice, in Canada. While playing for the St. Louis Blues in the late 80's Gilmour got in trouble by being falsely accused of raping a 14-year-old who was also his children's babysitter. Despite having no proof that this happened the press caught word of it and never let it go; the bad press forced the Blues to trade Gilmour to the Flames in a deal that favored the Flames.
Clint Malarchuk was a goalie for fifteen seasons, playing for Quebec, Washington and Buffalo. But what most people know the name for is nearly dying on the ice: During a game on March 22, 1989, while with Buffalo, Malarchuk's neck was accidentally slashed by the skate of St. Louis Blues player Steve Tuttle. Malarchuk nearly bled out on the ice; had the wound been 1/8th inch (3 mm) higher up or had he been on the other end of the ice (the locker room doors were on the end of the ice where Malarchuk was in goal) he would've died before the paramedics could get to him.
Legendary ABC sportscaster Keith Jackson isn't sure how the Catch Phrase "Whoa Nelly!" got so closely associated with him. By his own recollection, he's said it maybe six times in thirty-plus years of broadcasting. But the sports fandom seems to think he does it at least once every broadcast (though he does bust it out for a Dr Pepper commercial).
Sportscaster Howard Cosell was a mainstay of ABC Sports: color commentator for Monday Night Football and go-to interviewer in the sports world. But he could never shake the stigma of racism attached to him after an infamous 1983 MNF game, where he reacted to a catch-and-run by Washington receiver Alvin Garrett with "Look at that little monkey run" (Garrett is black). He resigned his MNF post at the end of the 1983 season, and never regained his status among sportscasters (his open disdain for the people running boxing - his other bread-and-butter sport - didn't help).
Cosell had another one two years later that led to his ouster from ABC altogether. In addition to the Monday Night Football and boxing gigs, he also covered baseball for the network, but just before the 1985 World Series, Cosell released a book called I Never Played the Game, which was essentially a lengthy rant about what annoyed him in sports, most infamously coining the term "jockocracy" to describe former athletes getting broadcasting jobs that Cosell felt they weren't qualified for. ABC pulled Cosell from World Series coverage in favor of one of sportscasting's all-time Scrappies—Tim McCarver.
Similarly, Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was a mainstay on CBS' NFL pregame show for twelve years. He became an instant pariah after a 1988 newspaper interview where he stated his believe that black athletes were inherently superior to whites because blacks were bred for size and strength during slavery.
Marv Albert was (and still is) one of the most popular sportscasters, but in 1997, he was known for biting a woman's back, as well as dressing in lingerie - an incident immortalized on Denis Leary's Lock 'n Load album and also parodied in an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch.
Brent Musberger will probably always be known for making strange comments about Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's mother and his girlfriend, Katherine Webb during the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. However, Webb soon defused the controversy, noting that Musburger didn't use any terms she considered offensive.
Webb: I think that if he would have said... that we were hot or sexy or made any derogatory statements like that, I think that would have been a little bit different. But the fact that he said we were beautiful and gorgeous, I don't see why any woman wouldn't be flattered by that.
This situation may also apply to McCarron, in that he is known more for being Webb's boyfriend than for being a football player.note Even though he quarterbacked Bama to two national titles, and fell just short of playing for a third.
The late Beano Cook of ESPN. His prediction of multiple Heisman Trophy wins for Notre Dame QB Ron Powlus - before he'd played a single down for the Fighting Irishnote Powlus never finished in the top ten for Heisman voting. is still mocked to this day.
Gus Johnson is perhaps best known for this call during final seconds of the 2006 NCAA tournament. With UCLA leading by two points, J.P. Batista of Gonzaga caught a down court pass and Johnson, expecting a huge play, screamed "Batista with the CAAAAAAAATCH!" Unfortunately, Batista missed the ensuing shot badly as the buzzer rang, meaning Johnson got excited over nothing.
In MMA, UFC light heavyweight Rashad Evans had only one title defense of the light heavyweight championship, which he lost to Lyoto Machida by knockout by a left punch... but for quite some time, people mainly knew Evans only for the face and pose he (involuntarily) made as he fell.
Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear. You never hear about how he set records for being the youngest boxer to win many world championships. It's always the ear and if not, it's these inglorious moments instead:
He was on the losing end of what many believe to be the biggest upset in boxing history, losing the world title to Buster Douglas.
He then served two years in prison for rape. Years later, he still claimed his innocence in that case, but publicly declared that he now wished he had done it. And somehow, the ear incident still overshadows all of that.
Oliver McCall was a former heavyweight boxing champ. In 1997, in the third round of the rematch with the man he beat for the title, Lennox Lewis, McCall inexplicably dropped his hands and refused to fight or defend himself, then started openly weeping in the middle of the ring (and in his corner between rounds). The fight was stopped shortly into the fifth round, after it was clear McCall wasn't going to fight. In the words of the fight's referee, Mills Lane:
Lane: "In the third round, he got in close, and then seemed frustrated, and then he just backed off and put his arms down... I thought he was playing possum but then I saw his lips started to quiver and I thought, 'My God, is he crying?'"
Ángel Matos, a Cuban taekwondo fighter, gained infamy (and a lifetime ban from the sport) in the bronze medal round of the 2008 Olympics. After getting disqualified from the match for an injury, Matos voiced his displeasure with the decision by kicking the judge that DQ'ed him in the face, shoving another to the ground, and spitting on the mat on the way out.
Roberto Durán, "The Hands of Stone" - considered by many to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. Over one hundred career wins, champion in four different weight classes, one of two fighters to have his career span five decades (1968-2002). But what is he remembered for first and foremost? The "No Más" fight.
Before an MMA bout with former WWE star Bobby Lashley, Mike Cook made his ring entrance wearing a Rey Mysteriomask. A visibly annoyed Lashley proceeded to choke Cook out less than 30 seconds into the fight.
Unless you know the man personally, there is only one way and one way only you'll recognize the name "Vinko Bogataj" (an otherwise obscure Yugoslavian ski jumper from the late '60s): The spectacular 1970 ramp wipeout that forever gained pop culture icon status as Wide World of Sports' "Agony Of Defeat" Guy." In fairness, that was one of the few sports moments in history that qualified as a Dethroning Moment of Suck and a Moment of Awesome; it'd be an eternal defining moment for pretty much anybody.
Australian cricketer Shane Warne, for sending lewd text messages while drunk. If he'd sent as many as it's generally believed he has, his thumb would have fallen off by now.
English cricketer Tony Greig. During the run-up to England's 1976 Test series against the West Indies, he had the following to say:
"You must remember that the West Indians, these guys, if they get on top are magnificent cricketers. But if they're down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closeynote England teammate Brian Close and a few others, to make them grovel."
Unfortunate Implications... where do we begin? For starters, the word "grovel" has very sinister connotations for West Indians, many of whom are descendants of slaves (especially true in the English-speaking Caribbean, which the Windies team represents). On top of that, Greig was a white South Africannote who left for England when he was 19 who made his remarks at a time when apartheid was a major political issue throughout the world.
The Windies swept the series 3–0. Greig kept a sense of humour; during the last Test, he pretended to crawl in to the batting crease on hands and knees. Nonetheless, he never lived the comment down until his death in 2012.
In the early '80s, Australian footballer John Burke pushed over an umpire and attacked a spectator. He was given a ten year suspension, effectively ending his career, but the footage has been circulating ever since. Commentator "Slug" Jordan's "He's done well, the boy" in response to the incident hasn't helped. Other Aussie Rules examples include Jeff Potter (the guy who had his handpass intercepted by Barry Breen in the 1966 grand final) and Graeme Jenkin (the guy who Alex Jesaulenko took his famous mark over in the 1970 Grand Final).
Tiger Woods is probably better known these days for his now-infamous rampant infidelity than he is for playing golf. This may have something to do with the fact that since news broke on the scandal his game took a serious nosedive.
Stéphane Lambiel is a well known and beloved Swiss figure skater...but he will never live this down. (To the point that a skating fansite warns for "Red Cat" fanart.)
Likewise, Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko will never live down his complaints about Evan Lysacek winning gold despite never doing a quadruple jump, or the 'Platinum Medal' found on his website (though that might not even have been his doing).
Bill Shoemaker was one of the greatest jockeys ever. He won four Kentucky Derbys, and his winning ride on Ferdinand in 1986 is, arguably, the best ride in Derby history. But he had two Never Live It Down moments: the 1957 Derby he lost when he misjudged the finish line aboard Gallant Man, and the 1991 drunk driving crash in which he was paralyzed from the neck down.
Béla Károlyi is the Vince Lombardi of the gymnastics world, coach of some of the greatest female champions the sport has ever seen. Is he remembered for any of his champions under his wing, including Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, or the fact that virtually all American Olympic female gymnasts of the last two decades have been trained by Károlyi or one of his proteges? Nope, try his words of encouragement to an injured Kerri Strug during the 1996 Atlanta Games: "Yoo kin doo eet, Kary!" Not only is this a Beam Me Up, Scotty! (since he actually said "Kerri listen to me. You can do it." note She did, by the way., but the version everyone remembers is actually from Rob Schneider's imitation of Károlyi from Saturday Night Live.
Australians have Ben Cousins. Despite being one of the greatest players in the history of Australian rules football, in 2007 he was kicked off his team, West Coast, and banned from playing for one year for drug possession, repeated traffic violations, and association with organized crime. After all this, fans still seemed to emphasize his stellar play. After he signed with Richmond, their membership sales soared.
It doesn't matter if you're a superstar or a benchwarmer; if you're an athlete and you hook up with a Kardashian (those ladies REALLY love the jocks), that is what you will be most known for. Let's start with the mother and Bruce Jenner, who was once an icon in the Olympic decathlon. Then there's Kim with Reggie Bush AND Kris Humphries. And then there's Khloe and Lamar Odom, who was flat out called "Lamar Kardashian" by members of the Dallas media in 2012 (though in fairness, Dallas probably would have let it slide had he actually played well with the Mavericks). In fact, Jenner and Humphries are barely even known for being athletes anymore.
In even sadder irony with the Mavericks and Odom, the Mavs had appeared on Letterman the previous year (before Odom joined the team) to give the Top Ten Best Things About Winning the Championship, and Dirk Nowitzki gave Number One as "It might land me a Kardashian!"
John McEnroe won 17 Grand Slams, owns a record streak of 42 matches unbeaten and is regarded as the best player in front of the baseline in the Open Era. He now mostly exists in the public consciousness in the form of four words he uttered in a first round match at Wimbledon in 1981. Say it with me; "YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS."note To his credit, McEnroe embraced the comment after he moved into the broadcast booth, making it the title of his autobiography.
Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney was stuck in Gabby Douglas's shadow for most of the 2012 Olympics...before a picture of her scowling after placing second in the vault was turned into a Tumblr blog that quickly went viral. The only difference here is that Maroney is actually very proud of her status as an internet meme, even making her famous expression with Barack Obama. Still, she'll always be forever remembered as an internet meme rather than for her accomplishments as a gymnast like Douglas will be.
Fuzzy Zoeller was a popular and successful player on the PGA Tour for three decades - becoming one of three players to even win The Masters in his first appearance. People don't remember that, nor his other Major victory (1984 US Open, nor his 18 other tour victories. People DO remember his racially-insensitive comments at the 1997 Masters, regarding winner Tiger Woods (which was Woods' first Major win) and the following Champion's Banquet (which the previous year's winner sets the menu for):
Time will tell if Sergio García is remembered for the exact same thing.
The entire Tour de France will never live down the various doping violations it's had, including all-time leader Lance Armstrong get away with it for his entire tenure. Same thing goes for Armstrong himself.
Former Tour de France winner, Laurent Fignon, had been asked several times "Aren't you the guy who lost Le Tour by 8 seconds?". He was, as he lost by that margin in 1989. His reply would be "no, I'm the guy who won it twicenote 1983 and 1984".
In Tennis, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut have never lived down their famous record breaking 3 day, 11 hour Wimbledon match that ended with Isner winning 6–4, 3–6, 6–7, 7–6, 70–68. The match went so long that the scoreboard broke and people were told to just add 50 to the displayed score. Any time either Isner or Mahut plays any other person, this will inevitably be brought up by the commentators. It isn't helped by the fact that neither was a particularly well-known player before then; most of their records (they hold the records for the top two most aces hit in a single match) are from that match.
Humorously, the following Wimbledon, the pair got matched up against causing everyone in the room to laugh. The match was nowhere near as interesting as Isner won much quicker.
Bobby Riggs won the 1939 Wimbledon Championship, two US Opens, three US Pro Championships and was the World No. 1 tennis player for three years, once as an amateur. However, all that was pushed aside when he lost "The Battle of the Sexes" match to Billie Jean King. (And then that was pushed aside when he claimed he'd actually thrown the match.)
Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding will never live down a certain incident from the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the media circus it generated at the Olympics a month later.
In Rugby Union, All Blacks fans have yet to forgive Aussie flyhalf Quade Cooper for some cheap shots directed at All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in 2011.
Don Fox had a glittering career in the 50s and 60s as one of Rugby League's true greats. Towards the end of his career he played for Wakefield Trinity against Leeds at Wembley in the 1968 Challenge Cup final. In the last minute of the match, with Trinity trailing 10-11, he had the simplest of spot kicks, right in front of the posts, to snatch the game. He lost his footing on the wet pitch and sliced the kick wide of the posts. That is what Don Fox is remembered for today. It hasn't helped that his miskick prompted the widely-quoted "He's a poor lad!" commentary from legendary broadcaster Eddie Waring.
No matter how well he does, golfer Kevin Na will always be remembered for hitting 16 on a hole in a tournament. He got some very bad luck including multiple penalties, but his last three shots were actually pretty decent.