Not all athletes are stupid. In fact, quite a number of them are damn smart and go on to successful careers after they retire from professional sports. But, like most people, athletes can be prone to foot-in-mouth disease on occasion. Take the then-center of the New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing, who during the 1998 NBA lockout that wiped out nearly half a season said so eloquently, ""Sure, we make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too." Well, said, Patrick.
In the intervening years since Ewing's gaffe, technology has given all of us new and interesting ways to communicate with each other. In the past, all athletes and their teams had to worry about were cameras or tape recorders catching a player in a verbal misstep and idle gossip among fans and tabloids. Today, they have Twitter.
For those of us who enjoy watching people say really stupid stuff, the Twitter-athlete combo has been nearly as entertaining as the games they play, or at least an episode of Real Housewives. Below are ten of our favorite and most controversial athlete Tweets. Enjoy.
10. Chad Ochocinco
It's hard not to like Chad
Johnson Ochocinco. Whether he is entertaining fans with elaborate end zone displays or literally changing his name to match his number, the New England Patriot wide receiver is always doing something interesting. Back in August 2010, he Tweeted during a preseason game (he has also Tweeted during team meetings) and the NFL hit him with a $25,000 fine. The funniest part was the apology, which, naturally, he posted on Twitter.
9. Brian Ching
There are certain no-no's in sports, like fathering more children than Shawn Kemp or calling out the referees. Houston Dynamo star Brian Ching was watching his MLS teammates on TV in 2009 (he was playing with the U.S. team at the time) when he did the latter. Apparently, his anger over a blown call caused him to call the ref a "cheat." The errant Tweet cost him $5k in fines. 8. Robert Henson
Fans can be complete idiots. Anyone who has been to a sporting event knows that drunk, belligerent fans are often just a quirk or two away from full-on psychosis, which is why it is best to ignore them. Washington Redskins linebacker Robert Henson apparently thought a better approach would be to vent his anger on Twitter. He later deleted his entire account in frustration. University of Kentucky wideout Randall Cobb must not have heard because he did the very same thing a year later.
7. Charlie Villanueva
In some cases, like our friend Mr. Ochocinco, it isn't what you Tweet so much as when you do it. NBA forward Charlie Villanueva found out the hard way when he sent out a Tweet from the locker room at halftime during a game between his Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics. Villanueva didn't get more than a head shake from his coach. I guess he figured being mediocre was punishment enough.
6. Kareem Jackson Houston Texans rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson got burned a lot in his rookie season by opposing wide receivers, but apparently the torching he got on the field wasn't enough, so he Tweeted from a cock fight he attended while on vacation in the Dominican Republic, where the "sport" is legal. His post, which is long gone from the web, went as follows: "My first time ever seeing chicken fight till the death it was crazy... " Uh, ya think? He even posted photos of himself at the event, causing Houston sports fans to not just question his speed on the field but his intelligence off it. 5. Rashard Mendenhall
There are some controversies that can be prevented by just slowing down and thinking. Clearly Rashard Mendenhall is not a thinker, he's a Tweeter. After the death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of Navy SEALS, he sent out a Tweet criticizing people for cheering at the death of another human being. Certainly not a popular stance, but defensible and one shared by many others. However, when he followed that up with his 9/11 conspiracy Tweet, well, he was in need of rescue from Seal Team Six.
4. Antonio Cromartie
Just recently, the Houston Press reported on a Houston woman who was kicked out of a local restaurant for calling one of the bartenders a "twerp" in a Tweet she sent while eating there. In fact, it is common to see Tweets from food lovers before, during and after meals, but San Diego defensive back Antonio Cromartie became the first person to slam the food at his team's training facility. His Tweet even openly questioned whether the "nasty" food contributed to them not winning a Super Bowl. He wasn't kicked out, but he had to fork over $2,500 to the team for his meal.
3. Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson is not what you would call a subtle individual. The talented running back has had numerous run-ins with coaches over the years, while occasionally running roughshod over defenders. In 2009, he took his angst to Twitter, claiming his father would do a better job coaching than the current Kansas City Chiefs staff. When a fan re-Tweeted the post and cracked a joke at Johnson's expense, the tailback went off on the fan, slamming him with a gay slur. The entire incident cost Johnson over $200,000 in fines. 2. LeBron James
LeBron "King" James was once at the pinnacle of the basketball world. He was a young player who had led his team to playoff victory despite a shaky roster. Virtually everyone believed he was the best player on the planet. Then, something happened. He announced during a specially televised ESPN show that he would be leaving Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat. The way he made his decision and a subsequent Nike commercial he made about the controversy struck many fans as arrogant and even prompted NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan to craft a brilliant response. But, as if he didn't know or, perhaps, care about his image, James let off with a Tweet blasting the Cavaliers when they were scorched by the Lakers, making James arguably the most disliked player in the NBA.
1. Mark Cuban
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Love him or hate him, it is impossible to ignore feisty fan-turned-owner Mark Cuban. That is certainly the case for the NBA and its commissioner, David Stern, who has hit Cuban with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for his outbursts since he bought the Dallas Mavericks. But Cuban keeps right on keeping on and in 2009 during a Mavericks game, he took his rage over what he considered poor officiating to Twitter. The move cost him $25,000, which he reported, of course, on Twitter.