Sunday is Father's Day, so allow me to begin by wishing all of the dads out there a very happy day this Sunday. Hopefully, your family allows you to lay around on the sofa watching golf all day long with one hand tucked in your waistband and the other wrapped around a cold beer. Because alcohol and subtly caressing oneself while watching sports — that's nirvana.
Sports can often give us a template for what's great and what's... well.... not so great in any aspect of life, including fatherhood. Sports provide a stage for some really, really great fathers to show all of us how it's done, and exposes some really, really terrible dads for the miserable human beings they are. Meanwhile, the rest of us dads float around in the meaty pat of the curve, doing the best we can do.
So let's pay tribute this Father's Day weekend to both ends of the spectrum, the best and the worst in sports dads!
(NOTE: The "worst" list below doesn't include any murderers, child abusers, or any violent criminals. People like that — looking at you, O.J. — are clearly worse than anyone on this list. I'm just trying to keep it somewhat light for y'all!)
FIVE BEST SPORTS DADS
5. Doc Rivers
In the early part of the 2014-2015 NBA season, Austin Rivers was languishing in New Orleans. The Pelicans opted not to pick up the option on his rookie contract, and in January, Rivers was moved to Boston. Three days later, he was rescued by, of all people, his father, Los Angeles Clippers czar Doc Rivers. The elder Rivers could've stopped by merely giving refuge to his son on a playoff team, but he went next level and actually gave him some playing time, which led mostly to hilarious Vines of Austin Rivers faking himself out of his own shoes and one really good game against the Rockets in the playoffs.
4. Archie Manning
Collectively, Peyton and Eli Manning have made more money than the gross national product of most third world countries. That alone warrants recognizing the provider of their Y chromosome. Good job, Archie! Way to plant the seeds for the sprouting of two NFL quarterbacks!
3. Gordie Howe
Yes, I know Gordie is no longer with us, but he only passed away a week ago. I have a statute of limitations on this list that you must be dead for at least a month to no longer be considered, so screw you, haters! This video is Gordie's final goal of his career, assisted by his son, Mark, the ultimate Father's Day hockey goal.
R.I.P. Mr. Hockey.
2. Wayne Gretzky
Under the classic definition of "father," I have no idea if Wayne Gretzky is a truly good father or a horrible father. What I do know is that any male human being providing the paternal DNA for a creature like Paulina Gretzky can't be all bad.
1. Gordon Gronkowski
I could describe in my own words why Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's old man is the greatest sports father of all-time, but I think it's much better summarized in "Papa" Gronk's bio on the website for the Gronk Family Party Cruise:
Gordy "Papa Gronk" Gronkowski
A.K.A. “The Innovator.” Big G has taken party rocking to epic proportions over the past decades. A former college and pro football star himself, he has redefined party rocking year after year and he has established the precedent for us to live by. Big G will go down in history as one of the most legendary fathers in the history of the world. Cultivating four professional athletes with one more to come, fathers all over the world yearn to be like Big G. Perhaps that is why countless people have offered Big G big money to purchase his sperm so they can have the children of champions themselves. It’s not every day you can see a father hang with his sons on the dance floor, and it’s even more rare to have a father whose sons constantly get rejected by women because they would rather hit on their dad instead. Women of all ages fall head over heels for the jackedness and dieselness of Big G, and his dance moves . . . Don’t even get us started on his awesome dance moves! He is a successful entrepreneur, a successful father, and the innovator of the Party Rockers!
The innovator of the Party Rockers. Checkmate.
FIVE WORST SPORTS DADS
5. Patrick Roy
For non-hockey fans, this one may seem a little random, but a few years back, Roy, who is one of the all-time great NHL players, openly encouraged his son to go take on an opposing goalie in a bench clearing fight. That opposing goalie clearly wanted no part of fighting, yet the younger Roy took it to him and then gloated afterward. Young Roy got a seven game suspension, and the old man got five games. Nice work, Pops.
4. Antonio Cromartie
When you have to pause and think to name all eight of your kids (with, like, six different women, I might add), that's not a great look. Amazingly, since this video was parsed out of a Hard Knocks episode, Cromartie has had four more kids, including a couple of them AFTER having a vasectomy. He is truly a superhero procreator. There's no day where Antonio Cromartie feels more loved than on Father's Day. It's simple math.
3. William Ligue, Jr.
Back on September 19, 2002, William Ligue, Jr. and his 15 year old son were at a White Sox game, presumably eating some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and once the peanuts and Cracker Jacks ran out, there wasn't much left to do. So they did what any self-respecting father and son would do — the ran onto the field shirtless and beat the piss out of the opposing first base coach. You know what they say... the family that commits assault together, stays together.
2. Deplorable Youth Sports Parent
It's impossible to name all of the overbearing, helicopter Little League dads in one post. There are literally millions of you out there, and make no mistake — you are truly the worst. So instead, I pay homage to your dog crap parenting and vicarious existing through your young children with one collective bullet point on the "Worst Dad" side of the ledger.
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1. Marv Marinovich
Marv Marinovich didn't let his son, Todd, eat a Big Mac as a kid. That's enough to rank at the top of this list, because Big Macs are goddamn delicious.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.