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Wednesday, Sep 22, 2021

The Ides of March (Sports Edition)

Like it or not, many institutions in our daily lives are riddled with politics. It can be found in the darkest places: Bureaucracies, school systems, and the door down the hall from your office. Politics are also fond of places that act as a safety net: Hospitals, churches, and even family cookouts.


Politics has sunk its teeth in every facet of our lives, and its venom now seeps from the one area that we all love – sports.


We have athletes cashing in on megadeals that would cause Ty Cobb to turn over in his grave. And while these multimillion dollar deals are careless – like Daisy Buchanan – they are not the real issue here. The true issue with politics in sports are the turncoats who bites the hand that fed them. 2058 years ago yesterday, conspiratorial senators did just that when they repeatedly stabbed Julius Caesar 23 times.


Although we are a day removed from the Ides of March, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the collaborators who betrayed Julius Caesar. There are many modern-day backstabbers in sports that swore their allegiance, only to later assume the role of Benedict Arnold.


So, now that visions of Hulk Hogan trading in the red and yellow garb for “NWO” apparel run through your mind, we invite you to take a moment, and see if your favorite antiheros made the list of our Top 10 Traitors in Sports.


10.) The Dwarf Star – Who could forget the polarizing Terrell Owens? His actions will forever be remembered on and off the field. And while he could have his own top ten list, his most notable action came when he celebrated on the Dallas star in midfield. It was no secret that Terrell Owens hated the Dallas Cowboys, and vice versa. Then in 2006, Jerry Jones spits in the face of the Cowboys, signing Owens to a multi-year deal.


9.) Trojan… Man? – Lane Kiffin’s resurgence in Knoxville lasted only one year before he put the “Ney” in Neyland, and left for USC. Like a 3 p.m. class, he was dismissed from USC three years later. He’s now employed by the next man on our list.


8.) From the Bayou, to the Big League, and Back Again – After compiling a 48-16 record and a national championship at LSU, Nick Saban decided he was better fitted for the NFL. When his tenure with the Dolphins fell apart like the Hindenburg, Saban up a left again! He’s now the coach of LSU’s modern rival in Alabama (winning multiple national championships).


7.) The Intimidated – In 2007, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stated that he would no longer race for D.E.I. Racing, opting to become a member of Hendricks Motorsports. While many of you may not see this as a problem, true NASCAR fans view this as a treacherous act. D.E.I. is the acronym for Dale Earnhardt Inc., a team founded by his late father. Not only did Dale Jr. ditch his own family, he joined the team that Jeff Gordon races for (Dale Sr.’s rival from 94-01).


6.) A True “Packer” – Is he the greatest Packer of all-time? Some could make that argument. Is he the most detested Packer of all-time? No one would argue against it. Brett Favre is synonymous with the Green Bay Packers. What he brought to the city, as well as the game, will never be forgotten. Brett Favre playing for the Minnesota Vikings after his retirement will never be forgotten either.


5.) Johnny [Expletive] Damon – In 2004 he was Boston’s poster boy. He led his team to one of the greatest comeback in sports history – overcoming a 3-0 deficit to the Yankees. He would go on to hit two home runs in game 7 of the ALCS, clinching Boston’s berth to the World Series. The Red Sox would go on to sweep the Cardinals, forever “reversing the curse” that plagued them for 86 years. In 2005, Damon would skip town, signing with Boston’s biggest nemesis. Damon’s signing with the Yankees led to him being loathed by Red Sox fans for years to come.


4.) LIVE! with LeBron… and LeBron – The native of Ohio broke the hearts of many when he announced that he was signing with the Miami Heat on national television. And while leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers – his hometown team – was bad enough, it made it worse when he did it live on ESPN. Making an ESPN spectacle of “The Decision” turned non-basketball viewers into LeBron haters. To make matters worse, he did it again this past season when he announced he was leaving the Heat to return to Cleveland (LeBron had led the Heat to four consecutive NBA Finals, winning two). Is LeBron a double-agent, or a talk show host?


 3.) Needle in a Haystack – If you were a fan of inflated stats and towering home runs, then the late ‘80s through the late 2000s in the MLB filled that obsession. It seemed like every year someone was breaking a home run record. Who could forget the summer of 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa electrified America with their race to 62 home runs in a single-season? McGwire would go on to destroy the record, hitting 70 home runs, only to have it broken by Barry Bonds in 2001. The home run heroics of the 1998 and 2001 seasons were called into questions as McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds were among a litany of major leaguers linked to the use of steroids. Between 1998 and 2009, 10 players reached the prestigious 500 home run club. Of the 10 players, six – Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield – have been linked to steroids.


2.) Selling Your Soul to the Devil – While the Boston Red Sox did “reverse the curse” in 2004 when they won the World Series, the road to the top took 86 years. It all began in 1919, when the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Before the sale, Boston had been one of the winningest franchises in baseball. By selling The Bambino, Boston paved way for the New York Yankees – who went on to become one of MLB’s most successful franchises, while Boston disappeared like the XFL.


1.) “Working on Our Night Moves” – Bob Seger sang about it, Robert Irsay actually did it. For over a decade, the Colts owner tried to upgrade their stadium. With little progress, Irsay decided to shop the team around, hoping to find a city willing to make the renovations. Finally, in 1983, Baltimore agreed to take the team, and give it a makeover. Irsay was not completely sold on the idea. Baltimore was given the rights to seize the team in 1984, but Irsay pulled the rug out from under them, and moved the Colts to Indianapolis. To make matters worse, he pulled the “heist” off at 2 a.m., using a series of decoy trucks to throw off the police.




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