On the field: Some consider Taylor (or LT) the greatest NFL linebacker of all time (and perhaps the most dominant football player ever). His stats are remarkable. Two Super Bowl wins, 10 Pro Bowls, 1 MVP award and the less said about what he did to Joe Theismann the better.
Off the field: Taylor’s entire NFL career and retirement have been frequently overshadowed by his multiple arrests on drug-related offenses. Things took a turn for the worse this year when Taylor was accused of raping an underage girl in a Holiday Inn across from his golf course.
On the Course: Certainly the most dominant golfer in recent memory, and quite possibly the greatest golfer ever. He made the sport hip and managed to win 14 major championships in the process.
Off the Course: Woods’ reputation was squeaky clean until late last year when it was revealed that he had carried on countless affairs with an assortment of seedy women. His wife and two small children have been dragged through an ugly ongoing public relations nightmare that seems to have taken a toll on Tiger’s golf game.
On the Track: Jones became a track-and-field phenomenon after winning three gold medals at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.
Off the Track: However, Jones trashed her reputation and career when she finally confessed in 2007 (after numerous public denials) to knowingly using performance enhancing drugs. She wound up serving six months behind bars for committing perjury and having all her victories from 2000 to 2002 stripped away.
On the Field: Roethlisberger had two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers relatively early in his career and is considered one of the best quarterbacks currently in the league.
Off the Field: Roethlisberger gained a reputation for being boneheaded after suffering what could have been fatal injuries in a motorcycle crash where he refused to wear a helmet. But he’s become infamous in recent years for being the subject of several sexual assault allegations.
In the Ring: In 1986, at age 20, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever. From the mid-1980s until the early ‘90s he was the most feared and dominant figure in boxing (and some say in the entire history of the sport).
Out of the Ring:Tyson has been accused of domestic violence by ex-wife Robin Givens, convicted of rape, bitten several other boxers – he once threatened to eat an opponent’s children – and is well known for lots of other crude public outbursts. Although he has enjoyed something of a career comeback of late with his cameo in The Hangover.
On the Field: Bonds is one of the greatest baseball players of all time and he currently holds Major League Baseball records for most MVPs (7), most home runs in a season (73), and most prized of all, most home runs of all-time (762).
Off the Field: However, all his achievements (especially in later years) are at best suspect since Bonds continues to be haunted by persistent and compelling evidence that he knowingly used performance enhancing drugs as a player. Besides that, he is considered one of the most unlikable, uncharismatic superstars in sports history.
On the Field: Winner of 4 World Series and an 8-time All-Star, Strawberry was one of the best sluggers in baseball during his 1980s prime with the Mets.
Off the Field: Unfortunately his stellar career was cut short because of drug use and multiple run-ins with the law. One of the most infamous incidents was when he went to visit his probation officer on painkillers, blacked out, rear-ended another car, and then tried to drive away.
On the Field: OJ’s football career is justifiably legendary. He was a Heisman trophy winner in college. He was the first NFL running back to surpass 2,000 yards in a season. He won 2 MVP awards and was beloved by fans.
Off the Field: That of course was before he was accused (and found guilty in civil court) of murdering his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. After getting acquitted, OJ had the audacity to pen If I Did It, a book whose title says it all. He’s currently in jail for stealing sports memorabilia.
On the Court: Williams was the lone bright spot in the late-1990s Nets line-up. A solid scorer and rebounder, plus a one-time All-Star.
Off the Court: After leaving the NBA due to injury, Williams stood trial for the shooting death of his limo driver. In 2009 he was charged with assault, and this year a DUI incident landed him in court again.
On the Field: One of the best pitchers of all-time. Clemens has two World Series rings, 6 Cy Young awards and 11 All-Star selections. He has been one of the most dominant pitchers of the last 30 years.
Off the Field: Clemens has been perpetually dogged by steroid allegations (which he still denies), adultery (that supposedly began when the woman was in her teens), and overall anger management issues (remember when he chucked a broken bat at Mike Piazza?).
On the Field: The MLB slugger became the first player to hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in a single season in 1995. He was a five-time All-Star and he is one of only six players in baseball history to have nine consecutive 100-RBI seasons.
Off the Field: Besides being infamously adversarial with the press (he refused to give interviews for much of his career), Belle is disliked for attacking fans in the stands for heckling him, using a corked bat, and perhaps worst of all, pleading guilty to stalking a former escort.
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America adores its professional athletes. We love to see them break records and win championships on the baseball and football fields, basketball and tennis courts, and the golf course, too. What we can’t stand is when our sports heroes engage in reprehensible behavior in their personal lives – it makes it more than a little hard to root for them. In honor of repeat offender Michael Vick, here are theGrio’s 15 favorite athletes we wish would stick to their day jobs.