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American Football

  • Scott Norwood, a Buffalo Bills kicker who missed a go-ahead field goal (a long-distance field goal at that) in the final seconds of Super Bowl XXV. 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.
    • Boy I Love Losing Superbowls.
    • 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 that season, 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.)
  • 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.
    • In his own era, Namath was lambasted for wearing a mink coat on the sidelines.
    • Well, that and the pantyhose (It was for a commercial, not a lifestyle choice).
      • 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) - but 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 his Minnesota 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).
    • 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 Georgia 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 has moved on from it and has been 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.
  • 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.
    • What Modell is to Cleveland, Bob Irsay is to Baltimore. The Baltimore Colts were one of the NFL's flagship franchises before Irsay bought the team[1]. He gained a reputation as, to put it bluntly, a drunken lunatic more concerned with perceived lack respect than how his team was actually doing. This was cemented when, in a live impromptu press conference in 1983[2] 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 much free reign, leading to his perception as a pushover who ran 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 an innocent man.
    • Johnnie Cochran - An Amoral Attorney who rode the Chewbacca Defense to an acquittal.
    • Kato Kaelin - A Too Dumb to Live slacker.
  • 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 on a fumble return. This allowed Buffalo WR 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 Buttmonkeys 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 that 0-16 season... after inadvertently running out of the back of his own endzone, giving his opponents a safety... two points which gave that team their margin of victory.
      • To recap, he was on the 1-yard line (after the defense recovered a fumble there, which gives you some idea of the kind of luck the Lions had that season), and Jared Allen had broken loose. Had he taken the sack or thrown the ball away (which would've gotten an intentional grounding penalty), the end result would've been exactly the same. It's extraordinarily difficult to imagine a quarterback that would've done any better in that circumstance, much less anyone who's ever played for the Lions.
      • Colts fans may give him a pass; he was partly responsible for saving the Colts from a winless season in 2011.
  • 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 NFL 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 (a potential seven points) in the end zone. The Cowboys settled for a field goal (three points) there and ultimately lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-31.
  • Brett Favre became better known for his late-career "I'm retiring/I'm not retiring/I'm not sure" merry-go-round, than being the National Football League's all-time leader in nearly every passing category.
  • For many, former Atlanta Falcons/current Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick will never (and should never) be forgiven for his part in a dog fighting ring (and the killing of many of those dogs in an attempt to destroy evidenec 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 a quarterback who 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 refused to stop calling him "Chris." 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 DC 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.
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"I keek a touchdown." - Garo Yepremian

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  • Southern Methodist University's football team, which had great players like Doak Walker and Eric Dickerson, is forever remembered as the only college sports 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.
  • Hershel 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, and 2). getting his leg broke in two places from a Lawrence Taylor sack, which ended his playing career.
  • 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 scandal[3], some football fans will always accuse the New England Patriots of being cheaters, leading to them being called "The Cheatriots", and referring to Patriots coach Bill Belichick as "Bill Belicheat", 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 the Patriots' Matt Cassel alienated then-Broncos star QB Jay Cutler to the point that he demanded a trade.
    • The year "Spygate" broke, the Patriots went undefeated in the regular season and the playoffs... but lost in the Super Bowl[4].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 other Super Bowl-winning coaches Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher admitted to doing the same thing.
  • Louisiana State University coach Les Miles was caught on camera during warmups performing his pregame 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 assistant coaches 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 forgotten 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).
    • The question of whether Joe did enough is and probably will be still under great speculation: while he did do what he was supposed to do when he was told by McQueary, which was to report it to the Athletic Director and the University Park Police Dept. (a real governing police force and not just rent-a-cops like at other universities), there's the fact that he didn't check to see if an investigation was being taken place. Combined with the fact that the Athletic Director and the head of the Police Dept. were both charged with perjury regarding the investigation and you have one ugly mess that we may never get to the bottom of. Paterno dying less than three months after the scandal broke only makes matters worse, as Never Speak Ill of the Dead is brought into play -- is this a case where people should bring up the scandal or not?
    • Mike McQueary, a member of the coaching staff already has his Never Live It Down: Being the person who caught the assistant coach 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 the assistant coach was an old, wrinkled man) 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 MacQueary 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.
  • Former New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis is known as that guy who injured Drew Bledsoe and indirectly started the Patriots' 2000s dynasty, led by an unknown, sixth-round draft pick, backup QB named Tom Brady.
    • 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 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 the Jets' checkered drafting history. Some examples include them passing up Dan Marino for Ken O'Brien, and Warren Sapp for tight end Kyle Brady (no relation to Tom Brady).
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"So New York, New York has become Tight End, Tight End." - Chris Berman, during the 1992 NFL Draft.

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  • 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 players[5] 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 is a very successful coach on the college level with Louisville and Arkansas. But he's 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, it's safe to say that his disastrous season in Atlanta is the least of his problems.
  • 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 Crowning Moment of Awesome by winning the Super Bowl five years after Hurricane Katrina, they will also be forever known for three less-than-awesome things:
    1. 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: they were bad enough to make the perennial Butt Monkey Detroit look good[6]. Their sole bright spot was their quarterback, 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.
    2. Shortening the Promising Career of Other Star Players (aka "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 the 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 Defensive Coordinator of the Redskins at the time when Peyton Manning[7] received what would be the start of his career-threatening problems with neck injuries.
    3. 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' opening game in 2008. Pollard, now playing for the Baltimore Ravens, proclaimed himself a "Patriot Killer" due to him being involved, directly or indirectly, in the injuries of Wes Welker (in 2009, then as a member of the Houston Texans) and Rob Gronkowski (in the 2011 AFC Championship).
    • He also gained infamy for his rather poor display of sportsmanship after the Patriots went on to beat the Ravens in the 2011 AFC Championship, giving New England no credit for the win and going on to say that he hoped that the Giants would crush the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
  • 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)[8] they wore for their first two years of existence.

Association Football/Soccer

  • Of particular note is Zinedine Zidane, who was perhaps the very best player of the late '90s/early '00s: those not very familiar with the sport won't remember him for anything else than headbutting Marco Materazzi during the 2006 FIFA World Cup final. Admittedly he didn't do much else after it, as it was his last match before he retired...
    • 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.
  • Italy forward Alberto Gilardino did not really grow up to be the super-striker 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 the above (seriously ignorant) belief.
  • A more recent example: Nigel DeJong'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 soccer players 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, recently sung to Ronaldo "Hey, you there! Left Cicarelli to get a transvestite!")
  • 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 Suarez 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 Africa side ever to advance to a World Cup semi-final.
    • 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, 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 tie).
  • Goalkeeper Gordon Banks said that while he won the World Cup in 1966, he's most remembered by an unbelievable save four years later.
  • 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 training 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.
  • 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.

Baseball

  • 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 this one play he failed to make in this one World Series game...
    • And you know what the really crazy thing is? The game was already blown! Yet somehow, no one seems to mention the wild pitch on the preceding play that allowed the Mets to score the tying run. Oh, and since the whole underlying theme seems to be how the Red Sox never could win the big one, shouldn't, y'know, GAME SEVEN be part of the discussion? In case you forgot, the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead in that game, too, and couldn't hold it.
    • There's also the fact that Red Sox manager John McNamara left Buckner on the field, despite horribly painful ankle injuries that basically had him playing with bone-on-bone contact, rather than insert a defensive replacement like he'd done all year. In fact, Buckner should have been lifted for a pinch hitter the previous inning, rather than face Mets reliever Jesse Orosco, who was lethal against left-handed hitters.
    • 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, no doubt fueled by the guilt of demonizing a blameless man.
  • 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 Martinez 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 other 2003 LCS also had a moment invoking this trope that took place two days earlier: 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. As with the Buckner example, it's almost entirely unjustified, as the Cubs went on to blow the rest of the inning (badly), the game, and the next game. The real blame lies with Alex Gonzalez, the Cubs shortstop who immediately after the Bartman Ball muffed a potential inning-ending double-play ball, but Bartman's name will always be front and center.
      • Please, note, too, that this was the NLCS. As in, the last step before the World Series. When fans scream for blood after the team blows the semifinal, you know their sense of perspective is seriously messed up.
    • Perhaps Bartman didn't cause the Cubs' collapse, but the circumstances are why everyone remembers him. It's common for players to make errors, less so for a fan to prevent one of the players on the team he roots for from catching a foul ball.
  • 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.
  • Don Denkinger had a 30 year career as a Major League umpire, but is primarily known for a blown call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series.
    • More recently, umpire Jim Joyce will probably be forever remembered as the guy who cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga the final out of a perfect game -- although most people have at least forgiven him, including (in a true Crowning Moment of Heartwarming) 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 game.
  • Robin Ventura played Major League Baseball 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, Ventura charged the mound after getting hit by a pitch from the legendary Nolan Ryan (A player twenty years Ventura's senior). Ryan simply grabbed Ventura in a headlock and pummeled him in the head until Ryan's teammates separated them.
    • Okay, let's be serious, here. Those were NOOGIES. Not straight rights, not uppercuts, not megaton punches. Noogies. Pretty weak noogies, at that, evidenced the fact that Ryan didn't break his friggin' hand. (If you punch a man's skull hard enough to cause injury, your hand is going to take it FAR worse than his skull.) If you watch carefully, it looks like Ventura actually wrestled Ryan to the ground; he may have even gotten on a chokehold (admittedly not a very deep one). The rest of the clusterfrag was the same 'ol flailing-limbs pileup where nobody gets hurt you've seen a thousand times before.
    • However, if someone charges the mound, their intent is revenge, not to essentially do nothing, or take part in a laughable fight. Especially if your challenging an old man, and its not a Karate Movie, everyone expects the young guy to win.
    • The Rangers frequently show a historical highlight reel prior to games at The Ballpark 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. Your Mileage May Vary on 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.
      • And now Ventura's been named White Sox manager starting in 2012. The Sox open that season IN TEXAS.
    • Mets fans remember Ventura for the "grand slam single" he hit to win Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS against Atlanta.
    • Don't forget Ventura's badly broken leg and ankle.
  • 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.
    • 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. Recently 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.
  • 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.
  • Lou Piniella is one of the smartest, most successful managers that Major League Baseball has seen in recent 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.
  • 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 Major League Baseball 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.
  • Fred Snodgrass's $30,000 Muff. And, no, not just because it sounds just as funny as Merkle's Boner.
  • The San Francisco Giants' Ruben Rivera, with "the worst baserunning in the history of the game".
  • 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. Sadly, he's remembered more for giving up the home run than Joe Carter is for hitting it.
    • 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 out 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.
  • The Reds' Pete Rose is at least as well known at this point for his lifetime ban from 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 the team's "Big Red Machine" dynasty of the '70s, his 44-game hitting streak, his breaking Ty Cobb's all-time hits record, or his managerial stint.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sammy 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 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.
    • And recently he changed his skin color, which gained him even more criticism.
  • 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.
  • 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 A Bs, as he delivered the game-winning hit in Game Seven of the NLCS that won the pennant for the Braves.
  • 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 Four, 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.

Basketball

  • 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")[9]. 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."
  • Sam Bowie was the #2 pick of the 1984 NBA Draft out of the University of Kentucky. He played eleven years in the Association with Portland, New Jersey, and the LA Lakers. Most average NBA fans only know him as the guy the Trail Blazers drafted instead of some junior out of North Carolina... some kid named Jordan. This is a rather unfair condemnation of both Bowie and Portland, given that Portland needed a big man (of which Bowie was the best on the board, after the #1 pick, Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon) much more than they needed another shooting guard, having used the previous year's first rounder on Olajuwon's former (and future) teammate, Clyde Drexler.
    • Justified, though, because the injury-prone Bowie never lived up to his potential; he only scored 1000 points for a season once, while Jordan scored more than 2000 points 11 times. Also consider that at the time, people in Chicago were shaking their fists because Portland picked Bowie before they could. Note that Houston didn't catch flak for taking Olajuwon when they didn't need a big man (they had Ralph Sampson at the time) because Hakeem did become a Hall of Fame player, leading Houston to the only two championships between '91 and '98 not won by Jordan's Bulls.
    • This seems to be a recurring theme with the Trail Blazers: drafting big men who dominated in college only to fail in the pros because of injuries. Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, and now Greg Oden... Oden's proven to be the worst of the bunch.
      • At least they got a championship out of Walton.
  • 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
  • Bobby Knight is the winningest NCAA Division 1 basketball coach ever, won any number of national championships and led the 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 Crowning Moment of Awesome for Blake Griffin, but it's most likely all Mozgov will ever be remembered for.
  • 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:
    1. 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 recently 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.
    2. 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.)
    3. 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.
    4. 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 the worst executive in the history of modern American sports. At least until the aforementioned Matt Millen "rose" to power.
      • 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 Detroit fan after the later threw a cup of Coke at him, which led to a full-scale brawl between the Pacers, Pistons, and Pistons fans.
    • In the months before the 2011-2012 season began, Artest both changed his name to "Metta World Peace" and tweeted about his nipples being hard from excitement at a Celine 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".
  • Allen Iverson is/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, he had a press conference for his signing to the Pistons, where a Detroit reporter ribbed him about his practice habits. It's even been in the Stupid Statement Dance Mix for Never Live It Down interview moments, as the chorus and focus interview. Even above "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 due to the lack of pass-first guards in the game today. 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.

Hockey

Broadcasters

  • 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 black were bred for size and strength during slavery. Defenders of Cosell, Snyder and the above-mentioned Campanis say that they were unfairly railroaded and branded "racist" by the forces of Political Correctness.
  • 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.

Fighting Sports

  • 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.
    • He actually has a lot more inglorious moments. 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.
    • Trope Codifier for The Tyson Zone.
  • 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:
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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?'"

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  • Angel 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.

Professional Wrestling

  • To Canadian Professional Wrestling fans, Shawn Michaels will forever be known as the guy that screwed Bret Hart out of the WWE Championship at Survivor Series 1997. To this day, whenever Michaels, Vince McMahon or referee Earl Hebner appear in Canada, particularly in Montreal itself, the fans will chant "YOU SCREWED BRET!" at them.
  • Lita's career was never the same again in 2005 after cheating on Matt Hardy with Adam "Edge" Copeland. She ended up suffering a nervous breakdown due to the constant chants of "Slut!" (among many others) and promptly retired.
  • Kevin Nash tearing his quad walking across the ring.
  • "Dr. D" David Schultz, prior to 1984, was known as a tough, hard-edged, no-nonsense wrestler (in fact, his persona was very similar to Stone Cold Steve Austin's). After '84, he was only known as the guy who slapped ABC's John Stossel on live TV.
  • Art Donovan may be an accomplished American Football player, but wrestling fans will forever remember him as that guest announcer at the 1994 King of the Ring PPV who didn't know anything about wrestling and constantly asked "How much does this guy weigh?".
  • Ron "R-Truth" Killings (as part of a pre-match ritual) mixing up Milwaukee with Green Bay.
  • Chris Harris may have been a part of TNA's first great tag team, America's Most Wanted, but his career has been dubiously overshadowed by his brief yet memetic stint in WWECW as Braden Walker. Walker made a terrible knock-knock joke, wrestled two matches and disappeared - but fans made ironic tributes to him, such as a WWE Hall of Fame induction and a DVD collection. They even chanted "Knock knock! Who's there? Braden Walker!" at him when he made a brief return to TNA in 2011.
  • Terry Taylor wrestled primarily in the NWA, WWE and WCW during the '80s and '90s, winning a few championships here and there. What's he best remembered for? The Red Rooster, widely considered to be one of the worst gimmicks of all-time. The crowd seems to have made sure that he'll never live that gimmick down, chanting "Rooster!" no matter where he goes.
  • Teddy Long has had a long career in professional wrestling as a manager, referee and General Manager of both SmackDown and WWECW. Nowadays, he's best remembered for booking impromptu tag-team matches and forcing heels to "go one-on-one with Da Undatakah!". Apparently, those are now the only two things he ever does, according to fans.
  • Cameron is always going to be known as the Diva who got booted off WWE Tough Enough 5 by Stone Cold Steve Austin after she cited "Melina vs. Alicia Fox" as being her favorite match of all-time. To a lesser extent, she is also infamous for attempting to pin someone who was lying face-down.
  • Titus O'Neil had a spectacular botch at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in 2018. Entering the match at #39, O'Neil tripped just before reaching the ring, causing him to fall and slide underneath the ring apron, disappearing from view momentarily. While O'Neil got into the ring proper and continued the match, the announcers couldn't help Corpsing at what they had just seen. WWE milked it for all it was worth, to great results. The moment even made #1 on ESPN Sports Center's "Not Top 10" plays of the week, which is very rare for a WWE clip, and fans have come to dub this moment the "Titus Worldslide".
  • Jackie Gayda and, to a lesser extent, Christopher Nowinski will never live down the infamous "That Jackie Gayda Match", a complete botchfest on a 2002 episode of RAW. Trish Stratus and John Bradshaw Layfield, on the other hand, have avoided this reputation thanks to having much more successful in-ring careers.
  • Poor Booker T. He'll always be mentioned for that promo he cut in WCW where he accidentally said the n-word.
  • Natalya has wrestled for WWE for over a decade and won several championships, but to many people, she's best remembered for the time she had a farting problem.
  • Juan Francisco de Coronado is best-known for his work in CHIKARA, where he reigned as the CHIKARA Grand Champion for over a year. Unfortunately, he's also known for a high-pitched scream he made when he was given a tandem powerbomb by the Bludgeon Brothers on an episode of WWE SmackDown in 2017.
  • What's Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake best known for? Being Hulk Hogan's best friend and having several ridiculous gimmicks in WCW (Brother Bruti, The Butcher, The Zodiac, The Booty Man, The Disciple, etc.).
  • Orlando Jordan is mainly known for two things: dropping the WWE United States title to Chris Benoit in just 25 seconds at SummerSlam 2005, and his Depraved Bisexual gimmick in TNA.

Other

  • 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 the "ABC 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 Crowning Moment of Awesome; it'd be an eternal defining moment for pretty much anybody.
  • Australian cricketer Shane Warne sending lewd text messages whilst drunk. If he'd sent as many as it's generally believed he has, his thumb would have fallen off by now.
  • In the early 80s, Australian footballer John Bourke 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.
  • 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 his game took a serious nosedive after news broke on the scandal.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bela Karolyi 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 Karolyi 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." [10], but the version everyone remembers is actually Rob Schneider's imitation of Karolyi 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 his association with organized crime (and, after all this, fans still seemed to emphasize his stellar play. After he signed with Richmond, their membership sales soared).
  • Argentinian tennis player David Nalbandian will likely never live down getting disqualified from the 2012 Queen's Club Championships final for attacking a line judge.
  1. A team swap, really - Irsay attained the Colts from Carol 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
  2. partially shown in the ESPN documentary The Band That Wouldn't Die
  3. In which they were accused of videotaping the New York Jets' defensive signals from an illegal location (i.e., the sidelines) that year
  4. That fateful season is forever known to football fans as "18-1"
  5. though they were not aware said injury was a career-ending one at the time
  6. fans of the Saints in those times have the distinction of being the first fans to start wearing paper bags over their heads.
  7. Oh, to think of how Archie must feel about this fact...
  8. Seen in throwback form here
  9. 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.
  10. She did, by the way.
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