The relationship between coaches and players is a difficult one. It’s important that coaches organize their players and ensure millionaires with larger-than-life egos respect their authority. When something goes wrong, it can be very tempting to throw primadonna stars under the bus. However, most coaches agree that this is very bad for team morale, especially if they focus on individuals.
Despite this, there are occasions when the coach chooses to pick on one player. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians recently made headlines for burning Tom Brady in front of the world. But he’s not the only coach or manager to do so. Some of these coaches were under severe pressure and wanted to deflect the blame to someone else. Others were in a position of success and wanted to light a fire underneath an underperforming athlete. Today, we’re going to look at 25 coaches who threw their athletes under the bus. Check out the list below via GQ.
25. Bill Peters
Former Carolina Hurricanes coach Peters left hockey in shame. However, his former goaltender Eddie Lack will only regret that the Canadian didn’t depart earlier. Peters was relentless in his verbal destruction. He threw him under the bus and lit him on fire after a series of bad performances in 2017. But Peters didn’t help Lack with his confidence.
Peters accused Lack of letting down his teammates. Now that was definitely a good comment for morale. “Well, you’ve got to push,” Peters said. “One guy has played 10 games. Eddie has played 10 games and was poor in his last outing, let’s not kid ourselves, right? There were 16 shots, four went in. Not good enough. You look at his numbers in the league, they’re not good enough.”
Robles has trained Team USA as well as a host of professional boxers. However, he is most famous for being the head coach of former heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz. The Mexican boxer stunned the whole by KO’ing Anthony Joshua. However, after Ruiz lost the rematch in disappointing fashion, Robles took the rare step of criticizing his fighter in public. He also quit his position as Ruiz’s coach because the fighter partied too hard.
Robles slammed Ruiz for his under-preparation. He said, “I don’t think I lost the connection with my fighter, I just think it’s more him, it’s more the individual. The individual has to be disciplined, you got to be hungry. I can’t want it more than him. He’s got to want it.” To be fair, he had a point but also threw his athlete under the bus. Robles is not someone who minces words.
Venezuelan baseball legend Guillen is one of the most colorful characters in the sport. He was also the first Latino manager to win a World Series during his time in charge of the Chicago White Sox. But it wasn’t all happy sailing during his tenure. When they missed out on the playoffs in 2011, Guillen threw his players under the bus. In short, he accused them of not caring supposedly unlike the coaches.
Guillen made a fascinating point that definitely didn’t help morale after a defeat. “Their fight left three days ago,” Guillen said. “I don’t care what they say. We’ve got coaches and all this stuff, we’re still out there and hopefully, win some games. You know what’s funny? Some coaches might need the $5,000, $3,000 to be in second place. The players might not. But the coaches do. They can buy Christmas gifts for their kids.
The New York Giants had a miserable 2017, going 3-13 overall. Head coach Ben McAdoo felt the pressure early as they lost their first two games. When franchise quarterback Eli Manning made a mistake in one game, McAdoo didn’t sugarcoat his feelings about the situation. Instead, he threw the Giants’ icon under the bus, laying the blame at his feet.
Manning mishandled a key play in the third quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions. But McAdoo didn’t sympathize or play down the error. He said, “Sloppy quarterback play. Quarterback and center need to be on the same page there. We need to get the ball snapped.” There are times when brutal honestly is effective but McAdoo was unable to find that balance. Now wonder Giants players and fans didn’t like him.
One of the most talented players of his generation, Gerrard faced a frustrating first season as manager of Glasgow Rangers in Scotland. The former Liverpool star expected high standards from his players. In sum, he didn’t accept them underperforming and not delivering on the field. However, when they didn’t deliver, Gerrard didn’t hesitate to throw them under the bus. That is always a dangerous tactic, but he didn’t hold back.
After one damaging defeat to Kilmarnock, Gerrard was furious. He said: “I think the players need to learn that even if you’re playing well, you get yourself in front, you can’t get overconfident. It’s incredible how you can have so much control and be playing with confidence and swagger, and then completely lose your way for such a long part of the game from that first mistake.” It was noticeable that he didn’t take any responsibility at all.
In 2016, the St. Louis Blues crushed the Colorado Avalanche 5-1. It was a terrible performance from the Avalanche although Matt Duchy had a personal reason to be happy. He scored his 30th goal of the season when they were down by four goals. This was the first time he broke that ceiling in his career and he celebrated viscerally. However, his coach Roy was unimpressed.
To sum up, Roy thought it was inappropriate considering the score at the time. He proceeded to throw Duchy under the bus in front of the media. “The thing I have a hard time with is the reaction of Duchy after his scores,” said Roy. “It’s a 4-0 goal. Big cheer. Are you kidding me? What is that? I mean, it’s not the reflection that we want from our guys. Not at all.”
In 2016, Notre Dame head coach Kelly was apoplectic following a loss to Duke. He totally threw his players under the bus, accepting exactly zero blame for the defeat. “Coaching had nothing to do with the outcome today,” insisted Kelly. Of course, college coaches earn millions of dollars per year while players don’t. So this was definitely one of the harshest rants we’ve ever heard.
But Kelly had more. He continued to lay the blame at his players’ feet as you can see. “Every position, all 22 of them, will be evaluated,” Kelly said. “Each and every position. There is no position that is untouchable on this football team. And that’s the quarterback, all the way down to — maybe the long snapper’s OK. We’re not going to touch him. But everybody else is vulnerable.”
Knight brought player criticism to the next level. He didn’t just throw them under the bus. He literally threw chairs at them. That’s exactly what Knight did in one bad performance against Purdue. One of the toughest coaches in the history of the sport, the Indiana Hoosiers legend was undoubtedly brilliant but also horrible to play under. Were the victories worth it?
He once grabbed one of his players and dumped him in a seat after two turnovers as well as screaming at his son in public. However, Knight defended his style passionately. “People want national championship banners,” said the coach. “People want to talk about Indiana being competitive. How do we get there? We don’t get there with milk and cookies.”
In 2004, Mitchell was a rookie head coach and feeling the pressure. After his Toronto Raptors side lost against the Washington Wizards, he wore the stress openly on his face. Furthermore, he ranted about his players’ character and desire. There’s nothing like totally disowning responsibility for a poor result and laying the blame on your players. Throwing them under the bus is character building.
Arguably Mitchell was responsible for motivating his players. However, he didn’t see it this way. “Somewhere we’ve got to find some men who want to play basketball to where this means more than just something to do,” he said. “And for the ones who don’t want to play, do everyone a favor and quit. And the ones I’m talking about, they know who they are because I’ve told them they need to quit. It’s embarrassing.”
One of the most emotional entries on this list, the Edmonton Eskimos head coach was inconsolable after a game against the B.C. Lions in 2013. His team played terribly and Reed knew it. When he attended the post-game media interview, he allowed his feelings to be known. The head coach struggled to maintain his composure and continued to pause for deep breaths during his epic tirade.
In sum, Reed went on his famous ‘consequences’ rant. He had nothing good to say about any of his athletes. “There has to be consequences now,” fumed Reed. “Enough talking about it, there has to be consequences, it’s just not acceptable. “We’re not good enough to be as undisciplined as we are at home and allow teams to continue drives and allow our drives to be stalled because of it.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets’ head coach is famously one of the most confrontational in pro sports. He’s not afraid to lay into his players. When in charge of the Lightning, he regularly called out goaltender John Grahame. “It’s deflating to see sixteen shots and four of them in the net, let’s call a spade a spade,” said Tortorella. “He’s trying like hell, but we need an occasional save.”
Meanwhile, check out what he said about Sean Avery following the ‘Sloppy Seconds’ incident.“He’s embarrassed himself, he’s embarrassed the organization, he’s embarrassed the league and he’s embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him,” said Tortorella. “Send him home. He doesn’t belong in the league.” It’s nice when a player’s coach has their back like that.
Tyson Fury is one of the best heavyweights in the world, but his career almost took a bad turn in 2013. He fought Keith Cunningham in New York but had to recover from a bad knockdown to seal the victory. The boxer’s display disgusted his uncle and coach Peter. The Furys never hold back and Peter threw Tyson under the bus. “That wasn’t him last night – I give it two out of 10,” said the elder Fury.
Peter didn’t attend the fight because of visa issues. But he didn’t stay silent. “That’s what happens when I’m not there,” he said. “He didn’t follow procedure, he just went out of control. Tyson ignored everyone. He did nothing of what we’ve been doing in the gym.” It is rare that combat sports coaches shred their athletes in public but the Furys aren’t a regular boxing family.
Mora’s famous ‘playoffs’ rant is one of the NFL’s most infamous moments. The former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach was furious after a horrific game against the San Francisco 49ers. The loss effectively eliminated their chances of making the playoffs. Mora was disgusted with his players and soundly threw them under the bus for their lack of composure and ridiculous number of turnovers.
It was a long rant so we’ll provide a snapshot here but check out the full clip above. “We gave it away by doing that,” said Mora. “We gave ’em the friggin’ game. In my opinion, that sucked. Ah. You know? You can’t turn the ball over five times like that. Holy crap! I don’t know who the hell we think we are when we do something like that! Unbelievable…five turnovers.”
As the most successful manager in Premier League history, Ferguson had an authority that few head coaches possess in any sport. The Scot had a reputation for being irascible in front of the media but rarely criticized individual players in public. As he wrote in his own autobiography, picking out one player for public criticism is bad for overall morale. However, occasionally he broke his own rule.
Wayne Rooney felt the brunt of Ferguson’s fury several times, but one of the most noteworthy involved Nani. The Portuguese winger was directly responsible for United dropping two points. In short, Ferguson felt sickened. “We were playing really good football at that point and all we needed to do was see the game out by keeping possession,” he said. “But Nani decided to try and beat a player, lost the ball and they got a penalty kick against us.”
Disgraced former Baylor basketball head coach Bliss is one of the most notorious figures in college sports. Almost all of the incidents on this list relate to events that occurred on the playing field. However, this one deals with the murder of Baylor player Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson. Bliss had illegally paid some of Dennehy’s tuition and tried to cover it up by claiming Dennehy paid for it with drug dealing.
Bliss accused Dennehy of failing drug tests and also supplying students with illegal substances on campus. “He was selling drugs, he sold to all the white guys on campus,” Bliss told the Houston Chronicle. “He was the worst.” Needless to say, this shocking attempt at victim-blaming didn’t end well for Bliss. The incident stained his reputation for the rest of his career.
Former head coach of the SIU basketball team Hinson was furious after a loss against Murray State in 2013. He went on a crazy rant and threw starting guard Marcus Fillyaw under the bus. He later apologized for his comments about the player as an individual but stood by the rest of what he said. “Marcus was absolutely awful,” said Hinson. That’s about as PG-rated as I can say it. He was awful.”
While Hinson regretted singling out Fillyaw, he didn’t apologize for the rest of his rant. “I’ve got a bunch of mama’s boys right now,” said the coach. “We just won’t buck up and bow our necks. We’ve got to get through that. I’m tired of coaching a guy and having him roll his eyes or put his head down or feel sorry for himself. This is big time. People lose their jobs.”
Proud owner of one of the worst winning records in NFL history, Jackson had a nightmare spell as coach of the Cleveland Browns. It was so bad that you would easily forget he also coached the Oakland Raiders. Of course, he didn’t lead them anywhere except to a dead end because his time in charge of them was tumultuous, to say the least. Furthermore, he didn’t hesitate to throw his entire team under the bus when they lost.
His time as Raiders’ head coach is memorable for one particular rant after a heavy defeat. “I’m p***ed at my team,” Jackson said. “At some point in time, as a group of men, you go in the game, and you can say whatever you want about coaches, you win the game. Here’s your time. Here’s your time to make plays. So, yeah, I’m p***ed at the team. I’m also, like I tell them, I’ll always put it on me, but I am p***ed at my team.”
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Reid has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the NFL’s nice guys. The Super Bowl winner rarely throws his players under the bus. However, that doesn’t mean he never does. In 2011, the then-Philadelphia Eagles coach explicitly pointed his finger at David Akers for missing two field goals. As a result, the Green Bay Packers defeated Philly by four points.
When asked about the incident, Reid was harsh. “We can all count,” said the coach. “Those points would have helped.” It was uncharacteristically brutal from Reid who usually just mumbled in press conferences. Furthermore, Akers, while at fault, had off-the-field concerns. Akers discovered two days before the game that his six-year-old had two cancerous cysts in her ovaries and required surgery. Reid did not look good.
Liverpool manager Klopp has a reputation for being one of soccer’s nice guys. He is intensely charismatic and protective. But even he has a breaking point. It’s extremely rare for him to single out a player, but he did so in the case of Dejan Lovren after a 4-1 defeat against Spurs in 2016. In short, he threw the Croat under the bus. Lovren was directly responsible for one of Harry Kane’s goals against Liverpool.
Klopp even suggested that he couldn’t have done better if he played. “It was just really bad, bad, bad defending,” Klopp said. “The second, a counter-attack, when the ball passes Lovren it is already too late. If I am involved in this situation on the pitch, then Harry cannot get the ball. It wouldn’t happen if I was on the pitch, but I am in the middle of the technical area in trainers.”
Thomas is an NBA legend for what he did as a player. But as a person and a coach, he wasn’t popular at all. That’s because regardless of his non-playing role, he ran teams into the ground. His time as New York Knicks head coach did nothing to disprove this because he was a disaster from start to finish. He failed to effectively communicate with his players and tried to blame them for not showing heart.
After one especially bad loss to the Indiana Pacers, Thomas threw the Knicks under the bus. “There are a lot of things that can be said about me and teams that I’ve coached and the way I played,” Thomas said. “But I’ve never been accused of not having heart or competing. And tonight was very discouraging to me because we didn’t collectively play with heart and compete like I know I do.”
When it came to football, Belichick rarely had an opportunity to criticize the greatest quarterback in NFL history. But when it came to footballs, he totally threw Brady under the bus. In 2015, the Deflate Gate scandal rocked the league. However, Belichick laid the blame at Brady’s feet rather than owning up to his own part in the sorry episode. Check out his scandalous comments below.
“Tom’s personal preferences on his footballs is something he can talk about in much better detail and information than I can possibly provide,” said Belichick as he showed a complete lack of leadership. Belichick is undoubtedly one of the greatest coaches ever, but this was just pathetic. Most coaches would attempt to deflect attention away from their players instead of hanging them out to dry.
Singletary’s reign in charge of the San Francisco 49ers was painful. However, for Vernon Davis, it was the stuff of nightmares. The head coach was never shy to eviscerate his players. After sending his player to the locker room during a game, Singletary threw him under the bus in front of the media. Then he reversed over him in case he didn’t the message the first time. You can check it out below.
“I told him that he would do a better job for us right now taking a shower and coming back and watching the game than going out on the field,” Singletary said after the 34-13 loss to Seattle. “Simple as that. I’d rather play with 10 people and just get penalized all the way until we have to do something else rather than play with 11 when I know that right now that person is not sold out to be a part of this team.” Now that had to hurt.
Gase is in the classic scenario of coaching an underperforming franchise and clearly running out of ideas. When a coach is in this position the tensions start to rise and the blame game begins. Usually, this is the beginning of the end. Gase is subtle in his criticisms. He doesn’t name names, but he does refer to positions so you know exactly who he is talking about based on context. Furthermore, he plays favorites with the likes of Sam Darnold.
The Jets’ head coach regularly targets his running backs and wide receivers in from of the media. Gase finished off one scathing assessment by saying, “Guys have to do a better job executing what they are supposed to be doing.” The players are partly responsible for the Jets’ recent failures. But it’s also up to the coach to deliver the right calls and make their ideas come across coherently. Gase has failed in this regard.
Current Tottenham Hotspurs manager and serial winner Mourinho will not hesitate to throw a player under the bus if he feels they are not performing to the level he expects. He openly criticized superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, and Iker Casillas. However, his treatment of Manchester United leftback, Luke Shaw, was one of the most uncomfortable dynamics in the world of sport.
Mourinho was relentless even when Shaw played well. After a good individual performance against Everton, the coach said, “He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him. He has to change his football brain. We need his fantastic physical and technical qualities but he cannot play with my brain.” Meanwhile, the legendary coach also regularly took issue with the England international’s weight and body-shamed him in public.
If your team signs a 43-year-old quarterback during a global health crisis and expects him to revolutionize your offense while learning a new playbook, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise when he doesn’t. Tom Brady’s time in Tampa has seen severe ups and downs. But Buccaneers’ coach Arians is clearly running out of patience with the GOAT and even threw the GOAT under the bus albeit in a subtle fashion.
After a loss to the Rams, he slyly laid the blame at Brady’s feet. He said, “Offensively, it’s just a matter of each and every week if the quarterback plays well or not.” Most damningly, when asked about one Brady pick, he said, “You’ll have to ask him about it.” This might not seem like much on the face of it, but tensions are rife in Tampa. It also shows that Arians is under pressure as well. This is definitely a situation to watch.