Ronaldo could be the most recognizable athlete on the planet. The Manchester United forward forged his career in the U.K. before he became a true superstar in Spain. He set all kinds of records with Real Madrid and became the most expensive player of all time. After a glittering career with Los Blancos, he moved to Italy and won titles with Juventus before a return to United.
However, everything isn’t going so smoothly off the field. Ronaldo faced charges of tax evasion and eventually a two-year jail sentence with probation. Meanwhile, a Spanish court forced him to pay almost $20 million in fines. Then there were multiple allegations of sexual assault. In 2021 a woman sued him for almost $70 million in damages. That’s a lot of drama (via Yahoo Sports).
Leonard is an elite talent but many fans don’t like him. This is because of his approach to basketball. He doesn’t care about forging a legacy with a single franchise. No, he prefers to maximize his earnings and it’s a bonus if rings come along the way. Most analysts believed the San Antonio Spurs was a fantastic fit for this mercurial athlete. But it didn’t end well and he moved to Toronto.
After a Championship win up North, he moved to L.A. to play for the Clippers. There were high expectations on the Clippers in 2020 but they fell miserably short. Meanwhile, criticism emerged about Leonard’s character. Allegedly he hijacked the female locker room to stretch while refusing entry to the women who needed it. He also arrived late to flights and practices after receiving special permission to live in San Diego (via CCN).
Ortiz is a special kind of person. The former UFC light heavyweight champion was a popular figure during his heyday. But his image deteriorated over the years as he committed gaffe after gaffe. He had a beef with UFC President Dana White and commemorated it on an infamous t-shirt (via Bleacher Report). Then there was his relationship with adult actress Jenna Jameson. It raised eyebrows at the time.
Ortiz fought Chuck Liddell in a veteran’s MMA bout in 2019 and knocked his old rival out. The trouble was that Liddell was almost 50 at the time. Ortiz has as much self-awareness as there is water in Arizona. He demonstrated this as Mayor of Huntington Beach where he infuriated all of his political colleagues. It’s not that Ortiz tries to create drama but it’s a consequence of his irrational behavior.
Newton was a supremely talented quarterback during his prime but injuries curtailed his abilities. The former Carolina Panthers star was the NFL MVP in 2015 but struggled to maintain that level afterward. After a season ruined by injury, he joined the New England Patriots amid the drama of Tom Brady’s departure. Eyes were on Newton because it was a new dawn for the franchise. But he endured another rocky spell.
To be fair, he started well, but fitness, illness, and the team’s overall form limited his output. Then, the Pats drafted Mac Jones in 2021. Most people expected Newton to start for another season before Jones took over. But Bill Belichick released Newton before the season; many speculated it was because of vaccine issues. He infuriated a lot of the New England coaching staff and also cast his future into doubt.
Alvarez doesn’t attract drama in the conventional sense. The Mexican boxer is arguably the greatest talent of his generation. He became the undisputed super-middleweight champion in 2021 but it’s difficult to overlook his tainted meat. We’re talking of course about the beef he allegedly consumed in 2018 that caused him to fail a drug test. Boxing is a dirty sport but it’s a shame his record carries an asterisk.
Also, he’s had some controversial fights. First, there was the draw against Gennady Golovkin in their first meeting. Many people believed that the Kazakh boxer won that bout. However, Canelo rebounded and defeated him in their next meeting. Then, there were incidents like the face-off against Caleb Plant. The U.S. star pushed Canelo so the Mexican punched him in the face and cut him before the fight.
Wilson is one of the worst draft busts in history. The Tennessee Titans picked him up in 2020 after a superb tenure with Georgia. They believed that the offensive tackle had the potential to be one of the best in his position in the league. Instead, they inherited one of the NFL’s biggest problems and barely got a tune out of him. In short, everything he did resulted in trouble (via Sports Illustrated).
First of all, police arrested him for DUI after he led them on a drunken 140 mph chase. This didn’t endear him to his new employers, nor did the fact that he violated team rules on multiple occasions. In the end, he only played in a single game for the franchise before they traded him to Miami. This went about as well as expected. The Dolphins cut him after missing a couple workouts.
Nobody likes playing against Costa. The Brazilian-born, Spain International is a snarling forward with a menacing streak. He is a master of the dark arts and one of the most cynical soccer players on the planet. This made him incredibly unpopular with opposition fans. His clashes with opposition players and his dirty tactics gave him a villainous reputation.
Costa also has a difficult reputation. He infamously disappeared to Brazil for almost six months after refusing to play for his club Chelsea (via Bleacher Report). It was a bizarre situation because Chelsea craved a striker of his talents. But he couldn’t get over his differences with the board. He also left Atletico Madrid in 2020 in controversial circumstances after the arrival of Luis Suarez.
Let’s caveat this by saying that Tebow hasn’t done anything wrong. However, the former Broncos’ quarterback is a polarizing figure. His rapid rise and fall in the NFL were one of the biggest emotional rollercoasters in history. Ultimately, Tebow Time brought a lot of drama but it didn’t go anywhere. Finally, after failing to make the grade in New England, Tebow left football for baseball.
Then, in 2021, Urban Meyer shocked the world by bringing Tebow into his Jaguars’ preseason training camp. He wanted to try his former Florida Gators’ player as a tight end (via CBS Sports). Fans were derisive because it appeared to be favoritism on Meyer’s part. In the end, it didn’t go anywhere and Tebow quit football for good. He’s not a bad person like some of the people on this list but he still stirs up drama everywhere he appears.
At first, Davis excited fans because of his violent style and his affiliation to Floyd Mayweather. Many people loathe him because he brings unnecessary and unsavory drama to a lot of places. Davis has faced a lot of legal problems over the years and struggles to stay out of trouble. Davis has had DUIs, street brawls, and even domestic abuse cases.
Davis shamelessly assaulted his girlfriend in public. This obviously brought a lot of negativity because it was a disgraceful action. In 2021, police arrested him in connection to a hit-and-run. He crashed his Lamborghini into another vehicle and injured the occupants (via TMZ). Then, he ran away like a desperate little rat.
Osaka doesn’t look for drama but finds it anyway. The soft-spoken tennis star won her first Major in 2019 when she defeated Serena Williams. She won the Australian Open in Melbourne and it should have been the happiest moment of her life. But it quickly became toxic after Williams turned the crowd against her. In the end, Osaka apologized for beating the tennis icon.
Then, in 2021, she attracted even more drama. Osaka pulled out of the French Open because she didn’t want to attend media duties, claiming they damaged her mental health. However, Roland Garros’ organizers made it clear they weren’t optional. Finally, Osaka withdrew so that the focus would be on the athletes. But it was already too late because the world was talking about the situation.
Durant is a phenomenal NBA athlete. He rose to prominence with the Oklahoma City Thunder before breaking fans’ hearts by seeking a move to a bigger franchise. Durant joined the Golden State Warriors and instantly became a hated figure. The Warriors had defeated his old team the year before.
Instantly, Durant became an NBA pariah (via The Ringer). Fans considered him a prime example of a mercenary. In hindsight, this was harsh because in any other industry, joining a bigger company for more money wouldn’t be a bad thing. But the sports world is passionate. Finally, he left the Warriors for the Nets after making it clear that he wanted to move East.
A tenacious and talented forward, Tevez played many years in the Premier League. But the Argentine star brought the drama with him. He joined Manchester United in controversial circumstances. After a couple of seasons with the Red Devils, he left as a free agent. So naturally, he chose their arch-rivals Manchester City.
Needless to say, this didn’t make him a popular figure on the other side of the city. Things were going well for Tevez with his new team but then he decided he wanted to leave. So he refused to play for them in a game against Bayern Munich. This resulted in a suspension and eventually, he quit City (via Sky Sports). Tevez is a colorful figure away from the field and has enjoyed open relationships with various models.
Richardson broke onto the scene in 2020 as one of the U.S.’s top track athletes. The fastest woman in America was one of their medal hopes at the Olympics in Tokyo. But she never made it onto the plan after testing positive for marijuana. She claimed that she was smoking to deal with the stress from her biological mother’s recent death.
However, marijuana was on the list of banned substances so she suffered a month’s suspension. This isn’t the first time she’s attracted notoriety. Her coach Dennis Mitchell is a known drug cheat whom she risks tainting herself by association (via Irish Times).
Nobody says Irving isn’t a brilliant player. He’s a wonderful talent and that’s why the Nets wanted to bring him to Brooklyn. But how he left the Boston Celtics was controversial. Fans expected him to stay there for a long time and build them back into a contender. However, Irving craves drama and it follows him everywhere like a magnet (via FOX News).
His time in Brooklyn hasn’t gone smoothly. First, he had injuries that were out of his control. But then in 2021, he refused to receive a vaccine, meaning he couldn’t play in New York under state law. He put his franchise in an extremely difficult position and infuriated the fanbase in the process. Irving creates so much chaos.
To be fair, Favre didn’t create much drama until his time in Green Bay was over. Since then, he’s been unable to resist it. First, there was his outrage over the franchise’s decision to install Aaron Rodgers as the starter. Next, there was his Jets’ scandal where he sent inappropriate photos to a team reporter. The NFL investigated and fined him $50,000 for obstruction.
Then multiple masseuses sued him because he allegedly treated them ‘like slabs of meat.’ They claimed that he tried to initiate a three-way and expected services unbecoming of a married man (via ABC News). Years later, Favre became embroiled in a financial scandal. The state of Mississippi demanded that he repay over a million dollars for public speaking appearances he never attended.
One of the greatest golfers of all time, Woods is no stranger to drama. This wasn’t always the case because he once had a squeaky-clean image. But it all changed after he crashed his car and his sex scandal broke. Dozens of women emerged and revealed that they had had affairs with Woods. In the end, Woods went to rehab and his marriage broke down (via People.com).
In 2019, he won the Masters and reclaimed some of the goodwill he lost. His diehard fans were delighted to see him get another win after years of injury and personal issues. However, in 2021 he broke his leg after another crash. Woods is an incredible golfer and one of the most famous athletes ever. However, it’s a shame that his image will never recover fully from past events.
Arguably the greatest boxer of his generation, Mayweather was the richest active athlete on the planet during his prime. But drama followed him wherever he went but he could have avoided it. The worst was when he spent 90 days in jail after laying hands on the mother of his children (via FOX Sports). This case clung to him like a contagious disease.
However, he rebounded and continued to make massive amounts of money. ‘Money’ opened his nightclub, Girl Collection, in Las Vegas. Furthermore, he had several exhibition bouts that milked dollars from his fans. There was the controversial New Years’ Eve bout against Tenshin Nasukawa. Then there was an exhibition clash with YouTuber Logan Paul.
Most people think of one catchphrase when they hear Balotelli’s name: “Why always me?” In 2011 he scored against Manchester United and lifted his jersey to reveal this message. But Balotelli is a master of drama. This is a man who once crashed his car into a women’s prison because the gate was open. He also used the Manchester City youth team for target practice as he threw darts at them (via Joe.ie).
Then there was the time the fire brigade rushed to his home after he let off fireworks inside. Balotelli also brings drama to his soccer teams. He has been in multiple fights with teammates and left clubs because managers can’t control him. It’s unfortunate but there is a definite sense that he wasted his career.
There’s no denying that Jones is a brilliant athlete but he carries a lot of baggage. The former UFC light heavyweight champion’s nickname may as well be drama rather than ‘Bones’ because he’s synonymous with it. These days he’s feuding with Dana White over money and refusing to fight. He’s also tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs multiple times and added asterisks to his career.
Meanwhile, it’s difficult to know where to start outside the cage. Jones infamously crashed his car into a pregnant woman’s vehicle before fleeing the scene. He also fired his gun into the air while hanging out with homeless people during the global health crisis. Furthermore, on the day of his UFC Hall of Fame induction, Vegas police arrested him on domestic violence charges (via The Mac Life).
It’s safe to say that Bell should have had a much better career than he has achieved. However, the onetime star brings drama wherever he goes. He is his own worst enemy. His best performances came for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but then he sat out for a year. It came down to contract issues but he wasted a season in his prime.
Next, he had the unfortunate luck of moving to the New York Jets. To be fair, they were one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL so it’s not surprising that he failed there. His agent somehow managed to conjure up an escape to the reigning Super Bowl champions. But the Kansas City Chiefs failed to get much out of him (via Fansided). Finally, Bell said he’d never play for Andy Reid again as if he had the option.
McGregor could create drama in a monastery. The Irishman is one of the most insane athletes on the planet and creates chaos everywhere he goes. This applies in a sporting context but also in normal life. For example, he took his family to the Vatican for his child’s Christening. Later, a news report revealed that he punched a DJ at a private party. He is a magnet for trouble.
Sometimes he goes out of his way to make problems. The former champ infamously stormed Brooklyn’s Barclay Center in a bid to assault Khabib Nurmagamedov. There was the time he punched an older man in a pub because he refused to drink McGregor’s whiskey. He has retired and unretired more times than anybody can count. In sum, he’s one of the biggest drama queens on the planet. Just ask Machine Gun Kelly (via Daily Mail).
Sometimes players simply don’t work well together. Maybe they’re just stylistically a bad fit for the team. However, Beckham and Baker Mayfield went beyond this. First, the former was too much of a maverick to bond with his quarterback. He once ran the wrong route against Denver and landed Mayfield in hot water. At the same time, the QB built up a connection with Jarvis Landry (via ESPN).
It didn’t help that Mayfield exploded to life after Beckham’s injury in 2020. Meanwhile, Beckham became an increasingly expensive liability. His tenure in New York ended after injuries too. Those are unavoidable but his attitude remains a sticking point. Endless drama appears to follow the wide receiver. He should be one of the best players in the league but he keeps falling short. That’s why the Browns cut ties with him.