The biggest personalities of professional sports are world-famous characters.
True, they often gain notoriety through exploits and accolades attained on the field of play of whatever sport they play. But oftentimes, athletes and other high-profile names in the sporting world gain as much fame (or should we say infamy) by what they say and do off the field as well. On-field accomplishments can get an athlete far, but they only get them so far. Someone in the public eye of the professional sports world truly has to resonate with fans and media members in more ways than one. And it takes an incredibly big ego to obtain the spotlight and stay there.
Needless to say, the professional sports world has seen some incredible egos come and go over time. It’s also chock-full of over-the-top personalities who have taken the baton from the egomaniacs of old. Love them or hate them, it seems the biggest egos in the sports world get the most headlines. So we took the opportunity to break down the most overblown egos sports have ever seen. Check out the full list right here:
40. Jerry Jones
The famous owner of the Dallas Cowboys is a perfect person to start the list of sports’ biggest egos. While he’s not a player, there’s arguably never been someone who has gained the attention of the television cameras more than the widely-hated Jones. In truth, the list of headlines he’s caused himself is many miles long.
He’s never far from the camera when a controversy arises concerning the Dallas Cowboys, and there seem to be many. The ‘Boys are called “America’s Team,” but that doesn’t hide the fact that they’re one of the most hated teams in the United States in addition to one of the most beloved. Jones is a big reason for that. Maybe some dislike him because he’s an outspoken billionaire. It simply cannot be denied that he has a huge ego, however. The fact that his ludicrously expensive stadium in Texas is called “Jerry’s World” is all the proof you need.
Of course, his ongoing feud with a certain running back to be named later on this list doesn’t help either.
Now, Favre is loved by many and is largely considered one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all-time. But it takes a certain ego to reach those heights. While Favre had a happy-go-lucky, ‘aw shucks’ type of Southern personality, he also wanted the spotlight on him most of the time.
If that weren’t the case, he simply wouldn’t have gone through his never-ending streak of comeback dramas at the start of every training camp towards the end of his career. The uncertainty of his ‘will he-won’t he’ got old. It seemed like Favre just wanted the attention to be focused on him looking back, and he got it. After he retired, Favre had all the attention on him for the wrong reasons when he was caught sending illicit photos to a woman he wasn’t married to via text message. The camera was back on Favre. He most likely didn’t want that kind of attention, yet it’s hard to deny his ego based on these aspects.
Former Oakland Raiders owner Davis is an NFL icon. He coined his infamous catchphrase “Just win. baby!” when the famed Raiders were at their Super Bowl-winning height in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There’s no doubt Davis was a pivotal piece of the historic NFL-AFL merger back in his heyday. He created more than one legendary moment in football.
But for all his genius, Davis’ ego is also pointed to as the downfall of Raiders’ football. The team has essentially been a laughingstock for the better part of the last three decades despite playoff contention in 2016. Much of that is pointed to Davis’ refusal to ditch old ways of drafting players who had a ton of flash without delivering. His son Mark Davis now owns the team after he sadly passed. They’ve paid a high-profile head coach on this list a king’s ransom to save the franchise and restore it to its old glory.
Based on last reason’s results, it’s not looking great. The pressure is on the Raiders franchise as they move to Las Vegas in 2020, and a lot of that is due to Al Davis’ ego factoring into the decisions of the past.
The bulldozing “Zeke” is one of the most effective running backs in the NFL. That’s a fact. It also cannot be denied, however, that he’s one of the most controversial off of the field as well. Since entering the NFL since 2016, Elliott has found himself in all sorts of troubles, most notably his six-game suspension in 2017 for alleged involvement in a domestic violence incident.
Elliott and his lawyers went through a long, winding, and frankly, exhausting string of court appearances fighting the suspension. It was clearly a distraction for not only Elliott but also his team. They failed to recreate the success they had earned in 2016. After that, Zeke got into a bit of a dust-up with a security guard at a concert. While not a huge deal, it was on camera and not the best look. Now, he’s been involved in a bitter contract holdout with the Cowboys’ brass and hasn’t even practiced all training camp.
He wants to be the highest-paid running back in the NFL despite the fact that his team just paid their top two defenders and has to pay Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper soon as well. Elliott has even waffled on being committed to the Cowboys overall quite recently. These are not the actions of a running back with a small ego.
Cuban is another over-the-top billionaire who owns a pro sports team in Dallas. However, he’s not really the same as the aforementioned Jerry Jones. No, Cuban has parlayed his vast wealth and status as the Dallas Mavericks’ head honcho into on-screen celebrity status.
He’s been seen literally all over the place and is a world-famous brand in his own right at this point. There’s no denying that Cuban is a master of business, and his track record shows that he’s one of the best in that field. It’s also clear that he knows it, and seems to be much more famous than any star he may sign to play basketball for him.
You’re not going to find too many National Hockey League (NHL) players on this list. They tend to refrain from talking as much trash as other sports while letting their on-ice performances do the talking. But that’s not to say there isn’t an outlier once in awhile. The controversial Avery is one of those men.
The NHL once suspended him for his infamous line, “It’s become a common thing for guys in the NHL to fall in love with my sloppy seconds.” The remark also got him kicked off of the Dallas Stars. That’s not all, either, as he was booted from the Los Angeles Kings when he refused to practice. It’s plain to see that Avery’s huge ego eventually led to him being forced out of the NHL, where he remains to this day.
The volatile Jones seems to make his appearance on just about every list involving controversy in the NFL. Indeed, his list of infractions is many. Sure, he’s gotten into many a dust-up on the field of play, but his outside-the-cage incidents truly show the full extent of his ego.
That time he caused a massive melee in a strip club after “making it rain” with $81,000 in one-dollar bills comes to mind. For that and other transgressions, the NFL suspended Jones for a full season. On top of that Jones just doesn’t seem to be a player that was ever easy to get along with. He was always seen as one of the NFL’s dirtiest players. Even believing he could get away with half of the things he attempted makes it seem like there was a massive ego in play here. ‘Pacman’ was talented on the field, but his ego hurt him more than it helped him, or so it seems.
The lineal heavyweight boxing champion is a silver-tongued wordsmith on the microphone. Fury just came back to reinsert himself in the title picture following drug addiction. In truth, heavyweight boxing champions need a big ego to succeed, as it takes one to endure the rigors of being in such a prominent spot in an individual sport.
Perhaps it was ‘the Gypsy King’s’ ego that got him into the depths of depression and addiction only just a few years ago. He let the high of winning the titles get to his head, and the results were disastrous. But he was impressively able to battle back from those depths. It would take a man who believed in himself to the fullest to come back from what he did. And he did, facing Deontay Wilder for the title in a classic draw that many still feel Fury should have won on the scorecards.
Fury subsequently signed a massive fight broadcast deal with ESPN. Fury can be seen spouting off with the kind of trash talk his fans eat up with a spoon. He’s one of the world’s most beloved heavyweights, and it takes a big ego to do what he does.
The aptly named “Starbury” was performing in front of sold-out gyms when he was but a young man. So perhaps it was no surprise when he turned out to have a huge ego. He had a solid enough career in the NBA playing for the Timberwolves, Nets, Suns, Knicks, and Celtics. Marbury made two NBA All-Star teams and the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Those weren’t exactly Hall of Fame accomplishments. He eventually decided he didn’t need the league.
Marbury ditched the paydays of the NBA to go play in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) from 2010-2018. There, he won three league championships with the Beijing Ducks. Marbury never quite lived up to his overall hype, but his ego more than did.
Mayfield has only just begun establishing his legacy in the NFL, but he’s done quite a job of earning the rep of having a big ego already. It all started when he was a Heisman-winning quarterback for the University of Oklahoma. His infamous crotch grab, which was caught by cameras everywhere for the world to see, instantly earned him a reputation as an egotistical, arrogant quarterback. Footage of a drunken Mayfield getting slammed by a policeman certainly didn’t help matters either.
That trend didn’t stop when he was drafted No. 1 in the 2018 NFL draft, however. Mayfield’s early rookie season was tame enough, but when he took over as the starter and found success, his ego began to surface. He talked some trash about fired former Browns coach Hue Jackson, saying he had ‘left’ Cleveland even though he was rightfully let go. His famous ”I woke up feeling dangerous” quote also comes to mind.
This year, the Browns have a ton of hype behind them, putting the pressure squarely on Mayfield’s shoulders. Thankfully, he has the football skills to get it done – and the ego to match.
Ramsey is a Pro Bowl NFL cornerback who has taken arrogance to a new level in the NFL. You need look no further for proof than Ramsey’s arrival to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ training camp this year. He arrived in Brinks truck in an ode to the fact he’s set to get paid major dollars as a free agent after this season.
Ramsey loves to talk seemingly endless trash to the star wide receivers he covers, namely in his memorable on-field fight with Cincinnati Bengals star A.J. Green. As the biggest name on a Jaguars defense that took a big step back from their league-ruling season in 2017, Ramsey has to put on a great showing in 2019 to earn the massive contract extension he’s almost certain to receive. His ego won’t let him do anything else.
Ramirez had such an ego during his decorated Major League Baseball (MLB) career that a pet phrase was adopted for his egotistical behavior. Fans loved to say it was just “Manny being Manny.” In truth, they had no idea how hard he was to get along with or how that affected the clubhouse of the teams he played for.
Yes, he could slug home runs with the best of them. But he was simply a player who cared only about himself. He would actually later admit this was the case when he played for the Boston Red Sox. To top it off, Ramirez was busted for using banned estrogen blockers that are commonly used to mask the after-affects of a cycle of steroids, further casting shade on his playing career.
Ramirez was a great player, yet also one who will be remembered for having one of the biggest egos in all of MLB.
For a while, Armstrong was among the most revered heroes in all of American sports. His comeback from a serious illness to win seven Tour de France titles was truly the stuff of legends. But when he became embroiled in a never-ending scandal over his alleged performance-enhancing drug (PED) use, his big ego became apparent.
Armstrong was never busted for PEDs despite countless tests over the years. His urine samples were kept in labs and repeatedly tested long after he had stopped competing. Armstrong vehemently denied that he had ever ingested PEDs and stood fast by his stance. That is, until one day it came out that he would no longer fight the charges. Evidence, it seemed, had finally been found that Armstrong did, in fact, cheat to win. That was an admittance of guilt for all intents and purposes, and Armstrong was subsequently stripped of his seven Tour de France championships. It would take a monstrous ego to keep a charade like that masquerading for so long.
“Broadway Joe’s” huge ego actually led to a history-making change. The NFL merged with the AFL after his 1969 New York Jets upset the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts following Namath’s guarantee of a victory.
While he was a solid competitor who was able to use his mobility to make plays, the rest of Namath’s NFL career was a bit underwhelming. That doesn’t matter, as his 1969 guarantee is still one of the most well-known Super Bowl stories of all-time and a pivotal point in NFL history. But the fact that he walked around in fur coats and guaranteed a massive upset in the Super Bowl showed Namath’s ego outright. He wouldn’t have been himself without it.
However, it did get him in trouble when an older, inebriated Namath thought he could get away with a strange scene involving a female sportscaster on national television. He’s since quit drinking and has calmed down. Namath’s ego made him the larger-than-life legend he’s remembered as.
Roethlisberger is a fan-favorite in the city of Pittsburgh, but isn’t exactly adored many other places. In truth, he’s made himself look extremely petty by calling out teammates on the radio in recent years. Only an extremely egotistical player would put the blame on a fellow teammate and call them out in such a public forum. It’s almost definite that Roethlisberger’s words against Antonio Brown caused the also egotistical star wideout to force a trade out of Pittsburgh after last season.
And of course, we have the odd incident where Roethlisberger was accused of raping a young woman. While the case was eventually settled out of court, it takes a huge ego – and many would argue a lot of other gross thoughts – to think you can get away with something like that. Not a fan favorite, but a player with one of the biggest egos in the NFL.
The perfectly named “Prime Time” paved the way for egotistical cornerbacks like the aforementioned Jalen Ramsey in the NFL. Sanders was a rare dual-sport star who simply oozed swagger. From his infamous Jheri Curl at the NFL Draft to his trash-talking days as a Super Bowl-winning defensive back, Sanders could do it all.
He’s one of the most versatile and dangerous players in NFL history. He also knew how to get under an opponent’s skin like few others in NFL history could. Take a look back at his on-field tussle with wide receiver Andre Rison for some classic NFL footage. You can also take a look at his highlight reel for some more jaw-dropping plays. Overall, his personality off the field made “Prime Time” such an amazing personality, and he couldn’t have done it without his huge ego.
Bettman isn’t an athlete, and you may think it’s odd to see the NHL Commissioner on this list. But it was Bettman’s massive go that forced the NHL to be locked out for three seasons, or at least in large part. His most egregious offense was when he called off the whole 2004-2005 season.
That year, rising stars like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin were set to finally give the NHL a much-needed boost of young star power, but Bettman trashed all that goodwill. It resulted in a 24 percent salary drop for the players that season. He again threatened to lock them out again in 2012 if they did not accept a similar pay cut. Bettman’s massive ego hurt the NHL in many ways.
Beckham is one of the most popular soccer players ever who seemingly moonlighted as a model. It’s not to say that’s he’s a bad guy, but when you’re married to one of the Spice Girls and you have an underwear endorsement deal, that kind of stuff can go to your head.
His ego came back to bite him somewhat when he made it to the United States to play for Major League Soccer (MLS)’s Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham thought he was immune to anyone’s criticisms, and perhaps even the rules. He showed little allegiance to the team, instead showing that he had a massive ego that equaled his worldwide popularity.
Lewis is a polarizing, outspoken personality who often rubs people the wrong way. True, he had a Hall of Fame career as an all-world linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, where he won two Super Bowls. But Lewis was also known for being one of the vicious trash talkers as well. He let everyone know he was there whether they wanted to or not.
That pales in comparison, however, to his infamous 2000 murder case where he and two friends were accused of murder on the night of the Super Bowl. Lewis was arrested but later took a plea deal to roll on his friends, who were later acquitted anyway. Needless to say, it takes a big ego to sell out your boys like that. Lewis won the Super Bowl the very next year. He had an amazing career, and he did so all the while preaching it was all for God. There are several reasons many view Lewis as one of the more egotistical defensive players in NFL history.
Perhaps you like Gruden’s style of coaching and his list of accomplishments, perhaps you don’t. And maybe it’s a bit of recency bias, but Gruden has simply come off as an egotistical blowhard during his recent return to coaching with the Oakland Raiders.
It all started with his contract, which is a whopping 10 years at $100 million, all of which is guaranteed. For a coach to think he should be paid more than the vast majority of players who are risking their health to play for him is a bit egotistical in and of itself.
Second, his preseason trade of Pro Bowl defensive end Khalil Mack in 2018 shows his huge ego. He didn’t want to cave to Mack’s contract extension demands. So he didn’t, and Mack was traded to the Chicago Bears for a bevy of draft picks. Those picks may end up being just fine players in their own right. Yet the fact remains that Gruden allowed his ego to trade away one of the best players in the NFL. Mack proved that by leading the Bears to the playoffs. The Raiders had yet another miserable season. Now, Gruden’s ego is on full display with the Raiders being featured on HBO’s ”Hard Knocks.”
This one’s no surprise, as the former Georgetown Hoyas point guard was regarded as one of the most selfish players in the league throughout his entire NBA career. Iverson was the epitome of the “me-first” player, and it often showed in his teams’ results. Although he gained many individual accolades and stats, he only made the NBA Finals one time. There, he was trounced by the Los Angeles Lakers team led by two more egotistical players yet to come on this list.
But we all know the peak of Iverson’s egotistical behavior. That was his “We’re talking about practice, man – not a game” rant. If that didn’t show how big his ego truly is, then his performance in games certainly solidified the deal.
Famous for being the best wideout on the famed Dallas Cowboys’ Super Bowl dynasty of the 1990s, “The Playmaker” fit the mold of an ultra-egotistical NFL wide receiver. He came into the league with the swag of his career with the Miami Hurricanes, and it didn’t stop in the NFL in any sense.
Irvin made nearly as many enemies on the field as he did fans off of it during the 1990s. He was a clutch, elite player who was successful. His boastful trash talking got under opposing defenders’ nerves. Like many of the top-flight wide receivers on this list, Irvin’s ego was apparent. Never was that clearer than when he got busted for using cocaine with prostitutes after his playing career was over. He’s since rebounded as a brash television announcer. Even in that role, the loud Irvin’s ego is easy to see.
Newton is a generational talent at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. He puts his body on the line each and every time out, evident by his many injuries and surgeries. Newton reached his zenith in 2015 when he led Carolina to a 15-1 regular-season record and the Super Bowl.
But it was in the aftermath of that fateful Super Bowl loss where Newton began becoming criticized heavily for his ego. He took a standoffish tone with the media before storming off to the ire of many watching. It didn’t help that it appeared he had failed to jump on a fumble when his own health was on the line in the championship game. And how could anyone who was lacking a substantial ego wear the colorful clothing he’s frequently seen donning in public? To top it off, Newton lost some of his endorsement deals when he made some off-the-color remarks to a female media member. Newton is a beast of a quarterback, and he brings a frighteningly huge ego along with it.
This former New York Giant-turned-Cleveland Brown has taken the torch from egotistical, self-centered wide receivers of NFL eras gone by quite successfully. Beckham took the league by storm in 2014, racking up catches, yards, and touchdowns at a clip rarely seen before. His two-finger touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys that year will always live on in the annals of NFL history.
However, at this point in his career, it could be argued that his rookie season was his best. Since then, Beckham has become more well-known for his outbursts and drama than his actual on-field production. He destroys kicking nets one week and makes up with them the next before asking the inanimate object to marry him. The fact he led his Giants team on a boat trip the week before a playoff loss shows how far his ego reaches. Beckham was traded to the Browns this offseason and recently claimed that the Giants ‘sent him there to die’ despite the fact that Cleveland is arguably the hottest up-and-coming team in the NFL. It would have been much worse to stay in failing New York. Regardless, Beckham Jr. maintains one of the biggest egos in all of pro sports today.
James is one of if not the most popular player in the NBA. He’s earned that right with his many years of stellar performance. But that doesn’t disqualify him from being listed among the biggest egos in sports, however. Not in the slightest, in fact. We’ll point to James’ infamous ‘decision’ in 2010 where he decided to eschew his hometown Cavaliers in order to take his talents to Miami along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He was rewarded for that with two NBA titles (his first two), but the damage to his rep was done. After that, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find James on any relevant chronicling of pro sports’ biggest egos.
While that was the most glaring example, there have long been whispers that James is the real head coach of any team he plays for. This was especially true when he returned to the Cavaliers and won a title for the city in 2016. He’s no doubt one of the most complete players in NBA history. His ego continues to shine through to this day while he’s a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The team started out hot last year but ultimately succumbed to injuries When they were done, James was often seen tanking on defense. It takes a big ego to think that kind of play is alright – even if your team isn’t playoff-bound.
This one is a clear choice, as any man who legally changes his name to the Spanish version of his football jersey number probably has a sizable ego driving that decision. But the gold-grilled Johnson’s ego was on display in so many more ways.
Who can forget his infamous touchdown celebration where he broke out a gold jacket following a score? Johnson was all flamboyance, and his ego could be put up against the most egotistical wide receivers in NFL history. And that’s saying a lot. The success of his Cincinnati Bengals never really matched his on-field bravado or personal statistics. Regardless, Johnson’s brand of self-promotion ranks him up there with the biggest egos in sports.
Another one of soccer’s biggest stars most definitely has an ego to match his larger-than-life personality. Ronaldo is well-known for celebrating his many goals with vigor, but that’s far from what makes him egotistical.
He simply loves to flaunt his own accomplishments and good looks, evident by his posing with one Conor McGregor. Ronaldo has also been pegged as sort of womanizer, as his exploits with Italian prostitutes betray the behavior of an egotistical person. Finally, he recently cleared up some rape accusations that painted him in a further bad light as someone who believes the rules don’t apply to him. While he was not convicted of the alleged crime, there’s no doubting he has a huge ego as a sports superstar.
Bryant is an NBA legend who recently retired from his all-time great career. He’ll always be a Los Angeles Lakers legend for the rest of his days. He’ll also always possess one of the biggest egos professional basketball has ever seen.
Bryant was known as a perfectionist who was extremely hard on his teammates in pursuit of greatness. He would often challenge their manhood and goad them to stay after practice so he could show them up with his superior skills. True, few had the offensive prowess to match Bryant’s great scoring abilities. But he often clashed with and alienated those teammates nonetheless. A perfect example is his tenuous friendship with fellow star Shaquille O’Neal, with whom he won multiple championships in L.A. Bryant was recently quoted as saying that if “Shaq” had tried harder, he would have a dozen rings. Those are the words of a man who has a big ego and is not afraid to show it.
It’d be tough for a baseball player who has countless millions and is dating Jennifer Lopez not to have a huge ego. Rodriquez doesn’t disappoint in that regard. He arguably has one of the biggest egos in MLB history. Much of that started when he signed his record 10-year, $252-million contract with the Texas Rangers. It was the biggest in history at the time, and by a wide margin.
Rodriguez continued to make huge dollars as a member of the New York Yankees. But his career came into extreme question when he was caught using performance-enhancing drugs. He denied using steroids at first as many players do. The fat he thought he could hide his transgression while so many other high-profile baseball players were getting caught is a testament to his massive ego.
Saban’s on-field success as the head coach of the feared Alabama Crimson Tide speaks for itself. ‘Bama is a fixture in the title picture every fall. And more often than not, they emerge victoriously with another National Championship in tow.
But you’d be hard-pressed to find someone outside of Tuscaloosa that truly likes Saban. The coach has an arrogant, egotistical air about him when he speaks to the media. It seems like he’s insulted by the fact they would even take up five seconds of his time with whatever question they dared ask him at that particular moment. He even gets mad when his own players help him celebrate a title win by pouring the customary Gatorade on him. For Saban, there’s first place and there’s last. Only a man with a huge ego would operate along such standards.
Most believe Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Based on his pair of three-peats in the NBA, it’s tough to argue with that. But like most elite NBA stars, Jordan had an ego to match. It would be tough to reach his level of success without one.
“Air” Jordan was truly an unreal talent who played the game of basketball like no one else. He also knew it. He was frequently pegged as an egotistical athlete who believes in himself to the fullest. That’s only been heightened by the fact that his spinoff brand with Nike has enabled him to make countless more hundreds of millions after his playing career was over. One of the best ever, and one of the biggest egos ever too.
It wouldn’t be a list of the biggest egos in pro sports without the great “Sir Charles” on it, now would it? It wouldn’t. Barkley was known for his personality that matched his gargantuan size. He never won an NBA championship, but he would have likely won the title for the best trash talker if they had that.
Barkley is a surefire Hall of Famer in the NBA. He’s translated his massive ego into a successful post-paying career as a member of TNT’s NBA broadcast team. There, he keeps his ego stroked by effusing boorish statements alongside the next man on this list of massive egos.
“Shaq” has a huge ego to match his giant-like size and stature; that much is certain. But he’s more of a fun-loving egomaniac than a mean one. That dates back to his early-career days in the NBA when he furthered his scope of recognition with films like “Kazaam” and “Blue Chips.” Even back then, he fed his ego with endless hype in the media as the most physically dominant force the NBA had ever seen.
He’s simply an over-the-top master of talking about himself. It’s not hard to see why when you consider he stands out in the crowd. Shaq keeps his gigantic personality at the forefront of the sport by analyzing games alongside Charles Barkley on TNT. He’s still marketable as well, appearing in several TV commercials after playing. A massive ego, but one that was put to good use to turn himself into a brand.
You might say that Owens belongs much higher on this list. And it’d be hard to argue with that. However, the athletes above him have the biggest egos in all of sports. Regardless, Owens’ body of work in the field is self-explanatory.
He alienated countless teams to the point that even though he was an elite talent, those teams just could no longer put up with him. It’s arguable that the Philadelphia Eagles could have won at least one Super Bowl with him and Donovan McNabb. But Owens’ drama put an end to that rather quickly. This was the man who ate popcorn through his facemask and did sit-ups and push-ups for reporters while shirtless in his front yard. He once said, “I love me some me!” Yes, he did. Don’t forget his trashing of the Dallas Cowboys’ star after a pair of touchdowns with the San Francisco 49ers. Topping it off, Owens had a ridiculously foolish reality TV show called “The T.O. Show” as his playing career wound down. An unbelievably huge ego.
Arguably the greatest boxer of all-time, it was the legendary Ali who paved the way for the brash, effective, and popular superstars of sports we see today. “The Greatest” basically created the style of trash talk that dominates headlines today.
He had one of the biggest egos sports has ever seen and believed in himself to the fullest. That’s why he was able to come back when so many counted him out. It’s also why he became known as quite possibly the most flamboyant trash talker in boxing, or any sport, for that matter. Ali is a sporting legend, and the current sports stars making hay off of their egos each owe a little bit of their success to him.
Many were hoping to see Woods bounce back from his many years of disgrace, and he did by winning The Masters in 2019. However, the fact remains that Woods put himself through much of the trauma by destroying his own family with sex and drug addiction. True, his injuries weren’t his fault, but his well-chronicled adultery with countless women outside of his marriage certainly was.
It takes a man with a massive ego to think that you’re going to get away with having that many extramarital affairs when you’re one of the sports world’s biggest and most prominent stars. Woods didn’t pay any attention to that, however, and his career went into a concerning downward spiral as a pure result of his ego. It got so bad that we’ll never know how good he could have been had he not let his hubris block his path to greatness. It’s almost certain he would have been the greatest golfer of all-time. Now, that’s highly debatable.
As big as Muhammad Ali’s ego was, it’s just not quite on the level of the final two personalities from combat sports on this list. First up is McGregor, the MMA megastar who took the sport by the storm starting in early 2013. He was a sensation, a once-in-lifetime talent who talked a bigger game than anyone ever had in the UFC. And not only that, he backed it up with a seemingly better performance than his last each time out to the cage. His rise culminated when he knocked out longtime former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in only 13 seconds in late 2015. That rivalry showed McGregor’s ego to the fullest as he insulted Aldo’s heritage. He later added the UFC lightweight title belt to his trophy case as well.
But McGregor never defended either one of those titles. Instead, he got caught up in a long-winded ‘feud’ with the top name on this list. The resulting fight no doubt paid him one of the biggest paydays in combat sports history. It also changed his career trajectory forever. McGregor has not won a fight since 2016. He’s been involved in a host of outside-the-cage troubles including his infamous Brooklyn bus attack in April 2018, his smashing of a man’s phone outside a Miami hotel, and even punching an old man in Dublin bar on video. McGregor recently told Ariel Helwani that he didn’t want to be the stereotypical fighter who had it all but lost it foolishly. As of right now, however, that’s just what’s happening. His massive ego is one of the main reasons.
There are many NFL receivers on this list. There’s no doubt that they all have huge egos. But the behavior of Brown, who was largely deemed to be a team player until the past year or so, has skyrocketed him to the position of one of the top three biggest egos in professional sports.
First off, Brown fell out of favor with the Pittsburgh Steelers when he bizarrely pulled out of their final game of the 2018 season. He claimed an injury. The team needed a win to secure a playoff spot; they lost to the Saints without Brown. That led to Brown getting in a huge dust-up with Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw Brown under the bus on local radio airwaves.
Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders. He signed a huge contract extension, and that’s when things truly got weird. When Brown failed to show up for training camp, news broke that he had supposedly frozen his feet in a cryotherapy mishap. But the real issue arose when the truth came out that he was actually involved in a grievance with the NFL because he could no longer wear his preferred helmet due to safety issues. His favorite helmet model was outlawed due to its technology being more than 10 years old. Brown lost two grievances and has returned to Raiders camp. Nevertheless, it’s arguably been the strangest offseason saga in NFL history and proves Brown’s almost delusional ego.
Antonio Brown has Moss to thank as the only man blocking him from having the biggest ego in the NFL on this list. Like several of the generational players who possessed big egos, Moss was one of the greatest receivers in NFL history. But also like many of those top pass-catchers, he was simply a huge headache to deal with and caused trouble for those around him.
Tops among his egotistical moments was his classic claiming that he had paid for a fine from the NFL with “straight cash, homie” because “rich people don’t write checks.” Moss probably should have won a Super Bowl (or two) in Minnesota. But he did not, instead bouncing around to several NFL teams. Moss’ “moon” celebration against the Green Bay Packers is a perfect example of how much he cared about what people thought about him. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. He finally found his footing with the New England Patriots but eventually wore out his welcome there too. It’s a shame Moss’ ego got in the way of his talent because few played the game as he did. You could argue only Jerry Rice was a better receiver.
What other name were you expecting atop the list of the biggest egos in professional sports? Of course, “Money” takes the cake. How could a man who walks around with a million dollars in cash in a backpack not be ranked here?
The truth is Mayweather has the most overblown ego in pro sports. You can see it on full display in any interview he conducts. Mayweather’s career has been a long and successful one, as he holds an official record of 50-0. He’s supposedly ‘retired,’ but you never know if a lucrative offer could lure him back to the ring. It would have to be huge to satisfy his ego. The man boasts about himself day and night, and he’s one of the most hated heels to ever set foot into a pro boxing ring. It got to the point that many people paid for his fights on pay-per-view just to hopefully see him lose. He disappointed them every time, and it takes utmost confidence bordering on cockiness to accomplish that feat.
In term of more recent exploits, Mayweather talked an insane amount of trash leading up this 2017 fight with Conor McGregor. He backed it up by finishing the Irish star in the tenth round. Then, he got paid a huge sum of money for a farcical “fight” with diminutive Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa on New Year’s Eve. He flopped the poor, overmatched fighter around the ring in comical style. Only a man with an ego the size of a large country would sign up for such a contest. Mayweather may just be the most hated man in pro sports. Right or wrong, he certainly didn’t attempt to curb that discussion by checking his ego. And why would he? He became exceedingly rich from it.