Web of Lies: These Sports Stories Were Too Good To Be True

Darren - August 24, 2023

Web of Lies: These Sports Stories Were Too Good To Be True

Darren - August 24, 2023

There have been many amazing and inspiring stories in the world of sports and many continue to be made. We’ve seen underdogs like Tom Brady rise to become the greatest of all time. Underdog teams and unknown athletes came out of nowhere to secure unlikely wins on the grandest of stages. But many uplifting stories were too good to be true.

Sometimes sports stars have a single great season before everything falls apart. There are others whose personal lives cause major problems like the currently ongoing (and notorious) “Blind Side” scandal. Meanwhile, we’ve seen several so-called ‘super teams’ that never achieved success. Check out the many high-profile sports stories that turned out to be fake right here.

CBS Sports

Brett Favre’s Mississippi Scandal

Favre was one of the best quarterbacks of his generation and an all-American hero. He donated millions of dollars to charity and it seemed like fame never went to his head. Meanwhile, he became a three-time MVP and won a Super Bowl with the Packers. But in the end, it was too good to be true (via Bleacher Report).


Firstly, there was the depressing way he left Wisconsin. He joined the Jets where he was at the center of an unsavory sexual harassment scandal after allegedly sending unwanted nudes to staff member Jen Sterger. But things became even worse for the gunslinger in 2023 because of his reported involvement in Mississippi’s notorious corruption scandal. Favre’s rep was tarnished and needs serious uplifting today.

New York Post


Jeremy Lin became the first breakout Asian-American NBA star in 2012 after a stunning season. The Knicks star came out of nowhere as he lit up the league with a series of dazzling performances. He scored 130 points in his first five games, reviving the Knicks’ ailing season. The former D-League player became a cult hero in the city.

New York Times

The media called the rising hype ‘Linsanity’ and he became a massive star. But he made the mistake of joining the Rockets and James Harden soon ousted him as the team’s star. In the end, he never reached the same lofty heights again. Yes, he won a ring with the Raptors in 2019 but spent most of his time as a backup there (via NBC News).

The Wall Street Journal

Ben Johnson

Johnson’s name still makes Canadians sad today because his achievements were too good to be true. Canada doesn’t churn out elite athletes as often as the more-populated U.S. That’s why Johnson captured the imagination with his sprinting successes. The world champion captured gold in Seoul and he became a mainstream star.


But then he tested positive for banned substances and broke Canadian hearts. The IOC stripped him of his medal and wiped his world record from the books. Johnson attempted multiple comebacks but continuously failed drug tests. In the end, he deservedly lost the respect of his entire nation (via Sportsnet).

Fox News

Shohei Ohtani

It’s impossible to say anything bad about Ohtani because the Japanese star is a generational talent. He joined the Angels in 2018 before breaking out as one of the league’s best players. The AL MVP shattered records as he dominated as a hitter and a pitcher. He is a truly legendary two-way player (via Essentially Sports).


But the problem is that he played for one of the biggest losers in MLB. He entered the final months of his contract in 2023 and the Angels had a final chance to make a lucrative trade. But they opted to keep him because there was an outside chance of making the postseason. However, despite his best efforts, Ohtani couldn’t carry the team and they fell short.

San Diego Union-Tribune

Ryan Leaf

A loud minority of NFL ‘experts’ said that Leaf had a higher long-term upside than Peyton Manning in 1998. San Diego made him the second-overall pick after an excellent season with the Cougars. They traded the house for the quarterback because they believed he’d lead them to the promised land.

Houston Chronicle

However, Leaf had massive problems with his maturity and substance abuse. He argued with the media and drank like a fish. In the end, he crashed out of the league as one of the biggest busts ever. Leaf had so much potential but in the end, it was too good to be true. He even spent time in jail for various petty crimes (via Sportskeeda).

The Telegraph

Jordan Henderson

Henderson was one of Liverpool’s most successful captains and had an inspiring story. Kenny Dalglish spent a small fortune on the former Sunderland youngster to bring him to Anfield. But he had a difficult start to his career in red. However, he refused to leave and he succeeded Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard as captain (via The Mirror).

Football 365

Meanwhile, he won praise for his social justice work. Henderson spoke positively about LGBTQ rights and also helped raise money for the health service during the pandemic. But then he undid all of the goodwill he built up by joining the Saudi Arabian team Al-Ettifaq in 2023. Liverpool’s LGBTQ supporter group branded him a traitor and a hypocrite.


The Redskins Super Team

We’ve seen plenty of so-called “super teams” in pro sports over the years but very few live up to their potential. In 2000, it looked as if Washington cracked the code when they assembled a spectacular roster. Former Washington owner Dan Snyder opened his checkbook wide to lure expensive free agents to the nation’s capital.

Mandatory Credit: Sporting News

This was a risky strategy as he tried to buy a Super Bowl. In the end, it didn’t pay off as the Redskins went 8-8. Coach Norv Turner wasted a stunning roster as Washington blew a massive opportunity. But this version of the Redskins was far from the only one as we’ve seen this happen many times over the years (via Fansided).

NBC Sports

Michael Vick

Vick was an American sports hero but became one of the nation’s biggest villains. He had an inspiring story because he emerged from a tough childhood to become the NFL’s best running quarterback. The Falcons drafted him after a great career at Virginia Tech and he reinvented the quarterback position with his rushing skill.

Sky Sports

But then a federal investigation uncovered that he was the leader of a dog-fighting ring. Vick went to jail in 2007 and spent almost two years behind bars. Many people despised him because of his cruelty toward animals. However, he received a second shot in the NFL but never reached the same level (via MSN).


Buster Douglas

There was a time when Mike Tyson was the most terrifying man on the planet. People described the ruthless heavyweight’s performances as executions because hardly anyone made it out of the first round. He brutalized his opponents and scored horrifying knockouts that made him a massive star (via Andscape).

Iconic Images

Douglas shocked the world at the Tokyo Dome in 1990. He knocked Tyson out for the first time and became a heavyweight champion. It was an amazing moment that instantly turned him into a global sensation. But fame went to Douglas’s head and he lost the rematch. His career fizzled out because he partied too hard.


Spain’s World Cup Win

The Spanish women’s international soccer team won the World Cup in 2023. It was an amazing achievement as La Roja brought the coveted prize home for the first time in its history. However, they upset the odds because this feel-good story has a dark twist. They endured incredible sexism and there was a major schism in the camp.

The Athletic

Half of the squad refused to interact with the team’s manager. His controlling methods prevented them from sleeping with closed doors. Meanwhile, the Spanish FA President attracted criticism when he kissed Jennifer Hermoso on the lips without her consent. It was an atrocious idea and showed the happy ending was too good to be true (via CBS Sports).

NBC News

Tonya Harding

Harding broke through social barriers as she became the face of American figure skating. She was the first American woman to pull off a triple axel in a competition. This outstanding achievement transformed her into America’s sweetheart. But it was too good to be true as her rivalry with Nancy Kerrigan became toxic.

NBC News

In the end, her ex-husband Joe Gilooly hired a bruiser to attack Kerrigan before the Lillehammer Olympics. Harding denied any knowledge of the assault but an investigation decided against her. It damaged her image irrevocably and ended her time in the sport. Her fall from grace was as quick as her rise to fame (via

NBC Sports

The Eagles Super Team

Philly fans should have seen a disaster coming after they heard the words ‘dream team.’ In 2011, the Eagles added a host of experienced, high-priced veterans to their roster. They went rampant signing free agents. Even though most franchises know this isn’t a good idea, they didn’t care (via Bleacher Report).


The Eagles discovered this the hard way after they had a nightmare season. Vince Young went down as one of the year’s biggest busts. But he wasn’t the only disappointment because Steve Smith didn’t recover well from a knee injury. Other players were major letdowns too as they showed the ‘super team’ philosophy was once again too good to be true.

Golf Channel

Tiger Woods

Everybody knows Woods as one of the greatest golfers ever. He became a global icon and was even the face of a successful EA video game series. Woods was a clean-cut hero who could do no wrong, making countless dollars off of his clean-cut family image. The only criticism anybody could have had for him was that he was perhaps a little bit too boring.

Golf Digest

But then his world came down when he drunkenly crashed his vehicle in 2009. He went to rehab but the floodgates opened as dozens of women emerged and said that they had affairs with the stricken star. These included pornstars, strippers, models, and even waitresses. Finally, Tiger’s wife left him and he spent a decade in the wilderness (via Reuters). He won the Masters in 2019 but his career never recovered fully.


Tyson Fury’s Revival

Fury stunned the world when he dissected Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. However, the heavyweight champion immediately fell into a downward spiral. First, he failed a drug test and the boxing commissions stripped his titles. His downward spiral saw him balloon up to over 300 pounds and he contemplated suicide (via Bleacher Report).

Sky Sports

Then he made an inspiring return as he shed the weight and dealt with his substance abuse problems. He reclaimed the heavyweight crown after an exciting series against Deontay Wilder. But Fury proved that it was too good to be true. He befriended the gangster Daniel Kinahan and ducked fights, tarnishing his image and making himself a polarizing figure in the world of boxing.

New York Post

Johnny Manziel

Manziel had arguably the greatest college season ever in 2013. He changed the face of the Aggies’ program as he won the Heisman, Davey O’Brien, and Manning Awards. No freshman had ever achieved this before but it appeared Manziel was special. There were concerns about his maturity and focus but the Browns made him a first-round pick in 2014 anyway.

New York Times

Manziel burnt them because he partied crazily. He had substance abuse problems and failed to deliver on the field. In the end, he went down as one of the biggest busts ever and set Cleveland back for almost a decade. He had an amazing time in college but he proved it was too good to be true (via Sporting News).

Runner’s World

Sha’Carri Richardson

Richardson is one of the few people on this list with the chance to change her fortune. The LSU star shot to fame after an amazing 2019 season. She shattered records and won multiple collegiate races as she showed her amazing potential. Meanwhile, she cut a distinctive figure on the track with her long nails, tattoos, and dyed hair.


She had a golden opportunity to compete in the Tokyo Olympics but it was too good to be true. That’s because she failed a drug test after she smoked marijuana. The Texan blamed her biological mother’s death and ignited a debate about her state of mind. In the end, Richardson missed her dream because of a few puffs on a joint (via The Guardian).

Super Sport


Soccer fans quickly identified Neymar as a generational talent when he played for Santos. Barcelona brought the starlet to Europe in 2013 and he dazzled on the field. Most people saw him as Lionel Messi’s heir-apparent. But the Argentine icon didn’t show any signs of slowing down and Neymar lost patience (via The Guardian).

The Hindu

He pushed for a world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain and instantly killed his legacy. Ligue 1 is a farmer’s league because there’s only one good team. Neymar guaranteed French medals but had no chance of enhancing his global status. Finally, in 2023 he accepted a move to Saudi Arabia and sold out.


Andy Ruiz

Ruiz’s story is one of the most incredible ever. The Mexican boxer fought Anthony Joshua as a late replacement in 2019. Nobody expected the dumpy fighter to stand a chance against the UK’s chiseled Adonis. But he stunned the world when he knocked Joshua out in the seventh round.


This made Ruiz the first Mexican heavyweight champion ever. But fame went to Ruiz’s head and it cost him dearly. Joshua activated the rematch clause but Ruiz didn’t train properly. Joshua won a convincing decision in the rematch as Ruiz followed in Buster Douglas’s footsteps (via National World).


Mason Greenwood

There’s nothing that soccer fans love more than a homegrown hero. Greenwood began playing with Manchester United’s underage teams when he was six years old. In 2019, he emerged as one of the club’s most exciting prospects. He scored a clutch of important goals and fans had high hopes for his future (via Daily Express).

British GQ

Then police arrested him on charges of sexual assault and rape. Horrific video footage went viral of Greenwood threatening to kill his alleged victim. The team suspended him while the court case rolled on. In the end, the loss of a key witness prevented the case from continuing. United cut him under pressure as the dream turned into a nightmare.


Marion Jones

Jones became a U.S. icon when she won three Olympic gold medals in 2000. However, she fell foul of the BALCO investigation and proved that her legacy was too good to be true (via MSN).

CBS Sports

The Olympic committee stripped her of her five medals and she received a six-month jail sentence. That’s because she lied to investigators and misled the court. It was a shambles but she brought the pain upon herself. She destroyed her reputation because she was too afraid to lose.

New York Times

Lance Armstrong

Armstrong had one of the most inspiring stories ever because he recovered from cancer to become a seven-time Tour De France champion. The American star put cycling on the map and became a global icon. It was an incredible rise to fame because everybody knew who he was and admired his achievements.

Live Science

However, it was too good to be true because of what happened next. He was a the forefront of one of the most notorious doping scandals ever. Armstrong was the ringleader of the devious scheme and he lost everything. In recent years he started a successful podcast but he was a persona non grata for a decade (via Reuters).

Sky Sports

Sam Allardyce

Allardyce had a golden opportunity to silence his critics when he became England’s head coach in 2016. He believed that people didn’t show him enough respect because they called him a ‘dinosaur.’ This was his chance to prove that he could manage elite players and guide them to glory (via Joe).


But it was too good to be true because the FA sacked him after a single game. A scandal broke after Allardyce spoke to some fake Asian businessmen about loopholes in transfer regulations. Footage emerged of the scam as Allardyce ordered a pint of wine. In the end, he didn’t receive any legal consequences but it damaged his career.

MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor

McGregor’s rise was one of the most exciting fairytale stories ever. He worked as a plumber in Dublin before quitting to focus on his fighting career. This left him collecting unemployment benefits while he was living with his parents. “The Notorious” famously collected his final chek before his first UFC fight (via SPORF).

MMA Fighting

He became a two-weight champion and also fought Floyd Mayweather for millions of dollars. But the former folk hero suffered a stark fall from grace as he abused alcohol and drugs. He was arrested for various offenses and became a parody of himself. His story was too good to be true because the fame went to his head.

Sky Sports

The Nets Super Team

Here’s the final super team entry on this list and it’s a doozy. Nets fans sat up and took notice in 2021 when their franchise exploded into life. Success appeared to be inevitable after they traded for James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant. They had two weeks of excitement before everything fell apart.

The New York Times

Irving was the biggest unmitigated disaster because of his vaccination scandal and anti-semitism. Meanwhile, his injuries also prevented him from making the impact they wanted. But neither Harden nor Durant succeeded in Brooklyn either. They had so much potential on paper but in the end, it was too good to be true (via The Ringer).

L.A. Times

The Blind Side

This 2009 movie became one of the most popular sports dramas ever. Sandra Bullock starred as the foster mother who inspired Michael Oher to NFL greatness. It was an inspiring story but it took a dark twist in 2023. That’s because the former offensive tackle filed a grievance against the Tuohys for allegedly hiding 19 years of financial records.

CBS Sports

He also alleged that they tricked him into a lifetime conservatorship and that he never earned a dime from the movie. The Tuohys denied this but the reports shocked the nation. Regardless of the outcome, the movie leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths now. Unfortunately, it seems that the uplifting tale was too good to be true (via Cinemablend).