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Courting controversy: 5 of sport’s dumbest criminals

by Rob Dore | July 9, 2012

By Rob Dore

With John Terry’s trial for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand starting, we got to thinking. Most of the things we thought of aren’t fit for consumption by non-members of the Paddy Power Blog but I digress. For the sanity of the company lawyer, I would like to make it clear that we are making no predictions, assumptions or insinuations about the Terry case.

However, if Terry is found guilty of saying something racist in close proximity to several other players, tens of thousands of fans with various video recording devices and multiple television cameras shooting from all angles, then not just will he have been racist but a stupid racist. The worst kind.

And while Terry is charged with a criminal offence, he’s far from being the most stupid person sport has produced over the years as our list of top five sporting thickos proves…

#5: Plaxico Burress

KILLS ALL KNOWN PLAX: Footballs he can hold on to fine. Guns, not so much

Just two months after catching the game-winning pass in the New York Giants’ Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots, wide-receiver Burress was on top of the world. Then he shot himself in the foot. Quite literally. Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg outside a New York nightclub in October 2008 with a gun he was carrying in his waistband. As if the pain and embarrassment of shooting himself wasn’t enough, New York mayor Mike Bloomberg got a hard-on for the case and he made sure the NFL star was charged to the full extent of the law. Burress spent two years in prison and had his lucrative Giants contract cancelled. All for trying to act gangsta.

#4: Tonya Harding

WHY THE LONG FACE: The wind changed sending poor Tonya into a face melt

If you haven’t heard of Tonya Harding then welcome out from underneath that rock. The former Olympic skater wasn’t feeling too confident about her chances ahead of the 1994 Olympics so she had her then husband Jeff Gillooly take out her biggest rival, Nancy KerriganGillooly attacked her at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit with a metal bar but failed to break her leg, inflicting a severe bruising instead. Harding won that championship but the truth wasn’t long in coming out. Harding denied all knowledge and threatened legal action to avoid expulsion from the US Olympic team. She went on to finish eighth whilst Kerrigan won the silver in Lillehammer. It quickly became apparent that Harding knew all about the ill-conceived plan and though she avoided incarceration she received a lifetime ban from skating.

#3: OJ Simpson

OJ IN 1993: Possibly on his way to buy a white Bronco (pic: Inpho)

One of American Football’s greatest players, Simpson is most commonly known for going on trial for the double murder of former girlfriend Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman in 1994. However having been found innocent of the murders, sort of, this is not the crime on which we’ve focussed. OJ earns his place on the list for his most recent transgression. In September 2007 Simpson led an armed gang as they forced their way in to a Las Vegas hotel room to steal valuable sports memorabilia. Largely OJ Simpson sports memorabilia which he claimed belonged to him. Simpson was convicted for the crime in 2008 and is serving a 33-year sentence. There’s also a rumour doing the rounds that he’s Khloe Kardashian’s biological father. It just keeps getting worse for the Juice.

#2: Michael Vick

SHARP SUIT: Dumb move as this star quarter-back was up to his neck in illegal dog fighting

The number one pick in the 2001 draft, Vick was the star quarter-back for the Atlanta Falcons right up until he pleaded guilty to charges of organising and participating in illegal dog-fighting in 2007. He makes it on to this list for a number of reasons. Firstly only idiots find enjoyment from watching two animals tear lumps of flesh off each-other. Secondly, he was huge star at the time, how did he not think someone was going to leak the story? Thirdly, he was certainly rich enough to have built some kind of underground dog-fighting lair which could have helped to keep his deplorable behaviour private. Then while on bail waiting to be charged he tested positive for marijuana. Vick ended up spending 21 months in prison.

#1: Mickey Thomas

NEWS CHEST IN: Mickey celebrates off-loading another dodgy £50 note

“Roy Keane’s on 50 grand a week. So was I till the police found my printing machine,” jokes Mickey Thomas about the incident which resulted in him spending 18 months behind bars. Despite a football areer which saw him play for Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea, Thomas was caught printing his own money whilst playing for Wrexham in 1993. The winner of 51 Wales caps was caught laundering the counterfeit money through the club’s trainees. Not exactly a criminal mastermind.

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