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Bans for all time

The Black Sox scandal

Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were banned from the majors for life after throwing or having knowledge of a fix in the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The most famous name to be booted was "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, who had a then-record 12 hits in the World Series, a .375 batting average and no errors. There's debate as to whether Jackson actually took money and whether he did anything to hurt the White Sox's chances. Some also say Jackson tried to tell White Sox owner Charles Comiskey about the fix but Comiskey refused to meet with him. Maybe it's time to posthumously reinstate Jackson, who died in 1951. With conflicting reports, all we can do is look at how Jackson played in the 1919 World Series. And those numbers suggest he tried to win. Same goes for Jackson's banned teammate Buck Weaver (.324 in the Series, 11 hits, no errors).

Pete Rose

Baseball's all-time hit king accepted a lifetime ban in 1989 for betting on baseball games, but not until 2004 did he publicly admit to betting on games, including those played by the team he managed, the Reds.

Though many think it's ridiculous that the man who collected more hits than anyone in major-league history is not in the Hall of Fame, his ban (including his exclusion from the Hall) is just. Rose spit on the integrity of the game.

Many Rose supporters say Rose bet only on his team to win, so it wasn't like he fixed games. However, you cannot manage every game like it's the seventh game of the World Series. Were there nights Rose wrecked his bullpen just to squeeze out a victory? Were there nights a star was in the lineup when he and the team would've benefitted in the long run from giving him the night off?

Rose's gambling to win in the short term undoubtably hurt the Reds (and baseball) in the long run.

Muhammad Ali

Ali had his boxing license suspended for refusing to report after being drafted into the Army in 1967. His ban lasted three years. In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in his appeal of his conviction for refusing to report; Ali had wanted conscientious objector status. To this day, many still criticize Ali for refusing to serve his country in the Vietnam War, while others applaud him for being one of the first major voices to protest a war just about everyone eventually opposed. It still seems wrong to have denied a man a chance to work when even the Supreme Court confirmed he was within his rights.

Todd Bertuzzi

Many NHL players have been suspended for the "rest of the season.'' Tough guy Chris Simon was suspended several times in his career, for run-ins including stepping on a player's leg with his skate and slashing a player in the face. Those suspensions turned out to be 30 and 25 games.

Boston's Marty McSorley was suspended for the rest of the 1999-2000 season for hitting Vancouver's Donald Brashear in the head with a stick in February. The rest of the season was 23 games, but McSorley never played another NHL game.

But hockey's most disgusting act was when Bertuzzi, then with the Canucks, sucker punched Colorado's Steve Moore in a March 2004 game. Moore hasn't played since. Bertuzzi missed the final 13 regular-season games, plus seven playoff games. His suspension remained "indefinite,'' and he ended up playing nowhere in the world during the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 NHL season. He finally was reinstated in the fall of 2005; he now is with the Red Wings.

Perhaps a more fair punishment would have been to allow Bertuzzi to return to the game when Moore did. Since Moore hasn't, maybe Bertuzzi should have sat out forever.

SMU football

There is little doubt that the shenanigans involving the SMU football team in the 1980s were among the most brazen and abusive in college sports history. Already on a two-year probation for showering players with cash and gifts, SMU was found to have a slush fund from which players continued to be paid. The NCAA then brought down the hammer, dolling out its death penalty. The 1987 SMU season was canceled, and the team wasn't allowed to play home games in 1988. The school later canceled the entire 1988 season.

The effects lasted well beyond those two years. The program didn't return to a bowl game until 2009. The death penalty was so devastating to the program, there's a belief the NCAA will never hand out such a punishment again.

Paul Hornung and Alex Karras

In 1963, then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended two of the league's most popular players — Packers running back Paul Hornung, top left, and Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras — for betting on games and associating with gamblers. The players sat out one season. It seems almost silly now when you look back and realize Hornung bet up to $500 on games and Karras' bets were in the $50 to $100 range. Still, gambling on the sport and associating with gamblers goes to the very heart of raising doubt about the game's integrity. Though Hornung and Karras were not hard-core gamblers or what you would call criminals, they might have been fortunate the penalties were not stiffer.

George Steinbrenner

The legendary and controversial late Yankees owner was suspended twice during his time in Major League Baseball. The first was in 1974 for making illegal campaign contributions to President Richard Nixon and felony obstruction of justice. He was suspended for two years, but the ban was reduced to 15 months.

In 1990, then-commissioner Fay Vincent banned Steinbrenner for life after the owner paid gambler Howie Spira to dig up dirt on Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield. "The Boss" was allowed to return to day-to-day operations on March 1, 1993. In both cases, Steinbrenner deserved penalties, but MLB also used good sense in eventually letting Steinbrenner return to the team.

tom jones' two cents

Saints coach Sean Payton last week was suspended for the 2012 season for his role in the team's bounty system, which awarded players cash for putting opposing players out of a game. It is one of the stiffest punishments seen in sports. Here's our take on the Payton suspension, along with other memorable sports suspensions.

Sean Payton

The Saints bounty program appears to have been orchestrated by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is suspended indefinitely and might never work again in the NFL. But Payton deserves every second of his season suspension. Hey, he's the guy in charge. It happened on his watch. Plus, the indication is he ignored the league's warnings to knock off bounties. He is getting nailed almost as much for hubris as anything else. The suggestion that a coach would promote, condone or sign off on his players purposefully trying to injure an opponent is despicable and repulsive. And I don't want to hear the "other teams do it'' excuse. That's like telling your mom you should be able to stay out late because all your friends are allowed to stay out late. That excuse didn't work when you were in high school, and it doesn't work now.

Bans for all time 03/24/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 24, 2012 9:31pm]
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