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Presenting sports' Turkey of the Year Award

Larry Johnson

L.J. has gone from one of the best running backs in the NFL to a first-class jerk. He has been arrested four times since 2003 for altercations with women. Last month he showed off his vocabulary by using a slur against gays. The Chiefs released him, but the Bengals, who haven't had a problem child in a while, picked him up, proving again that if you can run fast, you can get away with pretty much anything.

The Glazers

If your team is $20-some-odd-million underneath the salary cap and 8-1, that's cool. If it is that far under the cap and 1-8, and has maybe a handful of guys who could start for another team, that's a problem. The Bucs' owners, including Ed, above left, and Bryan Glazer, brought Raymond James Stadium and a Super Bowl title to town. But that was many yesterdays ago. Now they seem more interested in British soccer's Manchester United. We'll see if they spend that money more wisely in the future.

Tom Cable

First came allegations that he punched an assistant coach, breaking his jaw. Then came allegations from a former wife and a former girlfriend that he physically abused them. If he was the coach of any other team besides the renegade Raiders, he wouldn't be coaching at all.

Vince Naimoli

We thought we were done with the former Rays owner, but he's a late nominee with the release of his, uh, nonfiction book called Business, Baseball and Beyond. Naimoli gives us his version of what he calls misperceptions about his reign, though just about everyone who was around for it disagrees with his version. Let's just get this over with, okay? Vince, thank you sooo much for helping bring the Rays to Tampa Bay. We really appreciate it. Now go away. Please.

Steve Phillips

The former Mets general manager didn't do a bad job on the air as an ESPN baseball analyst. But the married-with-kids announcer had troubles off the air, carrying on with an ESPN production assistant and bringing shame not only to himself and the network, but mostly to his wife and children.

Alex Rodriguez

See what hitting a few postseason homers and dating Kate Hudson can do for you? It can make everyone forget that you're a lying cheater. How soon we all forgot that A-Rod was outed last winter for performance-enhancing drug use six years ago. Forget that the results from a 2003 drug test were supposed to be kept confidential. The bottom line is the results were leaked, and A-Rod was on the juice.

The officials

Pick a sport, and officiating just keeps getting worse in it. Blown calls all over the baseball postseason. Scandals in the NBA. Replay goofs in college and pro football. Even soccer with the no-call on the hand ball in the Ireland-France World Cup qualifier on Wednesday. Are officials getting worse, or is our technology for assessing their calls getting better? Either way, it has been a horrible year for officiating.

Tony La Russa

The smartest man in baseball — just ask him — isn't smart enough to see that bringing in Mark McGwire is incredibly disrespectful to the game. McGwire still hasn't answered questions about steroids and his role and/or participation in the darkest days of baseball history. So why not bring in Roger Clemens as pitching coach? And Barry Bonds as the first-base coach? And put Sammy Sosa at third? Shame on La Russa, and shame on the Cardinals, and shame on commissioner Bud Selig for giving his blessing.

Serena Williams

She might be the best female tennis player in the world, but we're constantly annoyed by — though we've grown used to — her refusal to ever give credit to opponents. But we can't live with her going batty on a line judge at the U.S. Open, saying she wanted to shove a ball down the official's throat, with a triple-score expletive thrown in. Her apology was weak, too, leading us to believe she still doesn't feel badly about what she did.

Elizabeth Lambert

The New Mexico player became a YouTube sensation a few weeks ago for playing soccer like she was on Monday Night Raw. There was kicking and punching and, worst of all, a mighty yank of an opponent's ponytail. Then Lambert lobbed grenades at everyone for saying the only reason people are making a big deal out of it is because of she's female. No, Elizabeth, that's not it. We're making a big deal of it because you were kicking, punching and pulling hair.

Mike Locksley

What the heck is it with the University of New Mexico? Locksley is its football coach, and he was suspended after getting into a physical confrontation with an assistant. If he does lose his job, perhaps he can get hired by the Raiders.

Lane Kiffin

First, Tennessee's football coach mouths off about Gators coach Urban Meyer cheating to get a recruit, though Meyer had done nothing wrong. Then Kiffin bragged about how clean his program is, and right around that time, four of his players were hauled in by police for some shenanigans or another. Oh, which remind us — some advice for the players: If you're going to try to rob someone, you might want to pick a better spot than outside a gas-and-sip at 2 in the morning.

Michael David Barrett

This is the creep accused of drilling holes in hotel room doors to take videos of naked ESPN reporter Erin Andrews.

Miguel Cabrera

Last series of the baseball season, and your team is battling for a playoff spot. How do you prepare? Well, if you're the Tigers' Cabrera, you get plastered, stay out until 5 in the morning, get in a scrap with your wife, get hauled off to jail and have your general manager bail you out. Then that night you go 0-for-4 and leave six runners stranded on base in a 5-1 loss on your way to losing the American League Central to the Twins.

LeGarrette Blount

If you're going to sucker punch someone, you might want to pick a different time than on national television. The Oregon running back, above, learned that the hard way after punching Boise State's Byron Hout, who also makes our list. His trash-talking led to him getting a knuckle sandwich after Boise State beat Oregon in a game televised on ESPN.

Rick Pitino

The married father of five had what he called an "indiscretion,'' which is what the rest of us call an "affair,'' six years ago, and then things got messy. The woman said she was pregnant and he was the father, tried to extort money from him, and, well, you get the gist of it. The Louisville basketball coach then scolded the media and had the nerve, in the middle of an apology, to make a reference to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Sleazy!

Oren Koules & Len Barrie

Every time we think of Lightning co-owners Koules, top, and Barrie, bottom, we are reminded of the scene in Slap Shot when goalie Denis Lemieux asks GM Joe McGrath, "Joe, who own da Chiefs?" And McGrath says, "Owns! Owns!'' Well, we want to know: "Who own da Lightning?''

Aqib Talib/Patrick Kane

Nothing good ever happens after midnight. Talib, above, the Bucs cornerback, and Kane, the Blackhawks forward, got in trouble after getting into it with cab drivers after visiting nightclubs. If you're going to throw punches in the wee hours of the morning, save it for a purse-snatcher or carjacker, not some guy trying to put food on his table by hauling around drunks at 2 in the morning.

And the 2009 Turkey of the Year Award goes to ... the officials

No one tries to make a mistake, and their job isn't easy, but that's still no excuse for their problems. It isn't easy being a plumber, either, but if you can't fix the leaky faucet, someone is going to notice. Plenty of leaks are all over sports these days.

It's the Sunday before Thanksgiving, meaning it's time for our annual Turkey of the Year Award. If you goofed up, embarrassed yourself or generally acted like an idiot, you have the chance to be recognized. Our nominees:

Presenting sports' Turkey of the Year Award 11/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 21, 2009 11:45pm]
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