The Most Cringeworthy Moments in Sports History

Matt Haupert@@matthaupFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2014

The Most Cringeworthy Moments in Sports History

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    It's funny how sometimes the most painful things to watch end up being the hardest to ever stop watching.

    Mark Sanchez's infamous butt fumble has been viewed millions of times. ESPN's uncomfortable interview with Andrew Wiggins was turned into a mesmerizing Vine. And every time Birdman speaks, our eyes are drawn immediately to the television screen.

    Indeed, for all the times that athletes inspire us or motivate us or make us cheer, athletes seem to have an equally uncanny ability to make us cringe.

    Sometimes, they make us cringe so much that the moments themselves go down in history. This list, then, is the history book.

    In the following 10 slides are examples of some of the most cringeworthy moments that sports have ever produced—with a slight bias toward more recent work.

    So, at least for the next few minutes, do your best to try not to look away. I don't think it should be much of a problem.

Eminem on Saturday Night Football

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    Somebody in charge probably thought he was a genius when he suggested that ESPN bring famous rapper Eminem into the booth at halftime of a Notre Dame-Michigan football game.

    That somebody was wrong.

    Eminem appears wildly uncomfortable and out of place throughout the interview, struggling to look the reporters in the eyes and telling them at one point that there was nothing to be excited for on his upcoming album.

    Eminem is king in his own domain. In the domain of a sports interview however, his every word causes viewers to cringe with pain.

Birdman Postgame Interview

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    Chris "Birdman" Andersen doesn't exactly have the reputation in the league of being a bundle of charisma and joy.

    But can any reporter really ever be ready for that?

    Andersen's terrifying postgame interview above is just that: terrifying. It truly seems at any moment he might become irritated, reach out of the screen and destroy you in one swing. Every awkward one-sentence response, every glare at the camera, every nervous laugh by the news anchor trying desperately to make light of the situation.

    Differences abound between the species of man and bird. This truly must be trapped in no man's land somewhere in between.

Reporter Pushes Bode Miller to Breakdown

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    There's a very fine line between "provocative journalism" and "being a bad human being."

    Keep on going past this line, take the fifth exit, turn right at the light, continue for a few miles down the road, and you'll arrive at the space occupied by Christin Cooper in her post-race interview with Bode Miller at the Sochi Olympics.

    Cooper continuously pokes and prods at Miller, forcing him to answer an unending series of questions about his brother, who passed away before the Olympics.

    Her barrage of personal questions drives Bode to tears, and he actually breaks down on camera.

    Don't worry. They didn't give him respect then, either. Instead, cameras continued to show Miller as he cries continuously, refusing Miller the privacy he needs for the sake of the news that none of us needed to see.

Brent Musburger Drools over Katherine Webb

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    AJ McCarron's girlfriend Katherine Webb—and as of recently, his wife—is beautiful. And nobody knows that better than ESPN's Brent Musburger.

    During an Alabama game that Webb was attending, cameras caught wind of the young woman sitting in one end zone.

    Musburger had apparently never seen anything or anyone like it in his life.

    The too-old-to-talk-like-that reporter went on, as shown in the video above, to exclaim, "You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman. Wow."

    Maybe it was the wow that put him over the edge. Or maybe it was the twinge of jealousy in his voice when he proclaimed that young quarterbacks literally got all the good-looking women.

    Either way, Musburger proved that he is most effective as a broadcaster when blindfolded and watched carefully throughout the game.

Richard Sherman's Postgame Rant

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    Richard Sherman caught the attention of the entire world when he unleashed an impassioned postgame rant, declaring himself the best after the Seahawks' NFC Championship victory against the 49ers.

    Sherman's rant was definitely not asked for and quickly became one of the most talked-about sports stories of the year. Is Sherman crazy? Out of control? Disrespectful? And why is he screaming so much?

    Perhaps the most uncomfortable part of the whole scene, however, came not from Sherman, but reporter Erin Andrews, who clearly had no clue what to do or say next: "And before...uh...Joe, back over to you!"

    I'm just going to wrap up this slide here. Unless you want me to...uh...Joe, back over to you!

Andrew Wiggins Interview

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    Andrew Wiggins, since being taken as the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, has been the subject of plenty of media hype.

    But not because of his breathtaking ability or superstar potential. No. Wiggins' name has been in the news because of his part in a deal that is reportedly bringing Kevin Love to Cleveland.

    This is certainly an awkward month for the young kid.

    Everyone on the planet knows Wiggins is being traded. Wiggins knows. ESPN knows. The teams involved know. Fans know. And nobody is allowed to say anything.

    This all resulted in one of the most bizarre interviews ever conducted by anyone ever, when ESPN featured Wiggins in a Cavs outfit and proceeded to ask him a series of questions that had no answer choices but uncomfortable ones.

    They asked where he wanted to play. They asked if he'd talked to unofficial general manager LeBron yet. And, of course, they asked if he thought Cleveland wanted him.

    Wiggins' response in the Vine above is the response that any 19-year-old kid-turned-No. 1 pick might have: "I hope so."

Dustin Pedroia: Actor

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    Look, not everyone can be Peyton Manning, who might be the greatest quarterback of all time and is even better at making commercials than he is at playing football.

    There has been a long line of truly, profoundly painful commercials featuring famous athletes, but you would be hard-pressed to find any that come close to the chilling awkwardness of Dustin Pedroia's performance—can we even call it a performance?—on behalf of Sullivan Tires.

    Pedroia appears to be standing in front of a green screen, which is puzzling in itself as ballparks are not particularly difficult to come by. Dustin then stands and fidgets, delivering the line, "I don't believe it. It's Jim Rice," with the gusto of a man who did, in fact, know that Jim Rice was coming and didn't really care.

    This commercial makes me so uncomfortable that not only will I not be purchasing Sullivan Tires any time soon, but I'm seriously considering no longer using tires in general as a silent protest.

Anthony Bennett Rookie Season

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Anthony Bennett turned in such a historically bad rookie season for the Cavaliers last year—made even worse by where he was selected in the draft—that by the end, it became almost fascinating to watch.

    Bennett looked so out of place so much of the time that it was difficult to imagine that he had ever done anything to display potential in the first place.

    Bennett's perpetual woes can really be summed up by this one shot, featuring two misses in a matter of seconds, including a botched dunk.

    The whole year was like a nightmare that nobody got to wake up from at the end. Every time he touched the ball, LeBron-starved Cleveland fans cringed like even they had never done before.

Jim Rome and Jim Everett

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    Jim Rome, broadcaster, likes to tease.

    Jim Everett, NFL quarterback, is really sensitive.

    Put it all together, and what do you get? One of the most uncomfortable moments in the history of sports journalism.

    Basically, Rome wasn't a fan of Everett's toughness and repeatedly called him, to his face, "Chris Evert," the name of a female tennis player. You can watch what happens next.

    It will probably make you cringe. It might make you laugh. And in a strange way, there's a good chance it'll make you just sort of wish Rome was still ESPN's go-to interview man.

Butt Fumble

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    The infamous butt fumble: The play so embarrassing, so infuriating, so painfully cringeworthy to watch even once that the very mention of the word "butt" is now enough to send Jets fans into a fit of rage.

    There has never been anything like it. The butt fumble became Mark Sanchez's legacy. It became all he was remembered for. And sadly, it was a legacy that sort of fit the career he was putting together on the Jets anyway.

    You have to sort of feel for the guy. I mean, that was a big butt—even the best of us may have struggled to avoid contact with it all together.

    As much as that play may have made Jets fans cringe, an embarrassing reminder of the state of the Jets offense at the time, it lives on in the rest of our hearts as a reminder that even when you don't always get the quarterbacking performance that you want, sometimes you still get the butt fumble that you need.

    Think I'm a genius? An idiot? Let me know on Twitter.