Father's Day is Sunday, June 19, and to commemorate the special occasion we're doing something a little different: a brief history of the worst dads on the planet. It'll make you appreciate your old man even more. No need to thank us.
We came up with 10 names and broke them down into three groups: Overbearing (possibly money-grubbing, too), Prophylactically Antipathetic, and Garden-Variety Jerks. The order is unimportant, although without question, the recognition is well deserved.
All right, let's get to it.
Overbearing (possibly money-grubbing, too)BJ Wie. In the scheme of things, BJ Wie, father to one-time teenage golf phenom Michelle, probably doesn't rank particularly high on the list of truly awful sports dads. Michelle became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA event at the age of 10, and she turned pro at 16. Ability beyond her years and 300-yard drives made her the LPGA's Tiger Woods, back when such comparisons used to be a good thing. But it never came together for Michelle, perhaps due to the pressure, the media attention, or her father.
If BJ'S guilty of anything, it's meddling in his daughter's professional life. But the line between meddling and full-blown stage-dad syndrome is razor thin. Depending on you who talk to, BJ crossed it early in his daughter's golf career.
Former LPGA player-turned-television analyst Dottie Pepper has been outspoken on Wie, once suggesting "greed and short-sightedness" played prominent roles in BJ's management strategy. In December, 2009, BJ told Golf.com that "I agree with some of the criticisms that say Michelle took on too much at a young age. She wasn't physically strong enough to compete on the PGA Tour. We learned a lot from it. We don't regret much, but I agree with some of the criticisms." Of course, he also said his role "hasn't changed." Now Michelle is 21 years old, has two LPGA Tour wins, and currently ranks 13th on the 2011 LPGA money list.
Individual sports seem to bring out the worst in parents. It probably has something to do with their own stifled athletic dreams which eventually mutated into living vicariously through their kids. Which brings us to ...
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During a 2002 appearance on "60 Minutes," Marc referred to Sean as "pretty good labor." It's not the first time a father has uttered that phrase about a son, but it's usually said jokingly, in reference to, say, cutting the grass. Marc O'Hair doesn't strike us as having much of a sense of humor ("Funny doesn't pay the bills!" we'd imagine him screaming. Really?)
Marv Marinovich. Discipline, order and control. These were the tenets Marv lived by, and he expected his son, Todd, to do likewise. And for a while, it seemed to work. Todd, through his dad's singular focus, became one of the best high school quarterbacks in the country, had a solid collegiate career at USC, and, in 1991, was the Raiders' first-round pick. Robo-QB was a success... right up until Todd cracked under the pressure like Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.
"After his rookie season, it was all downhill," Jeff Merron wrote for ESPN in 2007. "In 1996, when Newsweek magazine checked in on him, Marinovich was playing for a band called Scurvy for $60 a night. He played in the CFL, the Arena League, was busted for growing pot in 1998, then arrested for possession of heroin."
As for Marv, "He was the prototypical stage father," Sports Illustrated's Douglas S. Looney wrote in 1990. "In most ways, Marv didn't have a life. He had Todd's life ... 'I had a captive audience,' says Marv. 'I told him when to eat, what to eat, when to go to bed, when to get up, when to work out, how to work out. Now I have a hard time getting him on the telephone.'"
Jim Pierce. Father to tennis player Mary Pierce, Jim was such a jerk that the WTA banned him for life (!) for, among other things, once yelling during a match, "Mary, kill the b****!" It got so bad that Mary finally cut ties with her old man.
"Ever since Mary turned pro in 1989, at the age of 14, she has been known as much for her father's abusive behavior toward her and her opponents as she has for her tennis talent," SI's Sally Jenkins wrote in 1993. "This June she finally fired her father from his position as her coach. That coincided with the decision by Mary's mother, Yannick, 43, to divorce Jim, after nearly 20 years together."
But it didn't end there (of course it didn't.) "You never know what he's capable of," Mary told Jenkins at the time. "One reason I hesitated to break away was that you just don't know what he might do."
According to Wikipedia, Mary was once engaged to Roberto Alomar. We're blaming her dad for that, too.
Prophylactically AntipatheticCalvin Murphy. A 14-year NBA career, the Hall of Fame, and countless other awards and honors. Despite the accolades, Murphy is probably most remembered for his prodigiousness off the court. He fathered 14 children with nine women, marrying just one of them. In 2004, Murphy was charged with sexually abusing five of his daughters but was later acquitted.
Immediately after the trial, Murphy sounded like a man reevaluating his station in life. "In my case -- infidelity. You don't have one affair after another like I did. It basically comes under the heading of playing with people's lives."
Six years later, and perhaps considering himself an expert on the matter, Murphy went on the radio to proclaim that the rumors that LeBron James' mom had sex with Delonte West were " absolutely true."
Antonio Cromartie. We're convinced that the Jets cornerback really does know all the names of his nine kids (from eight women across six states), you just wouldn't know it to watch him attempt to do it. We blame the frenetic pace of training camp, learning a new defense, and-- OK, who are we kidding; he forgot.
The New York Post reported in October, 2010, that "At only 26, Cromartie's conquests range from a then-17-year-old girl in his hometown Tallahassee to a lawyer and beauty queen." And he "has left a nationwide trail of paternity suits, visitation agreements and child-support orders totaling tens of thousands of dollars a month. Last March, the Jets fronted him $500,000 of his salary to pay at least $25,000 in arrears and other custody-related costs. He's in the final year of a five-year, $12.5 million contract."
Rhonda Patterson, who has a daughter fathered by Cromartie, told the Post that he canceled their wedding the week before it was set to happen, and kicked her out of his San Diego home when she was six months pregnant.
Travis Henry. Show us a Worst Dads Ever list and we'll show you an entry for former NFL running back Travis Henry. A March, 2009, New York Times headline says it all: "With Nine Mouths to Feed, Travis Henry Says He's Broke." A day later, as if by forces beyond his control, Henry had two more, bringing his total to 11 kids by 10 women.
It was once estimated that Henry owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $170,000 a year in child support, but an arrest on cocaine charges and a subsequent plea deal landed him in the slammer for three years.
At the time of his sentencing Henry admitted that "I made a terrible decision" and "If given the chance, I can make this right." He also added that "It's amazing how many inmates want my autograph." So there's that.
Garden-Variety JerkPatrick Roy. Roy retired from the NHL in 2003 as one of the best goaltenders in the history of the sport. Three years later, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. After hanging up the skates, Roy joined the Quebec Ramparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 2007, he was accused of punching the co-owner of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, a team in the QMJHL. That was a prelude to what happened a year later. Details via the Associated Press :
"Quebec Remparts goalie Jonathan Roy was suspended for seven games, and Remparts coach Patrick Roy -- Jonathan's father -- was suspended for five games following Saturday's melee between their team and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff...
"On video, it appeared that Patrick Roy gestured to his son from the bench before Jonathan made a beeline for Nadeau. Patrick Roy denied he instigated his son to go after the opposing goalie, however."
That's right: Roy allegedly told his son to beat the snot out of various members of the other team.
(Spoken with French accent: Okay, WHO WANTS SOME!?)
Steve Garvey. The guy had 2,599 career hits during a 19-year Major League career. A 10-time All-Star, he won a World Series with the Dodgers in 1981. Garvey was also the target of two paternity suits after he fathered two children by two women. By today's standards, that news wouldn't merit 100 words on TMZ.com, but in 1989 it was a huge deal, especially since Garvey was known for his squeaky-clean image.
From a 1989 People account of the story:
"Apparently unembarrassed by the charges swirling around him, Garvey insists he's a man of honor and innocence. 'I was led to believe I wasn't responsible for birth control,' he told Sports Illustrated. 'It was a communications situation there.' Given this obvious failure to communicate, Garvey believes that by pledging to take care of the two children, 'I'm doing the right thing. With my Roman Catholic upbringing, I have a set of principles that serve me well in good times and bad.' He is optimistic that the controversy will clear without clouding his political ambitions, including a possible run for the U.S. Senate."
This is straight out of the Anthony Weiner political playbook. But there is a silver lining to all this: these shirts started popping up all over San Diego.
Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods was once the most marketable person on the planet. In the time it took nearly 20 women -- most of them porn stars and strippers, none named Elin -- to come forward and admit that they had sexed up the world's best golfer, he lost virtually all his endorsements, and he was forced into hiding for six months.
Nineteen months after Woods' perfectly crafted image imploded, he has yet to find his golf game. Some of that has to do with chronic knee problems, but surely some of that is a result of his personal life being turned upside down. He's now divorced and his ex-wife, who got a nine-figure settlement, has custody of their two young children.
In December 2009, shortly after Tiger's world fell apart, we wrote about how he had singlehandedly made golf cool, made every tournament he entered must-see, and made a lot of guys a lot of money. And he did it all with a million other things on his mind.
"Woods is the greatest athlete of this era and maybe the greatest athlete ever. That little detail has been lost amid the news that he's a philanderer, a terrible father, and quite possibly the second-most oversexed man on the planet after Travis Henry.
"But those character flaws, when coupled with his on-course accomplishments, are what set him apart from your run-of-the-mill superstar athlete. Most people can't juggle one mistress without it affecting every other aspect of their life. Tiger not only played golf at a high level, he dominated. And at last count he had 14 mistresses. ... If you're willing to overlook the fact that he's a dirtbag, it's one of the most impressive feats in sports."
That said, Tiger has earned his place on this list.
Special Guest Appearance: Tiki Barber. Here's all you need to know: In 2010, after 11 years of marriage, Barber left his eight-months-pregnant wife -- with twins, mind you -- for a 20-something NBC intern.
Let these names and stories wash over you. At the very least, it should make you feel better about your dad. Not such a bad guy after all, right? (We bet you feel pretty crappy about getting him socks again, too.)