Monday Nov 30

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Moment?

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Star Athletes today have it all. Money, women, expensive sports cars, and over-sized mansions to stuff flat screen TV’s, pool tables and stripper poles to flaunt their success. As sports fans, we love when athletes succeed in pressure-packed situations. To me, there is nothing better than watching a buzzer-beating three pointer, a game winning touchdown pass or a sparkling defensive play to end a game. High profile athletes often relish in pressure-cooker moments to help propel their careers and help their respective team win. Crosby, Kobe, Brady, Jeter and athletes of this caliber have been known to come through when it matters most and because of this, they are loved and respected for their ability to make plays when the game is on the line. But winners like these got me thinking, what about athletes that would rather run and hide when their team needs them? I decided to rank the top-five most afraid athletes in sports today. High profile characters that would rather let someone else have the limelight, afraid of failure or negative press.

1) Floyd Mayweather Junior

-Best boxer alive, eh? Please. Mayweather is no doubt extremely talented and uses his mouth to get inside of the head of his opponent – except when it comes to Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather/Pacquiao would have been a fight for the ages and drawn in more hype than Lebron in his rookie season. At times, Floyd seems unstoppable and has proven to be a gifted boxer. But Floyd seems to have misplaced his spine when it comes to Pacquiao. All of a sudden, Mayweather wants blood testing for performance enhancers and will not fight until justice is served. Floyd is all of a sudden ethical now? Riiiight.  Floyd is flat-out afraid to get his ass beaten by an equally talented fighter and has taken the high road in this one. Floyd is scared of Pacquiao, end of story.

2) Nomar Garciaparra

-Nohhhhhmaaaaaaar. Now I know Ramon-spelled-backwards had a fabulous career playing short-stop-up in Beantown and has had plenty of special moments in his solid career as a major leaguer. But the lasting image of Nomar sitting in the dugout of the old Yankee Stadium, giving off the look of an eight-year-old girl who’s hamster died is reason enough for me. The rest of the Sox on the top step of the dugout, taking it on the chin as the Yankees continued their dominance spelled the end of Nomar in Boston. In my opinion, he never fully recovered from this moment. He was shipped off the next season and the Sox began their mini-run of World Series titles. Number Five will never be viewed in Boston as a hero, but more as the end of the Sox’ run of despair and disappointment. I’m pretty sure that your average horror movie gives Nomar nightmares.

3) Patrick Ewing

-As a die-hard Knicks fan (yes, we still do exist) it was never good enough for old number 33. Pat Ewing was as solid as they come in terms of NBA centers. He is an all-time great, racking up high scoring totals and giving off an aura of tough defensive presence in the paint. But Patrick Chewing never seemed to relish in the moment. He evaporated in big moments and never got the ring. He was also a surly gentleman who did all he could to disappoint Knick fans in the post-season. He let Hakeem have his way in the 1994 finals against H-Town and it became the watershed moment of his career. Ewing will always have a special place in my heart, but not the part that pumps adrenaline and pride throughout my disgruntled Knicks veins. This is the same Ewing who will Coach Dwight Howard to be the same type of player: Great Numbers, Zero Rings.

4) Peyton Manning

-How could you!!? Peyton is a sweetheart for most Americans, outside of Boston and Baltimore that is. He is a funny, energetic and spectacular player who has revolutionized the position of Quarterback. I am convinced he may retire the greatest to ever stand under center. But by the standards of winning Lombardi Trophies, Peyton has become a tragic figure. Yes, he does have a title. Yes, he silenced his critics when the Colts beat the awful Bears in the rain in Miami. But in retrospect, Peyton has failed in MANY big spots. The Patriots owned young Peyton until the AFC Championship game in 2006, making him Mister Interception and causing him to point fingers at the offensive line, coaches and play-calling in these games. And who could forget this past Super Bowl, when the Colts who were picked by everyone to win were slapped back down to Earth by the virtue of a pick-six. The normally unflappable Manning looked like a child again against a Swiss-cheese Saints defense. Peyton needs to win another Super Bowl before I take this posting back.  And I bet Peyton would trade ALL of his MVP trophy’s for another ring.

5) Phil Mickelson

-The unlucky lefty. Phil seems like a good enough guy for a pro golfer. He has been through hell with his wife’s condition, keeps a positive attitude when the going gets tough and best of all, tanks when it matters most. Phil has had more than a few chances to kick the stigma of being a loser. Is there anyone better at blowing it in a big moment? How many majors has Phil taken himself out of with poor shots and mental errors? Too many to count.  I almost feel bad calling this guy out for being such a bum in a big spot, but it helps out with this post. Now that Tiger has fallen like a weather balloon, maybe Phil can rise up and prove me wrong. But until then, the unlucky lefty closes out the top five of scared athletes.

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