A.J. Daulerio's Cultural Oddsmaker runs every Friday. Send him all kinds of fan mail.
More athletes have been sobered to the fact that, regardless of their peak physical conditioning, their large paychecks and the fawning adulation of fans, they cannot escape creeping death.
Whether it's Ben Roethlisberger smashing into a parked car, Roderick Greene getting knifed or Barbaro's leaking limbs, the veil of indestrucability has been lifted.
Nevertheless, those three have survived (for now), but make no mistake — the days when athletes could pop wheelies in elmentary school parking lots and go bowling without their Kevlar vests are long gone. So, I have put on my grim reaper jumpsuit, invited my Wiccan friends over and compiled a list of athletes most likely to suffer an unnatural death in the next year.
Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls: dying time's here.
Jump in the fire, after the jump.
John Daly, Golfer: 1/2
The demons are dark, deep and out of control with everybody's favorite hard-partying golfer. Where do we start? The weight issue. The gambling debts. The depression. The boozing. The utter contempt for his own perserverance. The suicidal thoughts. Daly might be the closest thing to John Belushi we have right now. And those who knew Belushi kind of accepted the inevitability of his fate. Would anybody be surprised if Daly is found in a hotel room, shirtless, with a belly full of booze and donuts in the next few months?
Kyle Orton, QB, Chicago Bears: 2/1
It started last year with the drooling drunken photos, then the public annoucement that he's a just a young guy having fun, but Orton couldn't project his imminent doom any better than if he had tattooed "DOWNWARD SPIRAL" on his forehead. The bloat, the neck beard, the blase "Hey, i'm just here to keep the trains running"-kind of attitude all indicate Orton's paving his own path of destruction. Looking at Orton in recent pictures conjures up images of "American Prayer"-era Jim Morrison. In three months, we'll find Orton spouting off nonsensical poems and invoking dead Indians in a Naperville bar. All hail the American night....
Danica Patrick, Race Car Driver: 4/1
All race car drivers are at risk, obviously, but Danica is saddled with the pressure of winning a race this year and proving to the rest of the world that she's not just a vagina covered in fireproof clothing. With that kind of pressure, she's prone to take more risks than usual in order to prove her legitimacy. Plus, she's a chick. How many females have you seen teaching driver's ed in your lifetime? Exactly.
Marcus Vick, WR, Miami Dolphins : 4/1
How's this sound: Young black man with a chip on his shoulder, a bad temper, a new position, a familarity with firearms in a city with a sprawling nightlife and plenty of opportunities for trouble? Plus, now he has a paycheck. With drive-bys always a threat when Marcus is around, I wouldn't be surprised if the Miami Dolphins coaching staff doesn't conduct minicamp drills in those bulletproof golf carts the Pope used to ride in.
Adam LaRoche, 1B Atlanta Braves: 7/1
Although he's said he's trying to get control of the situation and is currently in treatment, one thing all ADHD sufferers are not good at is responsibility. Once his prescription starts to run out there will be a time when LaRoche is left without his adderrall supply. Imagine LaRoche standing in the batter's box, trying desperately to maintain concentration, he sees the pitcher winding up and the....hey, look how pretty this stadium is at night...Bonk. 98 mph fastballs to the face do not end well.