2020 Idiot of the Year Awards: Counting down from 50-41 with Ronaldo, Bolt, Cespedes, and more

2020 Idiot of the Year Awards: Counting down from 50-41 with Ronaldo, Bolt, Cespedes, and more

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UPDATE: We have compiled all 50 items into one handy list, for your reading convenience. It is available here.


Welcome to Deadspin’s IDIOT OF THE YEAR awards! Our expert team has worked tirelessly to bring you this annual list of the sports and sports-adjacent figures who most intensely made us wish we had been shaken as infants.

Within these rankings you will find all manner of dunces, dumbfucks, douchebags, and doofs — all qualities that exist under the tentpole of idiocy, but are not quite the same thing. So, before we begin our show, let’s explore the phenomenon a bit.

What is an idiot? Is there any point to nailing down an objective definition, or can one only know it when they see it, like pornography? Can it be achieved in one grand flourish, or is it the sum of a lifelong commitment? It depends on whom you ask, but as far as we’re concerned, all paths are viable. Consider the conceptual origins of idiocy: The word entered English in reference to a loner, an amateur, or, more abstractly, a person somehow separate from civilization. In this sense, the idiot is perhaps best defined by an inability, or unwillingness, to work in service of a better society. Or they’re stupid. Or both.

The pesky thing about words is that they’ll always mean something ever-so-slightly different to everyone. So, to further explain our methodology — a term we’re using very loosely — here’s a broad idea of the qualities we looked for when coming up with our IDIOT OF THE YEAR picks.

  • Ignorance
  • Excitability
  • Arrogance
  • Malice
  • Incompetence

That’s just to name a few. The idiocy can certainly be pandemic-related — and much of it is — but it’s not limited to that. We tried our best to keep things scientific, but when it’s called IDIOT OF THE YEAR, subjectivity tends to creep in. In any case, we proudly present this project to you, exalted reader, as a well-earned distraction from life. Look upon our works, ye mighty, and despair.

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50. Ben Sasse

50. Ben Sasse

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Illustration: AP

Ben probably thought he was doing his constituents a favor by fighting to return Big 10 football to the field in the summer. But being a leader sometimes means making the unpopular choice, even if it is the easiest, which would have been not risking the health and lives of college students/indentured servants just so people could put on a confused face to watch Nebraska football. A relief from that “Wreck Of The Hesperus” would have been a little light in the very dark COVID-19 times.

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49. Steve Forbes

49. Steve Forbes

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Illustration: AP

Wake Forest, once a national powerhouse basketball program that produced players like Tim Duncan and Chris Paul, has fallen off the map. Dramatically. When Wake fired Danny Manning in April, they brought in Steve Forbes from East Tennessee State. You know, another blue-blood. But, on the day of Forbes’ hiring announcement, Wake Forest sports released a tweet trying to pump up the fan base. It didn’t work. The video showed Forbes yelling and spiking his mask. Our colleague, Carron Phillips, summed up the introduction perfectly: Forbes “looked like a new principal trying to hype up some unenthused high school seniors during a boring assembly.”

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48. Usain Bolt

48. Usain Bolt

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Illustration: AP

Usain Bolt attended his own large, maskless surprise birthday party. Unsurprisingly, he contracted coronavirus. The fastest man in the world celebrated his 34th birthday with dozens of athletes, celebrities, and family members at a huge party in Jamaica. Just days after the event, though, Bolt went into quarantine. Sounds fun.

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47. Tony Bruno

47. Tony Bruno

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Illustration: Tony Bruno Show/Twitch

Tony Bruno, after a decades-long career built on marrying the worst of sports and conservative talk radio, finally crashed and burned this year in glorious fashion. The same week the NBA righteously led a boycott in response to Jacob Blake’s shooting at the hands of Wisconsin police, Bruno uncorked a rant that would be his undoing. Bruno’s tirade spiraled into outright bigotry as he claimed most NBA players “can’t even read, for god’s sake,” with Deadspin writing up Bruno’s gross appeal to the decades-old racist trope. Bruno was summarily dropped by two national networks, and his final day on air hilariously featured the gasbag vowing to have Deadspin “brought to justice” while blasting the report’s author as “slipshod” and a “cracker.” Some called the situation a “kerfuffle,” while others, like loyal Deadspin reader Laura Ingraham, bemoaned Bruno’s ouster as “cancel culture” at work. One thing is clear, though: Tony Bruno is an idiot.

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46. Yoenis Cespedes

46. Yoenis Cespedes

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Illustration: AP

It wasn’t idiotic for Yoenis Cespedes to opt out of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, but he could’ve been more efficient in handling the situation. Back in August, Cespedes no-showed for an afternoon game between his New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. He was missing. Some feared the worst, especially given how everything this year has been terrible. Ultimately, after eight games and 31 at bats, he just left the team… without telling anyone, and in a contract year, no less. This came after his salary was reduced by over $23 million following an abrupt 2019 season-ending ranch incident. On top of that, he’s still a free agent, and we don’t know if he’ll play again. Presumably, he wants to, but hasn’t helped himself over the last year, or really, the last two years.

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45. Cristiano Ronaldo

45. Cristiano Ronaldo

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Illustration: AP

Sadly, Ronaldo only tested positive for COVID-19, instead of testing positive for “being in prison for one or all of the multiple rape accusations against him.”

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44. Will Fuller

44. Will Fuller

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Illustration: AP

The Houston Texans wide receiver finally had a chance to prove to the NFL that he could stay on the field after playing in no more than 11 games in each of the last four seasons. He was seemingly piecing it all together in the absence of DeAndre Hopkins, was having a career year heading into free agency this offseason… then he was suspended for six games for using performance enhancing drugs. In true idiot fashion, Fuller blamed his doctor for the ban, claiming he had been too trusting of the medical regimen prescribed for him. Guess how many games Will Fuller played in this year? That’s right, 11. Good luck with that offseason, bud.

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43. Jeff Luhnow

43. Jeff Luhnow

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Illustration: AP

Do you remember the name Gary Condit? If you don’t, that’s okay. Condit was the California representative whose affair with Chandra Levy, a woman 30 years younger, was revealed after Levy was murdered in May of 2001. It was a huge story for that whole summer, and even though Condit never was a suspect in the still-unsolved case, he was the subject of a world of negative attention and got primaried out of office. But the reason you wouldn’t remember Condit is that 9/11 happened, he slinked away, and nobody really heard from him again until he went on Dr. Phil, 15 years later. Jeff Luhnow, the disgraced former Astros general manager, could’ve taken a similar route out of the public eye thanks to 2020 being, well, 2020. Instead, this idiot did a 37-minute interview with Houston’s NBC affiliate, proclaiming how good and virtuous and not a mastermind of a cheating scheme he was. Either Luhnow was lying, and was way more involved in the cheating than he said, or he was telling the truth, and he was a horrendous executive with no idea what was happening in his organization. That’s definitely something you want to come back into the public eye to get out there, right?

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42. Mike Milbury

42. Mike Milbury

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Illustration: AP

It was once startling, then depressingly common, that leagues love to champion their female fandom numbers when presenting spreadsheets to stockholders, and yet these same organizations let their broadcasts, the very vehicle carrying their product to said fans, insult them stupidly. Milbury was just one of the latest to label women something other than, y’know, people. To Milbury, women were merely a distraction, and NHL players were better off without them in the sealed-off bubbles of Edmonton and Toronto. Even if you can ignore the broad swipe at womankind as a whole, painting them merely as walking orifices to tease and corrupt these saintly hockey players, there were probably a few players themselves who didn’t exactly appreciate their wives and girlfriends being presented merely as obstacles to their work. But Milbury has been spewing drivel for decades now, especially when he had a job with a team, and yet we can’t seem to get rid of him. In nature, you do need vents for noxious gases, lest they build up to dangerous levels. But until Milbury has proven that’s what he is, let’s just keep him in storage.

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41. Tilman Fertitta

41. Tilman Fertitta

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Illustration: AP

While most of the recent attention around the Rockets has been on James Harden’s dadaist interpretation of Punky Brewster, the Rockets got here by way of their billionaire owner’s crippling phobia of the luxury tax. Thanks to his penny-pinching, the Rockets have been able to amass two superstars at the top of the roster, Harden and either Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook or now John Wall. But they haven’t been able to build depth, which has seen them crash out of the playoffs and sour Harden on the whole operation. While Fertitta will claim the pandemic has crippled his restaurant-based worth, he’s still worth $4B. No one is more relieved at the shelter the release of Harden’s photos of partying maskless than his boss.


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