2020 Idiot of the Year: Our descent continues with Jon Gruden, Dana White, and a cold look in the mirror

2020 Idiot of the Year: Our descent continues with Jon Gruden, Dana White, and a cold look in the mirror

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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. Each of these archetypes exist under the tentpole of idiocy, but they 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 the thing is 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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40. Kirk Cousins

40. Kirk Cousins

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Illustration: Getty Images

Days before the NFL season began, Kirk Cousins — a media-trained, $24 million-a-year quarterback — said he was cool getting the coronavirus… even if it killed him. “I’m gonna let nature do its course. Survival of the fittest kind of approach,” he told The Ringer. “If it knocks me out, it knocks me out. I’m going to be OK. You know, even if I die. If I die, I die.” We can happily report that Kirk Cousins is alive, well, and still a mediocre QB. He just didn’t choose the best words when he broke the universe with his stupidity.

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39. Justin Rohrwasser

39. Justin Rohrwasser

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The New England Patriots made an odd decision to take a kicker in the fifth round of the draft. It was odder still that the kicker they picked wasn’t Georgia star Rodrigo Blankenship, but Justin Rohrwasser of Marshall. Then, it turned out that Rohrwasser had a tattoo representing the white supremacist “III%” group. This idiot’s explanation didn’t pass the smell test for a minute, although a lot of the media was willing to roll with it (wonder why). Rohrwasser said he’d get the tattoo removed, and then it turned out that it hardly mattered anyway, as Nick Folk wound up winning the kicker job in New England. Meanwhile, the undrafted Blankenship has been solid all year for the Colts.

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38. Ben Roethlisberger

38. Ben Roethlisberger

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Illustration: Getty Images

See Ronaldo, Cristiano.

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37. Jon Gruden

37. Jon Gruden

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Illustration: Getty Images

If you were writing a humorous yet cringeworthy coffee table book for the COVID era titled “50 ways not to wear a mask,” then Gruden could be the inspiration for roughly three quarters of the book. The saga of his mask ineptitude started on September 14, when the league sent a memo to all clubs after Week 1 of the season, which saw Gruden and others struggle. Gruden responded by saying “I’ve got to do a better job of keeping my mask over my face. It was really hot…” Whoo boy. The next week, he tried to get away with essentially wearing a thong over his nose. On October 5, Gruden and the Raiders were fined $565,000 for mask violations. Apparently that wasn’t enough. A month later, on November 5, the Raiders were fined another $500,000, Gruden a separate $150,000, and the NFL took their 2021 sixth-round pick. Gruden cost his team over a million dollars and a draft pick because he can’t wear a damn mask.

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36. Matt Gaetz

36. Matt Gaetz

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Remember earlier in the year when this idiot wore a gas mask on the House floor in mockery of the pandemic? Well, now, after a summer full of prodding Florida college athletics to continue unimpeded, Gaetz is not going anywhere near the House floor, out of concern for the pandemic.

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35. Dana White

35. Dana White

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When COVID hit on March 11 and 12, forcing stoppages all throughout the country, the UFC powered on with their Brazilian-based UFC Fight Night headlined by Charles Oliveria vs Kevin Lee. The event took place behind closed doors on March 14 with no attendance. White then tried to power on, shuffling around events, scrambling to keep the show rolling despite the worldwide outbreak. They returned in May with UFC 249, and even that was a hectic process. The event was originally scheduled for April 18 at Barclays Center, and Khabib Nurmagomedov couldn’t leave Russia to finally face Tony Ferguson because of COVID, so Justin Gaethje stepped in. Gaethje destroyed Ferguson, and with Khabib’s retirement, fight fans are once again robbed of the super-fight that never was. There was also the encouraging of sports leagues to come to looney ass Jacksonville to get their competitions off the ground in May, and this was after Jacare Souza tested positive for COVID, canceling his fight with Uriah Hall. And then, in a stroke of true American stubbornness, Fight Island.

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34. Jerry Reinsdorf

34. Jerry Reinsdorf

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What do you do if you have perhaps the American League’s most exciting young team poised to go on a run of years of contention? Well, if you’re a bewildered old man who still thinks it’s 1987, you try and right wrongs that are over 30 years old and hire an even more bewildered old man to manage said team! And he’s a drunk-ass racist who had just been arrested for his second DUI! Hey, in 1987 we found baseball managers drunkenly crashing their car charming and funny, so you gotta give Ol’ Jerry a break. Fans will have a lot of obstacles to return to the park comfortably in 2021. Sox fans will also have to find a way around their owner’s giant middle finger at every gate.

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33. Deadspin Staff

33. Deadspin Staff

oh god what have we done

If you run into a burning building, you’re a hero. If you run into the husk of a building that’s already been burned to the ground and you have to engage in a Gangs of New York-style tussle with angry, squatting raccoons to declare it your new home, you’re an idiot.

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32. Arizona Coyotes

32. Arizona Coyotes

Illustration for article titled 2020 Idiot of the Year: Our descent continues with Jon Gruden, Dana White, and a cold look in the mirror
Illustration: Arizona Coyotes

It’s fun to blame Theranos for bilking millions and millions of dollars out of rich dopes. But hey, if those rich dopes want to toss around their money without doing any research, that’s a yo’ fault. Same with John Chayka, as he packed up and left the Arizona Coyotes high and dry after a run as GM that was a total swindle. Sure, Chayka is just a nice-looking airhead who put on a good presentation about analytic ways to run a hockey team and then proceeded to turn the Coyotes into a capped-out Beverly Hillbillies-car of mediocrity going nowhere. But it’s the Coyotes that paid him to do so before he hightailed it for...well, whatever shysters do with their pocketed booty. And it’s the Coyotes who will have to pick the acorns out of the shit he left behind.

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31. Clay Travis

31. Clay Travis

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Clay Travis could be on this list for multiple reasons but the most egregious one is because he continuously downplayed a deadly virus that has now taken the lives of over 315,000 people in this country and severely impacted millions of others. Travis has continuously said that Americans have overreacted to the virus and even compared it to the flu even though reports have proven that COVID is much worse. Travis has used his platform to try to prove he’s been right about this virus instead of using it to help thwart the spread by listening to CDC guidelines.



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