Welcome to Deadspin’s IDIOT OF THE MONTH, our monthly series (hence the name!) in which we make fun of people in and around the sports world. And, boy, are the pastures green this month. But first: an honorable mention!
Honorable Mention: Charlie Weis
Sing it with us: In a now-deleted tweet, the former Notre Dame coach and NFL washout, who never tweets about politics, tweeted about politics:
“I never tweet anything about politics, but today is an exception. As I watch Russia continue their invasion of Ukraine this morning, I ask if Americans that want socialism are watching? Do you want to be a part of something like this?”
2 / 7
5. Greg Gard/Juwan Howard
5. Greg Gard/Juwan Howard
If there was ever proof that we as a country all need to take a course in critical race theory, it’s the incident at the end of the Wisconsin-Michigan game Feb. 20.
The hilarious moment of Juwan Howard losing all decorum and poise simply because Greg Gard called a timeout at the end of a game that was out of reach. Gard of course called timeout because Howard’s team was pressing. Then a Wisconsin assistant coach nudged his beak in a situation that was desclelating, and got the reward of his face wiped by Howard which started an actual handshake line brawl. This is a hilarious video, people.
But no, we can’t all accept the fact that because of systemic racism Black people do not get the same latitude to become enraged over something nonsensical as other people do. Instead it turns into a big conversation that Seth Greenberg has to have three different takes on, and during the post-game press conference, the Wisconsin athletic director won’t even let Gard, who was actually on the floor for the altercation, speak on why he put his hands on Howard. Instead the AD barks out, “Coach Gard hasn’t had a chance to see the tape. I have. I think the footage speaks for itself and I think it speaks in Greg’s favor.” Of course the coach needs to review the game tape to see if he conducted himself appropriately.
We can’t just focus on how hilariously angry Howard was after that game. He was so mad, not only did he say “I’ll remember that,” while walking by Gard, Howard actually pulled his mask from his mouth to make sure that Gard saw his lips form the sentence, “I’ll remember that.” Gard of course does the worst thing you can do when someone hits you with a drive-by remark like that, he grabs Howard to try and force him to stop and listen to an explanation. Now Howard is put into a position where he can’t back down even if he would like to because not only has he been called out for what he said, but now another person’s hands are on his shirt. The only move left from here is to act out.
In protection of his own pride, Howard bucks back at Gard and just keeps yelling “don’t fucking touch me!” He’s got his finger in Gard’s face, he’s not letting him get a single word in, nothing productive is going to happen here. The players and staff wisely get between the two coaches and all is well until Captain tough guy slides his way into the fray. The Wisconsin assistant yells at Howard, yells at a Michigan player, and gets a nice face buff from Howard for his trouble. Then of course some players start throwing punches because the people who are always yelling at them about discipline exercised absolutely none.
This could’ve been fun. We could’ve all laughed at major college coaches instigating a brawl, but no. Instead race had to color the conversation because it colors everything. If we could all just accept that premise at the start, then we could have a lot more fun laughing at two coaches acting like knuckleheads on national television.
3 / 7
4. Urban Meyer/Bill Belichick
4. Urban Meyer/Bill Belichick
These IDIOTS OF THE MONTH are the Harry Dunn and Lloyd Christmas of February. Ranking them is tough. First off, we’ve got Bill Belichick showing more loyalty to Donald Trump than he ever showed to Tom Brady. Following the January 6 insurrection, Belichick distanced himself from the disgraced president. However, according to excerpts from a book by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, the two made up on the golf course months later. Nonetheless, it was stupefying to see Belichick attending a Super Bowl Party with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, considering the last time he cozied up to the ex-president, nearly resulted in a boycott within the Pats locker room.
A little over a year ago, Belichick was subtly rebuking Trump and declining the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the wake of Trump’s attempted coup. In retrospect, that was less about Belichick taking a stand than it was about avoiding the optics or being asked about it from the media he despises.
Urban Meyer’s presence is less surprising. He’s cultivated a reputation for surrounding himself with the most unsavory characters imaginable, compulsive lying and won two national titles as head coach of the Florida Gators while overlooking delinquent behavior.
Meyer yucking it up with Trump fits somewhere between sticking his neck on the line for a racist strength and conditioning coach and giving a serial domestic abuser multiple chances. If he ever gets back into college coaching, it will probably have to be at scandal-ridden Trump University Liberty University, so schmoozing with Donald makes a little sense. It’s idiotic, but at least he’s consistent.
Maybe they were foolish enough to think that his presidency was far enough in the rear-view mirror that associating with the ringleader of an attempted coup and a president who denied the pandemic existed isn’t taboo anymore. He couldn’t have been more wrong. These days Trump is busy showing solidarity with Putin and his invasion of Ukraine, calling it “genius.”
Two years ago, Trump opined that Belichick would make an excellent general, so it must be reassuring that Trump holds him in such high esteem somewhere between his admiration for Kim Jong Un and the brilliance of Putin. Ultimately, Meyer and Belichick look like toadies for an abominable miscreant.
4 / 7
3. Phil Mickelson
3. Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson got so caught up in his mission to stick it to Jay Monahan and the PGA that he completely lost sight of reality this month, and his reputation may be forever tarnished by that absolutely insane comment on Saudi Arabia he made to Alan Shipnuck.
For those who need a refresher:
“They’re scary motherfuckers to get involved with. We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. As nice a guy as Monahan comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage.”
It seems like he got so wrapped up in the finances and politics of the PGA Tour that he honestly forgot that the rest of the world has, like, real problems. He’s now announced that he’ll be effectively taking a step back from golf for a little while, and he’s likely tanked any chance that the SGL had of getting off the ground — no public figure wants to align themselves with that after the backlash he’s received.
He’s 51 and would probably be at least semi-retired by now if it weren’t for that last major he’s chasing after. He lost a major sponsor after this stunt, and fellow PGA star Rory McIlroy called his comments “naive, selfish, egotistical, [and] ignorant.” That pretty much sums it up.
5 / 7
2. Stephen Ross
2. Stephen Ross
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ reputation has gone in the toilet this month. Ross’ February began with being named in former Miami head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit, claiming that Ross offered a $100,000 bonus per game he lost during the team’s 2019 season. The suit also states Ross set up a meeting for Flores with an unnamed team’s prominent quarterback, which is against NFL rules.
The next day, Ross and the NFL denied all allegations brought forth by Flores, giving the vanilla response of “We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.” The NFL’s credibility in this situation holds little, if any weight. Of course they were going to deny their failures. Ross could’ve avoided looking like one of the NFL’s biggest idiots by retaining his former head coach, who had two years left on his contract.
Ross’ own ego forced the exit of a man he hired three years ago who clinched Miami’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002 and 2003, finished the season 8-1 and had a clear direction for the future of the Dolphins to lead them back to the playoffs. Flores’ tenure should be considered a success because of the lack of resources and available star players. Who’s in charge of the hires to put the on-field product in the best place? Ross. Who isn’t taking responsibility and wrongly blamed Flores? Ross. Who is doomed to make the same mistakes again due to his incompetence? Ross.
Shouts of the hiring of Mike McDaniel, because of his mixed background, making Ross’ hands clean in this situation are absurd. Thank goodness Flores wasn’t black-balled from the NFL like Colin Kaepernick for standing up for minorities, being hired to the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive staff after six weeks of unemployment. He should be a head coach and hopefully gets his chance again. Flores deserves his place in the NFL sector, unlike his former boss.
Ross’ problems aren’t likely to go away easily. His is a hefty lawsuit with strengths aimed at the league’s weaknesses, namely, the interview practices and hiring rates for minorities in a league with an overwhelming majority of African-American players. The NFL won’t go down to protect Ross’ integrity and his days as the team’s owner may be numbered. Let’s hope this scumbag can’t have his sketchy tactics dilute the league any further.
6 / 7
1. Jonathan Allen
1. Jonathan Allen
If you find yourself lamenting the state of education in the United States of America, you’ll be thrilled with February’s IDIOT OF THE MONTH, Jonathan Allen, who definitely should not do another “Ask Me Anything” on Twitter any time soon.
You see, when asked by a Twitter user what three famous people he’d like to have dinner with, the Washington Commanders’ defensive tackle decided to show his entire ass by answering, “My grandad, Hitler, and Micheal (sic) Jackson.”
I’ll give you a moment to process.
Besides the fact that Michael Jackson spent his entire life trying NOT to interact with the public, you have to appreciate the effort of trying to slide Hitler in there as if wanting to have dinner with one of the world’s all-time mass murderers is something normal people aspire to. When called out by other Twitter users, Allen replied that Hitler was a “military genius,” and explained that he loves “military tactics,’ but continued that he’d “honestly want to pick his brain as to why he did what he did. I’m also assuming all the people I’ve chosen have to answer my questions honestly.”
It seems Allen is ALSO assuming that his three choices have to come to dinner, because with Hitler refusing to shake Jesse Owens’ hand at the 1936 Olympics, it seems unlikely he’d come to dinner with Allen, much less feel the need to explain himself to anyone not a member of Hitler’s myth of an Aryan race.
Setting aside the obvious that Hitler was a genocidal maniac who was hopped up on cocaine and crystal meth most of the time, there are some major problems with Allen’s reasoning.
I’m not sure what they’re teaching kids in school these days, but I can assure you, as someone who watches copious amounts of WWII documentaries, that Hiter was no “military genius.” His “tactics” consisted of promising not to do something and then immediately turning around and doing it (see, e.g. Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Russia), deciding it was a good idea to invade Russia in the middle of winter (that didn’t really work out), and being hilariously misled as to where the allied invasion would come ashore on D-Day (Hitler thought it would be at Calais). He also kept his soldiers chockablock full of methamphetamines.
And does Allen really think there’s any explanation Hitler could give for sending millions of Jews (and other, “lesser” people) to the gas chambers that would somehow explain the madness? Make it understandable? Justifiable?
Whew, Jonathan Allen. Pick up a history book and sit the rest of this one out.