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Old 09-16-2019, 11:26 PM
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Biggest athlete . . . biggest fall from grace


Well, the most obvious answer (arguably?) would be OJ Simpson. Looking for highly regarded athletes, not one hit wonders or mediocre jocks who fell through the cracks anyway.

Other nominees:

Lenny Dykstra--- former near .400 baseball hitter now a former jailbird with no teeth reduced to fighting boxing matches with Youtube stars

Denny McClain---30 win pitcher in late 60s, ended up in jail

Pete Rose, for I think obvious reasons.

What other sports besides football and baseball? Diego Maradona despite coaching Argentina? WWE champion Chris Benoit?

Gotta be some boxers in the mix. Mike Tyson? Hasn't he been rehabilitated by now? Connor MacGregor reached that status yet?

I know I missed a lot of names. Point them out!

Last edited by russian heel; 09-16-2019 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:01 AM
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Shoeless Joe Jackson.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:08 AM
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I don't follow baseball (or, really, any sports), but over the years I've had roommates that did so I'd pick a little up here and there.
I feel like back when I was finishing college (around 01-02), I remember hearing a lot about Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire battling it out for the most home runs (ever?). Right around the same time there was talk of drugs/PEDs and I haven't heard much about either since then.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:28 AM
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Lance Armstrong
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:32 AM
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Aaron Hernandez may not be at the top of the list but he certainly belongs in the discussion.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:35 AM
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Tonya Harding
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:47 AM
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I think it has to be a world name for it to count so OJ wasn't really widely known as anything other than an actor outside of the USA before his arrest and trial.

Mike Tyson? well he wasn't really though of as an inspirational character before his rape conviction, was his behaviour there really so surprising?
Maradona was a great player and a massive world-wide name but to fall from grace you have to have a earned a degree of it in the first place and he was always a stumpy little cheat.

Lance Armstrong fits the bill, widely feted, widely admired, ground breaking achievements that were an inspiration to many. Then it turns out that it was all a charade and he cheated his way to the top and fucked everyone over on the way. He has to be the top choice. He is now synonymous with "Drug Cheat".

For those more cricketly-minded there is the sad tale of Hansie Cronje . Superb player, great captain, clean as a whistle. Right up until the point he was caught in a match-fixing scandal. That was a huge shock and his death in a plane crash shortly after cemented the tragedy.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:23 AM
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As well as Hansie, cricket also has Chris Lewis, who played for England before doing 6 years for cocaine smuggling after his retirement.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:30 AM
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Tiger Woods is the first one to come to mind, although he's rehabbed his image and game recently.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:15 AM
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Owen Hart, the pro wrestler?

Or does a literal fall not count?
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:42 AM
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Oscar Pistorius isn't doing so well nowadays...
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:26 AM
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Thinking of NBA guys...Dennis Rodman? Can't think of anyone who's crashed and burned even close to as hard as OJ.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by russian heel View Post
Well, the most obvious answer (arguably?) would be OJ Simpson. Looking for highly regarded athletes, not one hit wonders or mediocre jocks who fell through the cracks anyway.

Other nominees:

Lenny Dykstra--- former near .400 baseball hitter now a former jailbird with no teeth reduced to fighting boxing matches with Youtube stars
Just to nitpick, when did Lenny get near .400? His career high was .325.

Lenny was a hell of a player who had a disastrous fall but I'd have to agree your other pick of Pete Rose is really hard to top. Rose now is largely a sad story to such an extent that it's hard to recall how iconic a figure he once was. Rose was THE example held up to kids of how to play baseball. He was the embodiment of grit. He personally changed the way rookies were treated. The guy's nickname included the word "hustle." Rose was not only a legendary player but held up as all that was right about being a baseball player. He threw it all away.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:30 AM
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Lance Armstrong
This. Everyone else mentioned, no matter what else they did, they still have their achievements. Even O.J. was once a very good athlete. Armstrong doesn't even have that.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:31 AM
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Thinking of NBA guys...Dennis Rodman? Can't think of anyone who's crashed and burned even close to as hard as OJ.
No, heís still a big deal, heís even best friends with Kim Jong-un...

Oh, thatís kind of what you meant, huh?
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:53 AM
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Thinking of examples, does Jim Brown count? I’m not sure how great his “fall” was, but he is considered one of the best football players of all time (if not the best). He left football because he wanted to be an actor, and his acting career was interfering with his football. As an actor he was considered “serviceable” at best, and didn’t have much success, likely banking off his athletic fame to get parts.

But what I consider his “fall” is his repeated problems with the law, all of a violent nature, which include...

- Arrested for assault and battery against an 18-year-old he allegedly fathered a child with (though he denied paternity). He was acquitted of the charges.

- Assault with intent to commit murder, he wasn’t charged because the victim refused to cooperate with prosecution. He was also fined for striking a deputy sheriff during the investigation.

- Assault and battery from a road rage incident, though he was again acquitted.

- Charged with raping a 33-year-old woman, though charges were dropped.

- Spent one day in jail and had two years of probation after beating and choking his golfing partner.

- Arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, though she refused to press charges.

- Arrested and charged with making terrorist threats against his wife, and later found guilty of vandalizing her car after he smashed it with a shovel. Sentenced to probation, counseling, community service, and a fine. He ignored the terms of the sentence so was then sentenced to 6 months in jail, but served half of it.

Most of his charges were dropped or he was acquitted, true, but OJ was the original example in the OP and don’t forget that he was also acquitted. Brown being considered possibly the best football player ever, then having such a tumultuous life following football, that’s really a shame.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:33 AM
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This. Everyone else mentioned, no matter what else they did, they still have their achievements. Even O.J. was once a very good athlete. Armstrong doesn't even have that.
Well, there is the argument that many of Armstrong's competitors were probably using PEDs at the same time, so he may well still have been a great athlete if everyone were clean (especially if he had some genuine TUEs for his post-cancer treatment). Plus, he didn't straight up murder someone (yes, I know OJ was acquitted, but does anyone really think he didn't do it?). So I'd put OJ 'ahead' of Lance here.

However, as already mentioned, OJ wasn't known worldwide for his sporting accomplishments like Lance was, and had Lance been clean he was higher up the ranking of all-time greats in his sport. So if we're giving equal weighting to "Biggest athlete", I'd still give it to Lance on balance. Pete Rose is certainly in contention on the same basis, as are Jim Brown and Tiger Woods. My pick is the latter, I think - undisputed top-2 all-time in his sport, a sport with more global reach than gridiron, baseball, or cycling, squeaky clean image, millions of dollars in sponsorships, and loses it all in a matter of weeks involving serial infidelity, drug use, and crime (the DUI). Yes, he is fairly well rehabilitated by now, but in terms of "Biggest athlete, biggest fall from grace" I'd say he's the one. Maybe I'm weighting the first part too highly, plus recency bias, so I'm not going to say that's the final answer, just making a case.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:46 AM
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Well, there is the argument that many of Armstrong's competitors were probably using PEDs at the same time, so he may well still have been a great athlete if everyone were clean (especially if he had some genuine TUEs for his post-cancer treatment). Plus, he didn't straight up murder someone (yes, I know OJ was acquitted, but does anyone really think he didn't do it?). So I'd put OJ 'ahead' of Lance here.
No probably. The standard procedure when a Tour winner is found to be doping is to advance the 2nd place finisher to winner. So many of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th placers had already been banned for doping when Armstrong was dethroned that the Tour simply never named replacement winners.
And since the top riders were doping, then their teammates(who ride in support) had to be doping to keep up and perform their domestique duties.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:53 AM
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However, as already mentioned, OJ wasn't known worldwide for his sporting accomplishments like Lance was, ... Pete Rose is certainly in contention on the same basis, ...
Is Pete Rose really that more well known than OJ internationally based on their sporting achievements? I'm not saying Pete shouldn't be mentioned, but OJ was a Heisman trophy winner, NFL Hall of Famer, and arguably one of the top 10 greatest NFL running backs of all time.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:57 AM
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Pete Rose is certainly in contention on the same basis, as are Jim Brown and Tiger Woods. My pick is the latter, I think - undisputed top-2 all-time in his sport, a sport with more global reach than gridiron, baseball, or cycling, squeaky clean image, millions of dollars in sponsorships, and loses it all in a matter of weeks involving serial infidelity, drug use, and crime (the DUI). Yes, he is fairly well rehabilitated by now, but in terms of "Biggest athlete, biggest fall from grace" I'd say he's the one. Maybe I'm weighting the first part too highly, plus recency bias, so I'm not going to say that's the final answer, just making a case.
Woods' fall from grace, image-wise, also coincided with his body starting to break down on him. It probably would have been one thing if he'd been able to still play golf at his previous level while trying to work through his personal life, but he was also simultaneously dealing with chronic injuries, making his play inconsistent, and leading to extended periods when he played little, if at all.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:59 AM
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Ray Rice has got to be on the list somewhere.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:02 AM
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Is Pete Rose really that more well known than OJ internationally based on their sporting achievements? I'm not saying Pete shouldn't be mentioned, but OJ was a Heisman trophy winner, NFL Hall of Famer, and arguably one of the top 10 greatest NFL running backs of all time.
I suspect that neither of them were terribly well-known outside of the US for what they did on the field. When OJ played football, it was in the 1960s and 1970s, when the sport had even less awareness outside of the US than it does now. I wouldn't be surprised if OJ's acting career was largely what made him known outside of the US (at least, before the murders).

In Rose's case, I imagine that he might have been at least known in other countries where baseball is popular.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:13 AM
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This. Everyone else mentioned, no matter what else they did, they still have their achievements. Even O.J. was once a very good athlete. Armstrong doesn't even have that.
Well, he does still have a few official results from the early part of his career. He has a couple of TdF stage wins, the '93 Worlds RR, '95 Clasica San Sebastian, '96 Fleche Wallone, and assorted minor wins. That would be a respectable career for a pro cyclist.

I think he stills wins this competition, though. Didn't even have to cheat to do it.....


....oh wait, he did.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:14 AM
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I agree neither OJ nor Pete were likely well known worldwide. I was just questioning Dead Cat saying that Pete Rose was in contention, but OJ wasn't well know worldwide.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:22 AM
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Most of his charges were dropped or he was acquitted, true, but OJ was the original example in the OP and donít forget that he was also acquitted. Brown being considered possibly the best football player ever, then having such a tumultuous life following football, thatís really a shame.
OJ was acquitted in his first criminal trial. He was found guilty in the Goldman's civil trial, found guilty in his second trial and did jail time. The man is hubris extremeus, thinking he can get away with breaking the law whenever he wants to.

There's a lovely story in the 1st Chicken Soup for the Soul about the young fan who waits outside the player's room for a chance to talk to his football idol, Jim Brown, who asks him his name. "Orenthal James. My friends call me OJ."

That was printed in 1993. Bet you the authors regretted that a year later.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:29 AM
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OJ was acquitted in his first criminal trial. He was found guilty in the Goldman's civil trial, found guilty in his second trial and did jail time.
Jut to be clear, the "second trial" had nothing to do with the murders -- it was for a separate incident, for which he was charged (and convicted) of armed robbery, kidnapping, and other offenses.

Regardless...I agree, he's scum.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:30 AM
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Lance Armstrong definitely on paper had a huge fall: once in the argument for best ever in his international sport, and now formally stripped of his most important wins (I can't think of anyone else who might be on this thread's list who had their victories revoked). But, while I think he's a major jerk and deserves to have lost his public goodwill, his crime was basically doing what everyone else was doing. Maybe there was someone who finished the Tour de France (in the back of the back) without doping in Armstrong's years, but his major competitors were all just as doped-up as he was.

In other words, it's not like he brutally knife-murdered two people.


On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, for not really that big an athlete or big a fall, but honorable mention in the 'fall unfolding live on TV' category, I nominate Joe Namath.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:30 AM
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Rae Carruth, maybe?
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:32 AM
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No probably. The standard procedure when a Tour winner is found to be doping is to advance the 2nd place finisher to winner. So many of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th placers had already been banned for doping when Armstrong was dethroned that the Tour simply never named replacement winners.
And since the top riders were doping, then their teammates(who ride in support) had to be doping to keep up and perform their domestique duties.
You're right, I worded that incorrectly.

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Is Pete Rose really that more well known than OJ internationally based on their sporting achievements? I'm not saying Pete shouldn't be mentioned, but OJ was a Heisman trophy winner, NFL Hall of Famer, and arguably one of the top 10 greatest NFL running backs of all time.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. I believe neither OJ nor Rose were generally known worldwide outside fans of their respective sports. But I think Pete Rose has a better claim to be the answer to the OP's question than many others mentioned in this thread, because of his status in baseball, as RickJay has already summarised. In my view Woods trumps both, because of his status in his sport and because that sport has more global recognition. I don't know enough about either sport to argue whether Rose was better-known than OJ for their sporting accomplishments.

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Woods' fall from grace, image-wise, also coincided with his body starting to break down on him. It probably would have been one thing if he'd been able to still play golf at his previous level while trying to work through his personal life, but he was also simultaneously dealing with chronic injuries, making his play inconsistent, and leading to extended periods when he played little, if at all.
Indeed, thanks.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:36 AM
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Jut to be clear, the "second trial" had nothing to do with the murders -- it was for a separate incident, for which he was charged (and convicted) of armed robbery, kidnapping, and other offenses.

Regardless...I agree, he's scum.
As long as I am alive, I will not let anyone forget that OJ lost the civil trial based on the murders and was stupid enough to commit another crime, found guilty and did jail time. If I had been found "not guilty" of two murders, I would never so much as jay walk ever again.

Calling the man scum is insulting to the scum.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:09 PM
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I agree with others, that it has to be OJ.

Pete Rose is banned from baseball, and, at least for the moment, is also banned from the Hall of Fame. But he recently was an analyst for Fox Sports, and he might still be employed there, even though he's really bad at it.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:09 PM
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But, while I think he's a major jerk and deserves to have lost his public goodwill, his crime was basically doing what everyone else was doing.
Everyone was doping, yes. But the other doping cyclists didn't set out to destroy the lives of anyone who tried to expose them like Lance Armstrong did. He tried to ruin peoples' professional and personal lives to support his lies and cheating.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:33 PM
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The others are remembered as "athletes who fell from grace. OJ is remembered as "he guy who got off on a double murder charge and later went to prison. And, oh year, he played football and acted in movies."

OJ is remembered first and foremost as a criminal. As he should be.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 09-17-2019 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:47 PM
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OJ was acquitted in his first criminal trial. He was found guilty in the Goldman's civil trial, found guilty in his second trial and did jail time. The man is hubris extremeus, thinking he can get away with breaking the law whenever he wants to.
Absolutely. It’s not like he “got away with it”. I’m just saying that when talking about Brown, if anyone is tempted to dismiss his violent crimes because he avoided punishment for most of them, OJ was the same, especially the trial that he gave him the most infamy.

Quote:
There's a lovely story in the 1st Chicken Soup for the Soul about the young fan who waits outside the player's room for a chance to talk to his football idol, Jim Brown, who asks him his name. "Orenthal James. My friends call me OJ."

That was printed in 1993. Bet you the authors regretted that a year later.
“Kid, you remind me of myself at your age.”

If anything, it’s no less appropriate a story, probably just not for the reason the author intended. (And yeah, I know pretty much everything in those books was BS, they’re basically the same inspirational urban legends and rumors you’d see today on Facebook except predating social media by many years.)
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:19 PM
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If coaches are eligible for consideration, Joe Paterno takes first prize. How many people get statues of them removed?

I'd put OJ ahead of Pete Rose. At least Pete didn't kill anybody.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:32 PM
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I don't follow baseball (or, really, any sports), but over the years I've had roommates that did so I'd pick a little up here and there.
I feel like back when I was finishing college (around 01-02), I remember hearing a lot about Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire battling it out for the most home runs (ever?). Right around the same time there was talk of drugs/PEDs and I haven't heard much about either since then.
Sosa has become weirdly pink and Iím not sure what heís doing but McGuire was a coach in the major leagues until this season.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:37 PM
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If coaches are eligible for consideration, Joe Paterno takes first prize. How many people get statues of them removed?
At the same time, he's still the all-time Division I and I-A/FBS football coaching wins leader, despite the NCAA's attempts to "vacate" quite a few of his wins for reasons other than using ineligible players.

My vote goes to Lance Armstrong - a lot of the other people mentioned still have their accomplishments; pretty much the only thing Armstrong still has is his 2002 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year award, and he probably only has that because there's no precedent for SI withdrawing it.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:52 PM
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Another thing about Lance Armstrong is that he’s pretty much the only famous cyclist in America. Cycling was synonymous with him. There were no other celebrities from that sport. His fall was the fall of the popularity/awareness of the sport to the average American.
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:12 PM
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Another thing about Lance Armstrong is that heís pretty much the only famous cyclist in America. Cycling was synonymous with him. There were no other celebrities from that sport. His fall was the fall of the popularity/awareness of the sport to the average American.
Except for the guy said to be the greatest American cyclist, Greg Lemond.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_LeMond
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:14 PM
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Except for the guy said to be the greatest American cyclist, Greg Lemond.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_LeMond
Never heard of him, and if it was possible to measure I'd bet most other Americans never heard of him either.
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:47 PM
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Never heard of him, and if it was possible to measure I'd bet most other Americans never heard of him either.
Really? I don't even follow cycling and as I recall, LeMond was pretty famous up until Armstrong eclipsed him by miles by blowing away every single record LeMond held. LeMond was the guy that put cycling on the map for the United States.

And, from what I recall, there was such a large gap in Lance's performance compared to LeMond's that it seems likely LeMond wasn't cheating when he accomplished everything he did.
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:57 PM
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Really? I don't even follow cycling and as I recall, LeMond was pretty famous up until Armstrong eclipsed him by miles by blowing away every single record LeMond held. LeMond was the guy that put cycling on the map for the United States.
LeMond was at least moderately well-known in the U.S. when he was winning the Tour de France in the late 1980s; he was even Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 1989.

But, I think, at that point, cycling was still a very niche sport here, and, as you note, when Armstrong came along, he took over as *the* name in U.S. cycling, and the then-retired LeMond faded from the public consciousness. I wouldn't be surprised if, as Snarky Kong suggests, most Americans today wouldn't recognize LeMond's name, but I think he was considerbly more well-known in his prime, 30 years ago. (Not O.J. Simpson or Pete Rose level fame, mind you... )

Last edited by kenobi 65; 09-17-2019 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:17 PM
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Never heard of him, and if it was possible to measure I'd bet most other Americans never heard of him either.
Me either. Well, itís vaguely familiar I guess, but if you mentioned the name Iíd have no idea who you were talking about.
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:55 PM
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The perception in Nebraska is that coach Tom Osborne could be on the list "thanks to the media". Legendary coach, 255 wins in 25 seasons, 3 national titles, no NCAA probations, and nice guy.

But when he retired in 1997, all the news reports seemed to say "Oh, you mean the guy who let criminal Lawrence Phillips play?"
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:38 PM
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I'm not sure skeletor counts as an athlete.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:14 PM
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,,,Brown being considered possibly the best football player ever, then having such a tumultuous life following football, thatís really a shame.
He's also considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. He's even in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Not the biggest fall, but certainly timely. Two time all-star and Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felix Vazquez just destroyed his MLB career. If convicted, he'll lose the remaining $13 million on his contract due to the standard morals clause.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:20 PM
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He's also considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. He's even in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Not the biggest fall, but certainly timely. Two time all-star and Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felix Vazquez just destroyed his MLB career. If convicted, he'll lose the remaining $13 million on his contract due to the standard morals clause.
Your second link is the same as the first. And it's Felipe Vasquez.
Quote:
Vazquez has been charged in Lee County, Florida with one count of computer pornography, solicitation of a child and one count of providing obscene material to minors
  #48  
Old 09-17-2019, 09:29 PM
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Really? I don't even follow cycling and as I recall, LeMond was pretty famous up until Armstrong eclipsed him by miles by blowing away every single record LeMond held. LeMond was the guy that put cycling on the map for the United States.

And, from what I recall, there was such a large gap in Lance's performance compared to LeMond's that it seems likely LeMond wasn't cheating when he accomplished everything he did.
He was on an episode of phineas and ferb fer chrissakes! Phineas...and... Ferb! You don't get bigger than that.
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  #49  
Old 09-17-2019, 10:46 PM
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Don't think I've seen Michael Vick here, but he's paid his debt to society, so I guess what he did was OK. (Yeah, heard that more than once.)



Tony Harding's fall from grace doesn't hold a candle to what happened to Debi Thomas. That's a long-running tragedy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local...?noredirect=on

Christopher Bowman was another ice skater who met a tragic end.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Bowman
  #50  
Old 09-18-2019, 09:01 AM
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No probably. The standard procedure when a Tour winner is found to be doping is to advance the 2nd place finisher to winner. So many of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th placers had already been banned for doping when Armstrong was dethroned that the Tour simply never named replacement winners.
And since the top riders were doping, then their teammates(who ride in support) had to be doping to keep up and perform their domestique duties.
Indeed. For example, I just looked at the final General Classification standings for the 2002 Tour. That was Armstrong's 4th "win", and therefore right in the middle of his run. I had to go down to Carlos Sastre in 10th to find the first rider that hadn't been caught, confessed, or implicated in a doping scandal.

Last edited by Jet Jaguar; 09-18-2019 at 09:02 AM.
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