Scandals That Rocked the Sports World

Source: Sara D. Davis / Getty Images

21. Duke lacrosse rape claim
> Sport: College lacrosse
> When it happened: 2006
> Who was involved: Duke lacrosse players, coach, stripper, prosecutor

Three members of Duke University’s highly rated lacrosse team were accused by a stripper of raping her at a team party. The stripper’s story was eventually discredited but not before Coach Mike Pressler lost his job. The three accused players were thought to have gotten $20 million each in a confidential settlement with Duke. Former prosecutor Michael Nifong’s overzealousness in the case got him disbarred, and he had to serve 24 hours for criminal contempt.

Source: Jonathan Ernst / Getty Images

22. Michael Vick dog fighting
> Sport: NFL
> When it happened: 2007
> Who was involved: Michael Vick

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick nearly scuttled his professional football career after pleading guilty over his involvement in dogfighting. Many of the dogs that were prodded into fighting suffered serious injuries, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL and served 19 months in prison. Although he was contrite over his involvement, Vick was reviled by many members of the public and he never restored his reputation after he returned to the NFL.

Source: Andrew Redington / Getty Images

23. Tiger Woods infidelity
> Sport: Golf
> When it happened: 2009
> Who was involved: Tiger Woods, Elin Nordegren

By 2009, Tiger Woods was on his way to claiming the distinction as the greatest golfer of all time. Then, in November, reports surfaced in supermarket tabloids about an alleged affair between him and a nightclub promoter. Days later, Woods’ wife reportedly attacked his car with a golf club after an argument over the affair. Soon, other women came forward about other indiscretions involving Woods, who apologized for the infidelities on his website and announced he was taking a break from the golf tour. Sponsors abandoned Woods, whose marriage would eventually dissolve. Woods would later check into a clinic to be treated for sex addiction. After years of setbacks related to injuries, Woods accomplished one of the greatest comebacks ever in sports by winning the Masters in 2019.

Source: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

24. Bountygate
> Sport: NFL
> When it happened: 2009-2012
> Who was involved: New Orleans Saints players, coaches

An NFL investigation found that defensive players for the New Orleans Saints were awarded bonus money for intentionally injuring opposing players. Team members and Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Saints’ defensive coordinator, put the money together for bonuses in a scandal that became known as “bountygate.” The NFL fingered players Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, and Will Smith as the ringleader,s and all were suspended for various numbers of games.

Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images

25. Brett Favre sexting
> Sport: NFL
> When it happened: 2010
> Who was involved: Brett Favre

In one of the more cringeworthy incidents of the last decade, quarterback Brett Favre, playing for the New York Jets, was snagged sending dirty texts as well as photos of his private parts to a woman who worked with the Jets. Favre was fined $50,000 for his failure to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation.