Is loyalty dead in sports? As superteams emerge and athletes seems not only willing but eager to uproot and go where winning is nearest and money flows freely. Religion and politics may be touchy topics, but nothing gets a sports fan’s blood boiling like a good old fashioned traitor. Just recently, Pittsburgh Steelers fans have found reason to burn jerseys as longtime Steeler James Harrison signed with the New England Patriots. Harrison is certainly not the first traitor in sports history, and recent years have provided a few doozies worthy of review.
Prior to the 2001 season, Rodriguez, then of the Seattle Mariners, became a free agent. Having been drafted and brought up to superstar status within the Mariners organization, many expected him to sign with Seattle. To the dismay and bitter, bitter anger of essentially all Seattleites, Pay-Rod signed what was then the largest contract in sports history with the division rival Texas Rangers.
Pay-Rod’s return to Seattle in 2001 was met with showers of fake money, insulting signs, and thunderous boos. Every time he returned to Seattle in his career, fans reacted with less fanfare or show, but still booed him with the bitter anger only a Seattle Mariners fan can muster.
While King James’ return and championship in Cleveland may have brought some form of redemption, it’s difficult to forget “The Decision” and the reaction in Cleveland. Perhaps even more infuriating was the show put on by James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in Miami, in which LeBron promised countless championships to a raucous crowd in American Airlines Arena. The Heat went on to win 2 NBA Titles with LeBron before he returned to his hometown team. According to speculation, we could see some more jersey burning in Cleveland after this season is over.
Call these last two low-hanging fruit, but they can’t be ignored. The Durantula joins a long and slimy line of athletes who, after being in the playoffs or in a championship series, joined the other side in search of a title. After losing to the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals, Durant became a free agent and signed with Golden State. Of course, they won a title the very next season in perhaps the least entertaining NBA Playoffs in history.
Everyone has played sports on a playground at some point in their lives. There are always the few buddies who are super good at whatever sport it is, and they always gang up when they can and beat everyone else. It wasn’t fun then, and it’s infuriating now. Thanks a lot, KD.
This is a difficult one to label as a betrayal, because Clemens looks more like an angry, drunk father nobody wants around rather than the All-Star he supposedly was (who knows how good he would have been without ‘roids). After setting records over 12 years with the Red Sox, Clemens signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s not where the betrayal happens, however. Clemens was traded midway through his 4-year contract with Toronto to… The New York Yankees. Betrayal is betrayal, but embracing the New York Yankees is crawling through the mud to have a tea party with the other guys in any major American war.
Of course, Clemens won a couple of rings with New York, and made sure to sign with them to retire as a Yankee. Then, he got it handed to him by the Mitchell Report and will never be a Hall of Famer. Justice.
After a storybook career with the Green Bay Packers, Favre seemed intent on playing until he was 1,000 years old. Clearly not in his right mind, he signed with the New York Jets for the 2008 season before signing with the Minnesota Vikings, the hated rivals of the Packers. Packers fans may not have been so much riled up by this signing as they were confused and stunned by Favre’s insistence on playing with a walker on the field. Still, Favre let his persistence and lunacy get in the way of loyalty to a team that he did wonders with.