The naughtiest people in sports

RealClearSports staff
Yahoo! Sports

"He's making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice … "

It's a simple warning from Santa Claus, really, and one that is easily understood. If you are good and on your best behavior throughout the year, you are in turn rewarded, with a stocking full of goodies and gifts under the tree. Conversely, if you are one of the "bad kids," it might be a lump of coal that awaits you come Christmas morning.

While ultimately the decision comes down to Santa's list (and only after he checks it twice, of course), we thought he could use a helping hand this year, so we determined 2008's 10 naughtiest people in sports.

While it seems most can follow the simple caveat from Father Christmas, unfortunately, that straightforward childhood forewarning is sometimes lost on those in the world of sport.

Take Scott Boras, for example. This year, perhaps like never before, Boras cemented his image as one of the most notorious player agents ever (and prompted the joke: Christmas always comes late in the Boras family – everyone is content to hold out for more presents).

Click here for more naughty athletes
Click here for more naughty athletes

In Pictures: The year's naughtiest people in sports

To be fair, one's opinion of Scott Boras is really a matter of which side of the outrageously inflated contract you're on. Take Mark Teixeira, for instance. This year Boras is demanding in the neighborhood of a $200 million deal for the slugger. That kind of money can make for a pretty Merry Christmas, if you're the one cashing the checks. But for the owner who has to pay that contract, or for the rest of us who wonder where all this money will come from (aren't we in a recession?), it's pretty easy to see Boras as the villain. (Boras ultimately got his and Teixeira's money from the Yankees.)

But don't think that the players themselves are off the hook – look no further than Sean Avery.

Famed hockey analyst Don Cherry may have said it best in an interview with radio station the FAN 590: "I've known this kid since he was about 16 years old; once a jerk, always a jerk." Being enough of a nuisance to get other NHL teams to want to put you through the glass can actually be a marketable skill for a hockey player; however, being so annoying, abrasive, and rude that even your own teammates won't defend you is a problem, and that's just what happened to hockey bad-boy Avery.

In the playoffs, Avery was such a pest to New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Broduer that a rule was made the very next day – called "The Sean Avery Rule" – to prohibit players from blocking a keeper's view with their hands and equipment.

By the time the offseason rolled around, the Rangers were done with the immature Avery, and they and sent him on his way to Dallas, where he made short time of finding new ways to alienate himself from his teammates.

In November, Avery supposedly unleashed a stream of obscenities form the penalty box to a fan that had been heckling. His most recent indiscretions include referencing NHL players' love for his "sloppy seconds" (Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf is dating Avery's ex, Elisha Cuthbert). This was the last straw in a year-long habit of continually stepping over the line; Avery was suspended and eventually released, leaving him looking for a new team this Christmas.

With all the money and egos involved, the world of sports has more than its fair share of naughty nominees. From self-centered and whiny athletes, to a infamous and boorish agent, to out-and-out criminals, the playing fields and front offices are full of people who may have received that big lump of coal on Christmas morning.

The top five:

1. Clay Bennett: Slideshow
2. O.J. Simpson: Slideshow
3. Plaxico Burress: Slideshow
4. Travis Henry: Slideshow
5. Angel Matos: Slideshow
See more naughty athletes

In Pictures: The naughtiest people in sports of 2008

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