Decade Debate: 10 Biggest Betrayals

To betray is to “be disloyal to one’s country, organization, or ideology by acting in the interests of an enemy.” In the world of sports, a betrayal can refer to any number of things: a beloved star choosing to play for a bitter rival, someone who breaks the public’s trust or even a head coach who lies to his boss about where his loyalties lie. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, we chose the ten biggest betrayals of the last ten years. (By the way, we’re focused on sports business related betrayals only, so Tiger Woods, Mike Vick and Roger Clemens are safe. For now.)

10. NHL cancels the 2004-05 season.

After failing for months to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, the NHL finally canceled the 2004-05 season in February of ’05. The dispute between the owners and the NHLPA covered a number of issues, but the biggest was the owners’ proposal of a salary cap that was tied to league revenues, similar to the NBA salary cap. The NHLPA rejected every offer that included a salary cap and the season had to be canceled. A majority of fans blamed the players due to their out-of-control salaries and unwillingness to accept a cap, which is something that both the NBA and NFL – two very successful leagues — have in different forms. Finally, in the summer of 2005, the players association ratified an agreement (which – surprise, surprise — included a salary cap tied to league revenue) and the lockout ended after 310 days. It marks the only time that a North American professional sports league ever canceled and entire season over a labor dispute. In the end, the NHLPA’s stubbornness was fruitless; the owners got their salary cap and the fans got screwed out of year of hockey. Way to go, guys. – John Paulsen

9. Damon skips Bean Town for the Big Apple.

There are some things in life that are just wrong. One is watching any of the “Twilight” movies alone as a single man. Another is flossing in public. Wearing sandals with a nice pair of slacks is also a terrible idea. Regardless of your opinion of these faux pas, we can all agree that a player jumping ship from the Red Sox to the Yankees (or vice versa) is a huge no-no. Babe Ruth never wanted to leave – he was sold. But guys like former Red Sox manger Ed Barrow (took over as Yankees GM), Wade Boggs, and Johnny Damon – they had a choice. Only one season removed from helping the BoSox capture their first World Series since 1918, Damon signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Bronx Bombers. The Red Sox Nation cried “foul,” but Damon claimed his former team didn’t push further than their initial four-year, $40 million offer. Nevertheless, the fans felt slighted. Damon had flourished in Boston, racking up career numbers and gaining celebrity status. He hit the memorable leadoff homerun in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The blast was all the Red Sox needed to extinguish the curse. (They would go on to win the game 3-0 and the World Series in a sweep.) But he was gone, ready to face the chorus of boos from former fans, and prepped to win a championship in pinstripes four years later. In the end, a t-shirt I saw at a Fenway Park merchant’s booth said it all. A crude picture of Damon adorned the front: “Looks like Jesus, throws like Mary.” – Christopher Glotfelty

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Favre claims he played through groin injury

Brett Favre told SI.com’s Peter King that he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to play against the Packers yesterday because of a groin injury. Favre claims he suffered the injury last week in practice and then re-aggravated it in pregame warm-ups.

“I told T-Jack [backup Tarvaris Jackson] and [offensive coordinator] Darrell Bevell I may not be able to do it,” he said. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to drop back very well. After I aggravated it, there was no way I was going to be able to move around in the pocket very much. We never called one bootleg the whole game. But we made it through OK.”

And now, I wondered, how was the groin four hours and a lot of lost adrenalin later?

“It’s throbbing right now,” he said.

Oh…come…on. Look, I don’t doubt that Favre injured himself in practice (he is 60 years old after all) and then re-injured himself during pregame warm-ups. I also don’t doubt that he told Jackson and Bevell that he was hurt and might not be able to play.

But I don’t buy for a minute that he was going to hold himself out. He wasn’t going to allow a groin injury to get in the way of beating the Packers at Lambeau and if anything, I’m willing to bet that he wanted people to know that he was hurt just so he could build the moment up even more.

Some are going to look at this as the “gritty” Brett playing through pain; I’m sure ESPN is already salivating thinking about the story. But I think this guy has a lot of people fooled.

Maybe I’m being to cynical and over thinking this, but it’s Brett’s comments that bug me the most. If King asked him how he was feeling and Brett said, “Well Pistol Pete, I’m a little sore because of a groin injury I suffered last week,” then I wouldn’t question him because the comment would have been more fly-by.

But no, Brett made damn sure to note that he might not have been able to play. To me, that’s just another prima donna move by one of the more underrated prima donna athletes of all-time.

I hope you’re satisfied, Brett.

The Vikings’ 38-26 win over the Packers wasn’t even an hour old yet and I got an e-mail from my partner in crime here at The Scores Report, John Pauslen, who happens to be a huge Green Bay fan and is/was an active Brett Favre supporter.

I won’t share what John wrote in case there are women and children reading, but he wasn’t kind to Brett. And I can’t imagine that John is the only one who feels angry with Favre after what transpired on Sunday.

Brett walked into Lambeau Field, a place where he was known for being a legend, a hero and an icon, and essentially burned the place down. He completed 17-of-28 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns, while also spending most of the game pumping his fists wildly in celebration of his accomplishments.

Many people still want to blame Ted Thompson for why Favre currently wears purple and white. But the fact of the matter is that there are 32 teams in the NFL and he wanted to be a Viking. If he just wanted to play football, he could have returned to the Jets. Hell, if he wanted to play football, he could have returned to the Packers two years ago because they said yes to him twice. It was the one “no” that has fans blaming Thompson, yet they should blame Favre for his indecisiveness and his desire to play in Minnesota before blaming the GM that eventually committed to Aaron Rodgers and decided to move forward.

I hope that Brett is satisfied with the outcome from today, because while he once again got his revenge on Thompson and the Packers, he also torched a lot of loyal Green Bay fans in the process. There will always be people that player worship and will root for Favre no matter what color jersey he wears, but there no doubt are many who watched the game today and said, “You know what? To hell with Brett Favre.”

The funny thing is, Brett’s true fans will always be in Green Bay. Unless he helps the Vikings win a Super Bowl, Minnesota fans will forget about him the moment he’s done playing for them and you’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise. So while he may feel good about the way things have transpired so far this season, he’s hurting his legacy in the long run by accomplishing exactly what he wanted in beating the Packers.

Was it worth it, Brett?


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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