Can Ryan Lochte (Honestly) Recover? How Previous Liars in Sports Have Fared
Those who say they haven't told a lie, unless of course, your name is George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or Jim Carrey during those 24 hours in Liar Liar, are telling a lie right then and there.
Everyone lies at some point. No one out there is completely truthful. It's just a wee bit different, however, when you, say, lie to your parents about taking the last cookie in the cookie jar against telling a lie to the ravenous hounds that are sports media. They'll drag you through the mud for the rest of your life...but some have managed to escape the stigma and gone on to do plenty of honest, truthful things with their careers.
Here's a good look at the biggest liars in sports and how their careers recovered after their fibs.
The Lie: The defensive back made headlines leading into his senior season at USC in 2014, when he claimed he broke his ankle leaping from an apartment deck into a pool to rescue his young nephew from drowning. However, it was quickly otherwise proven that Shaw indeed leaped from an apartment deck...but instead was escaping police, who were responding to a disturbance call.
The Aftermath: Shaw was suspended for his...Trojan horse?...but ended up playing the final three games of the season. While the stigma followed him the rest of the season, it didn't stop him from being drafted, going in the 4th round to the Cincinnati Bengals. He had 23 tackles in his rookie season.
The Lie: Te'o, already the face of the 2012 Notre Dame football resurgence, became a nationally renowned feel-good story when he overcame the deaths of his grandmother and his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, to not only be a Heisman contender, but lead the Fighting Irish to the National Title game. However, the relationship turned out to be exclusively online, and was later revealed to be a family friend of Te'o's.
The Aftermath: Distracted by the Kekua situation, which he learned may not have been entirely legitimate during the National Championship buildup, Te'o saw his draft stock plummet when Alabama rolled over he and the Irish. He was later taken in the 2nd round of the Draft by San Diego, but has spent three mostly unmemorable season with the Bolts, picking up just 1.5 sacks.
The Lie: We could just fill this pages with the liars that were the heroes of baseball's steroid era, but in the circus that was 2005's congressional hearing on steroids and baseball, one of the lasting images is Palmeiro sternly pointing his fingers at Congress and declaring "I have never used steroids. Period." Less than five months later, he was suspended for taking steroids.
The Aftermath: Though Pameiro slightly adjusted his infamous statement to say he never intentionally took steroids, he, like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, has been more or less ostracized from baseball's Hall of Fame discussion. He only played a handful of games after his suspension, not counting a brief return to independent baseball last year.
The Lie: In December 2001, O'Leary took the best and worst job in college football, Notre Dame's head coach. However, he never got to experience the highs and lows of being the head coach in South Bend, as numerous inaccuracies in his resume, including one where he claimed he earned a master's degree from a non-existent university, caused the Irish to dump him after mere days.
The Aftermath: With major college football programs now shunning him, O'Leary held assistant coaching jobs with the Vikings before taking over the downtrodden Central Florida program in 2004. O'Leary, with the help of Blake Bortles, helped put UCF football on the map. In his 12 year tenure, the Golden Knights won 10+ games four times, culminating in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, where UCF upset Baylor.
The Lie: You know about Armstrong by this point. While there's no denying whatsoever that Armstrong did beat cancer (and, to his credit, raised millions for research afterwards), his unprecedented seven consecutive Tour de France titles were stripped when it was revealed that he too was taking performance enhancing drugs.
The Aftermath: Despite continuing to raise funds for cancer research, the lie became Armstrong's legacy, with many still calling his deceit unforgivable. For what it's worth also, this scene is forever ruined.
The Lie: To paraphrase Michael Scott...fool us once, strike one. But fool us twice...strike three. Petrino's character came into major question when he bolted from a 3-10 Atlanta Falcons team, bidding farewell in a copy and paste note left in each player's locker, but then made things worse when, at the Arkansas job he left the Falcons for, lied about being alone during a motorcycle accident, and an extramarital affair was exposed.
The Aftermath: It took awhile for Petrino to escape the criticism of his back-to-back gaffes, as he was fired from Arkansas, forced into the purgatory of mid-major football, coaching Western Kentucky for a season. After leading the Hilltoppers to an 8-4 record, then the most wins in WKU history, Petrino found himself back in familiar territory, hired by the Louisville Cardinals, where he began his college coaching career.
The Lie: Saban left one southeastern football powerhouse, LSU, to go to another. No, not Alabama, but the Miami Dolphins. After two mediocre seasons at the Miami helm, Alabama fired Mike Shula (son of Dolphins legend Don) and were eager to bring in Saban to replace him. Saban famously declared that he was "not going to be the Alabama coach"...well, you know where this is going, don't you?
The Aftermath: In the grand scheme of things, Saban's lie, nay, his entire NFL sabbatical, has mostly been forgotten. Whether it's the fact he's turned the Crimson Tide into one of the most dominant dynasties in NCAA Football history or that he was so mediocre in Miami that Dolphins fans pretty much didn't care that he left, is a toss-up, but Saban has gotten out of his lie mostly unscathed.
So in other words....Jeah, Ryan, there's hope for you after all.
What other sports liars do you want to hear from? Tweet @GeoffMags5490 and keep the conversation going.
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