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Moss, Iverson, Ramirez: 3 Sports Divas Attempting Comebacks

Max Meyer |
February 22, 2012 | 11:45 a.m. PST

Staff Writer

Despite setting records, Moss fell out of favor with the Patriots. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Despite setting records, Moss fell out of favor with the Patriots. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Randy Moss, Allen Iverson, Manny Ramirez.

These three superstar talents with even more supersized egos have all announced that they want to make a comeback. One team, the Oakland Athletics, have already fallen into the trap of acquiring the services of one of these "divas" by signing Ramirez to a minor league deal, one that can be worth around $500,000 if he makes it to the A's major league roster.

However, is it such a good idea for these teams to take on one of these ego-driven superstars knowing that it could potentially kill the chemistry and progression of their franchise?

Randy Moss

Many football analysts consider Moss the greatest deep-ball wide receiver and one of the best wide receivers of all time. But he is also considered by several franchises one of the biggest locker room cancers ever. Moss faced many questions heading into 1998 NFL Draft because of his off-the-field incidents. While you can certainly state that Moss's talents have exceeded expectations in the NFL, his idiotic actions have also burst onto the scene.

Despite posting some of the most prolific receiving statistics in NFL history during his time with his Minnesota Vikings, the team that drafted him, he also became notorious for his "mooning the crowd" touchdown celebration in Green Bay, walking off the field and going to the locker room early when a game was not over, and not putting in any effort during plays or whole games.

Moss was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2005, and he had an injury-filled, lackluster two seasons with the Raiders. The Raiders were desperately trying to trade Moss during the 2007 offseason, when they found a suitor in the New England Patriots. Moss set the record for the most touchdowns receptions in a season with 23 in his first year with the Patriots, but it went downhill from there.

Moss wanted a contract extension from the Patriots during the 2010 season, and he said he didn't feel wanted. Moss's final game with the Patriots was Week 4 in the regular season when for the first time as a Patriot he failed to catch a pass, including a dropped potential touchdown pass.

Moss was traded back to the Vikings for next to nothing, and after causing more problems with the Vikings, he was released less than four weeks later. The Tennessee Titans immediately claimed Moss off of waivers, and they received the same lackluster results. Three teams, three locker rooms ruined, and zero results on the field.

Moss retired, then on Feb. 13, on his 35th birthday, he announced over a live video via Ustream that he wanted to return to the NFL. He was smiling and giddy throughout the video, but was he able to fool any NFL teams? Not exactly, only the Indoor Football League's Chicago Slaughter has offered Moss a contract. If no NFL team gains a Moss nostalgia in time for training camp, Moss's only options will be to his counterpart wide receiver diva Terrell Owens to the IFL.

Iverson has switched NBA teams four times since 2006. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Iverson has switched NBA teams four times since 2006. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Allen Iverson

The basketball prodigy was a huge risk coming out of a high school, already having a prison sentence next to his name. Iverson was involved in a racial fight, in which he allegedly struck a woman with a chair. He was awarded a 15-year prison sentence, spent four months in prison, and was freed after there was a ruling of insufficient evidence.

Iverson still managed to get a basketball scholarship to big-time college basketball power Georgetown, and won several accolades. However, promoting himself over the team, Iverson became the first player to leave for the NBA early under iconic coach John Thompson, playing at Georgetown for only two years. Iverson was the first overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, and while he was an extremely talented player, he had several rifts with legendary NBA coach Larry Brown. He also was arrested for speeding and possessing marijuana in the 1997 offseason.

Iverson went on to win the 2000-2001 NBA MVP, and a couple of scoring titles with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he developed a reputation as a ballhog and never led his team winning a championship. After Brown left the 76ers in 2003, Iverson had become increasingly disrespectful towards his coaches. There was the whole "talkin' 'bout practice" fiasco, which lead to a suspension. There was also Iverson showing up just before tip-off to the 76ers Fan Appreciation Night in 2006, despite knowing he had to be there 90 minutes early. This led to a fine and Iverson not playing in the game.

The 76ers were fed up with Iverson, and finally traded him to the Denver Nuggets in a blockbuster trade in the middle of the 2006 NBA season. Instead of taking advantage of a new opportunity and scene, Iverson reverted back to his old ways on the Nuggets. He was immediately fined $25,000 for criticizing a ref over calls in a game versus his former team, the 76ers. Despite playing with fellow superstar Carmelo Anthony, Iverson once again became a locker room cancer and did not get any postseason series victories as a Nugget.

After very forgettable stints with the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies, both times with Iverson complaining about playing time and becoming a bench player, Iverson returned with the 76ers. He had initial success and was even voted into the 2010 All-Star game, but after finding out about the health issues of his four-year-old daughter, he missed the rest of the season and never returned to the 76ers.

Iverson then traveled oversees to play basketball in Turkey, and now believes he is ready for his NBA comeback. The funny part is, the only team that has given him an offer is the Rochester Lancers. Never heard of them? That's because they are a pro soccer team. Very interesting how Iverson could not find an NBA team interested in him before a soccer team (though it is most likely as a publicity stunt) inquired about his services. 

The days of "Mannywood" have long passed. (OctopusHat/Wikimedia Commons)
The days of "Mannywood" have long passed. (OctopusHat/Wikimedia Commons)
Manny Ramirez

And now our the only "diva" to actually find a job, slugger Manny Ramirez. Ramirez had an extremely promising start to his career as a member of the Cleveland Indians, but his best seasons came with his second team, the Boston Red Sox (because God hates Cleveland of course).

After spending the mid- and late-nineties with the Indians, Ramirez signed an eight-year, $160 million contract with the Red Sox. He had several incredible seasons for the Red Sox, but the problems were starting to accumulate as well. In 2003, Ramirez was benched for one game after being spotted in a bar when he told the Red Sox he was too sick to play. The Red Sox even put Ramirez on waivers because he was growing to be a locker room pain, but no team claimed him.

After helping the Red Sox win their first World Series championship since 1918 and winning the World Series MVP, Ramirez requested a trade from the Red Sox in 2005 and routinely made sloppy plays in the outfield, or simply "Manny being Manny."

Despite all the rumors, he stayed with the Red Sox where he won one more World Series championship (in 2007) and broke the record for the most postseason home runs by any player. Ramirez, though, continued to have altercations with his teammates, coaches, and an elderly Red Sox traveling secretary. Finally in the middle of the 2008, the Red Sox traded Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Rocking the 99 uniform and the Mannywood persona, he was beloved instantly in Loa Angeles. However, during the 2009 season, Ramirez was hit was his first drug-related suspension, 50 games for using an illegal women's fertility drug. After the suspension, the Dodgers and L.A. turned on him quickly. His final Dodger at-bat fittingly resulted in an ejection after arguing a strike call one pitch into his at-bat.

Ramirez was put on waivers, and was claimed by the Chicago White Sox, but he only played one month for them and became a free agent. Then in the 2011 offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays take a gamble on him, signing him to a one-year, $2 million deal. Ramirez immediately struggled (he batted .059!) and after five games he got hit with his second drug-related suspension. Manny was faced with a 100-game suspension, but he abruptly retired and completely gave up on his team.

Ramirez, attempting a comeback of his own, actually got signed to a minor league contract by the Oakland Athletics on Feb. 20. He still needs to serve a 50-game suspension, but he will be able to play once his suspension is completed. The question is, does Manny have any gas left in the tank?

Don't Go Diva, Develop Youth

These three "sports divas" have provided numerous sports franchises with controversies and headaches, and only one of them owns a championship ring. These guys have always put themselves before the team, why would anyone expect them to become wiser since they are older, that they have changed their ways? These guys are only playing for the money (Iverson and Moss have already filed for bankruptcy in their careers) and they are hoping that their skills will suddenly reappear.

However, these guys have already proven to several teams in their later years that they cause more problems than solutions. Why risk your season on these locker room cancers: just look at last year's Boston Red Sox or New York Jets if you want to see what a bad locker room environment can do. No professional team should even consider signing one of these divas. Outside of them providing publicity, there is really no other good they can offer a franchise.

They've been given chance after chance, and they have failed miserably before they all "retired." Now after sitting out a year or more, can teams really expect these divas to regain their magic? Why not take a chance on a humble, young player instead? Imagine if the Knicks had tried the Allen Iverson experiment instead of giving Jeremy Lin a chance or if the Giants had signed Randy Moss instead of discovering undrafted wide receiver gold in Victor Cruz.

There are hundreds of other players out there, who are hungrier and will put in more effort than these divas. Now, you may say that signing these guys to a minor league or veteran's minimum deal is low-risk, but teams should avoid the risk at all. These three divas are past their prime, yet they continue to act like they are still the superstars they once were.

My opinion: Don't touch these guys with a ten-foot pole, and sign someone else who is younger and is a team player. Why ruin the direction of your franchise by taking a stupid risk on an ex-superstar? We've seen this story play out too many times before.


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