The biggest turkeys in sports in 2020
In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, it’s time for our annual countdown of sports’ biggest turkeys.
Below are the players, coaches, and teams who gobbled up the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in 2020.
Former NFL head coach Bill O’Brien got off to a terrible start in 2020, when his Houston Texans squandered a 24-point lead in a playoff loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City.
His epic collapse in the divisional round was just strike one. In March, O’Brien shockingly traded away star receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona. The move resulted in an 0-4 start for Houston and O’Brien’s subsequent firing.
On March 11, Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test sent shockwaves throughout the sports world and forced a near-shutdown of every major league.
On one hand, Gobert helped wake up the country to the threat of the coronavirus. On the other hand, he looked a bit foolish, after video surfaced of him mocking COVID-19 health guidelines during a press conference earlier in the week.
He also reportedly "showed a cavalier attitude toward the virus" in the locker room, which only made him look worse when teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19 soon after Gobert.
MLB owners and players
During the summer, most sports leagues came up with a proposal to resume play during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball entered a months’ long dispute over money.
The billionaires vs. millionaires battle between owners and players looked especially tasteless in the eyes of fans, as the world navigated a pandemic and unemployment rates skyrocketed.
In July, commissioner Rob Manfred warned the season was on the brink of cancellation, but an agreement was eventually reached on a 60-game season.
In July, Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams was allowed to temporarily leave the NBA’s Orlando bubble for a family emergency. In the process, he made a pit stop to a strip club, where Williams was allegedly trying to pick up an order of chicken wings.
Lou Williams left the bubble for a “family emergency”, made a quick stop at Magic City before hoping to return to the bubble. Y’all thought Lou went for the adult entertainment, but it’s the food, especially chicken wings, strips and catfish nuggets that’s a must.🤣🤣🤣😜😜😜— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) July 26, 2020
In Williams’ defense, Magic City supposedly does make fantastic wings (and even named a menu item after Williams), but his actions put his team in jeopardy. He was forced to undergo a 10-day quarantine before he could rejoin the Clippers, and had to forfeit money for the games he missed.
The Houston Astros
In January 2020, an MLB investigation concluded that the Houston Astros illegally used video cameras to steal opposing teams’ signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Houston was fined $5 million, forfeited their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and Astros owner Jim Crane fired GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch.
The Astros quickly became the most hated team in baseball, and instead of showing remorse, they embraced the role of villain.
Despite all the turmoil and a 29-31 regular-season record, Houston nearly reached the World Series. When they fell in Game 7 of the ALCS, baseball fans everywhere celebrated their downfall.
The Astros were so close. It’s like they we’re missing that one extra thing.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) October 18, 2020
Washington’s front office
Following years of backlash over the "Redskins" moniker, Washington announced the NFL team would retire its 87-year-old nickname in July.
Fans began debating what the franchise should call itself in the future, but the front office ended all speculation, when it declared it would go by "The Washington Football Team" in 2020.
Jokes poured out, as expected, over Football Team.
Then the bad publicity took a turn for worse when Washington’s front office got hit by a harassment suit.
The New York Jets
Last year, the Cincinnati Bengals earned our turkey label for their 2-14 season. This year, Adam Gase’s Jets are on pace to perform much worse, and may become just the third team to achieve a dreaded 0-16 season.
Only the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns have sunk so low.
At this point, Gase is all but guaranteed to lose his head coaching job, and piling up losses are the Jets’ best course of action so they can seal the 2021 No. 1 overall draft pick.
The NFC East
The only thing more embarrassing in the NFL than the Jets is the collective production of the NFC East.
In Mike McCarthy’s first season in Dallas, the Cowboys defense is its worst of all time. The aforementioned Washington Football Team has already rotated through three starting quarterbacks for the second straight season. Last year’s 4-12 Giants are in the playoff hunt at 3-7, and the crown jewel of the division is Philadelphia, at 3-6-1.
Just when baseball was patting itself on the back for a successful postseason run amid the pandemic, another scandal hit.
On Nov. 18, Mets second baseman Robinson Canó tested positive for the performance enhancing drug stanozolol and will be suspended for the entire 2021 season.
The eight-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner, and World Series champion already missed 80 games in 2018 for another PED suspension.
Penn State football
Football in 2020 has been weird, but that doesn’t excuse the surprisingly bad performance of Big Ten powerhouse Penn State.
Since the conference kicked off its season late on Oct. 24, the Nittany Lions have failed to win a game.
At 0-5, they own the worst record in the Big Ten and have just three games left on the schedule (at Michigan, at Rutgers, and against Michigan State) to keep the program from suffering its first winless season.