Football's Worst Hoaxes And Lies

As the old saying goes, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. So given how much the game of football is driven by statistics, it only stands to reason that the sport must be full of some amazingly huge lies. And sure enough, that's one of a very few points of fact that today's football fan can actually rely on in a game rife with hoaxes, obfuscation, and downright treachery. So which of football's many lies are the worst? Statistically speaking, we've narrowed it down to these.

NFL's stance on concussions

When confronted with evidence that concussions were causing severe long-term injury to players in the NFL, here's what then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue had to say about it: "Concussions is one of those pack journalism issues, frankly. There's no increase in concussions. The number is relatively small. The problem is, it is a journalist issue." Yup, those darn journalists, making things up. Tagliabue then appointed a rheumatologist to head the NFL's "investigation" into concussions, which amazingly (sarcasm alert!) backed up Tagliabue's utter lies. That's probably a big comfort to Mike Webster and Junior Seau, two former NFL players whose deaths have each been linked to CTE, (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), better known simply as repeated blows to the head.

Man'ti Teo's 'girlfriend'

It was one of the saddest and most inspirational stories of the 2012 college football season: Notre Dame's star linebacker Manti T'eo dedicated the season to the memory of his girlfriend, who tragically died of leukemia. The story helped propel T'eo to national stardom and into the Heisman Torphy debate. One problem: his "girlfriend" didn't exist. No, it turned out that T'eo had been catfished by some dude named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. How bizarre is that?

SMU earns the death penalty

Southern Methodist University was once one of the most unlikely powerhouses in college football, winning one national title and competing for several others. People who wondered just how a small Christian college managed to keep up with the big boys got their answer in 1986 when it was announced that the NCAA was investigating the Mustangs for allegedly paying players using a school-sanctioned slush fund. Bill Clements, chairman of the SMU board of directors, swore that he would clean up the program. Instead, the team ended up being disbanded for two entire seasons after it was revealed that Clements himself had known about the payments since 1984. Don't worry, though, Clements got what all true liars deserve: political office, as he was subsequently elected Governor of Texas.

The curious incident of the Baltimore Colts in the night time

In the early 1980s, Baltimore Colts owner Bob Irsay began angling for a new stadium he felt was necessary to keep his team competitive. By 1984, though, negotiations with the city had become tense. Irsay worked to defuse this tension by publicly promising that he had no desire to move the team, and by privately reassuring Baltimore mayor William Schaefer that if Irsay did make a deal with another city, he'd definitely call Schaefer first to discuss it. Of course, everyone knows what happened next: Irsay secretly struck a deal with Indianapolis, brought in a fleet of moving vans in the middle of the night, and shipped the entire team's belongings to Indiana under the cover of darkness in order to elude the Maryland authorities. And they say Bob Irsay's nose grew three sizes that day.

Johnny Chung's Heisman candidacy

In 1941, an unlikely candidate for the Heisman Trophy began making headlines. Johnny Chung, known by the unlikely nickname "The Celestial Comet," was a half-Chinese, half-Hawaiian halfback who supposedly ate bowls of wild rice at halftime while powering tiny Plainfield Teachers College to an unbeaten record. Just how tiny was Plainfield? It had zero students, because it didn't exist. Neither did Chung. Both were part of an ingenious prank played on the media by a guy named Morris Newburger, who decided to take advantage of lax journalistic standards in the sports pages by just making up his own team and reporting their fake games. It took an expose by Time magazine to reveal the hilarious truth. Good one, Morrie.

George O'Leary's inventive resume

When George O'Leary took over as head coach of the legendary Notre Dame football program in 2001, it seemed like the pinnacle of a career that had begun long ago when, as a student at NYU-Stony Brook University, he earned his master's degree. At least, that's what his resume said. Unfortunately, there was just one wee wrinkle in this feel-good tale: there's no such school as NYU-Stony Brook University. Nor did O'Leary earn three letters in football at the University of New Hampshire as his resume claimed; in fact, he never even took the field for them. Disgraced, O'Leary was fired by Notre Dame when the truth was revealed. Oops!


This web of lies is still being sorted out, so it's hard to say exactly what is true and what's a whopper. Depending on who you talk to, either Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are cheaters and liars, or the NFL is completely full of it from start to finish. Whatever you believe, though, one thing is for sure: the whole thing is based on a pack of lies, with the biggest being that anything to do with Deflategate matters in the slightest on any level whatsoever. Enough, already.

Bobby Petrino's web of deceit

Bobby Petrino is a notorious scumbag and serial liar. Just ask fans of the Atlanta Falcons. But as egregious as his behavior has been in just about every one of his stops as head coach, his most notorious pack of lies came in 2012 when he was at Arkansas. After he was involved in a motorcycle accident, it soon came out that he had lied being about alone on the bike when in fact there was another person with him. Why the lie? Well, the person involved was his mistress. Who he had funneled cash payments to using school money. While also getting her hired by the school under false pretenses. His web of deceit undone, Petrino was fired. But don't worry, he soon got another head coaching job, because: college football!

Kevin Hart commits to Cal

Finally, there's perhaps the saddest lie in football history: Kevin Hart committing to play at Cal. No, not the comedian. This Kevin Hart was a star high school offensive lineman in Nevada. Unfortunately, his grades were too low for him to play Division-I college football. But since he couldn't bear to tell his friends and family that, he staged an elaborate recruitment hoax that culminated in a giant signing day ceremony in his school gymnasium in front of assembled media and the entire student body—nearly 900 people. Once Cal got wind of things, though, the gig was up, leaving Hart humiliated and the football world wondering just how something this bizarre had actually happened.