The Stories Behind These Mug Shots From Once-Legendary Athletes

Sports fans seem to operate with a bit of a double standard: we expect our athletes to be squeaky-clean, upright citizens, yet we seem to love it when they get into trouble. We eat up the details of their indiscretions, and gossip with our buddies about which pro was idiot enough to get a sixth DUI or go on a prostitute-soliciting spree after the big game. And if said idiot can be kind enough to look like a total jackass in the mugshot that's plastered all over our news feed, so much the better. 

These guys were happy to oblige. Legends all, they let their unvarnished humanity shine through for the police cameras, and they have the ridiculous stories to go along with their glamour shots. 

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders was best known for his stints with the Falcons, 49ers, and Cowboys, not to mention his second pro-sports career as an outfielder on five different Major League Baseball teams. 

It was during the summer of 1996 that Sanders had this vacation photo taken while on a fishing trip in Florida. You can tell he was having a really great time — so good that he missed all of the NO FISHING and NO TRESPASSING signs posted around the private lake where the cops had found him merrily casting his lines. After 15 minutes' worth of warnings from police officers, Sanders finally made his way back to shore. 

"The only defense I have," he said, "is that I'm sorry, but they were biting." Sanders was slapped with a hefty fine for misdemeanor trespassing, but they did let him keep the fish.

Ryan Leaf

During the 1998 NFL draft, Peyton Manning was the number one pick. Ryan Leaf was number two. And while Manning became the first starting QB to win a Super Bowl with two different teams, Leaf went 4-17 as a starter during a four-year career that has earned him a permanent place in the discussion of Biggest Busts in NFL History. 

After retiring from the NFL, he became West Texas A&M's quarterback coach, but was let go from this position after asking a student if they could get him some pills—which did not bode well for Leaf's future. 

Leaf had been nursing a private painkiller problem for years, and it became even more public in 2009 when he was arrested for burglary and narcotics possession in Texas. Then, in 2012, he was arrested on very similar charges not once, but twice in the span of just a few days. This mugshot was taken after the second arrest.

To his credit, he's cleaned up his act and now devotes his time to talking to students and others about the dangers of drug abuse. 

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods was the number one-ranked golfer in the world for five straight years... twice. No other golfer has come remotely close to either of those runs. There will probably never be another golfer quite like him. But he didn't just fall from grace, he belly-flopped from grace so super-hard that it could actually be heard if you listened hard enough.

It happened all at once on Thanksgiving 2009, when Woods crashed his car while being chased by his golf club-wielding wife. In short order, he admitted to cheating on said wife with pretty much everybody, his golf game turned to complete crap, and he got a divorce. Neither golf nor life has been kind to Tiger since, and in May 2017, he refused a breathalyzer after being pulled over for swerving all over the road in full view of a Jupiter, Florida cop. The incident resulted in an automatic suspension, and you can tell what he thinks all of it is in his deadpan mugshot. Not long after the arrest, Woods announced that he'd completed a "private intensive program" to deal with his ongoing issues.

Plaxico Burress

Plaxico Burress seemed destined for success in the NFL. The wide receiver was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000, giving them several productive seasons before signing a free agent contract with the Giants in 2005. In New York he approached superstardom, playing on the 2007 squad that downed the mighty Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and even making the game-winning catch. But unfortunately, that highlight would be among his last due to a 2008 incident that would be tragic if it weren't so ridiculous.

While in a crowded nightclub, Burress managed to shoot himself in the right thigh while fiddling with a gun in his pocket. To add insult to literal injury, the gun was illegal, which meant a potential 15-year prison sentence. The Giants immediately suspended Burress without pay for the boneheaded move, and he wouldn't play another down for the team. 

He ended up serving 20 months, eventually finishing out his career with the New York Jets and back with the Steelers. But he found himself in hot water once more in 2015 for failure to pay over $50,000 in taxes. This earned him five years' probation, with the possibility of going back to jail if he fails to pay up — but that would really be shooting himself in the, er, foot.

Ray Lewis

At the end of his fourth season in 1999, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was poised for greatness. Despite the Ravens going 8-8, they finished the season strong, and the 2000 season would see their ridiculously stingy defense — led by Lewis — hand the franchise its first Super Bowl victory. But on the way to championship glory, Lewis was charged with double murder

Lewis had been on his way out of a Super Bowl party in Atlanta when two guys ended up stabbed to death during a huge brawl in his vicinity, and he and two acquaintances were put on trial for the crime. Despite evidence such as a victim's blood being present in Lewis' limo and the mysterious disappearance of the suit he had been wearing that night, nobody was convicted of the murders. Lewis accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to probation in exchange for testifying against his friends, who were found not guilty by reason of self-defense. Lewis went on to a 17-year Hall of Fame career and has since become a respected broadcaster — well, mostly respected, except by those who still think he got away with it.

Darryl Strawberry

By sheer numbers, Darryl Strawberry's Major League Baseball career looks like one that any player would envy. He played 17 seasons beginning in 1983, was a member of four world championship teams, and logged 335 home runs and 1,000 RBIs. Of course, there are other numbers as well. During those 17 seasons, there were two domestic violence arrests, three drug-related suspensions, and one tax evasion conviction. 

As if his personal problems weren't enough, Strawberry was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in 1998, which was removed. He was set to attempt a comeback in 1999, but was derailed by an incident of drug-fueled prostitute seeking while training with the Yankees' AAA club in Tampa. Authorities said Strawberry yelled something unintelligible at an undercover officer before circling the block and approaching said officer to offer $50 for sex acts. Compounding his bad decision was his cocaine stash, which was cleverly wrapped up in a $20 bill. 

Despite his forlorn expression in his mugshot, he was given only a four-month suspension, and returned to help the Yankees earn yet another championship. But that season would be his last, as during the offseason he tested positive for cocaine. Strawberry apparently finally learned his lesson, as today he runs a ministry dedicated to helping drug addicts.

John Daly

John Daly is a classic double threat — he's a legendary golfer, and also a legendary drinker. He freely admits that being smashed made him a better golfer, and has admitted to drinking binges during PGA event play that would shame a frat boy. This explains the "yeah, this was bound to happen," look on his face in this mugshot, which was taken shortly after police were called to drag a passed-out Daly out of a North Carolina Hooters restaurant. 

Daly "appeared extremely intoxicated and (was) uncooperative," which is just a given, but was only taken into custody because he had no ride. He was released after sleeping it off in the drunk tank, free to go and do his thing. Amazingly, in 2017 Daly won his first championship since 2004, and could absolutely still drink you under the table.

Randy Moss

Freakishly gifted wide receiver Randy Moss spent most of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, and though his physical gifts were obvious, he had a hard time shaking a reputation for being a bit of a pothead. He'd been in trouble over the weed before entering the NFL in 1998, and it didn't help when cops found a joint in his car after an incident in 2002. Of course, this was after he'd pushed a traffic officer's car a half block down the street with his own car, which was a bit more serious.

He was eventually only charged with a pair of misdemeanors for the traffic incident and another for the weed. However, the incident didn't keep him from continuing to partake of the ganja throughout his long career, which the NFL just kind of grudgingly tolerated as long as he kept making mind-bending catches.

Ricky Williams

Speaking of fans of weed, let's talk about star Saints and Dolphins running back Ricky Williams. He was so good that Saints coach Mike Ditka literally dealt away his entire draft to get him, but Williams was a shy guy with social anxiety disorder who wasn't ready for the bright lights of the NFL. He dealt with this by self-medicating with pot. He would later become an advocate for medical marijuana, stating that it's "ten times better" for him than anti-anxiety medication — and as you can plainly see in his mugshot, he wasn't lying.

Williams was taken into custody in 1999 for refusing to sign a ticket after blowing across three lanes without signaling. But while the officer said he wasn't particularly cooperative, he also wasn't particularly upset. He just didn't want to sign the ticket for whatever reason, and if that meant he had to go to the pokey, well, that was totally cool with him. He faced no serious consequences from the incident, and went on to a spotty NFL career that showed flashes of brilliance.

Desmond Bryant

Ex-Raiders and current Browns tackle Desmond Bryant wasn't exactly a household name in 2013, and his arrest may have gone under the radar of the general public if not for one detail. Sure, it was a pretty funny story — Bryant randomly showed up at a neighbor's at the crack of dawn, shirtless and stinking drunk, and caused some kind of commotion. But it wasn't the details of the offense that the whole Internet wanted to discuss — it was what the hell was going on in his mugshot.  

Speculation has been endless. Is he lying down? Being punched in the back of the neck? Turning into a walrus? The possibilities were endless, and before the hapless Bryant knew it, Jimmy Kimmel was using him as a punchline and "Dezzing" had become a meme. 

A mortified Bryant, who incidentally is a Harvard graduate with a major in psychology, quickly bolted from Oakland to sign a free agent contract with the Browns, which fortunately had been in the works anyway. At his introductory press conference, he said: "I think in time I'll be able to show you guys... that's really not indicative of me. It was an accident. I've moved beyond that and hopefully everybody else will be able to."