The Most Uncomfortable Sports Interviews Ever

Sports interviews aren't known for their depth or interest. In fact, almost 70% of Joe readers think sports stars shouldn't be forced to do post-match interviews. One reader said, "When was the last time a post-match interview actually interested you? The last time a manager, player, or coach said something genuinely explosive, the last time they revealed even a modicum of raw emotion?" 

The Guardian's Stephen Bierly was similarly scathing about the state of sporting personalities, lamenting that television "squeezes the magic and the theatre out of most sport and reduces everything to the banal" and criticizing athletes who do the bare minimum to "give a little bit of their cosseted life over to the fans." 

However, sports interviews are not always dreary monologues about "games of two halves." Sometimes, athletes and journalists do not stick to the script. Here is a selection of sports interviews that were rude, explosive, and downright weird. They may be uncomfortable to watch, but they certainly aren't boring. 

Jim Everett attacks Jim Rome

Described by the Bleacher Report as a "whining, punk sportswriter," Jim Rome has been involved in several feuds during his 30-year career. Enemies have included Shaquille O'Neal and NBA commissioner David Stern (more on that later). However, his most famous feud was with Jim Everett, the football quarterback who played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1986 to 1993 (via Pro Football Reference). 

According to Sportscasting, the animus between Everett and Rome started following a 1989 NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, which saw Everett take some tackles so heavy that he was "shell shocked." Consequently, Everett took a "phantom sack" in anticipation of further clashes, which earned him the ridicule of Rome, who started calling him "Chris" in reference to the female tennis player Chris Evert. 

After years of Rome using the slight on TV and radio, the feud came to head when the pair met on Rome's weeknight show Talk2 in April 1994 (via Los Angeles Times). Rome wasted no time in mocking Everett, who suggested that if Rome called him Chris one more time, an altercation would ensue. When Rome repeated the jibe, the 6'5" Everett flipped the table between them and pushed Rome to the ground, making awkward sports interview history in the process. There was no legal fallout from the incident.

Things get heated between Vince McMahon and Bob Costas

In an interview with Graham Bensinger, Bob Costas described his 2001 meeting with Vince McMahon as 28 minutes of "unremitting tension." Costas interviewed the wrestling mogul on HBO's "On The Record" and discussed two main topics, McMahon's fledging XFL football league and the provocative content of WWE, which was then called WWF. 

Costas opened with hard facts, drawing attention to the XFL's dismal ratings, "XFL ratings are down 75% from week one, they now rival the lowest ratings ever in primetime, not just for a sports program but any television show." McMahon was professional in his response, highlighting how the XFL was still young and needed time to develop. However, the tone soured when Costas discussed the notion of McMahon and the WWF lacking "prestige," adding that the XFL was a "low rent" version of the National Football League. The simmering exchange truly boiled over when McMahon leaned forward in his chair, pointed his finger, and said, "You want to let me finish for a second here, pal? Shut your mouth and let me answer the question, alright? You've got a situation that you don't know what you're talking about." 

Years later, McMahon shared a humorous statement with Piers Morgan, who was hosting Bob Costas on his CNN show. It read, "I used to think Bob Costas was a pompous, arrogant, self-absorbed, pseudo-intellectual little twerp. I used to think that. But now, 12 years later, I've come to realize he's not really a twerp. LOL."

Mike Tyson declares that he wants to eat Lennox Lewis's children

Mike Tyson could have an awkward interview article all of his own, such was his mercurial personality during his career in the fight game from 1985 to 2005 (via Sports Keeda). Of all the strange and often fiery encounters Tyson has had with reporters and fellow fighters, among the most awkward was his declaration that he wished to eat Lennox Lewis' children. 

Tyson made the strange assertion on June 24, 2000, during a post-fight interview in which he called out Lennox Lewis, who was then the reigning heavyweight champion. Tyson had just demolished Lou Savarese, knocking him down with the first swing of his fist. A later barrage of punches was so wild that Tyson even knocked the referee to the canvas. 

In the interview with Jim Gray, Tyson's ferocious energy didn't abate following his victory. After comparing himself to Alexander the Great and ranting about his "impetuous" style and "impregnable" defense, Tyson concluded the interview by saying he wanted to eat Lennox Lewis' children. Years later, Tyson would express his regret about the remark in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread on Reddit, although the regret was rather mild. A user named Frajer asked, "Do you regret telling that guy you were going to eat his children?" to which Tyson replied, "Yeah I guess I do."

Floyd Mayweather faces off with Larry Merchant

This interview from 2012 became an instant awkward classic. Veteran sportscaster Larry Merchant criticized Floyd Mayweather for exploiting the "protect yourself at all times" rule against Victor Ortiz, whom Mayweather knocked out during a lull in the fighting following an illegal headbutt. Mayweather grew angry and said, "You never give me a fair shake, HBO need to fire you, you don't know s*** about boxing." Merchant replied, "If I was 50 years younger I'd kick your a**."

It was just one exchange in a long line of awkward, confrontational interviews with Mayweather. In 2009, the Michigan fighter spoke with Brian Kenny and within 30 seconds was insulting the commentator, "I already forgot who I'm talking to, I'm talking to Brian Kenny, a guy who has never laced up gloves a day in his life, who don't know nothing about boxing." Kenny smiled and said, "Oh, it's good to have you back in top form already!"

Shaquille O'Neal swears on live TV

After a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers in April 2004, Shaq twice swore as he criticized the standard of play, "Not impressed, not impressed ... not (expletive) impressed, you know what I mean?" (via Associated Press). The live interview was broadcast on at least one TV station. 

It was Shaq's second profane incident of the season. In February 2004, Shaq was suspended without pay for one game after he criticized the referees, using two expletives. The towering center remarked, "They try to take over the f***ing game," and when the reporter reminded him that it was a live broadcast, Shaq replied, "I don't give a s***." The suspension cost the player an eye-watering $295,000.

As even casual observers will know, Shaq is now a popular basketball pundit in his retirement. But he hasn't learned, as Shaq's colorful language still slips on occasion.

Ryan Lochte and his mother talk about one night stands

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is infamous for his blunt interview style. So infamous, in fact, that "Saturday Night Live" aired a skit mocking the swimmer's rather vacant manner of speech. Of the many goofy answers Ryan has given over the years, such as, "The reason I love swimming is because ... racing," perhaps the most awkward interview came in 2012 during the London Olympics, and it wasn't entirely his fault. 

According to CBS News, Ryan's mother Ileana "Ike" Lochte had told Today that the swimmer, "goes out on one-night stands. He's not able to give fully to a relationship because he's always on the go." Ryan responded in a follow-up with Today, "I know what she meant by it. What she meant is that I'm not in a relationship so I do go on dates. It's not that negative part ... She had nothing negative."

Ike responded in turn, continuing a bizarre public dialogue about the swimmer's love life, "All I wanted to say is that he's so sensitive about not wanting to hurt a girl dating, so he just goes and dates and takes out a girl for maybe one or two dates and doesn't have a relationship because he doesn't have [time] and it's not fair to the women." Having your mother draw media attention to your love life would be mortifying for most people, but Ryan seems such an easygoing dude that he probably shrugged it off.

Stan Van Gundy tells the press that Dwight Howard wants him fired

Described by the NBA as "one of the oddest player-coach moments," Stan Van Gundy told reporters in 2012 that star player Dwight Howard wanted him to be fired only for Howard to enter the frame and embrace him, unaware of what Van Gundy had just revealed to the press. "What's our main concern right now?" Howard said as he put his arm around Van Gundy, who left the interview shortly after, allowing the reporters to ask Howard about Van Gundy's revelation, which Howard did not take kindly to. 

Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson Jr. described the interview as, "As awkward an interview situation as can possibly be conceived," with Charles Barkley adding, "I don't think coach Van Gundy should have spoke that out right now, and I don't think Dwight Howard should have asked to have his coach fired." Co-host Shaquille O'Neal agreed, "First of all, private conversations should never be brought public. [Gundy] has lost his team forever now, that right there can never be repaired."

David Stern asks Jim Rome, 'Have you stopped beating your wife yet?'

Ever confrontational, Jim Rome asked NBA Commissioner David Stern if he was guilty of rigging the NBA draft lottery. Angry, Stern replied, "I have two answers for that. I'll give you the easy one, no, and a statement, shame on you for asking." Undeterred, Rome said it was his duty to ask tough questions, which prompted Stern to call him ridiculous and ask, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" 

To be clear, this wasn't a serious accusation from Stern. Sportswriter Matt Norlander tweeted, "Stern was mock-asking the Q to state his point: his beat-your-wife quip, to him, was as ludicrous as asking if lotto was rigged." Still, quip or not, Stern's question made for very awkward listening. 

According to the Washington Post, Stern expressed regret over his response on Mike Wise's 106.7 The Fan radio show, "I understand what's happening. My only objection at the time was, your question phrases it in a certain way. But if you said to me directly is the lottery fixed, you would be implying that you believed it was fixed. Because you don't need to make it part of the question. And so I sort of reacted, maybe overreacted. So I understand that. But a guy's allowed to have some fun."

Dick Vitale can't hear interviewers

A classic case of technical difficulties, an interview with Dick Vitale on WGN Morning News took almost two painful minutes to take shape. The revered basketball analyst was being broadcast from his home in Bradenton, Florida when WGN Morning News asked, "You do this from home now, it must be nice to be Dickie V?!," to which Vitale just stared blankly, unable to hear the presenter, who compensated by imitating Vitale's loud and brash persona. Awkwardly, no amount of shouting was going to get through to Vitale, who continued to sit in his chair bemusedly.

After some awkward silences, it seemed that Vitale was finally through to the team at around the 45-second mark, but he started talking to the Chicago team about the basketball in the Carolinas, making the mix-up even more confusing. Another minute passed before WGN finally got through to Vitale.

Chuck Liddell slurs through an interview on Good Morning Texas

MMA fighter Chuck Liddell appeared on "Good Morning Texas" to promote the movie "300," which was produced by Warner Bros., one of Liddell's sponsors (via SuperHeroHype). As the host opened the interview, it was clear that something wasn't right with Liddell. His speech was slurred to the point of incoherence, causing the Good Morning Texas host to ask, "You okay, Chuck?" The fighter said that he was alright, and the host's question seemed to wake him a bit, but Liddell's speech was concerning. 

According to MMA Fighting, UFC president Dana White said about the incident, "This dude was fighting his ass off. He was ruling the world ... but as much of a rock star as he was inside of the sport, he was outside the sport, too. Ended up in the infamous interview he did down in Texas, where I don't know, he was out partying all night."

However, Liddell pushed back against notions of partying, "Actually, that night I didn't go out. I hadn't gone out cause I was sick from going out. I took Ambien. My buddy gave me Ambien. I was having problems sleeping. I don't know how they woke me up. They didn't wake me up mentally, but they got me to that show somehow. I don't know how."

David Icke tells Terry Wogan that he is the son of God

Before his career as a prominent sports pundit, David Icke was a goalkeeper for Coventry City football club, which was followed by stints at Oxford United, Nottingham Town, and Hereford United (via Sky News). It was an arthritis diagnosis in his early twenties that caused Icke to pursue sports journalism, which saw him go from a reporter at the Leicester Advertiser to co-host of the BBC's "Grandstand" program in 1983. 

However, in 1990, Icke assumed a very different role — conspiracy theorist. After declaring himself as the son of God, Icke made a 1991 appearance on "Wogan," a British chat show hosted by veteran broadcaster Terry Wogan, who looked back on the strange interview years later on "Wogan Now & Then." Dressed in a turquoise shell suit – which he believed brought him closer to God – Icke said with straight-faced conviction that he was the son of God, pointing out that the audience, who were in fits of laughter, would have laughed at Jesus Christ's claims, too (via BBC).

Wogan's lasting remark during the interview was, "They're laughing at you, not with you ... they're not laughing in sympathy with you." During his follow-up interview with Icke on "Wogan Now & Then," he expressed regret about that comment, describing it as "sharp." 

Mike Tyson swears at reporter

As mentioned before, Mike Tyson could have an awkward interview list of his own, so he had to feature here twice. On January 16, 1999, just over a year before his infamous Lennox Lewis tirade on June 24, 2000, Tyson was interviewed by UPN9/WWOR New York's Russ Salzberg in the build-up to his fight with Francois Botha, the brawny South African heavyweight. 

When asked about the odds and whether he had any concerns about the fight, Tyson said, "I don't know anything about that. I know nothing about numbers. I just know what I can do, kill this motherf*****." The tense exchange concluded with Salzberg asking Tyson about his language, at which point the interview got personal, with Tyson saying, "I'm talking to you the way I want to talk to you. If you've got a problem turn off your station." Salzberg decided to wrap it up, but Tyson managed to call him an "a**hole" and tell him to "f*** off" in the closing moments.

Tyson took that anger into the ring, knocking Botha out in the fifth round after a rather ugly fight. According to the New York Times, Botha accused Tyson of trying to break his arm, saying, "Mike grabbed my arm, he was trying to break my arm, to twist my arm." When Tyson learned of these accusations, Iron Mike said simply, "He's correct."