That Conor McGregor, what a blowhard.
Sports fans do realize that athletes live in a priveleged, gilded world where there are few limits on what they can’t do with their fame, riches and popularity.
But McGregor likes to rub their noses in it.
The Irish UFC star has graced the latest cover of GQ, the last refuge for aficionados of conspicuous male consumption. In a profile piece by Zach Baron, McGregor lets the world know just how insanely rich he is and then nearly breaks his own arm patting himself on the back for being a great fighter.
from the low life to the high life pic.twitter.com/63SQda89T4
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 17, 2017
He dresses flamboyantly, owns a fleet of over-the-top vehicles, trash talks anyone and everyone and thinks nothing of dropping 27K at a tony clothing store, among other tidbits embedded in the GQ story.
On top of that, he’s as shameless a self-promoter as they get.
“It’s all in the nutsack. It’s all in the ball sack. I just have confidence that comes from my big ball sack, and I know when I smack you, you’re going down. And that’s it.”
McGregor is part of a long line of cocky and flamboyant athletes over the years who, despite their immense gifts, taint their legacy by showing off. Here are 15, in no particular order.
15. Sugar Ray Robinson – Boxing
There have been many a boxer who has rose to fame and let the world know just how good they have it. In the annals of the sweet science, Sugar Ray Robinson was known as much for his devastating mitts and technique as he was for giving good quote and flaunting the bounty his success afforded him. Considered one of the top boxers of all time, Robinson was one of the first sports celebrities to have an entourage and lived the playboy lifestyle in the 1940s and 50s. He was so flamboyant, he drove around in a Flamingo Pink Cadillac. The man who once said “my business is hurting people” added to his exuberant personality in retirement by acting on TV and singing in nightclubs (hello Shaq Diesel!). As proof that Robinson was an egotistical icon, none other than Muhammad Ali said that Robinson was his idol.
14. Derek Sanderson – Hockey
Hockey players can be cocky, but tend to be more understated when it comes to showing off their wealth. One of the first to ever broadcast to the world just how good he had it was former Boston Bruin Derek Sanderson. Known as “Turk” to his friends, Sanderson was Rookie of the Year in the NHL in 1967-68, establishing himself as a scorer and bit of a roughian. After five pretty good seasons with the Bruins, the Philadelphia Blazers of the upstart (and now defunct) World Hockey Association dangled a contract in front of Sanderson in the summer of 1972 that was too good to pass up. The Blazers offered him the richest contract in any sport at the time, a whopping $2.6 million. Injuries, though, would dog him and after only eight games the entire season, the Blazers paid him $1 million to get lost. With his insane riches (for the time), nightlife and booze-loving Sanderson began a downward spiral to poverty by opening up a trendy nightclub called “Bachelors III”with none other than Joe Namath. Enough said.
13. Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson
It seems that the wide receiver position in football breeds all manner of over-exuberant, trash talking show-offs. Chad Johnson was so sure of his own importance, he changed his last name to reflect his number “85.” The six-time Pro Bowler and four-time First Team All-Pro led the NFL in receiving yards for four straight seasons (2003-07) and as so sure of his own greatness that he created “The List” in 2005. He announced to the world that he was keeping a checklist titled “Who Covered 85 in ’05”, evaluating the defensive backs who did successfully defend against him. He never did play for a Super Bowl winner in Cincinnati and when pressed by the media about how his selfish attitude hurt the team, refused thereafter to speak to them and then became a diva who skipped mandatory workouts and team events. As far as flamboyant behavior goes, Ochocinco was so arrogant he sported a “Future Hall of Famer” jacket.
12. Dennis Rodman – Basketball
All you need to know about Rodman’s flamboyance could be summed up with the photo of him in a wedding dress. And if were were to give a trophy to the most outlandish sports celebrity ever foisted on the paying public, Rodman would win it, hands down. A great basketball player who won five championships and was NBA defensive player of the year twice, Rodman never met a mirror he didn’t like or shy away from a photo op or sound byte. He never shied away from controversy either, famously (infamously?) visiting world no. 1 despot Kim Jong Un in North Korea, creating a mutual cult of personality. Post-NBA career, Rodman, who battled alcohol addiction and had many legal troubles, decided he could act, “starring” in widely panned action film “Double Team” with Jean-Claude Van Damme. It earned him three Golden Raspberry’s, including Worst New Star. Undaunted, he went on to shamelessly self promote in several reality series like Big Brother and Love Island.
11. Deion Sanders – Football
To this day, “Neon” Deion Sanders is all flash. The NFL Hall of Famer and two-time champion still sports the flashy suits that were a hallmark of his lengthy career in football and talks incessantly on NFL Network. A two-sport athlete of renown, Sanders took his cocky act to baseball, playing with five different teams including the New York Yankees. Over the course of his football and baseball life, he was once the richest defensive player in the NFL and spent a lot of that dough on his image, including the famous “do-rag” he wore under his helmet. Nicknamed “Prime Time”, Sanders wore gaudy custom-made suits and flashy jewelry to promote his “brand” and would later release the execrable rap album “Prime Time” that had typical singles like “Must Be The Money” and “Prime Time Keeps On Tickin.”
10. Cristiano Ronaldo – Soccer
Pretty boy would not be an unwarranted nickname for Cristiano Ronaldo. The man who has been tied to Lionel Messi whenever the subject of the “world’s greatest footballer” comes around is a poster boy for wretched excess. Ronaldo has stated many times that he is better than Messi and that he was sent by God himself to show people how to play soccer. Known as much or his goal-scoring prowess as for dramatic, histrionic flops on the field when someone brushes him lightly, Ronaldo lives like a God off the field. He is a fashion plate who has also graced the cover of GQ and multi-million dollar endorsement contracts have allowed him to date supermodels like Irina Shayk and buy a swanky loft apartment in Trump Tower in New York City.
9. Allen Iverson – Basketball
As good a basketball player as he was for 14 seasons, including a MVP award and four scoring championships, Iverson was also a noted smack talker (anyone remember “Practice!”), party animal and sometime wannabe rapper. In 2000, at the height of his roundball powers, Iverson dropped a controversial single called “40 Bars” under his pseudonym “Jewelz.” The song was a profanity-laden ditty peppered with misogyny and homophobic slurs. It, along with a proposed full length album, was never widely released. Iverson, who made a lot of money playing hoops, liked to play up his “Gangsta” image, wearing a lot of chains and backward baseball caps, too. Iverson was so sure of his abilities on the court that he went ballistic at his 2001 MVP press conference regarding practice. It went viral, with Iverson repeating the word over, and over, and over again.
8. Terrell Owens – Football
Forever a lightning rod for controversy, the latest words out of Owens talkative mouth allude to his own over-inflated sense of self-importance. The former six-time Pro Bowler and three-time receiving touchdowns leader sounded off on his most recent snubbing for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, saying, “At this point, the Hall of Fame doesn’t mean anything to me.” Yeah, right. Throughout his career, from San Francisco to Dallas and Cincinnati to name three places, Owens couldn’t get out of the way of his enormous ego. Who could forget that bizarre press conference in his driveway when he was filmed doing shirtless crunches? On top of that, Owens pulled out all the vain stops in his elaborate TD celebrations, including the “Sharpie In a Sock” and the Bird Dance with Philadelphia. Fittingly, Owens endeavors outside of football included starring in his own reality show “the T.O. Show” and released a rap song called “I’m back.” Not likely.
7. Brian Wilson – Baseball
The baseball world has seen it’s fair share of quirky oddballs like Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Bartolo Colon, yet, not many could be classed in the flaky, showy, flamboyant category. That is, until Brian Wilson burst spectacularly on the MLB scene — and was just as quickly gone from it in 2014. The bearded closer was a one-man quote machine who wore colorful shoes and had a stare that was as lethal as his fastball. The circus that surrounded the former Los Angeles Angels fireballer even had it’s own brand, “Fear the Beard.” The three-time All-Star and National League saves leader in 2010 added to that brand by sporting bright orange cleats while with the Giants, as well as a Mohawk haircut. He even once donned a LSU Tigers football uniform, owing to him having played baseball there. Lately, Wilson, sans beard, has stated he wants to make a return as a knuckleballer, saying, “I always said that once my career wa over I was coming back as a knuckleballer.” Uh huh.
6. Ricky Williams – Football
Ricky Williams prowess as a running back was never really in much doubt. His conduct off the field, however, was as dubious and showy as it gets. As one of college football’s greatest ever running backs while with the Texas Longhorns, Williams was later picked fifth overall by the New Orleans Saints in 1999 and immediately started putting his stamp on the NFL. He would rush for over 1,000 yards five times in 11 seasons (three with the Saints, seven with Miami and one with Baltimore). Off the field, Williams lived a Rastafarian lifestyle, sporting dreadlocks and smoking a lot of marijuana. He was said to have failed three drug tests and “retired” from football in 2004, only to catch on with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL for one season in 2006, before returning to the Dolphins. While “retired” the quirky Williams studied Ayurveda and adopted a vegan lifestyle.
5. Kobe Bryant – Basketball
The Black Mamba is now retired. Long live Kobe, according to Kobe, that is. The surefire Hall of Famer did it all in his career, winning five championships, playing in 18 all-star games and being named MVP in 2008. And boy, did he ever let everyone know just how good he was. One of the NBA’s most vicious smack talkers once told someone, “I don’t give a f–k what you say.” That pretty much summed up Bryant’s runaway ego. Other than that, he pretty much forced the Lakers to send Shaq packing, told a fan that he was “top three, all-time” and like many other self-important superstars, released a rap single titled “K.O.B.E” that flopped miserably. For Kobe, who has made — and continues to make — a fortune off his once tarnished image, it’s all about the brand and being the center of attention. Proving that yes, there is an “I” in team.
4. Sean Avery – Hockey
Post-Derek Sanderson in the NHL, no one has been as flaky, flamboyant or utterly contemptible as Sean Avery was. He made quite a name for himself on, and off, the ice. Most infamously, it was he who said, in response to Dion Phaneuf dating his ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert, “I just want to comment on how it’s become a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds.” That rather rude and self-serving remark got him a six-game suspension. His mouth, though, forever ran off at light speed and he earned the distinction of probably the worst and most vicious trash talker to ever lace on skates. Avery also cemented his ill-gotten legacy by having the NHL enforce the “Avery Rule” after a semi-hilarious incident with goalie Martin Brodeur, where his over-the-top screening tactics angered the Hall of Fame netminder to no end. During his not so illustrious career, he even interned at Vogue during the summer of 2008 and would often be photographed in one dandy outfit or another.
3. Joe Namath – Football
Joe put the boy in flamboyant, that is for sure. If there is a more famous image of a sports icon, the one with Namath sporting a monstrous fur coat on the New York Jets sideline all those years ago, we would love to see it. With his full head of hair, nudge-nudge-wink-wink charm and athletic ability, Joe brought sexy to the NFL. His youthful zeal and sex appeal even followed him into his dotage, when he so weirdly hit on a much younger TV sideline reporter when he was 60 years old. Namath was never one to let a moment to smack talk his opponents slip away, once very boldly guaranteeing a victory over the very powerful Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. But, Broadway Joe backed that slip of the tongue up, leading the Jets to a most improbable 16-7 win.
2. Floyd Mayweather – Boxing
No one has done more to show the conspicuous consumption of athletes than pugilist Floyd Mayweather. Never afraid to pose with one of his many luxury vehicles or adorn himself with a King’s ransom in jewelry, Mayweather is also a noted motor mouth who figures he has no peer. He even had the temerity to say, “Yup, I’m better than Muhammad Ali. Sugar Ray Robinson? Yup, I’m better than Sugar Ray Robinson. I would never say there’s another fighter better than me.” But, is he better than Conor McGregor? Fittingly, Mayweather and McGregor, who are legendary show-offs, might do battle in a proposed MMA-Boxing crossover match. Money Mayweather, win or lose, will undoubtedly come out of it even more enriched than he already is, or needs to be.
1. Bjorn Borg – Tennis
Borg was to tennis in the uninhibited 70s as the Bee Gees were to disco music and culture in that decade. The Swedish tennis ace, with his blond flowing locks and ubiquitous head band, revolutionized the staid old sport of tennis, bringing flash and dash to his famous matches with bad boy John McEnroe. He infamously feuded with the Swedish press back in the day, to the point that he considered boycotting the Davis Cup in 1976 — where later it was alleged he would be paid the princely sum of $220,000 to compete — because of his contentious relationship with the scribes. In addition to being a great tennis player, Borg lived the high life, fathering a child with a Swedish model and marrying and divorcing an Italian singer (he is now married for the fourth time).