Try as professional sports might to not turn into the WWE, sometimes athletes emotions get the best of them. These bitter feuds, of course, are best when played out in front of a national audience. From pitchers going head hunting to linebackers diving at the knees, sports feuds can get fantastically out of hand in the blink of an eye.
Here are some of our favorite over-the-top feuds, including that time Rougned Odor punched Jose Bautista in the jaw for a late slide!
Ali And Frazier Take Fight Promotion Too Far
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While promoting one of the biggest boxing matches of all-time, Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier fell into a heated rivalry. Ali started the fireworks, calling Frazier an “Uncle Tom.” Frazier refused to call Ali by his converted name (his given name was Cassius Clay) and held a grudge for 30 years, even as Ali’s health rapidly declined.
When Muhammed Ali announced he had Parkinson’s disease, Frazier happily commented, “they want me to love him, but I’ll open up the graveyard and bury his [expletive] when the good Lord chooses to take him.” Before dying, Ali apologized for his words, but we don’t know if Frazier accepted or plans too.
Odell Beckham Jr. And Josh Norman Can’t Keep Their Hands Off Each Other
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Everyone knew this feud was going to be exciting when Josh Norman signed with the Washington Redskins. After a physical match with Beckham Jr. during his time in Carolina, Norman would get to match up against the wide receiver twice a year.
Expectations were met when the two got into multiple fist fights during one of their first rematches. This feud was impossible to keep off the field, even after suspensions were handed down. In a 2017 interview, Norman promised more suspensions would come, along with some hefty fines. Now that’s what we call entertainment! Coming up, baseball gets brutal during the steroid era!
Steroids Might Be To Blame For Piazza And Clemens
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You may not like the use of steroids in sports, but the MLB enjoyed a national renaissance during the drugs “era.” The best example is a feud between known users Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza. Meeting in 2000 during an interleague matchup, Clemens plunked Piazza in the head with a fastball.
Flashforward to the World Series and Piazza and Clemens were at it again. Clemens shattered Piazza’s bat with a pitch, then kicked the shards at Piazza. Benches cleared and baseball’s biggest spectacle turned into a beautiful royal rumble!
Kobe Bryant And Dwight Howard Can’t Keep Their Hatred Private
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When Dwight Howard briefly played with Kobe Bryant on the Lakers, the two became bitter rivals. Forced to play with each other, they constantly fought. The feud reached the next level when Howard left the Lakers to join the Houston Rockets.
On opening night the next season the pair were finally able to settle their differences. They got into a “dust-up” with Kobe yelling, “try me!” He followed up by calling Howard “soft.” After the battle Kobe brushed it off, saying, “I don’t know when the NBA became so sensitive. It’s all part of it.” Next, Kobe and Shaq is a feud you don’t want to miss!
Kobe Bryant And Shaquille O’Neal Were The Original Reality TV
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No one knows how Phil Jackson led the Lakers to three straight NBA titles having to deal with Kobe and Shaq continually fighting. The pair may have been a fearsome duo to deal with on the court, but off it, they hated each other passionately.
The feud started with Kobe being drafted in 1996 straight out of high school. Shaq said, “I’m not gonna be babysitting,” and the tone was set. Kobe, as he so often did, got the last laugh. The Lakers traded Shaq in 2004, and the “Lake Show” became fully focused on the Black Mamba.
Marshawn Lynch Lived In Seattle Long Enough To Become The Villain
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The Seahawks should have handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch in Super Bowl 49. Instead, they passed the ball and lost the game. The decision created friction throughout the team, most notably between Lynch and head coach Pete Carroll.
While not many details went public, the behind the scenes fights were reportedly explosive. Carroll refused to acknowledge the problems, telling the press they were “working on things.” The truth is they were working on forcing Lynch out of town. Lynch responded by retiring, crippling Seattle’s offense the next season.
Kevin Durant Got The Best Of Russell Westbrook
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This feud began with a bang and is still running hot today. It started when Durant left Westbrook and Oklahoma City to sign with Golden State. Westbrook, in a show of loyalty, re-upped with the Thunder. He then posted a photo of cupcakes to his Instagram.
Confused? When Kendrick Perkins played for the Thunder, he called soft players “cupcakes.” Westbrook took it to another level calling out Durant indirectly. When Golden State played in OKC the next season, the crowd chanted “cupcake” whenever Durant had the ball. Durant scored 39 points in a 130-114 win… Coming up, Jose Bautista’s face takes the full force of Rougned Odor’s fist!
Rougned Odor And Jose Bautista Make Baseball Fun Again
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This feud ended with Rougned Odor’s fist landing squarely on Jose Bautista’s jaw. It started in the 2015 ALDS when Odor’s Rangers played Bautista’s Blue Jays. Toronto’s third baseman hit a game-winning home run then flipped his bat about as far as he hit the ball.
Odor waited until the next season to get his revenge. Bautista overslid into second base to break up a double play. His slide took Odor down. Odor got up and socked Bautista in the jaw. Benches cleared and baseball was fun again for a few minutes.
Connor McGregor And Nate Diaz Get A Curtain Call
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In 2016, Connor McGregor fought Nate Diaz in one of UFC’s biggest fights of all-time. Doing press before the match, insults flew across the stage gloriously. McGregor said he’d, “eat his carcass in front of his little gazelle friends.” Diaz responded by throwing his water bottle at the Irishman.
Diaz won the fight, but fans wanted more. UFC commissioner Dana White wanted more too and scheduled a rematch. More amazing insults were tossed carelessly, and they fought again five months later. Diaz lost, leaving fans clamoring for a “rubber match.”
Bryce Harper Wins The Power Battle In Washington
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The Washington Nationals have disappointed fans for years, consistently underperforming with one of the best rosters in baseball. In 2015, the tension reached a boiling point when Bryce Harper and closer Jonathan Papelbon got into a fight.
Harper flew out during the eighth inning of a September game. Papelbon greeted him in the dugout and choked him. He was suspended for four games. Harper won the feud when Washington traded for Mark Melancon and waived Papelbon as a result. Up next, there is no winner when someone’s life is on the line!
Jose Mesa Threatened Omar Vizquel’s Life
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Jose Mesa didn’t take kindly to future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel calling his passion into question in 2003. Asked how he felt, the relief pitcher proudly said, “Even my little boy told me to get him. If I face him 10 more times, I’ll hit him 10 times. I want to kill him.”
True to his words, Mesa hit Vizquel the next three time he faced him. This old feud has never been settled. The two players might be retired, but they should probably never be put in the same room. You know, for Vizquel’s safety. Mesa probably carries a baseball with him just in case.
Jimmy Johnson Took On Jerry Jones And Lost
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When Jimmy Johnson was the head coach of the Cowboys, Dallas was an unstoppable NFL force. The ego that came with his success didn’t sit well with owner Jerry Jones, one of the most egotistical owners ever. After the Cowboys won the Super Bowl, Jones said any coach could have done it with the roster he assembled.
Johnson couldn’t let his ego be bruised and said he was interested in taking the Jacksonville Jaguars head coaching job. The Jaguars were entering the league as an expansion team. To this day, Johnson has not been inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor for his “disloyalty.” Stick around for more Bryce Harper action next!
Hunter Strickland Waited Three Years To Get Revenge On Bryce Harper
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The San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2014, but relief pitcher Hunter Strickland didn’t care. During the NLDS against the Nationals, Bryce Harper homered off him twice. Strickland waited patiently in the grass three years to get his revenge.
Strickland drilled Harper in the hip with a 98 mph first-pitch fastball. Harper charged the mound and threw his helmet at his rival. Strickland didn’t back down and punched Harper several times before the two were separated. One year after, Strickland finally admitted he was being stupid. We doubt Harper cares.
Joey Chestnut And Takeru Kobayashi Made Competitive Eating A Spectator Sport
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First off, yes, there is a competitive eating league. Every fourth of July they hold a hot dog eating contest dominated by Cody Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi. Chestnut broke Kobayashi’s record in 2007, eating 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Kobayashi didn’t take the loss sitting down. Although he probably needed a few minutes to digest.
Three years later, Kobayashi, who wasn’t invited to the contest, charged the stage and tried to attack Chestnut, who’d spent the last few years calling him a sissy and a liar. Kobayashi was arrested, and Chestnut ate 62 hot dogs, defending his title.
Reggie Miller Threatened To Choke Spike Lee
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The feud between NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller and acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee is one of the strangest you’ll ever read about. Lee was and still is, an outspoken Knicks fan. He sat courtside at every game and made a habit of getting into Miller’s head during the 1990s when the Pacers played there.
Athletes usually ignore fans, but Miller couldn’t ignore Lee. One night Miller looked over and made a choking gesture towards the director. The NBA hasn’t seen fireworks like this feud since, and probably never will. Coming up, Brett Favre should have stayed retired the first time!
Brett Favre Should Have Stayed Retired The First Time
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At this point in history, few people probably remember Brett Favre’s first retirement from the NFL. The quarterback ended his career with the Vikings, but that’s only because he un-retired after Aaron Rogers became the Packers starter.
When Green Bay decided to pass the reigns to Aaron Rogers, Favre changed his mind. Packers’ GM Ted Thompson didn’t. Favre accepted his fate and signed with the Jets before unceremoniously ending his career in Minnesota. Rogers led the Packers to a Super Bowl win a few seasons later.
Terrell Owens Never Got Along With Quarterbacks
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Terrell Owens won’t be attending his Hall of Fame induction, and we imagine Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb are happy about it. Owens, for as great as he was, was a terrible teammate who feuded with nearly every quarterback he played for. Unfortunately for him, the team always sided with his rival.
It started in San Francisco with Jeff Garcia, who Owens insinuated in an interview might be gay. He was quickly shipped off to Philadelphia. There he went to the Super Bowl, then called out Donovan McNabb. He was released and signed with the Cowboys. Next, find out how Toni Braxton caused a major feud with “Unbreak My Heart!”
A Woman Got Inbetween Jim Jackson And Jason Kidd
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It wasn’t basketball that got in the way of Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson’s friendship. It was Toni Braxton. The music star was supposed to be dating Kidd until rumors surfaced that her hit song “Unbreak My Heart” was about Jackson. That’s one way to end a friendship!
Kidd, now with a broken heart of his own that needed stitching, demanded a trade. The Mavericks granted his wish and sent him to Phoenix. Soon after they decided Jackson wasn’t worth the trouble either and traded him to the Nets. Did anyone win this feud?
Richie Incognito Pushed Jonathan Martin Out Of The NFL
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Richie Incognito’s career was supposed to be over when his verbal abuse of Dolphins’ teammate Jonathan Martin went public. The offensive lineman became the villain of the NFL and was seen as untouchable. Martin refused to play for Miami again and ended up in San Francisco.
A few years later, Martin was out of the league for poor play, and Richie Incognito was given a second chance after going to anger management classes. For being a bully, he was rewarded with a pro-bowl nod and Martin was arrested for posting a picture to Instagram about guns.
The 49ers Crumble Under The Weight Of Too Many Egos
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In one of sports’ more recent and entertaining feuds, the San Francisco 49ers saw everything they built crumble when no one in the building could get along. Coming off a third straight NFC Championship appearance, reports indicated eccentric head coach Jim Harbaugh and power-hungry general manager Trent Baalke were at war.
Team owner Jed York was forced to take sides, which was good news for Baalke. York had grown tired of Harbaugh’s attitude and leaked news he needed to win the Super Bowl the next year to stick around. The team went 8-8.
Magic Johnson And Larry Bird Made History As Rivals
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Perhaps it’s more appropriate to say the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird made NBA history. Their professional feud dates back to college, where BIrd’s Indiana State Sycamores played against Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans in the 1979 title match.
When the NBA came calling, Bird became a Celtic and Johnson a Laker. The two storied franchises had shiny new franchise players. They met three times in the NBA Finals, with Johnson getting the best of Bird twice.
Roger Federer And Rafael Nadal Claim To Respect Each Other Off The Court
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For six straight years (2005-2010), Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were the top two ranked male tennis players in the world. This created an intense on-court rivalry between the two that they claim doesn’t affect how they look at each other off the court. We’re not buying it.
They don’t play nice with each other, both having broken major win streaks of the other. They have been able to put their differences aside for charity, participating in the “Match for Africa” tournament in 2010.
Peyton Manning Called His Kicker An Idiot In 2003
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Peyton Manning might be one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, but he wasn’t always the best teammate. In 2002, Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt started the feud when he questioned whether Manning was the right quarterback for the team. At the time Manning was coming off his third Pro-Bowl.
Young and cocky, Manning didn’t settle the matter privately. In an interview, he said, “we’re talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off… He’s a good kicker. But he’s an idiot.”
Barry Bonds And Jeff Kent Didn’t Get Along At All
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Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent played together in San Francisco from 1997 until 2002. They openly hated each other and got into locker room fights. They also knew they were good for each other on the field. Batting back-to-back in the Giants’ lineup every night led to incredible offensive numbers.
After the 2002 collapse in the World Series, Kent finally had enough, saying “I want off this team.” He got his wish and signed with the Astros before finishing his career with the Dodgers.
Zack Greinke Liked To Hit Carlos Quentin With Pitches
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During the time together in the AL Central, then Royals pitcher Zack Greinke had an affinity for hitting then White Sock Carlos Quentin with pitches. Years later, when both players ended up in the NL West separate teams, Quentin fought back.
Pitching for the Dodgers in 2013, Greinke was back to his old tricks. Quentin, playing for the Padres, charged the mound and broke Greinke’s collarbone. Sending Greinke to the disabled list probably wasn’t a part of Quentin’s plan, but he probably wasn’t too upset about it either.
Carmelo Anthony Tried To Fight Kevin Garnett After A Game
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Kevin Garnett made a lot of enemies during his Hall of Fame NBA career. One of those enemies was borderline Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony. Apparently, Anthony wasn’t very thrilled with comments Garnett made about his significant other and tried to settle the beef with his fists.
According to reports, Anthony tried to enter the Boston Celtics locker room after a game to confront Garnett. The two got into a shouting match, but no punches were thrown.
Jay Cutler Showed Emotion Towards Phillip Rivers
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Jay Cutler isn’t known as the most emotional guy on the field, so when he was caught on camera “jawing” at Phillip River one year, you know something was up. Playing against each other twice a year when Cutler was a Bronco, he met the one person he couldn’t stand.
Maybe he never like Rivers inability to be emotionless, or maybe it was something else. All we know is that Cutler admitted his disdain, giving the most Cutler-esque quote of all-time, “not a fan of that guy.”
Tiger Woods Wants A Piece Of Sergio Garcia
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Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia have one of the best gold feuds ever. When these two were on the links together, being nice and formal wasn’t easy. The bad blood began in 1999 when Garcia stared Woods down after a long birdie shot.
The rivalry hit its boiling point when the two were paired together at the 2013 Ryders Cup. Woods blamed Garcia for an errant stroke after he riled up the crowd to make noise during the shot. Shortly after Woods tried to bury the feud like he did his career.
Pete Sampras And Andre Agassi Will Never Be Best Friends
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Unlike Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi have no problem letting the world know they’ll never be best friends. Oddly enough, their feud wasn’t known by fans until Agassi criticized Sampras in his autobiography.
After the book was published, the two played against each other in a match for charity. The match stalled when they began trading verbal jabs. You know you really hate someone when you can’t put your differences aside for a good cause!
Shannon Sharpe Would Love To Leave Ray Buchanan Stranded On The Side Of The Road
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It might be easy to assume that the feud between Shannon Sharpe and Ray Buchanan was just for show before the Super Bowl in XXXIII, but you’d be wrong. During the Falcons’ media session, Buchanan not so lovingly compared the Broncos’ tight end to Mr. Ed.
Sharpe didn’t take the insult lying down. He lashed back, saying he wouldn’t pick up Buchanan on the side of the road if his truck broke down. Ouch! The trash talk was great for fans, but not for these friends. If they ever were friends to begin with.