It seems that character matters little when it comes to deciding who will be the public face of your sports franchise. As a result, the history of sports games that have featured past, current, and future criminals on their covers is extensive. That is why we’ve picked ten cover athletes/criminals and ranked them in order of least-criminal to most-criminal. So long is the list that cover athletes/criminals like Jennifer Capriati (shoplifting, possession of marijuana), Lawrence Taylor (three drug-related jail terms), and Danny Heatley (vehicular homicide) are only worth honorable mentions.
# 10: Ray Lewis
Cover: Madden 2005
On January 31, 2000 two men were stabbed to death when the entourages of Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis and rapper Chino Nino brawled outside of the Cobalt Lounge in Buckhead, Georgia. According to police Ray Lewis was there and saw it all.
Above: Couldn’t control his entourage
Lewis, along with two others, was arrested and indicted for aggravated assault and not one, but two counts of murder. Unsurprisingly, the famous athlete was able to plea the charges down to obstruction of justice in exchange for testifying against the two other men who probably didn’t have millions of dollars to spend on a lawyer. Lewis actually received a stiffer penalty from the NFL (a $250,000 fine) than he did from the courts (one year of probation).
Above: A few years after the fiasco
Lewis has been well-behaved since the incident; though many consider the obnoxious dance he does before Ravens games worthy of a citation for being a public nuisance.
# 9: Pete Rose
Cover: Pete Rose Baseball
Pete Rose retired as baseball’s all-time hits leader, a fan-favorite known for his relentless hustle, and a sure-fire hall-of-famer. That was until Rose decided to gamble on Cincinnati Reds games – a problem because he was also the manager of the team. This got him banned from baseball for life in 1989, which is even more embarrassing than being on an Atari 2600 game in 1989.
Above: Completely forgettable
But simply being a part of one of the biggest sports scandals of all time isn’t enough to be on this list – there’s no jail time attached. So Pete went ahead and pled guilty to falsifying income tax returns. He spent five months in prison, performed 1,000 hours of community service, paid a $50,000 fine and stroked a check to the government for the $366,041 he owed in back taxes and interest.
Above: Never forget
Rose continued lying about betting on baseball until 2004 when he figured out he could make some cash by writing a book and copping to some of the gambling accusations. This puts him on pace to finally come clean and admit that he bet on his own team somewhere around 2017. Proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Pete’s son, Pete Rose Jr., served one month in prison for distributing a date rape drug to his teammates to “help them relax after games.”