Without any help from our sports teams Florida already has a well deserved reputation for unabated weirdness, but the bizarre sports scandals that have erupted in the state in the past three years alone is out of control by sports standards, by Florida standards, or by any standards of human decency whatsoever.
When news broke last night that FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, a Heisman hopeful who has led the Seminoles roaring back into national relevancy, was under investigation for sexual battery, it was just the latest sad controversy to mar our state's athletics.
There are of course the scandals hardly anyone needs reminding of. The ongoing fallout from the Miami Dolphins' Richie Incognito bullying scandal has jumped from sports blog sideshow to the national public discourse. The Miami Hurricanes football team just last month finally put to bed an NCAA investigation brought on by allegations from a convicted Ponzi schemer that involved, amongst other unseemly accusations, parties aboard a hooker-filled yacht. The Tampa Bay Bucaneers have been hit by both reports that the team openly hates its hard-assed coach and an outbreak of MRSA infections. The federal Securities & Exchange Commission is still investigating the boondoggle that used public money to build the Marlins' new park (and of course Jeffrey Loria's continued ownership of a professional sports team is a something of a scandal in and of itself).
Let's not forget that Carl Pelini, head coach of the FAU football team, recently resigned amidst allegations of marijuana and cocaine use.
Then of course there are the smaller personnel-centric controversies. The Heat's Chris "Birdman" Anderson somehow managed to get double-"catfished" all while having sex with a minor in a crime no one still seems to fully understand. Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson was kicked off the Dolphins after head butting his reality tv star wife. Brandon Marshall while with the Dolphins somehow ended up with a knife in his belly at the hands of his wife. Former Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen declared his public love for Fidel Castro, perhaps the most inflammatory statement one can make in Miami. Let's not even get into the never-ending sad-fest that is Dwyane Wade's ongoing legal battles with his ex-wife. University of Florida player arrests hardly even seem shocking anymore.
Not enough? There're the scandals that don't center on Florida teams or their players but still run thick with Sunshine State connections. New Times, of course, broke the lid off the Biogensis scandal which saw at least a dozen MLB players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, receiving PEDs from a Coral Gables-based clinic. Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is facing charges of murder. He is of course a former University of Florida player. The Dolphins' Mike Pouncy, a college teammate, was subpoenaed in the case, and Hernandez has been accused of another attempted murder in Florida over which he's currently facing a lawsuit. Oh, and didn't Tiger Woods' public downfall began with a bizarre car crash out front of his Palm Beach County home?
Do we even bother to mention that Dan Marino, perhaps Florida's biggest pro sports hero of all time, was recently revealed to have a love child? Hardly seems noteworthy in comparison.
And all of this has happened within the last three or so years. And people thought "The Decision" was worthy of public outcry?
Sure there've been other scandals during this time too: Lance Armstrong, Penn State, the Vikings' sex boat, Bounty-gate, and a certain fake girlfriend, but at least those scandals were spread out across the rest of the continental United States.
We haven't checked with the sports historians, but its hard to imagine that any state has found itself the center of so many sports scandals in such a short time.
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But is there any way to explain away a black magic curse Rex Ryan set on the state? Did Tim Tebow make a deal with the devil that forsook us? Is Florida's batshittery so contagious that it's infected our athletic fields?
Or is this the cosmic price we pay for landing the Miami Heat's big three? At there very least the Heat's back-to-back run has given us something to really root proudly for here in Florida, because everything else we've endured over the past three years has just been bizarre.