The world of professional sports is hard to navigate. Rules exist about what you can wear, what you can say, and how you can celebrate. Break a rule, no matter how silly, and you’ll get hit with a fine. Unlike a penalty for an overdue library book, pro athletes must pay thousands of dollars. Here are some of the most bizarre fines in sports history.
The NFL is perhaps the most fine-happy sports league. In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch received two $50,000 fines for not talking to the media enough after games. One fine was retroactive from the running back’s 2013 season. (The league initially suspended the penalty with the understanding that he would shape up in 2014.) Instead, Lynch continued to avoid the media after games, so the NFL doubled the fine.
While golf may seem like a relaxing sport, pro golfers know otherwise. If you’ve watched 15-time majors champion Tiger Woods play at all in the past 20 years, you’ve likely witnessed some swear words after bad swings. In fact, 70% of viewer complaints during TV golf coverage has been about Woods. The PGA doesn’t disclose fine amounts, but we can assume his checkbook is a little worn out.
In 1997, Dennis Rodman got hit with an 11-game suspension and a $25,000 fine after the Chicago Bulls fan favorite fell on the sidelines and angrily kicked a cameraman in the groin. The man was carried off the floor on a stretcher, and Rodman later apologized, stating it happened in “the heat of the moment.”
At the 2009 U.S. Open, Serena Williams got saddled with an $82,500 fine, the highest ever for a tennis player at the time. What did she do? Oh, she just verbally attacked a lineswoman after receiving a foot fault in her semi-final match. Williams was also fined a point, causing her to lose the match against Kim Clijsters. This one’s not so bizarre in nature, but the fine amount seems huge for a one-time outburst.
Clinton Portis and Sean Taylor
In 2004, Washington Redskins teammates Clinton Portis and Sean Taylor honored their shared alma mater, the University of Miami, by wearing red socks instead of white. Both players got fined $10,000, because they breached the uniform policy. As absurd as it seems, the pair got fined again the next season for uniform violations; $5,000 to Taylor for wearing striped socks and $20,000 to Portis for wearing striped socks and black shoes.
Being one of the greatest NBA players of all time won’t save you from being hit with fines. In 1995, Michael Jordan returned to basketball after a year playing minor league baseball. His Airness looked a little different after his hiatus. He returned to the court wearing No. 45, the number he had while playing baseball, instead of his customary No. 23. Jordan was fined $25,000 for the impromptu change.