The Most Controversial Athletes Of 2022

Who are the most controversial athletes of 2022? Sports stars are one part celebrity, one part athlete. Like so many celebrities, some athletes are prone to scandal. These sports stars are were involved some of the biggest controversies of 2022, and many remain controversial figures. Which athletes do you think are the most controversial in 2022? What is your definition of controversy? Is it off-the-field antics like Antonio Brown using a fake vaccination passport, or is it on-the-court antics like Antonio Brown quitting on his team in the middle of a game? Which is worse: intentionally sitting out or being forced to ride the bench?

AB is probably the first big name controversial athlete of 2022, for a myriad of reasons. Then, there's Ben Simmons who signed a big contract and refuses to abide by it for petty reasons.. And, of course, there's Novak Djokovic, who found himself in the middle of controversy, after being detained and deported by Australian officials ahead of the Australian Open due to his vaccination status.

Vote up the athletes who've caused the most controversy in 2022, and check back as more sports stars get added to the list throughout the year!


  • Novak Djokovic
    Photo: Novak Djokovic / Instagram

    Why is he controversial? 

    The Serbian tennis star found himself in an Australian immigration detention center upon being denied entry and having his visa canceled while en route to the year's first Grand Slam tennis competition, the Australian Open. A medical exemption for the tournament's COVID-19 vaccination requirements Djokovic had been granted was refused as Djokovic failed to provide "appropriate standards of proof." Djokovic had not publicly stated whether he is vaccinated, but the Australian Open competition's strict vaccine mandate for players, backed by guidelines suggested by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, seems to prove which side of the fence the 9x Champion is on. Djokovic was eventually banned from the Australian Open, so his status as the Number 1 tennis player in the world for the rest of the year, seems to be in doubt if he can't play every tournament.

    • Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia
    • Team: Tennis
  • Ben Simmons
    Photo: Brooklyn Nets / Instagram

    Why is he controversial? 

    In 2019, Simmons signed a 5-year / $177,243,360 contract extension, but refused to play for the Philadelphia 76ers for the foreseeable future. With three and a half more years remaining on Simmons fully-guaranteed contract (minus meager team fines), the All Star point guard actively forced the franchise to trade him. After landing in Brooklyn in exchange for James Harden, the point forward Simmons still has yet to play for his new team.
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    • Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
    • Team: Brooklyn Nets
  • Antonio Brown
    Photo: Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Instagram

    Why is he controversial? 

    In Week 17 of the NFL season, Antonio Brown quit on his team (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) midway through the third quarter of the game. Reports have surfaced from both sides, with Brown explaining the team forced him to play through an ankle injury. However, given the fact Brown previously lied about his vaccination status to start the season and was suspended for three games earlier this season, it's hard to vie for his credibility on anything.

    • Birthplace: Miami, Florida
    • Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Clinton Portis
    Photo: dbking / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Why is he controversial? 

    Former Washington and Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis was sentenced to six months in federal prison for his part in defrauding a health care benefit program for retired NFL veterans. Stealing money is bad. Stealing money from your own fellow teammates and peers is straight up evil.

    • Birthplace: Laurel, Mississippi
    • Team: Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos
  • Kyrie Irving
    Photo: Brooklyn Nets / Instagram

    Why is he controversial? 

    When Kyrie came out as anti-vax at the beginning of the season, it spelled trouble for the Brooklyn Nets, due to New York's vaccine mandate at work. Kyrie has certainly rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way with his rogue stance and is wearing out his welcome in Brooklyn.

    • Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
    • Team: Brooklyn Nets
  • 6

    Marcus Williamson

    Marcus Williamson
    Photo: Ohio State University / Instagram

    Why is he controversial? 

    "Is this really what we signed up for?" Marcus Williamson tweeted on New Year's Day. The 5th year Ohio State cornerback, who retired in 2021 following the Buckeyes' regular season finale loss to the Michigan Wolverines, continued to chime in from his couch as he watched his former teammates play in the Rose Bowl. In a viral Twitter thread, Williamson spoke on his "career as a young black college athlete at the highest level," while declaring, "I just enjoy my brain and my health way too much to be hitting people." 

    Williamson called out college athletics at one of the biggest football programs in the country for what they are, and he has no regrets. However, some fans have responded, bringing up the free education he received, along with other perks and benefits not available to regular students. Also, mentioning how Williamson basically quit on his teammates. 

    • Birthplace: Westerville, Ohio
    • Team: Ohio State Buckeyes