Which athlete destroyed their career practically overnight?

John Rocker was a young, arrogant closer for the Braves in 1998 who backed up his arrogance with his performance on the mound. He was an all star. Everyone outside of Atlanta hated him, and for good reason. He gave off the appearance of being a jerk, but the man could pitch. Nothing got to him.

Between the 1999 and 2000 seasons, someone from Sports Illustrated asked him if he’d ever play in New York.

“I would retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing.

“The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. I’m not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?

“I’m not a racist or prejudiced person, But certain people bother me.”

He went on to talk about Asian women drivers, as well. Being interviewed while driving he said:

“So many dumb asses don’t know how to drive in this town. They turn from the wrong lane. They go 20 miles per hour. It makes me want–Look! Look at this idiot! I guarantee you she’s a Japanese woman. How bad are Asian women at driving?”

Rocker was suspended for 14 games. His 2000 season wasn’t bad statistically, but everyone could tell he wasn’t the same pitcher he was the year before. The intensity wasn’t there. For the first time, all of the boos from the away fans got to him as they no longer hated him for his talent, but for his behavior.

In 2001 Rocker was traded. He stuck around for two more years, pitching ineffectively.

Before that interview in December of 1999, Rocker was one of the best closers in baseball and had a huge career ahead of him. After? Well, not so much.

Not only that, but the woman he was complaining about wasn’t Japanese; she was white.

Edit: Some people have been asking about the white woman at the end, thinking I’d made that up. The way the reporter presented that part didn’t fit the way I was writing this. Here is the text of the SI article:

”Look at this idiot! I guarantee you she’s a Japanese woman.” A beige Toyota is jerking from lane to lane. The woman at the wheel is white.

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