Interestingly, none of these people are currently part of the D.C. sports Rolodex. Either I’m missing someone obvious or it’s a promising sign of the times.
(Daniel Snyder is not on this list. This is the embarrassment list, not the villain list.)
Nick Young/JaVale McGee/Andray Blatche are the generic criminals who think they can go toe-to-toe with Superman
This tumultuous triumvirate made waves in D.C. before splitting like a disillusioned rock band, establishing solo careers that continued to shred their respective reputations far beyond their hijinks with the Wizards. In that vein, Young, McGee, and Blatche (but mostly the first two) represent the rare D.C. athletes who actually became more of a punchline upon skipping town.
But what an era it was. These goons were the Three Stooges of Verizon Center and made an underachieving squad watchable on a nightly basis for all the wrong reasons. It was maddening witnessing Blatche ruin every inch of potential in his 6’11” frame, yet Wizards fans will have fond memories of Nick Young sending a fast-break layup into orbit and JaVale McGee running around like a chicken with its head and its legs cut off.
This trinity of terrible is relegated to the dregs of Superman lore because they encompass the main quality possessed by every generic jewelry store thief or bank robber that the Man of Steel encounters: namely, they think they own Metropolis even though a literal god could be bearing down on them at any moment. They are too full of themselves and believe they can pull of the heist of the century that even Lex Luthor or Metallo couldn’t swing.
The Young/McGee/Blatche trio walked around like Verizon Center was their own personal playground, as if Gilbert Arenas was a nobody and Caron Butler was a bit player. Michael Jordan, basketball’s Superman himself, could have been in the building and it wouldn’t have made a damn difference. Especially with Nick Young. Who is now known around the world as Swaggy P. Lovely. These three hooligans are worth an entire 3,000-word post all by themselves.
Gilbert Arenas is Deadshot
And it’s definitely not because of his shooting percentage.
Robert Griffin III is Dark Knight symbolism
It’s probably prudent to qualify RGIII as an embarrassment at this point – perhaps not the player himself, but everything he represents to Redskins football. Like, if you were to take everything bad about the Redskins and create a Burgundy And Gold Cocktail, the RGIII saga would be the orange slice with juices slowly seeping into every other ingredient of the world’s shittiest mixed drink. This team’s sordid history cannot be properly written without him.
Alas, there was a time when RGIII was the toast of the town and looked ready to set the NFL ablaze. And in writing this post, I’m drawn to the overarching themes of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, a movie whose dramatic thrust can be summed up by the famous line, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
It’s such a phenomenal line, and one that I think about constantly. It applies almost too perfectly to RGIII, who indeed lived long enough to see himself become the villain. Whether or not it was his fault (everyone shares the blame), he went from the highest of highs to the absolute lowest of lows in a span of three years and rewrote the narrative on what it means to flame out in D.C. If he resurrects his magic in Cleveland then I suppose he could make a Dark Knight Rises-like return to heroic relevance, though he’ll never be adored in D.C. again.
Fred Davis is shitty Matthew Murdock
Daredevil himself isn’t an embarrassment, but he is a lawyer, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to remind everyone about Fred Davis’ short but memorable tenure as a courtroom attorney.
Davis, of course, was the then-promising tight end out of USC the Redskins had hoped would blossom into a star. It’s a good thing he didn’t because Washington probably wouldn’t have Jordan Reed at the moment, but I digress. In 2012, Davis decided to represent himself in a civil lawsuit with a woman he knew from the nightclub scene (the woman, Makini R. Chaka, represented herself as well). It’s like if a pet store employee was tasked with overseeing a moon mission, only much, much funnier (per The Washingtonian):
Chaka: Well, let’s look at your document. It says December the 3rd, 2012. What’s today’s date, Mr. Davis?
Davis: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Chaka: What’s the date of today?
Davis: I don’t know what today is. All I know is I had court today.
Chaka: You don’t know what today’s date is? His document is not even valid.
Davis: What are you talking about? . . .
Well, that seems productive. Matt Murdock may be blind but at least he knows his way around a courtroom. Fred Davis might have actually been blind. All of this drivel eventually culminates in what can only be described as the greatest courtroom interaction in the venerable history of American law:
Davis: But as it shows, you also have your hands on his genitals. I mean, why would you take a picture like that?
Chaka: I do not. Let’s look closely at the exhibit right here, Judge. Where is my hand placed in this exhibit?
Judge: I don’t answer questions, Ms. Chaka.
Chaka: Oh, sorry.
Judge: The witness does.
Chaka: Can you tell me where my hand is actually at in this photo?
Davis: It looks like it’s in the genitals to me. I mean your hands are on his genitals. Your hand is on his—
Thanks for the memories, buddy.
Jim Zorn is Squirrel Girl
Zorn is impossible to hate yet altogether abhorrent, and his features do seem squirrely if you take a closer look. While not entirely his fault, his tenure personified everything wrong with the Redskins. When Hunter Smith was inexplicably called upon to throw a Hail Mary in a 24-0 game on national television, it showed that Zorn wasn’t out of ideas – he just didn’t have any good ones. That’s essentially what you get with Squirrel Girl, a wholly inconsequential “hero” who is probably the product of a drunken 2 a.m. meeting at Squirrely’s Bar between writers trying in vain to wedge a new character into Marvel’s overstuffed cast.
Try as she might, Squirrel Girl will never approach the strength or relevance of Marvel’s blue bloods. One, she’s female, which means Marvel has no place to put her, and two, she talks to goddamn squirrels. Aquaman can at least call a shark or a big ol’ man o’ war; Squirrel Girl is restricted to nature’s acorn hoarders. The only dangerous squirrel is a rabid squirrel, and I feel like Squirrel Girl is too innocent to hurl New York’s boroughs into a swirled world of feral squirrels.
In a similar fashion, no one will ever mistake Jim Zorn for Vince Lombardi. Not now, not ever; heck, I’d have a hard time comparing Zorn to any remotely successful coach in NFL history. But again, you can’t hate the guy. He’s just too innocent.
Side note: I’ve conducted further Squirrel Girl research and concluded that the character is brilliant and apparently…unstoppable? Per Wikipedia: “an ongoing joke depicts Squirrel Girl repeatedly attaining victory over various villains, some of whom are considered to be more powerful than she is.” Those villains include Dr. Doom, Thanos, and Galactus, to name a few. Zorn never defeated any titans, but he did come off as something of an ongoing joke.