Part of the pre-requisite of being a professional athlete or coach is to be extremely self-confident. Some athletes choose to be humble with confidence, while others flaunt it with flare and trash talk. And every now and then, one of these talented people makes a bold guarantee. Whether it’s winning the Super Bowl as the biggest underdog in history or promising to knock out the champion in the first round, sports guarantees by athletes and coaches are as entertaining as they are ludicrous. These are the boldest of the bold; the guarantees that never should have been made. But how many actually came true?
Joe Namath Made The Original Guarantee
“Broadway” Joe Namath was a different kind of athlete when he led the New York Jets to Super Bowl Three. He was flamboyant, cocky, and very annoyed with being the biggest underdog in Super Bowl history at the time. Before the game, Namath told a reporter, “we’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee you.”
The guarantee was laughed off at the time as "Joe being Joe." No one took him seriously except himself and his teammates. Going toe-to-toe with Johnny Unitas and the Colts, Namath pulled the upset, leading the Jets to a 16-7 victory.
Ali Said He Would Knock Out Liston In The First Round
After guaranteeing he would knock out Sonny Liston in the first round of their 1965 match, Muhammad Ali said, "I’m the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round." Ali claimed he saw the knockout happen in a dream.
On May 25, 1969, Ali turned his dreams into reality when he countered a Liston punch with a right jab, knocking the champion to the ground. Liston never got back up, and Ali, of course, became the new champion.
Rex Ryan’s Yearly Guarantees Became A Circus
Rex Ryan was never afraid to speak his mind as the head coach of the New York Jets. For five glorious years he filled his press conferences with incredible soundbites. In 2009, he made his first Super Bowl guarantee. Then he did it again the next year; and again the year after.
To his credit, Ryan did coach the Jets to three straight AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez as his quarterback. That’s no small feat. But that’s as far as his guarantees would ever make it. If only the Patriots weren’t so good.
Plaxico Burress Takes Down The Beast
The Patriots were 18-0 and looking to make a clean sweep of the league in 2009 when they faced the Giants in the Super Bowl. New York wide receiver Plaxico Burress had zero intentions of making it easy though, guaranteeing the Giants would win 23-17.
His remarks angered Tom Brady, who said Burress needed to give him more credit. This in turn, angered the Giants, who shocked the world by taking down the undefeated super team 17-14. For the Patriots, this will forever be the game that away.
Jason Terry Probably Regrets His Title Tattoo
When Jason Terry guaranteed a Boston Celtics NBA Finals title, he didn’t say it in a press conference or to a reporter. Instead, he got a tattoo of the Celtics mascot on his arm holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Obviously he then took a picture and shared his new ink with the world.
Oh, how he probably regrets that decision. The Celtics went 41-40 that year, barely squeaking into the playoffs. They faced the New York Knicks in the first round and lost the series in six games.
Jim Harbaugh Guaranteed Michigan A Spot In The Rose Bowl
These days, we know Jim Harbaugh best as the coach of the Michigan Wolverines. There was a time, decades ago, when he was the school’s starting quarterback, too. In 1986, a younger and cockier version of Harbaugh proudly declared, “we’re gonna play in the Rose Bowl this year, I guarantee it.”
Harbaugh then added, “we’ll beat Ohio State and we’ll be in Pasadena on January 1st.” The good news is Harbaugh was able to talk the talk and walk the walk. Michigan did beat Ohio State and end up playing for a National Title in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, in the end, they lost the big game to Arizona State.
Matt Hasselbeck Was Half Right
Matt Hasselbeck made one heck of a guarantee after the coin toss to start a playoff game between his Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. After winning the toss, Hasselback said, “we’re gonna take the ball and we’re gonna score.”
Can you guess where this is going? A few plays into their first drive, Hasselbeck threw a pass that did indeed reach the endzone. The problem was he threw the ball to a Packer, who intercepted it and ran it back for a Green Bay touchdown. Oops.
LeBron James Is Still Working On His Guarantee
LeBron James is playing the long game with his guarantee. Trying to prove he’s the greatest to ever play the game, James has promised to win eight NBA titles. To date, he has won three, while appearing in seven. At 33-years-old, his time is running to win five more.
It doesn’t help that he’s now a Laker, a team that appears more to be in a rebuild than a position to compete with the best. Of course, Cleveland wasn’t very good when he returned from his four-year stay in Miami, so maybe he can make magic happen again!
Carlos Zambrano Guaranteed Too Much
The Chicago Cubs were flying high in 2007. The team was considered a serious World Series contender and had a rotation anchored by Cy Young Award candidate Carlos Zambrano. Hoping to spark the team into breaking their curse, the big man said, "I believe this year I will win the Cy Young and I will enjoy that. And besides that, we will win the World Series."
Neither of Zambrano’s bold predictions came to fruition. Instead, Jake Peavy won the pitching award and the Red Sox, who broke their own curse in 2004, beat the Colorado Rockies to win the World Series.
Plaxico Burress Wasn’t The Only Player To Guarantee A Patriot Defeat
Long before the Giants took down the Patriots in the Super Bowl, another player on another team guaranteed a Patriot takedown. You’ve probably never heard the name Anthony Smith unless you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Getting ready for a week 13 match up against New England during their perfect season, the defensive back guaranteed victory.
After losing the game 34-13, Smith was proven incorrect. We’re sure his friends wouldn’t make fun of him for it today… Okay, they 100 percent do. That’s what friends are for!
Rasheed Wallace Doubled Up On Guarantees In 2006
Rasheed Wallace left no stone unturned when it came to guarantees during his 2006 season with the Detroit Pistons. Taking on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, Wallace guaranteed a series win. The Piston won, and the man thought he was on fire and doubled down, guaranteeing a series victory against the Cavaliers next.
With the Pistons on the brink of elimination, Wallace said, “Tomorrow night is the last game here in this building for this year. Y’all can quote me, put it back page, front page, whatever.” He was quoted, but his words failed to ring true and the Pistons lost.
Mark Messier Helped Out His Guarantee
The New York Rangers were desperate to return to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. On the brink of winning the Eastern Conference Finals, team captain Mark Messier said the Rangers would win the game and the series. To make sure he wasn’t wrong, Messier scored a hat trick that day too.
The Rangers did advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they played Vancouver Canucks. The series went a whole seven games and the Rangers emerged with the title. For many, Messier’s guarantee reminded them of Joe Namath’s three decades before.
Calvin Borel Knew He Would Win The Triple Crown
Calvin Borel was regarded as the best jockey in the world in 2009 after wining the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. All he needed to win was the Belmont Stakes to take the Triple Crown and claim true glory. Borel was so confident he’d win, that he even predicted it.
For obvious reasons, this didn’t sit well with other jockeys, and the target on Borel’s back became manhole sized. Everyone turned their TVs on for the Belmont Stakes only to be disappointed. Borel lost the race, and maybe a little pride too.
Jeremy Stevens Tried To Deny His Seattle-Sized Guarantee
The Seattle Seahawks reached the Super Bowl for the first time in 2006. Their opponent was the Steelers, who were trying to send Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis off into the sunset with a ring. Seahawks’ tight end Jeremy Stevens, however, promised it wouldn’t happen.
When asked about the game, Stevens said, “it’s a heartwarming story and all that, but it will be a sad day when he leaves without that trophy.” The Steelers won 21-10, and Stevens tried to back track after, saying he never guaranteed anything. Too bad for him history is written by those who win.
Paris Courtney Bet Her Scholarship On Glory
Before the 2009 NCAA basketball tournament started, Oklahoma star Courtney Paris proclaimed, "if we don’t [win the tournament], which is not even an option; just to put something on the line, and it might take me the rest of my life, I will pay back my scholarship."
Oklahoma was knocked out in the Sweet 16, and no one knows if Paris paid her new debt. We assume the school didn’t hold her to her word, though. A few months later she was drafted into the WNBA, where she became a journeywoman player.
Tony Romo Guaranteed A Super Bowl For The Cowboys
Tony Romo put his already shaky reputation on the line in 2015 when he guaranteed Dallas fans the Cowboys would win the Super Bowl. Romo, who left the NFL known more for crumbling under pressure then anything else, never should have opened his mouth.
Romo was seriously injured two weeks into the season and the Cowboys finished 2015 with a 4-12 record and never even sniffed the playoffs. Instead, the Denver Broncos faced off against the Carolina Panthers, and sent Peyton Manning into retirement with his second championship ring.
Ryan Kalil Went All In On The 2012 Carolina Panthers
Five years into his NFL career, Ryan Kalil began drinking the Carolina kool-aid. Entering Cam Newton’s second season under center, Kalil took out a full page ad in the local paper guaranteeing fans a Super Bowl. He said he knew it would happen because he saw it happen. Right…
Hopes were high in Panther country entering week one. That’s where hope came crashing down, too. The team won seven games and failed to qualify for the playoffs. We have no idea if Kalil took out another ad apologizing for his arrogance.
Asafa Powell Can Run As Fast As He Wants To
Asafa Powell made a bold claim in 2006 just before running at the British Grand Prix. He said he would win the race and beat Justin Gatlin’s world record time. Powell did both, and followed his performance proclaiming, "as I said, I can run as fast as I want, when I want."
After that race, a rivalry between the two star runners was formed. Of course, Gatlin ended up facing a cheating scandal that made this rivalry less intense than most. Still, it was fun in its heyday.
Bruce Arians Made A Classic Arizona Hot Take
Bruce Arians deserved to be a head coach in the NFL much sooner than it happened. Luckily for us, when he finally got the chance, he more than made up for lost time. In 2015, Arians guaranteed the Cardinals would play in the Super Bowl.
Unlike Tony Romo before him, Arians lead his team to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship game. Unfortunately, Carolina dismantled the Panthers 49-15 in the second most important game of the season. It was the closest Arians ever got his team to the big game at the end.
Luis Felipe Scolari’s Guarantee Cost Him His Job
Luis Felipe Scolari should have never guaranteed Brazil would win the 2014 World Cup. Specifically, he said, “if I did not think we could win the World Cup, I wouldn’t lead the team. I’d be sitting at home. If I can here, it’s because I’m 100 percent convinced that I will succeed.”
Brazil placed fourth in the tournament, getting knocked out by Germany in a 7-1 blowout. Brazil blamed the loss on the injuries star players Neymar and Silva suffered, but Scolari took the loss personally. After the World Cup ended, he resigned from his position amidst a backlash from his players.