Alex Cora is back as manager for the Red Sox, getting a second chance with the club after he and the organization agreed to part ways once his role in the Houston Astros 2017 sign-stealing scheme was revealed last January.
Cora’s shot at redemption offers a reminder that the sports world can be a forgiving place, as many have received a second chance after some kind of personal downfall, particularly if organizations believe they can help them win.
Then there are those in limbo, such as players from baseball’s steroid era whose accomplishments have been tainted, either by allegations of doping or by positive test results confirming the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Others, such as cyclist Lance Armstrong (doping) and baseball player/manager Pete Rose (gambling), have committed acts that are less forgivable, and they may never get second chances. In both cases, a lack of contrition was a big factor, as each denied for years any wrongdoing.
Armstrong went a step further, attacking his accusers and suing for defamation before he finally admitted that he had been using illegal substances. It took nearly 15 years for Rose to admit that he had in fact bet on baseball, long after he received a lifetime ban from the game.
Here’s a look at some who have received second chances, some who haven’t, and others who are caught in the middle.
Manager A.J. Hinch
The transgression: Cora wasn’t the only manager disciplined in the Houston sign-stealing scandal. Hinch was fired as manager by the Astros after Major League Baseball suspended him for a year following an investigation that confirmed Houston cheated using technology en route to winning the 2017 World Series.
The rebound: The Detroit Tigers named Hinch to be their new manager on Oct. 30.
College basketball coach Bruce Pearl
The transgression: Pearl was fired by Tennessee following the 2011 season after he was charged with unethical conduct for lying to NCAA investigators during a recruiting probe. He had given investigators false information when asked about a cookout at his home that was attended by high school juniors the previous summer.
The rebound: Pearl was out of coaching for three years before returning to the SEC and accepting the Auburn job in 2014. He led the Tigers to the Final Four in 2019, and is entering his seventh season with them.
College football coach Bobby Petrino
The transgression: Petrino was fired in 2012 as the head coach of Arkansas. After getting in a motorcycle accident, he lied to university officials when he said he was alone on the bike. The reality was that Petrino, 51 at the time, had a passenger, a 25-year-old female with whom he had an affair. He also hired the former Arkansas volleyball player to work in the athletic department after giving her a $20,000 gift.
The rebound: After not coaching for a year, Petrino returned to the sidelines in 2013 with Western Kentucky, before taking over at Louisville in 2014, where he coached for five years before he was fired following a 2-8 season in 2018.
College basketball coach Bobby Knight
The transgression: Knight was fired in September 2000 from Indiana University for an “unacceptable pattern of behavior” that violated the university’s “zero-tolerance” policy, including verbally abusing a high-ranking female university official and “gross insubordination.”
He had previously been suspended for three games, fined $30,000, and warned of a “zero-tolerance” stance on future behavior after he choked a player at practice in 1997.
The rebound: Knight was hired by Texas Tech in March 2001, and would coach the Red Raiders for seven years before retiring in the middle of the season in February 2008 and handing the coaching duties to his son, Pat.
College football coach George O’Leary
The transgression: O’Leary had landed his dream job, leaving Georgia Tech to become head coach of Notre Dame in December 2001. He held the position for all of five days before resigning after it was discovered that he had several fabrications on his résumé, including attaining a master’s degree at NYU and lettering in football at UNH.
The rebound: Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice threw O’Leary a lifeline, hiring him as a defensive assistant coach for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. After that, O’Leary returned to the college ranks, serving as head coach for 12 seasons at Central Florida from 2004-15.
Golfer Tiger Woods
The transgression: In November 2009, Woods admitted to having multiple affairs with cocktail waitresses, porn actresses, and club promoters, among others. After releasing a statement admitting to the infidelity and apologizing, he announced that he was taking an indefinite leave from golf and checking into a sex addiction clinic. His wife moved out of the house and he lost multiple endorsement deals.
The rebound: Woods eventually returned to the sport, but struggled to regain his form. He remained a popular draw on the PGA Tour, though. In April 2019, he ended an 11-year drought in major championships when he won his fifth Masters and 15th major championship. The final 18 holes, in which he came from behind to win, were watched by 37.2 million viewers in total, up 41 percent from the previous year’s live coverage.
Basketball coach John Calipari
The transgression: Calipari has had not one but two Final Four appearances wiped from the books. The first came after he coached UMass to the 1996 Final Four; it was revealed that his star player, Marcus Camby, had accepted gifts from agents. The second came after the 2008 season, in which Calipari’s Memphis Tigers reached the championship game. The program had to vacate all 38 wins that season for a fraudulent SAT taken by one of its players, and for paying for more than $2,000 worth of travel expenses for Derrick Rose’s brother, Reggie.
The rebound: Calipari never really had to face any consequences, as in both cases he left for another job. He departed UMass to take over the New Jersey Nets, and he left Memphis to coach the Kentucky Wildcats.
New England Patriots
The Patriots were caught videotaping the New York Jets sideline in Week 1 of the 2007 season, recording the defensive coaches’ signals. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, while the team was fined $250,000 and stripped of a first-round pick.
In 2015, an NFL investigation concluded it was “more probable than not” that the Patriots used underinflated footballs against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Championship game, and that Tom Brady was generally aware of it. For that, and for obstructing the NFL’s investigation by, among other things, destroying evidence, Brady was suspended four games, while the organization was fined $1 million and lost two draft picks.
After serving the suspension at the beginning of 2016, Brady returned in Week 5 and would go on to lead the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl title.
Baseball’s steroid users
Steroids have been banned in baseball since 1991, but MLB did not start testing for PEDs until 2003. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa are among those who have been linked to PEDs. Although none was suspended for using illegal substances — Sosa’s eight-game suspension in 2003 was for using a corked bat — they have not come close to getting voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating MLB’s PED policy, but has managed to find acceptance after retiring from the game, landing gigs at ESPN, where he has served as an analyst for “Sunday Night Baseball,” and Fox Sports, working as a studio analyst for postseason coverage.
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.