Top 15 Biggest Mercenaries In Sports History

One of the things in sports many fans despise is the never ending pursuit of money from professional athletes.

Mercenary: primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics. Synonyms include but not limited to: money-oriented, grasping, greedy, bribable, materialistic.

This definition should come as no surprise if you have any understanding of 21st century sports. As more sponsors and television money flows into the games we love, the key participants tend to follow the trail – and who can blame them? Careers can be stopped in a split second, so the opportunity to cash in is not lost on these athletes.

Without a doubt soccer is the biggest offender in this category. The world game’s enormous reach lends itself to trading on past glories and taking owners for a ride. Players take the check on offer, stroll around the pitch and wait until their agent finds another sucker ready for the taking. Our magnificent hall of shame proves as much.

Now we would be doing ourselves a disservice if Drake did not get a mention. The proud Canadian rapper has been seen frolicking across any event that has a ball, a puck or a goal. Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of things to come, because if fans begin to catch mercenary fever then there is no hope for us.

Like anything there is two sides to the argument. Free agency in the NFL enables both the franchise and player to open up more options, giving each party a level of independence to utilize the market in a similar fashion to stockbrokers trading goods and services.

But let's be frank – sport is about so much more than that. We remember the greats from our childhood and their achievements embody why we love to watch our team play every week, win, lose or draw. Mercenaries should rightly be named and shamed, and here are the 15 biggest in sports history.

16 Terrell Owens

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

15 Raheem Sterling

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

14 Bernard Tomic

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

13 Liam Ridgewell

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Make no mistake Portland Timbers fans – Liam Ridgewell could literally not give a crap about your team. Don’t take our word for it, the defender was pictured wiping his backside with £20 notes in his West Brom days in the English Premier League prior to his Major League Soccer move. While he was banking £20,000 a week he could afford to do so, but this is classic mercenary behavior.

12 Alex Rodriguez 

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

11 Samir Nasri

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

A mercenary doesn’t necessarily have to register a huge amount of clubs to make the cut. Sometimes they’ll just be people who rub others up the wrong way for being petulant and outlandishly greedy. Speaking of which, meet soccer star Samir Nasri.

10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic


9 Sonny Bill Williams


Ask any New Zealander or Australian about Sonny Bill Williams and we are positive the phrase “mercenary” is not far away. Most athletes who chase the dollar do so through one discipline, but what makes the man they call ‘SBW’ so unique in the world of sport is that he has changed sports at the highest level with seeming ease, making a fortune in the process.

8 Darrelle Revis

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Darrelle Revis sure knows how to play the game. He knows he's a hot commodity whenever he's available and always ensures that he's going to get a max payday. Revis held out of training camp with the Jets back in 2010 and returned after receiving a four year, $32 million extension, guaranteed. Two years later, Revis contemplated not showing up for training camp, looking for another raise. He ultimately did, but after a torn ACL suffered in the 2012 season, was traded to Tampa Bay the following offseason. Revis received the deal he had been seeking, a six-year, $96 million contract, which made him the highest paid DB in NFL history.

Revis wasn't a good fit for Lovie Smith's defense and was released by the team, with many wondering if Revis wanted out. He signed with New England for a year, proving to be the missing piece for a Super Bowl run. Instead of staying with the Patriots, Revis chased the money again, returning to the Jets on a five-year, $70 million deal with $39 million guaranteed.

You can either despise his chase of the almighty dollar or you could admire his tremendous business savvy.


6 Randy Moss


5 Deion Sanders

AP Photo/Dan Currier

The man played two professional sports and while he played for multiple teams in both sports. His mercenary tag comes from his football career, as he was known for joining contending teams, granted that they could pay him well. After five seasons with the Falcons, Deion Sanders signed a one-year deal with the 49ers, essentially being seen as the missing piece for a championship. It worked, as San Francisco went on to get over the Dallas hump and crushed the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.

4 Sven-Goran Eriksson


Need a soccer coach? Sven-Goran Eriksson will be available, but only at the right price. He might not have donned the boots for a long time, but the Swede has made the role of coach/manager a lucrative art form, trading from club to national team without a care in the world.

3 Carmelo Anthony

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

2 Carlos Tevez


Long list of clubs – check. Trading to rivals – check. Courting controversy – check. Angering fans – check. Moving for financial gain – check. Putting himself before his team – check, check and check. Carlos Tevez is purely and simply a mercenary anyway you care to look at it. The diminutive Argentine forward from Buenos Aires ironically enough started from humble begins before launching to fame with Boca Juniors in 2001.

1 Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Money is the reason Floyd Mayweather wakes up in the morning. He loves money so much he coined it as a middle name. Madonna might be a material girl, but Money Mayweather lives in a material world. According to Forbes, the undefeated boxing champion is not only the world’s highest paid athlete, but the biggest earning celebrity in 2015 full stop at $300 million. He’s on a different planet and Floyd knows it.

Why the fighter has such a long list of haters is simple, aside from being a convicted domestic violence offender, Mayweather has carefully orchestrated his entire career to avoid fighting serious competitors to cash in on beating opponents past their prime. Having been denied a travel visa to Australia for his past criminal charges, the press managed to get access to his list of travel requirements. They included a constant supply of gummy bears, a butler, chef, barber and an entire hotel floor booked for his 31-strong entourage. It’s amazing he found time to get in the ring at all!

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Top 15 Biggest Mercenaries In Sports History