Other than the painfully awkward driver’s license photo, where they make you stand on the white line and pose for what looks like some sort of repurposed Polaroid camera that adds an extra chin to every single person without discrimination, a mug shot is just about the most humiliating photo you'll ever take. It's that vulnerable, post-arrest snapshot documenting your recent criminal misdeeds after you’ve just broken the law and been tossed into the slammer.
They’re unbecoming, to say the least, especially if the person getting arrested is a past or present pro football star who went from the highest of celebrity highs to the lowest of felonious lows with an embarrassing photo he knows is going to spread on the internet like wildfire about six seconds after he’s been booked and fingerprinted into the system.
And it’s an all-too-common occurrence. NFL players have a bad habit of getting themselves into trouble with a long rap sheet of arrests for everything from theft and drug abuse to drunk driving and even murder. It’s not a good look on the players, and it’s not a good look on the league.
Since 2010, there have been no fewer than 340 arrests of NFL players – and those are just the active ones. That’s a whole lot of opportunity for some pretty crazy mugshots – and trust me, there are more than handful that are crazier than your average village drunk’s.
So here are 15 NFL mug shots that you’ve just GOT to see to believe.
15 Adam “Pacman” Jones
This certainly wasn’t Bengals return specialist Adam Jones’ first mug shot, and obviously it wasn’t his last, either. But this one definitely WAS his weirdest. This particular shot was the result of Jones’ arrest following a violent scene at a Cincinnati bar in 2011. After police were summoned in the early morning hours of July 9, Jones was hauled downtown on charges of disorderly conduct while intoxicated and resisting arrest.
The neck brace was the result of a serious injury that sidelined him for much of the 2010 season. Jones later alluded to the fact that he was still suffering from the effects of a herniated disc and would be hard-pressed to cause a scene and resist the police, considering his condition. He ended up reaching a plea deal in the case and was ordered to perform 75 hours of community service.
14 Julian Edelman
Judging by the look of New England Patriot Julian Edleman’s mugshot from his arrest in the wee hours of the morning after Halloween 2011, his festive night went from really good to really bad really fast. I mean, he’s definitely stoned here, right? His horribly bloodshot eyes are a dead giveaway.
Then again, maybe that’s just the look of exhaustion, a bad hangover and a mountain of regret all rolled into one facial expression. Either way, it’s not a good look for a talented young receiver then in only his second year in the league.
He was charged with indecent assault and battery after he allegedly reached up a fellow Halloween reveler’s costume in a Boston bar, but the charges were eventually dropped. Luckily for us, the mug shot lives on in perpetuity, even if the charges don’t.
13 Hines Ward
We generally think good things about longtime Pittsburgh Steeler and Super Bowl XL MVP-winner Hines Ward. He’s a smart, upstanding guy who has established himself as a friendly TV personality and an advocate for positive social causes since he retired from the league.
So when Ward was arrested in the Atlanta area in July of 2011 for driving under the influence, his mug shot tells you all you need to know about exactly how bad he felt. You can just feel the shame emanating through the camera lens and out of your computer screen, because he knew deep down that he done messed up and disappointed a lot of different people.
His DUI charge was eventually dropped, and he took a plea bargain for a lesser charge of reckless driving instead.
12 Derrick Shelby
Well, Derrick, when you start touching women in private areas, get kicked out of the club, refuse to leave, resist arrest and then put your dukes up to fight the cops, you run the risk of looking like this when they arrest you and toss you in the drunk tank.
The then 25-year-old defensive end who was playing for the Miami Dolphins at the time of this 2014 arrest, probably learned the hard way – and through this unfortunate booking photo – that it’s just easier to do as the cops say and battle it out in court later if need be. He reportedly got tased three separate times as he struggled with police, and the Dolphins later suspended him for a while.
Now with the Falcons on a four-year, $21 million contract, Shelby seems to have been on his best behavior ever since.
11 Michael Vick
Get a load of this shot. Honestly, this is actually a pretty good portrait of Michael Vick, other than the fact that he’s wearing a prison jumpsuit. It almost looks like the high school yearbook photo your mother decides she wants to blow up and feature at your graduation open house.
He’s got the slight head-tilt, a subdued smile, and you can tell he made a very recent trip to the barber to get lined up for the occasion. It’s almost precious if you can forget about the fact that he was behind bars for bankrolling a dogfighting ring.
This particular mug shot wasn’t from his initial arrest, though. This was one from 2008, when he was being transferred to a different jail before an appearance in a Virginia district court.
10 Donovan McNabb
That knowing look of despair when you realize you’ve just made a major life mistake as the camera flashes during your booking process is becoming pretty common on this list. The latest arrestee? Legendary Eagles, Redskins and Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb, who got booked in Maricopa County, Arizona for driving under the influence back in December of 2013.
He’s so ashamed of himself that he can’t even bring himself to peer into the camera. Plus, his continuously receding hairline and hint of gray in his beard makes him look closer to 50 than his actual age of 37 in this shot. Unfortunately, McNabb would be arrested again for the same thing a year and a half later, leading to an 18-day prison sentence and over two months on house arrest.
9 Nick Fairley
Maybe he didn’t realize he had just committed serious crime and was being booked into the system, but Nick Fairley, a defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions at the time, looks like all is right in his world in this 2012 mug shot from the Mobile County, Alabama Metro Jail.
He was arrested on I-10 for driving under the influence and running from the cops in the early-morning hours of May 27. He reportedly passed a state trooper going over 100 mph in his Cadillac near Mobile and initially refused to pull over.
He was also cited for reckless driving, no proof of insurance and for having multiple red Solo cups containing alcohol inside his vehicle. He was later acquitted of his DUI charge but did have to pay $500 for the reckless driving violation.
8 Warren Sapp
If ever there was an “I’m a seven-time Pro Bowl and Hall-of-Fame lineman and just got charged with suspicion of assault and soliciting a dirty hooker and will probably lose my cushy analyst job with the NFL Network” face, then you’re looking at it, because that’s exactly what happened to Warren Sapp in February 2015 when he was in Phoenix covering the Super Bowl.
According to the allegations, Sapp got into a physical altercation with a couple of prostitutes over money in his hotel room, and the police were eventually called.
After initially pleading guilty to one count each of soliciting and assault, Sapp reached plea agreements to dismiss the charges if he met certain criteria, which he did. Still, you can’t erase the mug shot.
7 Ryan Leaf
After just 21 atrocious starts at QB over three NFL seasons despite going second overall after Peyton Manning in the 1998 draft, Montana native Ryan Leaf hit absolute rock bottom in 2012, when he was arrested multiple times in a matter of days on burglary and drug-related charges.
Though he had been indicted on similar charges in Texas a few years earlier, the snapshots above are from his eventual arrests in Montana, and with one look at him here, you can clearly see he had let himself go and was hopped up on something he shouldn’t have been. He ended up spending a few years in prison for his crimes before finally getting clean.
He recently celebrated five years sober with a thankful tweet to his 16,000 followers, so apparently he’s on track to never have to take another degrading mug shot like this again.
6 Jah Reid
A quick glance at this photo and it almost appears Jah Reid got his hairstyle idea from either Kenny G or Rachel Dolezal, but I somehow doubt he ever planned to appear in a mug shot while rocking a perm-like ‘do.
The offensive tackle got a shiny new pair of matching police bracelets in 2014 while he was playing for the Baltimore Ravens after he got into a quite a scuffle at a Key West strip club, of all places. First, he got into it with another patron, and then he reacted violently when a couple of the joint’s security guards tried to step in and break it up.
Two misdemeanor counts of battery led to this mug shot from Florida’s Monroe County jail, and I’m guessing somebody finally told him that he couldn’t pull off the beard-and-curly-locks look anymore.
5 Lawrence Taylor
Hall of Fame linebacker and long-time New York Giant Lawrence Taylor was no stranger to the hard-partying lifestyle. He’s made more than his fair share of poor life choices along the way, so he’s got the whole criminal booking and mug shot routine down pat.
Considering all those trips to the clink, Taylor could have a photo album full of bad memories and post-arrest mug shots, but this particular one is probably the worst.
It requires some real doing to make a former NFL linebacker cry, so he had to have been feeling the burden of guilt from all his past crime weighing down on him in the shot above. Pretty incredible. In this case, he was arrested for a 2009 hit-and-run incident, but he would face much more serious allegations less than one year later after he allegedly engaged in sex acts with a teenager and then paid her for it.
4 Rae Carruth
I don’t know if Rae Carruth is secretly one of those Coneheads from that awful movie in the early ‘90s, but this photo seems like pretty undeniable evidence. Who knows, maybe it’s just the camera angle or the way he was holding his head, but this is certainly not an unremarkable mug shot from the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Sheriff’s office.
It stems from his 1999 arrest for the brutal murder of his pregnant then-girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who was carrying his child and refused to get an abortion. He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years behind bars, and he’ll be eligible for parole next year.
The former Carolina Panthers wideout Carruth was never very good-looking, and with a forehead that you could damn-near land a 747 on, this mug shot isn’t exactly helping his cause.
3 Marshawn Lynch
In case you were wondering, yes, Marshawn Lynch actually can activate “Beast Mode” anywhere and anytime – including the booking room of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Jail in Oakland, California after he was arrested for driving under the influence.
You can tell by that seething, soul-piercing expression that all he wants to do is grab the rock and bulldoze you into the next jail cell just for asking him to look into the camera. It’s either that or they just ruined his day by informing him they don’t offer on-call Skittles deliveries to his jail cell.
Unfortunately for Lynch, he was there AND he was about to get fined, the amount of which totalled $1,033 and two years of probation after he and his lawyer settled on a reckless driving charge.
2 Barret Robbins
Whoa. Is that really the former star center for the Oakland Raiders, Barret Robbins? Dude looks like he’s pushing 60 rather than only being in his early-40s. Granted, the guy has had his fair share of legal troubles after an unfortunate end to his playing career due in large part to his manic/depressive bipolar disorder, but it looks like the 10-year NFL veteran has really let himself go since his playing days ended back in 2003. He’s almost hard to look at.
Sadly, this most recent arrest, for which he was jailed on two counts of felony battery last August stemming from an incident at a Boca Raton, Florida bar, isn’t his first. He’s got a bad history of violent crime fueled by his mental disorder, and he’s been in and out of rehab facilities several times over the past decade.
1 Desmond Bryant
You had to have seen this utterly ridiculous mug shot of former Cleveland Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant circulating the interwebs after he got arrested back in 2013 for misdemeanor criminal mischief. I honestly don’t even know what to say about this jarring spectacle, so just take a few extra seconds to really appreciate the hilarity.
Of course, committing a crime is no laughing matter, but he sort of brought this on himself. The hulking Bryant – who went to school at Harvard, by the way – allegedly showed up half-naked and drunk at his neighbor’s house early on the morning of Feb. 24, 2013 and caused enough commotion that the cops had to be called.
Nothing too terrible ever came of Bryant’s arrest, other than the fact that his historically bad mug shot went ultra-viral for all the world to mock. That’s all.
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