On August 20, 1920 the National Football league (NFL) was born. Over its 97-year lifetime the NFL has had more than its share of both awesome and horrible teammates. There are 32 teams in the NFL with each team holding a 53 man roster, that’s a total of 1,696 players a year in those locker rooms. Whether it’s the emotions of the season, a strong competitive drive or guys just being natural jerks, the “bad apples” seem to shine the brightest when it comes to the media.
In a perfect world, everybody should get along, especially players on the same team, who share one common goal…to win. But we don’t live in a perfect world. There has been a bevy of incidents involving teammate on teammate drama, ranging from verbal altercations to physical combat. It doesn’t matter if it’s in practice, in game or off the field.. when the boiling point hits, it hits. In some instances tensions rise to the point players get in each others’ faces, before later calming down and moving on from any further grudges. But in some situations, things have gotten so bad that there is no chance of forgiveness. Perhaps it’s the bright lights that make certain players too cocky or selfish, nevertheless, it has caused plenty of bad relationships throughout the league both on and off the field.
This list highlights 15 of the NFL’s most hated players by their own teammates. Some of which will go down in history as Hall of Famers while others will solely be remembered as hot heads.
15. Percy Harvin
During his 2-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks, wide receiver Percy Harvin was a problem, and that’s putting it lightly. Not only did he only play in six regular season games in his only two seasons with the team, he also had run-ins with multiple teammates, most notably fellow wide receivers, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Harvin came to blows with both Tate and Baldwin in practice on two separate occasions.
His fight with Tate came just one week before the Super Bowl, following a rise of tensions between the two. Although the team had great success while Harvin was on the roster, winning Super Bowl XLVIII over the Denver Broncos, he is still known as a problem that Seattle is grateful to have gotten rid of. He was traded to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick in 2014.
14. Ndamukong Suh
Ndamukong Suh has built himself a reputation as one of the “dirtiest” players in the NFL, but his antics don’t stop with the opposite team. During his time with the Detroit Lions, Suh became a “major headache” according to multiple teammates, including Heath Evans. The consistent message from Suh was that he was uncontrollable, even by his head coach Jim Shwartz.
Whether it was disrespect towards his coaches, showing up late to practice and team meetings or the constant on field “dirty play” issues, the locker room swayed away from Suh. Suh had a swagger about him that insinuated he was above everybody else, a one-man team mentality. A perfect example of this is when Suh left Detroit to join the Miami Dolphins, he put down every single defensive teammate in one team meeting, stating “I run this defense, I’m going to be here for the next five years, there is no guarantee any of you will be. Only a handful of guys here are good enough to play with me right now”. It’s safe to say that his statements didn’t gain him many friends.
13. Brandon Marshall
When it comes to players who speak their minds with no regard to people’s feelings, Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall belongs near the top of that list. During halftime of a 27-0 shutout the division rival New England Patriots were handing out, a fired up Marshall went on a rant that was meant to bring life to the team, that would instead create tensions with his teammates. Marshall had multiple problems with teammates, including Darrelle Revis and Martellus Bennett.
During practice, Marshall swung on Revis when the two highly competitive players were guarding one another, he later got into a heated argument with Bennett. Marshall also had a less than stellar relationship with his quarterback Jay Cutler, ultimately going 5-11 during the 2014 season.
12. Terrell Owens
During his time with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005, it didn’t take long for Terrell Owens to make himself “the bad guy”. Throughout Owens’ career, he’s always been a very outspoken and emotional player, his play on the field spoke for itself as well. In Owens’ first year with the Eagles, he helped propel them to Super Bowl XXXIX, but it was a bit of a rocky road getting to that point.
Owens had multiple altercations with several teammates, most notably Hugh Douglas and Donovan McNabb. While rehabilitating from an injured ankle in the team’s room, Douglas walked in and began to scold Owens. The two jawed back and forth before Owens threw blows with him. After teammates broke the two apart and things settled down, Owens entered the locker room and issued a fight challenge to any teammate that was gonna continue to talk behind his back.
Most players felt his challenge was aimed towards McNabb who he had issues with all season. The room stood quiet as Owens said “that’s what I thought” and exited the room. Owens has been waiting for his acceptance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, year by year, perhaps this has something to do with to his lack of sportsmanship.
11. DeSean Jackson
During his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, DeSean Jackson gained a reputation as a “bad teammate” and “crybaby”. Jackson has always had a lot to offer on the field, his skill level is unmatched, especially when it comes to speed but his bad attitude has distanced him from his teammates.
A number of sources around the organization including former teammates made it known that Jackson was not liked by his locker room due to his “temper tantrums” and ongoing disrespect for head coach Chip Kelly. Things got to the point where former teammate Jeremy Maclin told the front office that either Jackson goes or he does, describing Jackson as a “me guy” with an attitude problem. Jackson would ultimately sign a three-year deal with division rival Washington Redskins in 2014.
10. Bill Romanowski
Bill Romanowski played in the NFL from 1988 to 2003 with four different teams, 49ers, Eagles, Broncos, and the Raiders. There wasn’t a single game for either of those teams where he didn’t bring a high level of intensity. Romanowski built himself a reputation of being one of the NFL’s all-time “dirty” players, as matter of fact his former Denver Broncos teammate Shannon Sharpe was asked for nominations on the NFL’s all-time dirty list in which Sharpe replied “Romo (Romanowski) #1, 2, 3 & 4”.
Aside from the on-field violence, Romanowski was involved in locker room issues as well, perhaps the biggest being a tragic event that happened during a 2003 practice with the Oakland Raiders. Former teammate Marcus Williams was assigned to block Romanowski, a task that quickly turned into a nightmare. As Williams was blocking Romanowski downfield, the intense linebacker felt that he was being held, resulting in an enraged Romanowski ripping Williams’ helmet off and punching him in the face.
The right handed blow not only shattered Williams’ eye socket and left him unconscious, but ultimately ended his NFL career. Williams pursued 3.6 million in a lawsuit against Romanowski and settled with 300,000 in lost wages, plus 40,000 in medical expenses, a verdict Williams was satisfied with.
9. Jonathan Martin
While most players develop a negative relationship with their own teammates by being selfish, cocky, hot headed or all of the above, former NFL Offensive Tackle Jonathan Martin dealt with a different type of “hate”. In 2014, Martin was the victim of a bullying scandal that involved Richie Incognito, which resulted in Incognitos’ suspension due to conduct detrimental to the team and a league wide investigation.
The league discovered Incognito wasn’t the only teammate to bully Martin, John Jerry and Mike Pouncy also participated in the bullying scandal. Jerry tried to repair his reputation when the dust settled, while Pouncy claims he has no regrets. The following season, Martin left Miami to join the San Francisco 49ers, he is now retired after a short four-year NFL career.
8. Geno Smith
Coming out of West Virginia University, quarterback Geno Smith had high projections from multiple NFL teams, ultimately getting drafted by the New York Jets in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft. Smith was named starting quarterback for the Jets and his production on field, or lack thereof, quickly translated to the locker room.
It’s not uncommon for tensions to rise during a frustrating losing season, but things spiraled out of control when teammate, IK Enemkpali, approached Smith in the locker room and “sucker punched” him, resulting in Smith missing 10 weeks with a broken jaw, while Enemkpali was released from the team. Several teammates rallied around Enemkpali stating “He (Smith) deserved it”. Both Enemkpali and Smith are currently unsigned free agents heading into the 2017-2018 season.
7. Greg Hardy
Greg Hardy is a very talented defensive end, unfortunately, his temper and bad decisions have not only haunted him, but the teams that have signed him. During the 2015-2016 season, Hardy made plenty of media headlines for his antics both on and off the field, becoming a constant problem for the Dallas Cowboys. Hardy has been involved in plenty of sideline “shouting matches” with teammates but one that stands out is his altercation with former teammate wide Dez Bryant, who’s known for having no filter when it comes to speaking his mind.
During a game against the Cowboys’ division rival, New York Giants, Hardy was caught on the sideline shouting at multiple teammates, when Bryant stepped in to try and settle the situation, Hardy and Bryant nearly brawled as the injured Dallas receiver was not backing down. In his postgame interview, Hardy simply replied “no comment” to every question asked. His “bad boy” act has him in free agency going into the 2017-2018 season.
6. Ryan Leaf
Ryan Leaf is considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history. His struggles on the field could be a big part of the reason he had a serious attitude problem, getting him into clashes with teammates, coaches and even media members. There seemed to be no controlling Leaf. The world would come to learn that Leaf had much more serious issues than clashes with his own team.
After his 2001 retirement, Leaf battled an addiction to painkillers, and was convicted to a seven-year prison sentence. Things got to the point where Leaf attempted suicide. He bounced back from all these years of negativity and is now the program ambassador for Transcend Recovery Community, a sober-living environment with nine homes in Los Angeles, New York and the Houston areas. Leaf is now a sober 40-year old man expecting his first child with his fiancé, Anna.
5. Riley Cooper
Former Philadelphia Eagles Wide receiver Riley Cooper once had a promising NFL career, until he put himself in a very bad situation. In 2013 Riley attended a Kenny Chesney concert and may have had one too many alchoholic beverages, a video surfaced of Riley being recorded saying “I will fight every n-word in here” which had no baring but to divide a racially cultured locker room.
This was a horrible time in Rileys career for him to target himself as a racist, not only did he lose the respect of his teammates and coaches, he had just moved up to the Eagles #2 receiver slot replacing injured teammate Jeremy Maclin. After public apologies on twitter some teammates such as running Back Lesean McCoy stated “I forgive him but I feel like I lost a friend, I can’t respect a guy like that”. The Eagles released Riley February 8, 2016 cutting ties with one of the franchises most controversial figures.
4. Keyshawn Johnson
Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Keyshawn Johnson was known as one of the NFLs biggest prima donnas. Whether you were on his sideline or the opposite teams he held no words back and said exactly what he felt at all times. His selfish personality earned him the nickname “Me-Shawn”, and that nickname came from his own teammates.
During his tenure with the New York Jets he had run ins with teammates on the regular, whether it was for a missed assignment or he felt they needed to give more effort, but one fued stood out the most. In his 1997 book titled “Just give me the damn ball” Johnson refered to fellow Wide Receiver Wayne Chrebet as “The team mascot” which the media portrayed as disrespect.
Chrebet described Johnson as “Self centered and selfish, but a talented s.o.b.”. Johnson played for four teams in his ten year NFL career (Jets, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Panthers) and never shook the name “Me-Shawn” as he stood the same throughout.
3. Martellus Bennett
Martellus Bennett played tight end for the Chicago Bears from 2013-2015, and his lack of skill isn’t the reason he moved out of town. Bennett had multiple altercations with his Bears teammates, most notably his former quarterback Jay Cutler. In a recent E:60 profile, Bennett launched an attack on Cutler as well as other former teammates.
In a chain of events that seem typical when a player has a “bad breakup” with a team, Bennett took his talents to a rival in the Green Bay Packers where he currently plays. In 2014, Bennett was suspended by the team after having slammed his teammate Kyle Fuller to the ground. The incident resulted in plenty of tension between Bennett and his teammates.
2. Johnny Manziel
Former Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, also known as “Johnny Football” had all of the momentum going into his NFL career. Once Manziel joined the league, his biggest problem was he couldn’t leave the party lifestyle behind, ultimately resulting in his downfall. Aside from his poor on-field play, Manziel never had leadership over his locker room, his teammates went as far as to dub him a “100% joke”.
His time in Cleveland didn’t last long as former Browns Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan was fed up with Manziel’s lack of responsibility within the first 7 months of their “relationship”. Johnny was with the Browns for two years before Shanahan decided it was in the best interest of the Browns for Manziel to go elsewhere. In Shanahan’s own words, “anywhere else”. Manziel is currently a free agent heading into the 2017-2018 season with no teams currently showing interest.
1. Charles Haley
Former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Charles Haley was a man of many “off the wall” instances throughout his NFL career. One cringeworthy speculation is that he often tried to masturbate in front of his teammates and coaching staff. Ironically enough, he self proclaimed himself as The Last Naked Warrior” which kind of fits the bill.
In a book by author Jeff Pearlman named “Boys Will Be Boys”, Pearlman details how in random moments Haley would pull out his penis in front of his 49ers peers, which teammates took as some sort of “sick joke” at first. When these weird acts didn’t stop the locker room distanced itself from Haley, ultimately resulting in his trade to the Dallas Cowboys in 1992. Haley returned to San Francisco in the 1998-1999 season to retire a 49er. Haley retired as a 49er with 5 Super Bowl rings to his name.
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