One of the most common acronyms used by fans frustrated by the behavior of NFL fans is National Felons League. It's funny, and every time some subhuman moron decides to smack a woman, deal drugs as a side job, or murder someone, we lose track of the number of football players who are amazing people.
Don't laugh, it's true. Many pro athletes, football players especially, have deep ties to their communities and use their status and fortune to found or participate in community initiatives and charities. Obviously some of the NFL's notorious "good guys" such as Peyton Manning and J.J. Watt have charities, but even some of the players with less flawless reputations such as Ndamukong Suh and "Smokin'" Jay Cutler have started their own foundations.
However, if you were to look at what fans say on Twitter and Facebook, you'd never know that any football players were anything more than gun-toting, drug abusing sociopaths with vampire teeth and a taste for human blood. It would seem that the minority have sullied the reputation of the very decent and even praise-worthy majority.
To honor that minority of NFL players, here is our list of the All-time, All-criminal team. The goal here will be to build an all-star starting team (11 players on offense, 11 on defense, a kicker, a punter and two return men) of NFL players (from all eras) who have done horrible things, rather than just picking no-name guys who have done horrible things. We'll include dishonorable mentions where necessary.
Also, we'll be using a 3-4 defense. Why a 3-4 you might ask? Because it is superior to the 4-3 in today's league. Next question please. This is no longer debatable, but if you must, debate in the comments section, I don't care. Moving on.
17 Quarterback: Michael Vick
Dishonorable Mentions: Art Schlichter, Todd Marinovich and Ryan Leaf
There isn't really any alternative for quarterbacks. Warren Moon had some misdemeanors and Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault twice, but no convictions there, so Vick it is. Art Schichter, Todd Marinovich and Ryan Leaf also have notable criminal records, but are also terrible.
16 Running Back: O.J. Simpson
Dishonorable Mentions: Lawrence Phillips, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson
This one is pretty much a no-brainer. O.J. is known by most for being a murderer but if you talk to those born after 1990, few know that he rushed for 2,003 yards in a 14 game season. "Juice" was of course acquitted for the murder of his ex-wife in the early 90', but would later be convicted for a robbery/kidnapping in Las Vegas for which he is currently in prison.
15 Fullback: Billy Cannon
Ever heard of Billy Cannon? He played fullback, halfback and tight end throughout his 11 year AFL/NFL career, but for our purposes, he's listed as a fullback. At 6'1 and 220 lbs, Cannon would be on the small side of fullbacks today, but it was a different game back then. In the 1960s, he played for the Houston Oilers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, winning three AFL Championships and being an All-Star three times.
14 Wide Receiver: Plaxico Burress, Michael Irvin
Dishonorable Mentions: Ray Carruth and Donte Stallworth
I'll get the dishonorable mentions out of the way first. Ray Carruth is way worse than these two, as he had two accomplices murder his ex-girlfriend while she was pregnant with his unborn child. However, he's far less accomplished, so Plaxico Burress and Donte Stallworth would be my ideal starters for criminal wide receivers.
Donte Stallworth hit and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk a few years ago. He received a lifetime driver's licence suspension, a month in prison, community service and probation...for killing someone.
In the early and mid 2000s, Plaxico Burress was a very solid wide receiver, earning four 1,000+ yard seasons, an average of 870 yards per season between 2000 and 2008, and 55 touchdowns in that time, just over six per year. He was convicted of criminal ownership of a hand gun and was sentenced to two years after shooting himself in a night club.
13 Tight End: Aaron Hernandez
Dishonorable Mentions: Jerramy Stevens
Jerramy Stevens played for the Seattle Seahawks in the 2000s and had a filthy record, which involved a sexual assault before he even entered the league. Charges were dropped, so maybe that doesn't count, but he also had a hit and run, multiple DUIs, a couple of assault-related arrests and had drugs found in his car during a traffic stop.
12 Offensive Line: Victor Riley(T), Nate Newton(G), Barrett Robbins(C), Bryant McKinnie(G/T), Chris Terry(T)
Dishonorable Mentions: Justin Strzelczyk, Cornell Green
I apologize, but if there is a weak point for this hypothetical team of law-breakers, it is the O-line.
Yes, I have Bryant McKinnie playing out of position, but he'd be fine if moved to guard full time. The 12 year veteran of three teams, the Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, was a Pro Bowl selection in 2009 and won the Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2013. He's no monster but a criminal record is a criminal record. He brutalized a bouncer outside a club a few years ago and then resisted arrest.
Chris Terry played tackle for nine years in the NFL with the Panthers, Seahawks and Chiefs, starting a total of 88 games. He was caught dealing cocaine, while driving under the influence with a permit-less handgun in his car a couple of years after his retirement. Back in 2002, he beat his girlfriend while their children watched in horror.
Center Barrett Robbins played nine years with the Oakland Raiders with a single Pro Bowl and All-Pro season. In 2002, the Raiders won the AFC Championship but shortly before the Super Bowl, Robbins was nowhere to be found and actually ended up sitting the game, having had a breakdown (the result of bipolar disorder) and thinking that the Raiders had won the game. The team lost the Super Bowl. Years later. he was charged with attempted murder for fighting with police (who shot him three times, funny how that works) and in 2012 he was sentenced to five years in prison for crack cocaine possession.
Victor Riley's career took him to Kansas City, New Orleans and Houston, and he played from 1998 until 2005. He beat his wife and was charged in 2001 with aggravated assault and criminal damage to property for using his vehicle to repeatedly ram his wife and BABY DAUGHTER in another car.
10 Defensive End: Mark Gastineau, Leonard Little
Dishonorable Mention: Dexter Manley, Greg Hardy, Ray MacDonald
I have four Pro Bowl defensive ends listed here, and Ray MacDonald, so you could say any hypothetical criminal team is deep at defensive end. MacDonald has been arrested a few times for beating women. Greg Hardy is essentially the same deal, having beaten his girlfriend last year. Dexter Manley was arrested several times, banned from the NFL for multiple failed drug tests and received multiple prison terms for drug related offenses.
Now on to my starters. Mark Gastineau is one of the most intimidating pass rushers of all time. The ten year New York Jet led the league in all-time sacks when he retired after the 1988 season and was a five time Pro Bowl selection. He had a couple of stints in prison because of drug issues and parole violations.
9 Tackle: Jim Dunaway
8 Outside Linebacker: Lawrence Taylor, Aldon Smith
Lawrence Taylor retired over a decade ago, but he's still the best outside linebacker the league has ever known. Unfortunately, like so many amazing football players, he had his demons. He was known as one of the most fearless in the league and went to ten Pro Bowls and had eight All-Pro seasons from 1981 to 1990. In his retirement, he's had up and down success in the business world, and has run into several problems with the law. He's had several hit and run charges and a few years ago, he pleaded guilty to having sex with a sixteen year old girl and paying her for it.
7 Inside Linebacker: Ray Lewis, Bill Romanowski
Bill Romanowski was one of the dirtiest players ever to play the game. The guy was an absolute animal, winning four Super Bowls, racking up over 1,000 tackles over a career spanning a sixteen year career. He was implicated and admitted involvement in the BALCO steroid/HGH scandal back in the late 90s. He also ended tight end Marcus Williams' career after breaking his orbital bone.
6 Cornerback: Adam Jones, Darryl Henley
While he is a decent cornerback, I would also use "Pacman" Jones as a backup return man. He's been in the NFL since 2005 and has played for three different teams, achieving decent success at both positions. His record with the police, however, is very impressive. He's faced several assault and vandalism charges, along with drug charges and two incidents in which he allegedly beat up strippers.
5 Safety: Darren Sharper, Eugene Robinson
At safety, Darren Sharper is a recent addition to the list of NFL players convicted of horrible things. Playing from 1997 to 2010, he won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints in 2010, and retired shortly thereafter. Throughout his 14 year career he made nearly 942 tackles, 63 interceptions, 11 of which were returned for touchdowns. He was an awesome safety, but like so many on this lineup, he had a demon. He committed a series of sexual assaults in the years following his retirement and has been handed lengthy sentences for these, some of which involved drugs.
4 Special Teams
3 Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski
Polish kicker Sebastian Janikowski has been in the news as much for kicking footballs as he has for problems with the law. He's been with the Oakland Raiders since 2000 and holds a few NFL records, including most 60 yard kicks (2), longest field goal in overtime (57 yards) and of course, most 50 yarders in a game (3).
2 Punter: Russell Erxleben
1 Returners: "Mercury" Morris, Dave Meggett
The uncle of the Washington Redskins' current running back Alfred Morris is one of our two returners. Eugene "Mercury" Morris was a great return man/running back for the Miami Dolphins from 1969 to 1975 and then for a single year with the San Diego Chargers. He was selected to three Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowls with the Dolphins. In 1982 he was convicted of trafficking cocaine, but was released from prison just three years later. His original sentence was twenty years.
Dave Meggett played ten years from 1989 to 1998, and was used everywhere on offense, rushing and receiving on top of returning kicks and punts. He went to two Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XXV in 1991 while playing with the New York Giants. After retirement he was arrested for assaulting an escort and was later convicted of sexually assaulting his girlfriend. More recently in 2010, Meggett was convicted of other sex crimes and received a 30 year sentence.
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