Romances are old news. In 2016, professional athletes are out loud and proud, and they don’t care who knows it. Bromances are all the rage and here at TheSportster we think it is about time. With Hollywood releasing the 2009 motion picture entirely dedicated to man-on-man heterosexual love in the form of I Love You, Man, it has become commonplace for those blossoming friendships in the locker room to spill over into the public sphere.
Endearing love and respect between males in sports is not a new phenomenon. Two that come to mind are Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the great boxing era of the 1960s and 70s, with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson duking it out for NBA supremacy in the 80s. Only until each man retired did the sparks begin to fly and they realized that they shared a lot in common. If they were young bucks coming through in today’s times, they would be spotted out at clubs, games and lunches till their heart’s content.
Now the average sports fan is far more open and accepting of these types of relationships. In Cleveland Johnny Manziel and LeBron James are hard to pull apart and Cam Newton seems to be an unofficial spouse of Steph Curry, as the couple share stories of their Charlotte days and wonder how they ever pulled away into different career paths. The tension is palpable!
But the NFL is a bit more unique in this respect. The physicality of the game makes these footballers uninhibited, the passions often reach boiling point and with rigorous pre season training camps – bonding becomes paramount. So grab a buddy, pull up a couch, crack a cold drink and get those heartstrings ready for a workout because these are the top 15 awesome NFL bromances!
15 Ike Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew
The original is still the best. These two might not have a moratorium on creating the first NFL bromance, but they were pioneers in bringing it out for everyone to see. The current analysts for the NFL’s official website cover everything from trash talking techniques to playing fashion police at red carpet events and get down to serious business passing judgment over the next crop of rookies making the game. They might not be putting on a helmet anymore but that is just as well, gives them more time to shoot the breeze and spend some quality extra time together off screen.
14 Julian Edelman and Tom Brady
There is a lot of man-love at Foxborough as it is and we'll have more of it later. But the pairing of star QB Tom Brady and his lieutenant Julian Edelman knows no bounds. Their impassioned embrace at the end of the Super Bowl win over Seattle was an image in itself, until the microphones picked up Brady telling Edelman, “I love you, man.” Oh, so cute. The guys shared a bit of Facebook banter after their win over the Chiefs in the playoffs this year, with Brady poking fun at Edelman for seemingly lifting his arms in premature celebration while the QB missed out on a rushing touchdown. Julian’s classic response, “My bad Tom Brady it’s just that usually when I dive for the pylon it counts as a touchdown ;) love you bud.” Adorable.
13 Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson
They say a great couple knows the other person better than they know themselves. For Matthew Stafford, he understood that the NFL “was kind of wearing” on his BFF Calvin Johnson as they would have shared some long conversations in private. “I’ve known Calvin for seven years,” the Lions QB told the Detroit Free Press. “So I knew the NFL was kind of wearing on him and I just told him, when he told me he was done, I just told him, ‘I’m happy for you if you’re happy’.” That’s the kind of unconditional man-love every footballer needs.
12 Rex and Rob Ryan
Rex might poke some fun at his brother’s expense from time to time, including a great press conference where he donned a blond wig and tried to pitch himself a new job in front of some hysterical journalists. But the inseparable pair go back a long way, all the way back in fact. They both learned the game from their father and took very similar paths, so the mutual admiration is at its peak. Earlier this year Rex hired his brother Rob to coach the Bills defense for the 2016 season and the 20-year reunion will mark an important family moment for the Ryan clan.
11 Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn
Something tells us that Matt Flynn plays the Lionel Richie track ‘Hello’ once too often on his playlist. The free agent quarterback has been shifted between franchises like the Patriots, Jets and New Orleans Saints since departing the Green Bay Packers in 2014 but hasn’t been able to spark the kind of chemistry he had with Aaron Rodgers. Just before he left Green Bay, Flynn matched Rodgers’ all-denim outfit to mimic a ‘mini me’ scenario. The couple was never in real competition, but the love they had in that Packers locker room and on the bench between plays was heartwarming.
10 Peyton Manning and Eric Decker
In large part, Eric Decker’s current status as a superstar NFL receiver comes down to the partnership he had on the field with Peyton Manning. With the Broncos, they set records together and while one has since retired and the other moved on to the Big Apple, we hope the two still stay in touch. This is because of what they had in Colorado was special. In 2014, Manning told E News that they carpooled to the stadium on Sundays, arriving with teammate Jacob Tamme all from the same hotel.
9 Roddy White and Julio Jones
While ‘White & Jones’ sounds more like a law firm than an NFL bromance, Roddy White and Julio Jones often sing from the same hymn sheet. The Atlanta Falcons receivers went public before their regular season clash with the Carolina Panthers to slam Josh Norman for not being tough! “I don’t believe he’s a tough game,” claimed White to ESPN.com. “I don’t get when people say Josh Norman is tough,” proclaimed Jones. Both guys backed up their words to dish out the Panthers only regular season defeat of their entire campaign, so perhaps it might be a tactic to deploy these trash talking two before every fixture in 2016.
8 Marshawn Lynch and Michael Robinson
The Seahawks are a tight brotherhood all the way up there in Washington State. A lot of people hate them, but they don’t care because they have each other. Recently retired star Marshawn Lynch was one of the drivers of the culture in Seattle, with his teammate Michael Robinson telling NFL.com how much the dreaded-up icon means to the franchise. “I mean my kids, they see anybody that has a football with dreads they say, ‘That’s Marshawn!’” But hoping to get a favour in return, Robinson quipped, “I’m still waiting on the babysitting.” Lynch really doesn’t have an excuse now with all that free time on his schedule.
7 Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall
This won’t be news to TheSportster readers, but Cutler and Marshall had a great thing going on in Chicago. Bros stick up for fellow bros because that is part of the unspoken code in NFL football. In 2012, when QB Jay Cutler was coming under fire for his lack of passion on the field (doesn’t he wish that is the only thing he could be criticized for?), it was Brandon Marshall who leapt to his defense. “I don’t think him being fiery or being passionate or wanting to win is misunderstood, but the part of maybe him not being a good teammate – that part is misunderstood,” Marshall told NFL.com. The split could be attributed in part to Cutler’s decline and with Marshall in bed with the Jets, Cutler will need a new pal to reconnect with.
6 Joe Flacco and Dennis Pitta
The pictures at Ravens training tell their own story. Quarterback Joe Flacco and tight end Dennis Pitta often share quiet moments together reflecting on love, life and football in Baltimore. In 2015, Flacco mentioned that Pitta’s ongoing injuries were a concern and because of circumstance, he had become used to his absence. “To be honest with you,” Flacco told the club’s website, “as unfortunate as it is, I’ve kind of become used to not having him out there.” The pair are BFFs around the grounds and are spotted sharing lunches and banter at the cafeteria. If a remake of The Bodyguard were ever in the works, the Flacco-Pitta relationship would be good material to work with.
5 Tony Romo and Jason Witten
Another NFL bromance, another quarterback-tight end love-in. The Dallas Cowboys veterans practically live out of each other’s pocket, being spotted together at basketball games, out on the town in Texas and staying close on the training paddock. Romo has had a rough ride of late with form and injury, so the pressure will be on Witten in 2016 to lift his game and be there for his man.
4 Jarvis Landry, Jeremy Hill and Odell Beckham Jr. (The Royal Family)
Tales of NFL three-ways usually come with a parental guidance warning, but the trio of Jarvis Landry, Jeremy Hill and Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is just clean family fun. The LSU boys have linked up on multiple occasions since splitting off into their own parts of the country, but reunited for a great snap at the NFL Players Association Rookie Premiere in 2014. Between New York, Cincinnati and Miami, it must be difficult to spread the love three ways long distance. They’ve dubbed themselves ‘The Royal Family,’ a nice phrase to show how keen they are to keep it all in the family.
3 Melvin Gordon and Trae Waynes
Bradford High School gave birth to two NFL stars from the same draft class and with it, a bromance for the ages. BFFs Trae Waynes, now a cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings, and Melvin Gordon, a running back for the San Diego Chargers, came through at the same time and shared a lovely moment in the face of adversity. In the third game of senior year, Waynes broke his leg and while sitting out he campaign, Gordon wrote his name and number on his towel to wear it for the rest of 2010. That's some real life Friday Night Lights stuff right there.
2 Antonio Brown and T.Y. Hilton
NFL reporter Colleen Wolfe described the pair as “adorable” during a call of a Colts vs. Steelers clash last year. Brown and Hilton met up when their dads organized play dates in Miami during their days at Gwen Cherry Bulls youth football. “I’m proud of how he continues to get better and develop his game,” Brown said of Hilton. “I love watching him,” explained Hilton of Brown, expanding on the bromance that began as kids and continues strong till this day.
1 Bill Belichick and Tom Brady
Some NFL bromances were just meant to be. This is on par with any great father-son relationships, with the older buck in Bill Belichick always there to fight the corner of his younger protégé Brady. They’ve shared good times together with Super Bowl wins and league-wide praise, and the bad times with Deflategate and humiliating finals losses. Belichick is Brady’s second father and Brady is as close to a son as it gets. The Patriots have benefitted from it and the sport has, seeing two men combining their talents and passion for the game for the good of New England.
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