Imagine being an NFL wide receiver and having to line up against the same defender play after play? It starts out as a good clean battle but after a few plays, the level of competition begins to rise. An elbow here, a subtle but effective facemask there and before you know it, the frustration boils over and the extracurricular activity begins. Defensive tackles against offensive tackles and tight ends against linebackers. Play after play of pushing, straight-arming, and tackling. Of course, this goes on when teammates practice as well. Intense competition is not just reserved for game day.
Sports rivalries have entertained us for years. If it isn’t a fierce competition between two teams, it’s a fierce battle between individuals. Many prefer to settle their differences on the field like true professionals but some can’t seem to let things go that easily. They continue to trash-talk through the media. Newspapers and television have long been platforms for launching verbal grenades and now social media sites like Twitter have become the modern-day arenas for keyboard gladiators looking for a war of words.
“Hate” is a strong word but, then again, professional football players are strong guys so it might be fitting that there are several cases of players that hate each other in the NFL. Some well documented personal beefs have been aired over the years. The causes of many of these conflicts have been big egos and over the top competitiveness as was the case in Randy Moss and Darrelle Revis’ spat. But, there are several other triggers too. A good example was Terrell Owens publicly criticizing Donovan McNabb. This episode caused much unresolved hostility between the two. Then again, T.O. has a lot of unresolved hostility with several of his ex-quarterbacks.
Here are 15 cases of NFL players who hate each other in real life. The degrees of dislike may vary, but deep resentment festers between many of these players.
15 Richard Sherman vs. Michael Crabtree
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been involved in a few feuds during his career. One of his longest-running feuds is with current Raider wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Before going to Oakland, Crabtree wore a 49ers jersey and went head-to-head with Richard Sherman in several big games. The back-and-forth between the two must have been entertaining with all the “Yo Mamma” anecdotes.
The feud came to a head at a charity softball game. Apparently, Richard approached his long-time rival and offered to shake his hand. Witness accounts are conflicting as to the instigator but all agreed that the two were physically separated to avoid fisticuffs. According to Sherman, this incident led to his amped up tirade after Seattle beat San Francisco in the NFC Championship game. Chill out Richard!!
14 Michael Westbrook vs. Stephen Davis
It’s one thing to feud with an opposing player, but it is entirely another thing to fight with your teammate. The story of Redskins teammates Michael Westbrook and Stephen Davis is a satisfying one for fans of comeuppance. During the 1997 training camp, Davis was relentlessly taunting Westbrook in a most politically-incorrect fashion. It seems Davis took it a step too far and Westbrook responded by absolutely pummeling the lippy halfback. The beat-down was caught by television cameras and was an embarrassment to both the NFL and the team.
Westbrook was fined $50,000 and the pair would begrudgingly tolerate each other as teammates for another five seasons.
13 Terrell Suggs vs. Tom Brady
Just mentioning “Spygate” is enough to set off Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. It’s understandable that not everyone likes Tom Brady and the Patriots, but Suggs has been one of Brady’s most outspoken critics. He has called the legitimacy of Brady’s Super Bowl rings into question. He has called the Patriots arrogant and insinuated that Tom Brady is soft. When asked to describe his feelings towards Brady in a television interview, Suggs replied “I don’t like him. He don’t like me. I don’t like his hair. I don’t like his smug attitude.”
Suggs can say what he wants about Brady’s attitude, but taking shots at the quarterback’s coiffure is low.
12 Jay Cutler vs. Philip Rivers
Jay Cutler and the Denver Broncos failed on a crucial fourth down conversion giving the San Diego Chargers the win and the AFC West title. Philip Rivers was on the sidelines loudly mocking and taunting Cutler as the dejected Broncos quarterback was leaving the field. In an interview shortly after that, Cutler was all too willing to express his dislike for San Diego’s Philip Rivers. “I don’t like him,” Cutler said matter-of-factly.
In a more recent interview, Cutler downplayed the alleged spat. He summarized the feud as a 5-10-second “interaction” that got blown out of proportion but there is definitely more to it. The two quarterbacks faced each other in 2015 and there were plenty of signs that this personal rivalry is still festering. If you want to see Philip Rivers amped up, just watch his reaction when Jay Cutler fails on a third down conversion.
11 Osi Umenyiora vs. LeSean McCoy
One of the most popular places to conduct a feud is on social media. At least there is a lesser chance of it turning physical. Twitter has been a place to fearlessly lob grenades at others and Osi Umenyiora and LeSean McCoy have been exchanging witty comments for a long time. One great thing about Twitter tiffs is that there are usually some pretty hilarious comments and both of these Twitter tough guys have provided many laughs. Umenyiora has called LeSean “Lady Gaga” and “she” while McCoy has tweeted that Umenyiora is “overrated” and “soft.” Their dislike for each other had also reached television audiences. In an interview, McCoy referred to Umenyiora as “a ballerina in a Giants uniform.” It’s time for these two to get a room.
10 Andre Johnson vs. Cortland Finnegan
Cortland Finnegan has a nasty reputation as a cruel dude, as Don Henley might say. With a colorful history of fines, ejections, and dirty play, he gave an epic performance to get into an all-out war with Texans receiver Andre Johnson.
Finnegan was all over Johnson during a Titans/Texans game in 2010. Finnegan was getting away with a few infractions and taking liberties with Johnson. The big wide-out complained to the refs but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Finnegan continued to stick it to Johnson until #80 snapped. Punches were thrown, helmets were ripped off, and both players were ejected. Finnegan and Johnson were also hit with $25,000 fines. When the pesky cornerback retired, Finnegan took one last shot by saying that Johnson “hits like a bish.”
9 Geno Smith vs. IK Enemkpali
This saga started when Geno Smith backed out of attending teammate IK Enemkpali’s football camp. The linebacker had already paid for Smith’s airfare and he wanted to be reimbursed the $600 due to the no-show. During the Jets 2015 training camp, Enemkpali approached the quarterback in the locker room. Words escalated causing IK to channel his inner Joe Pesci (the Goodfellas version). IK slugged Smith in a fit of rage. Geno sustained a fractured jaw and was ruled out 6-10 weeks. The Jets released Enemkpali and he quickly signed with the Bills. Smith only saw action in one game while finishing the season as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup.
With a little luck, we’ll see Smith and Enemkpali go head-to-head when their respective teams meet in 2016.
8 DeAngelo Hall vs. Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman is at it again. This time, a relatively tame Twitter chat with DeAngelo Hall turned a little ugly after the two starting hurling insults at each other. Richard Sherman is hard to get the better of on the gridiron and he’s ever harder to get the better of on Twitter. Sherman gave Hall all he could handle and then some. Hall got a few shots in but they were a little lamer than Sherman’s smack.
@DeAngeloHall23 I checked ya film! It was rough.... Have some pride bout ya play— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) March 14, 2014
Chad Johnson was the answer to the question nobody asked when he chimed in with his wisdom in an attempt to quell the situation. As expected, the intervention didn’t pan out as planned. Just turn the computers off fellas.
7 J.J. Watt vs. Zach Mettenberger
J.J. Watt should need no introduction. However, Zach Mettenberger might. The young quarterback played for the Tennessee Titans and even had the starting role for a while, but he now finds himself fighting for his career in San Diego. If he should fade into obscurity, at least he will have his beef with Houston’s J.J. Watt to tell his grandkids about.
You see, young Zach is well-known for his infatuation with taking selfies. Knowing this, and perhaps trying to make a point, Watt hovered over Zach and pretended to pose for a selfie after sacking Mettenberger for the second time in a one-sided game. Zach took exception.
Mettenberger’s dislike of Watt is still burning strong. During a 2015 interview, Zach had some unkind words to say about Watt. Enjoy the limelight while you can Zach!
6 Percy Harvin vs. Golden Tate
Enigmatic wide receiver Percy Harvin has always been noted for not being the best guy to have in a locker room. Harvin accentuated his reputation on the day before Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII victory by not only punching teammate Golden Tate but also body-slamming his fellow wide receiver onto a table. That’ll cause hard feelings.
Seattle won the Super Bowl and Harvin was shipped to the Jets. Michael Robinson confirmed what was long suspected when he told reporters that it was he who separated the combatants. The background of the dispute is a bit of a mystery but there are unconfirmed rumors that somebody in the Seahawks dressing room was canoodling with a teammate’s girlfriend. Such juicy gossip!!
5 Riley Cooper vs. Cary Williams
A video of Philadelphia Eagle Riley Cooper circulated which showed an agitated Riley Cooper hurling racial taunts at a security guard who didn’t allow Cooper backstage access at a Kenny Chesney concert.
This might have been the precursor to the confrontation between Cooper and teammate Cary Williams that occurred during practice. Willaims was defending against Cooper and the two were competing tirelessly when the trash-talking got a little nasty. Williams attacked Cooper who seemed willing to oblige. Michael Vick and Brandon Boykin did a good job at separating the two but Williams continued at Cooper with a few choice words.
Riley is currently a free agent while Cary recently signed with the Redskins.
Fans would love to see these two battle it out on the field.
4 Bill Romanowski vs. Marcus Williams
The Bill Romanowski – Marcus Williams incident is one of the worst of its kind in NFL history. In the end, the two would battle it out in court. It started with a training camp scrimmage that got a little too intense for the roid-raging Romanowski. After Williams put a hold on the bruising linebacker during a play, the two began to tussle. Romanowski got Williams’ helmet off and then drilled him with a solid right knocking Williams out. The devastating punch shattered Williams’ eye socket, effectively ending the tight end’s career.
With the help of testimony from his teammates, Marcus successfully sued for damages and was awarded $340,000. Meanwhile, Romanowski’s legacy is less than flattering.
3 Terry Bradshaw vs. Ben Roethlisberger
Two Pittsburgh Steelers legends are at the center of this tale of tumult. Ex-quarterback and four-time Super Bowl Champion Terry Bradshaw is known to be a bit of a windbag. Ben Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings and is noted for some very questionable off-field decisions.
Bradshaw ripped on Roethlisberger when Ben got into his infamous motorcycle crash. Then, when Ben was accused of sexual misconduct in 2010, Bradshaw took the opportunity to publicly condemn Roethlisberger before the facts came out. Bradshaw ended up with egg on his face as Roethlisberger was never charged. Naturally, Bradshaw’s pontificating struck a nerve with Big Ben.
Roethlisberger cites this event as the primary cause of their less-than-amicable relationship. Although they have spoken since, it doesn’t seem like they have truly reconciled.
2 Steve Young vs. Joe Montana
Steve Young was salivating at the opportunity to dethrone 49ers legend Joe Montana as the number one quarterback in San Francisco. The problem was that Joe wasn’t quite ready to vacate and Young got frustrated. During training camp, Young took offense to being called the second-string quarterback and announced that he was 1-B, while Montana was 1-A. Whenever one of the two was on the practice field, the other would be bad mouthing the competition to third stringer John Paye.
There was even an incident in which Montana accused Young of tampering with team videos to make himself look better. In the end, Montana got injured and Young took over. When Montana was ready to return, he wanted his starting role back which caused a rift in the 49ers locker room. Possibly sensing defeat, Montana asked for a trade and was shipped to Kansas City. Steve Young ascended the throne.
1 Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman
Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman have been going at it in a Twitter battle that has lit up the internet. Things got nasty when these two met on the field in week 15 of the 2015 season. The head-to-head on-field match up was intense as both players brought it all and weren’t afraid to get dirty. Odell earned a one-game suspension for taking three personal foul penalties.
Their little Twitter slap-fight is much less entertaining.
Beckham Jr. got his jock strap in a knot when he heard Josh Norman refer to the Giants receiver’s skills as “okay.” Odell quickly went to Twitter and tweeted his thoughts. Norman obliged and on it goes. Football fans would love to see these two go at it again in a playoff game.