NFL training camps are now in full-swing and there’s been no shortage of testy competition between overgrown, scary big dudes exacerbated by the threat of being replaced under scorching summer temperatures. This is when players are at their worst and training camp has just started. Battles will happen throughout August that can and will determine the fate of many NFL players.
Just this past weekend, All-Everything Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant had enough of going up against cornerback Tyler Patmon and proceeded to push him then exchanged swings with the young DB after one particular play in camp. The Cowboys weren’t the only ones as their NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, also experienced a fight on August 3rd.
Fights during training camp are one thing but then there are some players that take things way too far during the season as well. Each year, the NFL puts out its annual list of the league’s dirtiest players as voted by the players themselves. We’ve added a few names to this list to go along with the usual suspects. Some of these names are on here for circumstances that could be considered overblown (too many Unsportsman-like Conduct penalties, for instance) and some of these guys are mean, nasty dudes that don’t give a damn.
Here are 15 players we in no way would want to get into it with if we were walking down a dark alley, at a children’s party, at a funeral or just about anywhere, really. These are some messed up dudes that have no regard for human life when they’re on the field every Sunday and they show it in the deranged, menacing way they play the game even until after the whistle is blown.
15 Richard Sherman
A world-class trash talker, we’re starting off this list with Sherman mostly because of his giant mouth. While being the league’s pre-eminent shutdown corner for the side of the field he covers, he’s also been known to deliver a cheap shot or two in addition to his verbal assaults.
He also gave us a top 10 sports gif of all time when he reacted to Seattle throwing away the game against the Pats in last season’s Super Bowl.
14 Richie Incognito, OG, Bills
The ring leader in the infamous Jonathan Martin hazing scandal, Incognito is a complete and total bully. The fact he looks like an overgrown version of every small-ish kids own picture of a bully doesn’t help. Incognito is routinely flagged for Unsportsman-like Conduct and has been known to throw a punch in the middle of a game. Incognito recently signed on with the Bills so what better coach to ‘manage’ a bully than Rex Ryan. That should be a real treat to watch.
13 Brandon Meriweather, S, Free Agent
Though currently a free agent, any team that suffers an in-season injury to either of its safety will be likely to give this human missile a call. Brandon Marshall – not exactly the most tempered person either – once said that Meriweather should be ‘kicked out of the league’ and Meriwether has also been on the blunt end of a couple of suspensions throughout his career. However, come December we fully expect Brandon to be on one team or another as the season’s attrition begins to factor in.
12 Steve Smith Sr., WR, Ravens
Steve Smith is a notoriously bad dude. Guy you love to have on your team but hate if he’s on your rival team. He’s 36 years old but still managed 79 catches for 6 TDs and over 1, 000 yards. He’s also a dude that will take no gruff from you, dear sir. Ask Kenny Vaccaro what happened for trying to play some aggressive press coverage up against Smith. I love Steve Smith. Perhaps his chippy play is a result of having a constant chip on his shoulder for constantly going up against guys bigger than him.
11 D.J. Swearinger, S, Buccaneers
D.J. Swearinger’s had to deal with the ‘dirty player’ tag since he essentially ended Dustin Keller’s career with a vicious lower body hit during a preseason game in his rookie season. After the game, Swearinger wasn’t exactly super apologetic by saying he hit Keller low to avoid a fine from the NFL for hitting him higher up. Swearinger was recently waived by the Texans and is now with the Buccaneers. We'll see if Swearinger's future seasons do anything to change his reputation.
10 James Harrison, LB, Steelers
Known around his teammates by the name ‘Silver Back’ and known around the rest of the league as ‘That Big, Mean Jerk That Will Tackle Me Then Twist My Body Into Pretzel Form And Then Be Very Uncaring About My New Useless, Deformed Body Shape’. Harrison was briefly out of the league last season before injuries forced the Steelers to ring up his number again for a few games – a move that certainly caused many NFL players to quickly request some new pants.
9 Bernard Pollard, S, Free Agent
Pollard is out of the league for the time being but ever since he nailed Golden Deflate Boy on Opening Day 2008, Pollard has been considered a hero to some and a terrible, ruthless villain to many others. Pollard was a self-contained Patriot Killer during his playing days as he tore the ACLs of both Brady and Welker then later injured Gronkowski in a way that made him essentially ineffective in the 2012 Super Bowl.
8 Dashon Goldson, S, Redskins
Washington has had a history of acquiring some heavy hitting safeties in the last few years as Sean Taylor, LaRon Landry, Brandon Merriwether and, now, Dashon Goldson have all lined up for the team.
Goldson was fined for a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Darren Sproles in 2013 and ended up paying $190,000 in fines during that season alone. Goldson was traded from the Bucs to the Skins this year and we'll see what effect he has on the Washington defense.
7 Terrell Suggs, LB, Ravens
Terrell Suggs is well known as being a great All-Pro linebacker for the Ravens and his days alongside Ray Lewis and in front of Ed Reed put him in some Hall of Fame discussions. Suggs also will go for your legs, will twist your head around and is considered a dirty player by some of his peers. This may all be part of just being an overall badass but man, Suggs sure does all those injury-inducing things very, very well.
6 Michael Griffin, S, Titans
Another notorious hard hitter amongst his peers, Michael Griffin is considered for causing injuries to Jets WR Stephen Hill and Raiders TE Mychel Rivera. Griffin generally has a pretty bad attitude about it as well, saying defensive players are ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ with regards to hitting in the NFL and saying you lose money regardless because if you don’t hit people with near car accident level impact, someone else will.
5 Vontaze Burfict, LB, Bengals
4 David Stewart, OL, Free Agent
Although David Stewart stated he would retire after sustaining shoulder and ankle injuries (and the Titans subsequently released him March of last year), there’s a chance ‘Big Country’ could come back to a team that has a depleted right tackle situation. Known for his physical style of play, Stewart was called out by several Houston Texans defensive players for using dirty tactics by pulling hair and throwing punches during a game.
3 Brandon Browner, DB, Saints
Brandon Browner engaged in a full-on brawl with then Packers WR Greg Jennings when the receiver took a post pattern up the middle, took on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Browner then was thrown to the ground by the then-Seahawks DB. Afterward, Jennings called Browner out for being a dirty player. Browner's reputation stemmed from his days with the Legion of Boom in Seattle and has followed him around. Being busted for PED use didn't help either.
2 Captain Munnerlyn, CB, Vikings
Captain Munnerlyn added his name to the dirty player list by doing something pretty nasty to All-Pro QB, Drew Brees. Munnerlyn essentially body-slammed Brees on a play last season, after which Brees shot up and told Munnerlyn “Listen, I like you. I think you’re a good football player. Thanks for the 15 yards”. Oof! Sick burn, Brees! Take it down a notch, buddy! After a spending most of his career in Carolina, Munnerlyn joined the Vikings last year and took his chippiness up a notch.
1 Ndamokung Suh, DT, Dolphins
No list of this sort is complete without Suh. Since he entered the league, Suh has been time and again voted the no.1 dirtiest player in the league. He’s been fined eight times, he’s viewed unfavorably among fans and players alike and received 32 of the votes (out of 103) for dirtiest player in last year’s NFL poll. There’s no doubt this perspective will continue until Suh displays a demonstrable change in the way he plays the game. He'll now be taking his dirty tactics to South Beach.