For a few hours during the NFL season, we get to watch some of the greatest athletes in the world take the field. Make no mistake that most of the people who reach the NFL have worked to get there their whole lives. It’s a path that requires an uncommon level of training, discipline and, work. While it may take up the majority of a NFL player’s life to reach that level, however, you have to remember that actually being in the NFL doesn’t take up all of a player’s free time. They have plenty of time left to pursue other interests and celebrate their accomplishments.
They also have plenty of time to get into trouble and embarrass themselves. In fact, NFL players often have the time and resources needed to get into more trouble than most. The combination of intensity and wealth that drives them can also sometimes lead them to participating in incidents the rest of us would never think to get into. These same incidents also seem to be a far cry from the almost superhuman image these same players convey for a few hours every Sunday. Then again, those are only a few hours. These are the top 15 embarrassing real life stories of NFL players.
15 Onterrio Smith’s "Whizzinator" Ends his Career
You may not remember Onterrio Smith, but there was a time when the young running back was thought to be a potential breakout NFL star. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, which many experts agreed was a great value pick for the team. While Smith wasn’t brilliant during his first two seasons, he still looked like a valuable utility player with upside. Then, the Whizzinator happened. What’s a Whizzinator? It’s a no-so-cleverly named device that allows someone to beat a urine drug test.
Smith was caught with one at an airport when the airport’s security identified the device as a potential threat. Smith wasn’t released right away, but his career did end shortly after this incident.
14 Dion Lewis Pulls a Fire Alarm to Get Back into His Hotel
Sometimes, NFL players are accused of being big children. People say that their path to fame and fortune never really afforded them the opportunity to mature in ways that many adults their age have to. While that certainly doesn’t apply to all players, the childlike behavior of certain NFL athletes is responsible for some of the most outlandish off-the-field incidents in league history. For instance, there was the time that Dion Lewis and his brother were hanging out at a Hampton Inn when they realized that they were locked out of the building.
For some reason, the two got the idea that the best way to gain re-entry was to pull the fire alarm and get someone’s attention. In their defense, they got someone’s attention. Unfortunately that someone was the police who arrested Lewis and his brother.
13 Chase Blackburn Injures Himself With a Cotton Swab
Sooner or later, every NFL player needs to accept that injuries are just a fact of life. Very few players regularly active players have ever managed to go their whole career without suffering some kind of medical setback. The best they can hope for is that these injuries aren’t too bad. Actually, the best that they can hope for is that these injuries aren’t caused by something painfully stupid. Just ask Chase Blackburn who was injured in the locker room one day by a most bizarre culprit. Apparently, Blackburn was cleaning his ear out with a cotton swab when he bumped into a reporter and accidentally jammed the swab into his ear. Blackburn fell to the floor in pain and apparently almost ruptured his ear drum. Come on man, you’ve got to be smarter than that.
12 Stephen Hill Decided to Not Wear a Seatbelt and Had a Really Bad Afternoon
It’s amazing how many of the dumbest incidents on this could have been avoided if just a monochrome of common sense had been used. Actually, it’s amazing how many could have been avoided if only someone had bothered to pay attention to even the most basic of laws. Stephen Hill should have been reminded of this before he went out for a drive one July afternoon with his family. Ignoring basic laws and common sense, he decided to do so without putting on his seatbelt. An officer decided to stop him for his lapse in judgment. As soon as Hill rolled down his window, the officer was overcome with the incredibly strong scent of marijuana. While Hill admitted that he had marijuana in his car, he could have easily avoided the whole incident by just being a little safer.
11 Eugene Robinson Celebrates the Bart Starr Award With an Undercover Cop Posing as a Prostitute
For those who don’t know, the Bart Starr Award is given annually to the NFL player who best exemplifies “outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.” It’s regularly awarded to outstanding players and individuals like Thomas Davis, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. In 1999, safety Eugene Robinson won this prestigious humanitarian award. Obviously ecstatic, he decided to celebrate his accomplishment that evening by going out and finding a prostitute. As questionable as that is, things got really bad when Robinson discovered that the prostitute in question was an undercover police officer. As you might imagine, Robinson was arrested over the matter and elected to return his Bart Star Award. That is just some comically bad timing.
10 Pretty Much Everything Johnny Manziel Did
While it does kind of feel like Johnny Manziel should be higher on this list, the problem is that it’s almost impossible to name just one Manziel-related incident. During his brief tenure in the NFL, Johnny Manziel was a human hurricane of embarrassing off-the-field incidents. Just when you thought that he was done…that he couldn’t possibly continue to embarrass himself any longer, he incredibly found some way to top himself. It started with incidents like posing with wads of cash he pretended was a cell phone and continued to include drunkenly riding inflatable swans. Then, there were the fights, legal run-ins, drunken escapades, and assault charges. He just could not help but find new ways to prove that he lacked the maturity needed to be a real professional player.
9 Daniel Thomas Gets Chewed Out in Front of the World
Everyone gets chewed out at work from time to time. It’s inevitable that you’re going to make a mistake that is going to cause someone a rung or two above you to come down on you. It certainly happens all the time in the NFL. In fact, we’re willing to bet that not a day of practice goes by that doesn’t see an NFL player get chewed out by one player of another. Unfortunately for Daniel Thomas, his chewing out was broadcasted to the world.
While HBO was shooting their Hard Knocks series, Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas was called into coach Joe Philbin’s office to answer for his recent tardiness. Philbin proceeded to tear into him like he could care less if a camera was there or not. Thomas looked visibly shaken and on the verge of tears the entire time.
8 Kenyatta Jones Shoves a Cop for not Letting him Urinate on a Dance Floor
Look, at a certain point, NFL players just have to admit that it might be a good idea if they just stay out of nightclubs whenever possible. While it probably feels like a million bucks to walk into a club with...well, a million bucks and proceed to treat the entire place like your adult playground, the fact remains that there have been too many incidents of unbelievable stupidity involving NFL players and nightclubs. Still, Kenyatta Jones can lay claim to one of the dumbest such incidents. One night at a Tampa night club, Jones decided that he was going to urinate on the dance floor. When an off-duty cop decided to stop him, Jones proceeded to shove that cop. Now, technically, Jones wasn’t signed to an NFL team at this time, but this is just a special level of stupidity from even a former NFL player.
7 Raheem Brock Doesn’t Want to Pay his $27 Tab
They say you should think twice before you judge a professional athlete or anyone who draws a large salary for their money troubles. Many big earners who suddenly found themselves broke will tell you that the whole thing happens rather easily. You get used to making enough money and then suddenly the money stops coming in. Then again, sometimes athletes are just stupid with their money. Raheem Brock will tell you all about this if you ask him about the time that he decided to just walk out of his club tab. Despite having made quite a bit of money during his career, Brock apparently just decided that he didn’t have to pay the $27 tab he racked up that night. A struggle with police outside of the club over the matter ended in Brock’s arrest.
6 Michael Irvin Stabs a Fellow Player Over a Haircut
Well, embarrassing might be a bit of an undersell in this incident, but it’s certainly a bizarre and humiliating experience. In 1998, Irvin decided to go get a haircut. That sounds like a simple way to spend a part of your afternoon, but it’s about to get real complicated. When he arrived at the barber, he tried to get fellow teammate Everett McIver to leave the chair mid-haircut. Eventually, McIver got tired of Irvin berating him and he decided to shove the temperamental star. Irvin retaliated by grabbing a pair of scissors and trying to stab McIver in the neck. Apparently, the Cowboys spent a good deal of time and money trying to cover the whole incident up. It soon became one of those urban legends about Irvin’s volatile playing days.
5 Plaxico Burress Shoots Himself in the Leg
Just like nightclubs, there is a well-documented correlation between stupid NFL player incidents and firearms. While it makes sense that professional athletes might feel the need to protect themselves against dangerous people who are out for their fame, money, or just looking for a fight, them carrying a weapon never seems to really end well. When things go especially bad, someone ends their life. Other times, however, sometimes these incidents just end in the most embarrassing way possible.
Plaxico Burress can tell you all about this after he pulled his gun one night in – surprise, surprise – a nightclub. Well, pulled his gun might not be technically accurate. As he attempted to pull his gun, Burress shot himself in his own leg which we hear is actually as embarrassing as it is incredibly painful.
4 Shaun Rogers Brings a Gun Onto an Airplane
Need more proof that NFL players should just stop carrying their own firearms? There’s plenty more stories out there. Without getting into the politics of firearm carry, the one thing that all people should be able to agree on is that carrying and owning a gun should be done by people who exercise proper caution and safety. Guns and stupidity are just a dangerous combination. At best, it’s dangerous just for the person carrying the gun. Actually, at best, guns and stupidity can lead to funny incidents. Former Cleveland Browns player Shaun Rogers, for instance, once decided to travel with his gun. While that’s not technically illegal, it is illegal to do as he did when he simply put the loaded weapon in his carry-on luggage. Apparently, he didn’t think this would be a problem.
3 Pacman Jones "Makes it Rain" and Fights With His Own Bodyguard
It’s amazing to think that Adam “Pacman” Jones is still an NFL player given that his history of embarrassing off-the-field incidents is rivaled by very few players in history. Jones loved to have a little fun off-the-field. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does become a bit of a nightmare when your version of fun includes things like getting incredibly drunk, literally tossing money around, and starting fights. While the time that Jones infamously “made it rain” outside of a club is arguably his defining career moment, our pick for the most embarrassing incident goes to the time that he decided to fight his own bodyguard after getting drunk. We’re not sure how drunk you need to be in order to fight the person you hired to protect you, but we’re guessing the answer is “pretty drunk.”
2 Cedric Cobbs Learns it’s Hard Out There for a Pimp
When NFL players fall from grace, they tend to fall pretty hard. There was a time, for instance, when Cedric Cobbs was just a running back. Not even a particularly great running back, mind you, but rather a pretty decent running back who turned a couple of good college seasons into a brief career as a Denver Bronco. His career wouldn’t last long or be filled with many particularly memorable moments. Still, his playing days were far more glamorous than what would come next.
Shortly after his retirement, Cobb was caught driving a prostitute to a hotel to meet with a client. The problem was that the client was a cop. Actually, the even bigger problem was that cops found two methamphetamine pipes in Cobb’s car as well as a large number of pills. It’s like he just wanted to be arrested.
1 Jason Pierre-Paul and C.J. Wilson Play with Fireworks and Lose Fingers
In terms of simply embarrassing incidents, these two are just so wonderfully absurd and oddly similar that they have to be grouped together. Actually, it seems that fate wanted these two things to be forever grouped together as they even happened on the exact same day. It’s probably not a coincidence that day was July 4, 2015. On that day, New York Giants player Jason Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay Buccaneer C.J. Wilson were having a little fun with fireworks as many people in America were that day. Unfortunately, both individuals joined the sad list of people who didn’t exercise caution around these explosives and ended up suffering debilitating injuries.
C.J. Wilson lost two fingers due to fireworks exploding in his hands while Jason Pierre-Paul lost one after he kept trying to light a stubborn bottle rocket. You can be sure that both guys are just going to be sticking to sparklers from now on.