Few athletes make it in the macho world of the NFL without dishing out a bit of trash talk. Even if they didn’t instigate the exchange, you are considered less of a man if you keep your thoughts to yourself. We don’t know how exactly we got here, just know that we did.
Footballers now have social media at their disposal to trash talk instantly, to any foe they deem worthy, and all for the public to gawk at. Back in the day fans had to wait until players retired and started going on speaking tours or book launches before they heard about the friction in the dressing room and on the field. Now supporters, the press and athletes around the league pretty much have everything and everyone figured out.
Take the Cincinnati Bengals implosion against Pittsburgh in the playoffs as a case in point. They thought late in the 4th quarter they had that game won, only to cough up a costly fumble conceding possession and seeing the Steelers snatch their season away. It was classic defeat from the jaws of victory stuff.
In seasons gone by, people would have speculated about the devastation felt by the Bengals and read a few platitudes in the written media the next day. Instead, we witnessed players going on radio to smear the reputation of a Steelers opponent, go on a huge video blog rant and blame everyone else but themselves.
While the NFL continues to cultivate a “me first” culture that rewards footballers looking after number one, then these self-centered men will look to take their frustration out on someone else. It might be an opponent, a teammate, a member of the media, a social media troll or anyone else who falls in their crosshairs.
Here are the top 15 nastiest trash talkers in the NFL.
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15 Odell Beckham Jr.
The fame went to Odell Beckham’s head long before he was a television star. The brilliant Giants wide receiver has a habit of losing his temper on the field of play, enjoying run-ins with referees and officials at the drop of a hat. Those anger issues seem to filter to his off-field activities on Twitter. Rather than pinpoint any single hater, he went on a tirade against the general public about getting more “creative” with their slander. “With all the problems you have goin on wit your own lives,” tweets Odell, “how do u find time and extra time to worry about mine lol?” One of his follow up posts is simply filled with constant crying while laughing face emojis. At least he enjoys his own stuff.
14 Tom Brady
Depending on which side of the New England fence you sit, then Tom Brady is either a man who stands up for himself and his reputation, or a giant crybaby who dishes out as much as he receives. No one doubts his talent and how could you with four Super Bowl rings? We’ve heard him fire back at Ray Lewis and Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett went on record to say Brady is up there with the best for talking trash on the field. None of this makes him a bad guy, just not the polite poster boy he would like to portray.
13 Von Miller
Winning the Super Bowl requires physical players who love a confrontation. For the Denver Broncos, Von Miller is that guy who sets the standard – the New England Patriots can vouch for that after the AFC Championship game. He’s what Stephen A. Smith would call a “bad boy” in every respect of the word. The 26-year old linebacker enjoyed a groin grab to rub it in the Pats faces after telling his teammates to aim low on Rob Gronkowski to target his injury. He was also blunt about his thoughts on Chiefs player Travis Kelce for good measure too, calling him a “fake Gronk.”
12 Brian Cushing
Last seasons run of Hard Knocks gave NFL fans an insight into the characters of the Houston Texans. Everyone knew what JJ Watt was all about, but it was loud mouth Brian Cushing who came across as the team’s resident psychopath. His infamous no-helmet head-butt against the Cleveland Browns demonstrated how crazy the guy is and throughout the training camp he seemed more determined to put the rookies in their place than acting as a team player. Given how their season petered out, perhaps Cushing would be best advised targeting an opposition runner with that amount of aggression rather than a teammate like Alfred Blue.
11 Jay Cutler
Imagine how much trash Jay Cutler would talk if he was actually playing behind a good football team? The 32-year old Chicago Bears QB is known for dishing out a fair amount on the park, although what he bases this confidence on we don’t really know. He gave his old pal Aaron Rodgers a piece of his mind when he went to the Bears, telling the star Packers quarterback that he would be beating them twice a year hands down during a call. How has that panned out? Let’s just say the phone has been a bit quiet ever since.
10 DeSean Jackson
There seems to be a chip on DeSean Jackson’s shoulder that he can’t seem to budge. Whether it’s being sent packing from the Philadelphia Eagles or getting beat in the playoffs with the Washington Redskins, the 29-year old receiver is an agitator for confrontation. He told the press of his delight when former teammate Donovan McNabb was traded to the Redskins when he was still an Eagle, gave Rob Ryan a piece of his mind and tweeted that Philadelphia were going to “sting they ass” to the Dallas Cowboys. Is that a technical term DeSean?
9 Dez Bryant
A lot of the time of a healthy dose of trash talk is good for the soul. It gets the adrenaline pumping and when it’s dished out in the right spirit it can be a bit of fun. But then there are guys like Dez Bryant who make it ugly and sad. The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver taunted the Seattle Seahawks when Ricardo Lockette was knocked unconscious where he can clearly be seen saying “that’s what you f**king get!” Not only was this terribly timed trash to talk, but he had the temerity to deny it on Twitter. “Say this is some bulls***…. I got on one knee and prayed for lockette I would never in my f**king life do some s*** like that.” We’re not blind Dez - yes you very well can.
8 Ndamukong Suh
Perhaps it’s an oversight from the NFL or the Miami Dolphins, but whatever strategy they’re using to ensure Ndamukong Suh knows that he has a duty of care to his fellow professionals, it’s not working. The defensive star crosses the line far too often and when he taunted Matt Ryan in the wake of a serious injury, it became abundantly clear for all to see that this was an unhinged individual who needs to be disciplined. As a footballer he is downright violent and he likes to fire verbal assaults for good measure.
7 Richard Sherman
When asked what his philosophy on trash talking was, Richard Sherman said “If you can get into their head, why not?” This makes the Seahawks corner a divisive character, something that came to a boiling point when he beat out Michael Crabtree from the 49ers calling him a “mediocre receiver.” Whether it’s little pushes or pot shots in the press, Sherman wants to be a tick that crawls underneath the opposition’s skin. The harder you scratch to make it go away, the deeper it digs.
6 Philip Rivers
At 34 the chance to be part of a Super Bowl winning San Diego might be too far down the road, but Philip Rivers has been a decent performer down the years. This is in spite of being a wind-up merchant on the touchlines, giving opposition benches strange looks and going through a phase where he was feuding with Jay Cutler for some reason. His trash talking is a lot like his football team, it has it’s moments but when it’s all said and done it doesn’t really go anywhere.
5 Jared Allen
Allen might be making up the numbers right now for the Carolina Panthers heading into the Super Bowl, but across his decorated career as a tough tackling defensive end with the Chiefs, Vikings and Bears, Jared Allen loves to talk trash. This EA Sports video where he apparently tweeted to Mark Sanchez telling him how he watches him in his sleep is a bit close for comfort. Besides copping a DUI charge and telling the world that he would rather drown than live in Detroit, he’s an unusual character.
4 Brandon Marshall
Marshall will be charged with the daunting task of trying to stop Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers offense at the Super Bowl in February, but if his trash talk is any guide then he won’t be a man lacking in confidence. The Broncos linebacker weighed in the middle of a feud between Rob Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell leading into the AFC Championship game, stating that the Gronk is so dominant because “he pushes off and gets away with it 98% of the time.” If he engages in a war of words with the Gronk and comes out on top, that has to be acknowledged as an impressive piece of trash talk.
3 Adam Jones
The guy is just an idiot – there is no other way to put it. Bengals cornerback and enforcer Adam “Pacman” Jones shot himself and his team in the foot by having the biggest whinge possible on his own Instagram account post the Steelers loss. No one in the organization was there to tell him to cool off as he channeled his rage straight down the lens for all to see. “F**kin ref did a horrible f**kin job! You got f**kin ah ah … Jerry Porter in the middle of the f**king field talking s*** to everybody then when somebody say something he aint even ‘sposed to be on the f**king field!” As one commentator suggested to Adam, maybe he should eat a Snickers.
2 Vontaze Burfict
Sorry Cincy fans, but Vontaze Burfict compounds the bile spilt out by Pacman Jones. Vontaze Burfict is widely considered one of the leagues dirtiest players and for good reason. His helmet hit on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown forced him out of the game and rather than show some degree of remorse, he took pot shots at Pittsburgh. Leading into the game he said he hated the rival club, but they had the last laugh. It’s this type of ill discipline that people can point to explaining their hopeless post season record in the NFL. Players like Burfict carry too much of a burden.
1 Steve Smith
This guy talks so much trash Fox Sports gave him his own Top 10 list! The veteran Ravens wide receiver is in the elite class for hating on the haters, going on public rants on the touchline in cameraman’s faces, taking digs at Twitter trolls, pot shots at the Carolina Panthers after moving to Baltimore, feuding with Aqib Talib when he was a Patriot – all while coining phrases like “Ice up, son!” and “Blood and guts.” In the twilight of his career, Smith’s star is starting to fade a bit but make no mistake, the Ravens number 89 is a trash talking machine.
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