Roger Goodell is the NFL’s boss – of course he’s going to be hated. Especially when you look at how much money the league’s top man in a suit brings in each year. Goodell rakes in way more than anyone in the NFL each year as his salary easily clears the $30 million a year mark. These are the top 15 players that the league commissioner wants gone forever. Most of these guys are playing in the league better than anyone else in the game. There skill and talent level gives them the ammunition needed to attack the NFL’s top executive. That level of greatness brings in a lot of money for Goodell, but he surely would rather someone else win the Super Bowl than one of these guys.
Some of these guys may have a tough road ahead. One more wrong move could get them kicked out of the league for good. But no matter how bad the off-field issues are, talent always finds it’s way back into professional sports. We’ve seen it before and no doubt we will see it again. The perfect example of this is Michael Vick. He was publicly crucified for his treatment of dogs and he was even sent to jail. But he did his time, returned to the NFL and even was selected to the Pro Bowl after his stint behind bars. We still remember what he did to those poor puppies, but we also still cheered for him on Sunday’s.
So, hope isn’t lost for guys like Rolando McClain or Johnny Manziel. But you can bet that Goodell wishes they would just give up and fade away from the football scene. Not all of the guys on this list have been handed suspensions from the NFL’s top boss. But they’ve taken a stand against his actions and have called him out on a number of occasions. Regardless of the reason (and there are many that you will learn about soon), Goodell wants these 15 players out of the NFL and away from the game forever.
15 JOE THOMAS
There is only a few offensive linemen who show up on this list (one tackle coming up is the NFLPA’s president). Offensive linemen rarely make headlines, even when they have an extremely successful career like Joe Thomas. But Thomas has been a very vocal critic when it comes to speaking about Roger Goodell. And the way he calls out the league’s commissioner is truly entertaining. Although Thomas seems to be bullying Goodell at times, it seems like to NFL’s top man in a suit really deserves it.
Thomas has been open in saying that he’s expressing his opinions more as he gets older, so Goodell is hoping the O-lineman will call it quits soon. Thomas repeatedly said he wanted the Patriots to win the Super Bowl so that Goodell had to reward the team he’s persecuted the hardest. And after the big game, Thomas let his opinion be known. “I especially enjoyed how overeager Roger was to smile at all the Patriots and give them a big handshake, but then as soon as he gave them the trophy he scurried off the stage like a rat. It was awesome.”
14 LE’VEON BELL
As Le’Veon Bell continues to treat league suspensions as a joke, he increasingly makes Roger Goodell’s job a nightmare. It’s a safe bet that Goodell wishes Bell’s career was on its final stretches and not just beginning. Bell is young and looks to be one of the league’s rising stars. That has got to drive Goodell crazy because Bell will continue challenging the commissioner for many years to come.
Bell was suspended at the beginning of last season due to missed drug tests. This was the second year in a row that Bell was forced out of the game. The year before he was suspended because he was in legal trouble after he was charged with possession of marijuana. After that, Bell was very vocal in the media saying that he has been drug tested way more than anyone else in the league. That led to him deciding that he could skip some tests. The worse part of all this seems to be that he is getting in trouble for a drug that is becoming legal across the country and could be a very beneficial medication for athletes.
13 COLIN KAEPERNICK
It feels like more time has passed, but it still hasn’t even been a full year since Colin Kaepernick began his national anthem protest. This protest captured everyone’s attention and became a focal point of the NFL each week. This had to drive Roger Goodell crazy and it no doubt makes him wonder what Kaepernick has in store for everyone next. Kaepernick truly captivated everyone, and he wasn’t even the team’s starting quarterback. His jersey became the most sought after piece of memorabilia in the NFL, yet he was sitting on the bench.
Without a doubt, this put Kaepernick on Goodell’s ever-growing list of enemies. Goodell didn’t outright condemn the quarterback, but his comments surely weren’t supportive of Kaepernick. “I support our players when they want to see change in society,” Goodell said, but then he continued to say “On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL.”
12 ERIC WINSTON
This offensive lineman proved he wasn’t going to be quiet as he took over as the president of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). Eric Winston was elected the NFLPA’s president back in March 2014 and has said that his priorities will be player health and safety, financial literacy and workplace conditions. Just the position that Winston is in with the players association makes him a permanent pain in Roger Goodell’s day-to-day life. And his comments against Goodell surely make the NFL’s commish wish that he was gone.
One of Winston’s biggest negative campaigns brought against commissioner came about a year ago as controversy surrounded Laremy Tunsil’s draft day. Tunsil, who was once thought to be the top pick, fell to the Dolphins in the 13th spot as videos and pictures surfaced showing him smoking from a gas mask. Goodell said stuff like that makes Draft Day “exciting.” Winston lashed out in the media, and on Twitter, where he released eight consecutive tweets and let young players know the league’s executives “are not your family. This is a business.”
11 SEN’DERRICK MARKS
It was about a year ago when this veteran publicly called out the commissioner. Sen’Derrick Marks, a defensive tackle in Jacksonville, used his Twitter account to take on the NFL’s top executive. “Roger Goodell has made $180.5 mill in his 1st 9 yrs as commish? And ppl say the players ask for too much cash. How many hits has he taken?” That was from Marks Twitter account after it was revealed that Goodell raked in $34.1 million in 2014.
Goodell, who has been the commissioner in 2006, made $35 million in 2013 and $44 million in 2012 while doing a job that has been criticized league-wide. And Marks comments didn’t make Goodell’s life any easier. (An interesting side note: Goodell’s salary is determined by the NFL’s compensation committee, which is made up of a group of NFL owners). Although Goodell wants him gone for this statement, you’ve got to credit Marks for calling out the guy at the top who is guaranteed more money each year than any player.
10 AARON RODGERS
Aaron Rodgers called out Roger Goodell and the NFL’s front office as it was trying to force players into testifying about an unverified report about performance-enhancing drugs. This report called out a couple of Rodgers teammates, along with league stars including Peyton Manning, who was cleared by the league prior to Rodgers comments. During this time, Rodgers became a vocal advocate for players and called out Goodell for having too much power and using that power in a way that was detrimental to the league and its players.
Rodgers begins a stretch of quarterbacks on this list who are great on the field, but Goodell likely wants them gone as it would make his job quite a bit less stressful. That’s because when guys like Rodgers call Goodell a bully (like he did in August 2016), it causes more headaches for the league’s top executive than he would care to deal with.
9 ALDON SMITH
This linebacker has been suspended since November 2016 because of multiple violations of the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. It was looking like Aldon Smith would be reinstated this month, but he was being investigated last month for a domestic incident, according to TMZ. The funny thing was that about a week before the incident, Smith posted a video where he said “I’m back and there’s nobody who can stop me.”
Goodell would love to not have to deal with Smith’s off-field issues anymore. Smith, who was the 49ers seventh overall pick in 2007 , has been dealing with legal issues since he has been in the league. There have been a number of issues including multiple charges of driving under the influence and other chargers related to drugs and alcohol. His most recent one-year suspension came after he was arrested for an alleged hit and run after driving under the influence, along with vandalism charges. This is, without a doubt, one headache that Goodell would love to have go away.
8 DREW BREES
You know Roger Goodell had one of those W.T.F-moments when someone as soft-spoken as Drew Brees came out against the league’s top ranking suit. Maybe Brees was frustrated with what looked like an abuse of his position as Goodell kept pushing to get Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of last season. After the Deflategate suspension, Brees called out Goodell for being the “judge jury and executioner,” while adding that “he definitely has too much power.”
Brees even went on to say that Goodell has been a “black eye” for the NFL. “I know the players don’t have any faith in the way that things are conducted within the front office in the NFL,” Brees told ESPN’s Mike Triplett. Before this point, Goodell was ecstatic to have a guy like Brees representing the league. But after this attack, Goodell would rather see the aging quarterback bow out to retirement.
7 ZACH STRIEF
This was a joint attack at the league’s most prolific executive. Zach Strief joined Drew Brees’ attack on the NFL’s front office, effectively calling out Roger Goodell. Strief blamed the NFL front office on making everything contentious and said he feels as if there has been a constant assault on the players. “At the end of the day,” Strief said, “the relationship between the front office and the people who are not in the front office has probably never been worse.”
Offensive tackles who have been drafted in the seventh round don’t normally make headlines or enemies. But Strief checked off both of those boxes when he joined in on Brees’ attack of the league’s ranking authority. Although this may be the only time Strief sees the spotlight, he no doubt became one of the many player who Goodell would love to boot out of the NFL.
6 JAMES HARRISON
According to James Harrison, Roger Goodell is a crook. That was the latest event in a long history between the linebacker and the NFL commissioner. Harrison’s angst toward the NFL’s boss began back in 2010, when a forceful tackle of Vince Young landed Harrison a $5,000 fine even though there was no penalty called on the play. Then not even a month had passed before Harrison was tapped with a $75,000 fine for a hit on Browns wide receiver Mohamad Massaquoi. Harrison was then fined $20,000 for a hit on Drew Brees and was forced to have a meeting with Goodell in November of that year. Harrison called the meeting “semi-productive.”
After the season, which included a total of four fines, Harrison was quoted calling Goodell a crook and a puppet. He also said that “I hate him and will never respect him.” Those are some harsh words, but Goodell essentially charged Harrison $100,000 for playing hard-hitting football. Goodell will surely relax a bit more once Harrison retires, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Harrison stretches out his career as long as possible just to annoy the league commish.
5 ROLANDO MCCLAIN
One of Roger Goodell’s biggest projects in the last decade has been dealing with Rolando McClain. Like a good chunk of his career, McClain is currently suspended from the NFL. That’s left teams wondering whether to risk a roster spot with the eighth overall pick from the 2010 NFL Draft. In May 2012, McClain was found guilty of the following: third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm in the city limits.
McClain announced his retirement in 2013 at the age of 23. Goodell had to be excited, but that excitement was short lived. Then McClain returned. This time, he was trying to make it work in Dallas with the Cowboys. Surprisingly, he had a good 2014 season, but then he returned to the suspension list in 2015, when it was announced that he was suspended for games to start the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Most recently, McClain was suspended for the final 10 games and it was reported that he was addicted to codeine. So, it’s possible that Goodell may not have to worry about him playing in the NFL again.
4 RICHARD SHERMAN
It must be tough to have a job like Roger Goodell’s when you have stars like Richard Sherman calling you out. In a weekly press conference in November, Sherman took to the mic with some words directed at the NFL’s commissioner. Obviously, guys who play like Sherman should make Goodell’s job easier because it attracts more business for the league. But Goodell would have no hurt feelings if Sherman suddenly disappeared from the game. In fact, he’d probably welcome the departure of one of the league’s biggest defensive stars.
Sherman has never been a fan of Goodell, but during that November press conference he really made his distaste known for the league’s top boss. Sherman spent just about the entire 15-minute press conference calling out decision making in the NFL with a specific focus on knocking Goodell. Part of the problem, Sherman said, was that “the league isn’t fun anymore…because they want to control the product. They want to control the messaging.”
3 DEVIN MCCOURTY
The Patriots (and fans and many players and coaches in the NFL) don’t like Roger Goodell, and Goodell doesn’t like the Patriots. That’s why the next two spots on this list are devoted to two of the guys who probably loved Goodell handing that championship trophy more than anyone. Compared to a lot of guys on this list (and compared to most guys in professional sports), Devin McCourty is talented, respected and respectful of other people. That’s what made his Instagram post so amazing. He used the iconic crying Michael Jordan image to exemplify Goodell’s true emotions.
With one simple post of Goodell’s head replaced with the crying Jordan while he was handing Tom Brady the trophy, McCourty became yet another one of Goodell’s enemies. Sure, it was a harmless post, but Goodell now knows that McCourty could become one of his biggest opponents when **it hits the fan. Now that he’s got a name for attacking the commissioner, there’s no telling what he could do next.
2 TOM BRADY
Roger Goodell and Tom Brady are two of the most recognized faces in the game. On one end, we have the league’s golden boy who is applauded even after some type of concerning actions are revealed. And that’s happened quite frequently for Brady. That’s why there always talk about the league’s commissioner just about every time the star quarterbacks name is mentioned. Especially after the season we all just watched.
Brady started off the season with a suspension because of the Delategate scandal. No matter what side you took in regards to Brady’s suspension, anger stirred toward Goodell who seemed to like dragging the scandal out over multiple years. And when we look at Brady, Spygate is another controversy that Goodell was forced to address. Brady will be 40 next season, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that Goodell is hoping the five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback will retire soon.
1 JOHNNY MANZIEL
This troubled young quarterback may be the closest he’s been in a while to playing again in the NFL and Roger Goodell must fall asleep screaming into his pillow thinking of that possibility. Johnny Manziel has reportedly re-hired his agent, and was apparently drawing interest from NFL teams at the combine. This is an interesting turnaround as just last year Manziel was in court for a misdemeanor assault charge and has been featured on TMZ and many other places a boozing, drugged-up, flunky. Manziel admitted that he had a substance abuse problem and missed the entire season last year.
Although his attempted return to the league will need to start with a potential suspension from Goodell, Manziel has a chance to makeup for the many wrong moves he’s made in his short and nearly nonexistent NFL career. But it’s seeming like Manziel and Goodell will forever be intertwined on this journey throughout the NFL until Manziel flames out of the league again.