It might be a bit unfair to expect grown men to, once a week, psych themselves into a frenzy, pound on each other like they're going to war, try to dominate another person for 60 solid minutes, and then shower, dress nicely and act like Mr. Rogers. Unfortunately for the hundreds of guys who don the gear of an NFL player on bright, cool fall Sundays, that's exactly what we expect.
If pro football players were paid like, say, coal miners, we may extend them a break--a courtesy, if you will. We might allow for the table manners of a farm animal, the sensibilities of a longshoreman and the family life of a reality TV star. But these athletes are paid well, far beyond the income of the average fan that watches them, while devouring the products which the NFL's sponsors pay huge dollars to place in front of their faces. Thus deeply invested, it is our option to expect these gridiron warriors to be examples to our kids by staying off drugs, not driving with a blood alcohol level 20X the legal limit, and especially not knocking their wife or kids around their spacious ranch with the four car garage.
Here are 15 current and recent NFL players who are fortunate to only be called morons.
15 Justin Cox: Bringing his Tools to the NFL
Many NFL players get arrested. Not as many already have a record for the thing they got arrested for from their college days. Justin Cox was arrested for domestic violence in November of 2014 and suspended for the last three games of his college career. This could, conceivably be what is known as a warning sign. But NFL teams tend to ignore those when the culprit is a great athlete. Cox opened some eyes at the NFL scouting combine so, as is the custom, the Kansas City Chiefs ignored past transgressions and rewarded him with an invite to training camp. It was only eight months between his first arrest and July 2015 when he was brought up (again) for domestic violence charges. He decided to make it more interesting this time, adding in burglary and trespassing. The very definition of a moron: be given the chance of a lifetime and chuck it away.
14 Jay Cutler: Arrogance Above and Beyond the Call
When a QB owns exactly one playoff appearance in his ten year career, it's difficult for the average Joe on the street to accept him as an arrogant, smarmy jackwagon. Many teammates and several fans have accused Cutler of being all those things. Beginning in Denver, Cutler has rubbed teammates the wrong way with an attitude which seems to be a combination of condescension and nonchalance which leads to the other players questioning his will to win. And since his performance has hardly silenced those doubts, this feeling has followed him his entire career. Some guys just aren't cheerleaders and their demeanor on the field doesn't make fans or teammates feel any urgency. Cutler's problem may not be his fault. He's not going to escape it, though, as long as he chucks the pigskin on Sundays in this country.
13 Sheldon Richardson: A Fool and his Money
Show Me. That's the Missouri state motto. Well, we can show you a bunch of talented players from that state's University who might want to focus a bit more on football and less on acting like a jackass. Richardson is one of several Mizzou Tigers who seem to lose their minds after they leave the locker room. The N.Y. Jets star was arrested after drag racing and running traffic lights last July back in his home state. Just to liven things up, he resisted arrest and the cops found a gun under his seat. There's some solid decision making right there. If the 143 mph speed wasn't bad enough, he had a 12 year old kid in the back seat. All this after a previous suspension for failing a drug test. Many of his teammates say he's really a good man and will make amends for his failures both to society and his team. OK, Sheldon. Show me.
12 Tom Brady: Just Shut Up
Yeah, yeah. You've won four Super Bowls. You're a multi-millionaire. You have great hair. You married a model. You're still one of the best QBs in the game after 15 seasons. We're tired of hearing it. Hearing what? ANYTHING.
Brady has it all, but that includes this major problem: he is not allowed to complain. Don't complain when the refs make a call you don't like. Don't complain when other teams accuse you of cheating. And most certainly don't complain when stories are written about your complaining. Make a deal with you, Tom. You keep your mouth shut except for signal-calling and post-game pressers and we won't burn the next magazine cover you appear on. And keep your wife quiet, too. Her opinion on football matters is about as desired as Bill Belichick at a comedy roast. Just keep quiet and live your perfect life.
11 Michael Vick: Open a Savings Account
Maybe he isn't a jackwagon, per se. To animal lovers, he's definitely much worse. But to people who don't ever sign $100 million+ contracts, a guy who did declaring bankruptcy is simply inconceivable. In all likelihood, Vick expected to play out his first contract and, having dominated the league and won a few MVPs by then, signed a lucrative extension, finishing his career out in style in Hotlanta. A funny thing happened on the way to the Swiss Bank, however. His well documented arrest and conviction for dog fighting derailed this plan in the biggest way. He was forced to give back some of his signing bonus and then signed with the Eagles for more than $100 million again, which is actually less than he would have, sans his record. Still, the man was pulling down a stack of jack the rest of us will never see in a lifetime. Ya think you could stop living above your means and save something for your late 30s? Apparently, Vick just settled with final creditor from his bankruptcy.
10 Aldon Smith: Throwing it All Away
The 49ers, for the better part of four seasons, were blessed with two of the most dominant defensive players in the league. They were both strong, savage and relentless, both former Missouri Tigers and both named Smith. One of them had a long, tremendous NFL career. His name was Justin Smith. The other...well..not so much.
Aldon Smith became kind of a regular at the holding cell of the Santa Clara police department. Rumor had it that he left a pillow and toothbrush in the cell to save time. From DUI to vandalism to felony weapons charges, Smith simply could not stay out of the police blotter of the local newspaper. The 49ers were more than supportive of the young star, staying with him through his first four arrests and one nine-game suspension handed down by the league. Of course, the team said it was because he was "family"-- but it might have had more to do with Smith's ability to fold NFC running backs up like so many cheap suits. On the fifth occasion, however, somehow Aldon was not family and was presumably no longer invited to the reunions. After the 2014 season, the 49ers cut Smith. Then in a move which could have shocked no one, the Raiders signed Aldon and he played nine games for them in 2015. The NFL, always honorable and virtuous and with their deep desire to crack down on law breakers, reportedly put him on double secret probation this time.
9 Terrell Suggs: A Special Kind of Stupid
Hit and run. How self-centered must a guy be to hit someone or something with his vehicle and then flee the scene like a five year old who just broke mom's favorite vase? Suggs did that and was even too dumb to cover his tracks.
Only a few short weeks ago, the Baltimore Ravens stud linebacker/defensive end was driving his BMW 750Li in a parking lot in Scottsdale, Arizona when he struck something. The loud "crash" may or may not have woken him up. While the police have said he was not impaired (of alcohol one presumes) clearly his judgment had been impaired for quite a while since he was driving on a suspended license which was suspended for lack of payment on speeding tickets.
To his credit, Suggs confessed the incident to his team and intends to get his license issues resolved. But if your license is suspended and you can't seem to keep your car from going 90 mph, perhaps driving carelessly after you leave a bar shouldn't top your "Things To Do" list.
8 Greg Hardy: Lone Star loser
When a normal guy hits his girlfriend, that's pathetic. When a fully formed NFL athlete does it, that's as cowardly and nauseating a level to which a man can possibly lower himself. While with the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Hardy was arrested for abusing his now ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. The 6'4" defensive end threw her into a bathroom, slammed her against a wall, and drug her out by her hair, all while calling her vile names unworthy of his worst enemy.
Holder, when talking with police, said "“It doesn’t matter. Nothing is going to happen to him anyways.”
She was near spot on. Hardy was suspended by the league. But as soon as he was eligible to return, he signed on with--who else--Jerry Jones' Cowboys, where he played in 12 games in 2015. Let's face it: if we're looking for a team owner to take a stand and voluntarily not sign a great athlete based on principle, Jerry Jones is not our man. Jones is a ruthless businessman, a shameless self-promoter and, as we know from this instance, a domestic violence enabler. It is difficult to decide whether he or Hardy himself have done more harm to the league's reputation by this blatant malfeasance.
7 Ray McDonald: Domestically Challenged
Arrested for assault on a woman 1/2 his size? Check. Released from jail, restraining order issued? Check. Released from current team and picked up by another? Check. Broke restraining order and assaulted same woman? Check. Yep, this is an NFL player story alright. Not satisfied with having one player with a photo constantly on the police station wall, the 49ers also employed McDonald who doesn't mind throwing his strength around when he and the little woman get into a tiff.
Armed, as usual, with the "she started it defense," McDonald and his poor family have spent a great deal of time defending him from two separate sets of charges involving the same woman and disputing custody of their child. I mean, the guy shoves women around. Why shouldn't he be allowed to care for a little kid? Thankfully, after picking him up, the Bears released him when they learned of the second allegation and this man hasn't played a down since.
6 Brandon Spikes: What a Role Model
Nothing says hero like causing injury to a family- including a child- and then running away from the accident. Spikes is a real sweetheart, alright. In June of last year, he was speeding and swerving in and out of lanes when he rear ended an SUV on a highway near Foxborough, MA. Nice. His vehicle had On Star installed and the operator asked him what happened. He told them he hit a deer. Awesome. Next, the former Patriot abandoned his vehicle and fled the scene, leaving the family, including their 12 year old son, mildly injured and searching for answers. Bravo!
The police were not fooled by the deer strike story and had little problem tracking Spikes down, as well as charging him with four misdemeanors. To their credit, New England immediately released him and he has not played an NFL down since.
5 D'Qwell Jackson: Do NOT Ask Him to Validate
When you're a 6 foot, 230 pound athlete, you want to park your car, and someone parks in your spot, what do you do? That's right: pummel the guy. Because you really don't want to walk that extra 30 feet to your destination. Jackson allegedly took umbrage with one of those heinous pizza delivery drivers when he pulled into Jackson's choice of parking spot. After an argument, the irate Indianapolis Colts LB punched the man on the side and then the back of his head. Charged with simple assault -and presumably contributing to the delinquency of an entree-Jackson was released the same night and had to appear for sentencing.
Isn't it heartwarming to know that we, the general public, have large, muscular men protecting our First Amendment right to a proper space for our vehicles. We just hope the driver's '92 Corolla didn't leak any oil in the spot lest Jackson's luxury sedan be soiled.
4 Dan Marino: All his eggs in one basket
These stories are all over the media. NFL player goes broke. Most of them involve lavish lifestyles and dumb investments by naïve players who listen to people who don't really care about them. Marino doesn't really fall into that category, exactly. It appears that he took the vast majority of his wealth and invested into one enterprise.
One needn't have a degree in finance to know that diversity is the cornerstone of long-term wealth. While we allow that if you invest heavily in a company and it needs more capital you're likely to throw more dollars at it to keep it afloat, we can't excuse doing that to the exclusion of everything else. Maybe we feel a little sorry for old Dolphin Dan. He wasn't a jackwagon on the field. Still, it's really hard to feel remorse for a millionaire doing something so obviously shortsighted. Good luck, Danno. But that cash is gone like a politician's integrity.
3 Vontaze Burfict: Far From Purfict
It took a while but the NFL finally suspended this dangerous individual for three games for "repeated violations of safety-related playing rules." Burfict has nearly perfected the ability to turn his body into a weapon and smash parts of it into opposing players' heads. His most recent effort came in the Bengals humiliating playoff defeat against the Steelers where he and Adam (don't call me PacMan) Jones took turns giving the game away via personal fouls. With 22 seconds left and Cincinnati leading, the Steelers' Antonio Brown went over the middle for a pass which was out of his reach. Burfict clocked him going the other direction, singlehandedly demonstrating exactly what all the safety rules are in place to prevent. Brown could barely get up.
Its certainly not for this single incident that Burfict lands here. He has been one of the most careless players in the league since his arrival in 2012. Once again, what's more problematic is the NFL keeps slapping players on the wrist instead of having a set procedure for fines and suspensions when players commit these fouls repeatedly. That would only happen, though, if Goodell and his cronies were actually interested in safety rather than the league's bottom line.
2 Terrell Owens: Jackwagon on Several Levels
A spoiled, crybaby, narcissist who went broke. That breaks our little heart. Apparently Terrell used the Sharpie in his sock to sign too many questionable deals and by 2011 he was broke and facing huge child support payments as well as being in arrears with the IRS (who, incidentally, care less than we do about his money problems). He was an exceptional receiver. Somehow, though, these athletes can't get the message that they won't be playing ball for long. "Friends" who offer you opportunities to get in on the ground floor of their flavoured pistachio farm may not be what Forbes recommends for retirement savings. Then add in all the questionable life decisions and you end up owing more than you're questionable stardom can recuperate.
1 Ndamukong Suh: King of the Hill
If you've made it this far down the list, for the previous fourteen entries you had to be thinking "Where's Suh?" Here he is. The hands-down winner of the NFL's Jackwagon Award, seemingly every year.
This man is outside his own mind. From stomping on Aaron Rodgers--one of the NFL's prized products--to delivering a wrestling-type take down of Jay Cutler or sending his cleat into Matt Schaub's nether regions, Ndamukong Suh is very clearly quarterback hater. Not satisfied with feeding them their U.S.R.D.A. of turf on a weekly basis, Suh likes to get in at least one extracurricular attack per game. He's unquestionably one of the best defensive linemen in the game. But being under constant threat of suspension as well as fined for violating NFL game-safety rules seven times, it can reasonably be questioned whether his brain is in the 'on' position after the opening kickoff. He's on a Mike Tyson trajectory and if the league doesn't reign him in, one of their football-throwing celebrities is eventually going to be put out of commission permanently.