Top 15 NFLers Who Killed Their Own Careers

It may be a cliché, but it is because the statement is accurate: The life of the career of a National Football League player can be rather short, and it can also be over in the blink of an eye. Any player, even the toughest and the best in the NFL, can find himself sidelined for the rest of his life if he finds himself dealing with problems that stem from brain trauma or if he suffers a serious leg injury that seriously limits what he is able to do on the field. The Sports Gods can be cruel, even to somebody who has been an ideal citizen and somebody who is one of the more respected individuals in the NFL.

There is a popular saying among those in the sports world: There is little sadder in life than wasted talent. We have seen all kinds of examples of what cannot be referred to as anything else than men who should have been at the very least top-tier NFL players who killed their own careers through random acts of stupidity or because they, for whatever reasons, thought that they were above either the law or statistics that show just how special an opportunity it is for somebody to be presented an opportunity to play in the greatest American football league on the planet.

The list of talented NFLers who killed their own careers is long, and the stories range from curious to depressing to infuriating to downright disturbing. Drugs and party lifestyles, for some, proved to be too much for some to overcome en route to having pro football careers. Other poor decisions sunk the NFL careers of other athletes who would be more fondly remembered had they been able to walk away from the league on their own terms. Last but not least are the cases of NFL players who were seemingly downright evil, men who are, as of the posting of this piece, deservedly no longer free.

15 15. William Green


14 14. Fred Smoot


13 13. Michael Vick

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

12 12. Tim Tebow

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

11 11. Albert Haynesworth


10 10. JaMarcus Russell


9 9. Chris Borland

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

8 8. Maurice Clarett


7 7. Chad Johnson


6 6. Trent Richardson

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

5 5. Plaxico Burress

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

4 4. Ray Rice

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

3 3. Rae Carruth


2 2. Tiki Barber

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

1 1. Aaron Hernandez

The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots tight end had the world in the palms of his massive hands in 2012. He was arguably the best tight end, physically speaking, in the NFL, and Aaron Hernandez had put pen to paper on a contract that was going to earn him an additional $40 million. None of us on the outside could have imagined the type of person that Hernandez actually was, a sociopath who was capable of, according to the legal process, murdering at least one man. While there is sorrow to be felt about somebody with such talent now being incarcerated until he breathes one last time, the ultimate shame is that at least one person is no longer with us because of actions taken by Hernandez.

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Top 15 NFLers Who Killed Their Own Careers