When it comes to being successful in the NFL, you need to make sure you have both the passion and the physical skills necessary to make it. One thing that does not need to be the case, is that you need to be a good person. Sure, it doesn’t help if you’re a jerk, but as many people on this list proved, it didn’t stop them from being a successful player.
Now granted, Aaron Hernandez or Rae Carruth got to finish their career in a jail cell, but another jerk may be starting in this year's Super Bowl.
As society continues to embrace technology, these players lives are under a microscope now more than ever before. If you were playing in the '70s or '80s and you went out for a beer after the game? May not be such a bad thing. But if you have a history like Johnny Manziel, you better believe that every thing you do is being followed and scrutinized. Not so bad if you aren’t a jerk, but if you have character concerns then you better believe you won’t be getting the benefit of the doubt when more news stories emerge that are linked to you.
Some of these players may have gotten you up and cheering from your couch every Sunday, and ifso, I am sorry if I ruined the image of them being a good, clean, hard working kid. Others are jerks that everyone knows, but wouldn’t you love to hear stories as to why they’re jerks (here’s looking at you Terrell Owens!).
Whether the biggest jerk to you is on this list or not, there is no doubting that these are not 20 of the biggest jerks that have played in the NFL.
21 Aaron Hernandez
Now I’m sorry Aaron, but if you get accused of murder then you have earned yourself a place on this list of the biggest jerks in the NFL. Hernandez was charged in April, 2015 of murder in the first degree which leads to carries with it a life sentence. The victim, Otis Lloyd, was known to Hernandez for some time before the altercation that led to his killing.
The decision was a stupid one for Hernandez as well (duh) as well as costly,
20 Rae Carruth
19 Peyton Manning
18 Richard Sherman
17 Greg Hardy
I know you can’t really say this without knowing him personally, but man oh man, does Greg Hardy seem like a real piece of work. Hardy was found guilty of assaulting an ex-girlfriend and given 18 months probation. The incident also led to a 10 game suspension from the NFL. The report filed by the victim is enough to make your stomach turn and wonder how Hardy is still in the league:
“Hardy picked me up and threw me into the tile tub area in his bathroom. I have bruises from head to toe, including my head, neck, back, shoulders arms, legs, elbow and feet. Hardy pulled me from the tub by my hair, screaming at me that he was going to kill me, break my arms and other threats that I completely believe. He drug me across the bathroom and out into the bedroom. Hardy choked me with both hands around my throat while I was lying on the floor. Hardy picked me up over his head and threw me onto a couch covered in assault rifles and/or shotguns. I landed on those weapons. Hardy bragged that all of those assault rifles were loaded.”
16 Johnny Manziel
15 Adam Jones
14 Adrian Peterson
13 LeSean McCoy
12 Chris Culliver
One of the best things that North American sports is attempting to do, is to make the league a safe and welcoming place for players in case they want to come out. Michael Sam was the first openly gay person to be drafted, and hopefully it will be a place where future players can get support. They won’t get support from Chris Culliver though and that largely makes him a jerk.
When asked what his stance on gay individuals, Culliver stated:
“I don’t do the gay guys man… I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”
11 Colt Lyerla
10 Ray Rice
9 O.J. Simpson
Even if you have never watched a single game of football, you may still know the name O.J. Simpson. Simpson was one of the most popular athletes, but in 1994 (years after retirement) he was accussed of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. In trial, while he was not convicted of murder, the jury “unanimously found Simpson liable for the wrongful death of and battery against Goldman, and battery against Brown." Simpson was ordered to pay $33,500,000 in damages and it forever impacted his image.
That was not the last of his legal troubles though. In 2007, Simpson, along with 3 other men entered a room and took sports memorabilia (which Simpson claimed was his anyway!). The men were charged with “multiple felony counts, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon.”
8 Warren Sapp
Sapp was a tremendous defensive player and was well deserving of his enshrinement in the NFL Hall of Fame. Yet, Sapp is also a notorious jerk, and this came even more to light after he was fired from the NFL Network after being arrested for soliciting prostitues. The general theme around the office was one of joy as many employee’s complained about Sapp’s attitude and how he was a nightmare to work with.
The staff went as far to say that there were certain rules that you had to follow when around Sapp, such as:
“-Don’t look Warren in the eyes (seriously).
-Introduce yourself, but DO NOT try to befriend him.
-Call him Warren. NEVER call him “Sapp.”
7 Rex Ryan
6 Richie Incognito
In the world of professional sports, the role of hazing is always a tricky concept to talk about. You can make the argument that is just good fun and can be huge in building team morale. Then you have the example of Incognito who 'hazed" fellow teammate Johnathan Martin. When the story became public, the league investigated to try and get to the bottom of it.
It was “concluded that Incognito, Jerry (other player), and Pouncey (other player) made severe racial slurs towards the assistant trainer, and Incognito and Jerry even taunted him by saying that they had sex with his girlfriend. On December 7, 2012, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Incognito, Jerry, and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands featuring a rising sun emblem (which the assistant trainer had given them) and jokingly threatened to harm the assistant trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack.”
5 Terrell Owens
4 Ben Roethlisberger
2 Darren Sharper
1 Michael Vick
You don’t get to be convicted of organizing a dog fighting ring and not make it on this list in the top spot. For those unaware, Vick had apparently operated the dog fighting ring for 5 years before it came to light. The story went onto say that Vick “promoted, funded, and facilitated a dog fighting ring on his property, and had engaged in hanging and drowning dogs who did not perform well.” This led to him receiving 21 months in prison. While Vick claims to have changed his stripes, you do not have to be a good person to realize dog fighting is wrong. But you really have to be an enormous jerk if you did it for FIVE YEARS.
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