Football has always been an intense game filled with both physical and mental strain. Passion drives players to push their limits and constantly strive for greatness on the field. With so much work, effort and testosterone going into being and NFL player, it should come as no surprise when tensions start to rise. Fights aren’t unheard of in the NFL. Though they might not be as common as they are in the NHL, they still happen in football from time to time. Be it between a couple of teammates in practice or two opposing players during a game, these rare occurrences plainly show the animosity and frustration felt during the course of an NFL season.
Of course football is a competitive sport and hate can sometimes be confused with grit. It’s natural for players to get in each other’s faces in the heat of the moment or during a tight game. However it’s another thing to turn on the TV and hear them blasting their opponents on live television or reading a number of malicious Tweets between two players online. This does make for some good entertainment but it doesn’t undercut the reality that some NFL players genuinely don’t like one another. And that’s okay, really. In fact it might even make for more competitive games throughout the season.
20 Osi Umenyiora and LeSean McCoy
The rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles is one of the oldest in the NFL. The games are physical, heated and often come down to the wire. With a rivalry that old, it’s only natural to assume some animosity between each team’s players. The LeSean McCoy and Osi Umeyiora feud is one of the more modern examples of this. While slightly older fans will remember Michael Strahan and John Runyan’s famous on field bouts, the war of words between Umenyiora and McCoy seemed to be filled with absolute contempt. These two genuinely don’t like each other and it doesn’t seem like that’ll ever change.
19 Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree
This is another entry that has to do with two talented interdivisional rivals. Defensive backs and wide receivers have some of the biggest egos in football. They’re two of the premier positions on their respective sides of the field. As most NFL fans know, Seattle Seahawks corner Richard Sherman is one of the most vocal players in the game. He and Michael Crabtree have had a history with each other for a while now, but tensions really got high after the 2013 NFC Championship Game. After deflecting a last second pass heading Crabtree’s way and essentially ending the game, the two got into a small spat with one another. This was then followed by Sherman’s infamous rant and an entire summer of tedious back and forth between the two.
18 J.J. Watt and Zach Mettenberger
Backup quarterbacks don’t find their way into the spotlight too often, but when you start getting into a Twitter feud with one of the most dominating defensive players in the NFL, you’re bound to attract some sort of attention. There isn’t too much to say about this whole debacle. Titans QB Zach Mettenberger took a selfie right before his first career start, J.J. Watt had a problem with it, called him out and the two offhandedly exchanged some words through various social media outlets. It’s a pretty lame excuse for a story, but that doesn't mean they don't dislike each other.
17 Mike Vanderjagt and Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning will soon be remembered as one of the greatest players to ever put on an NFL uniform, while his onetime teammate Mike Vanderjagt will most probably be forever labeled as the moron that called out both his head coach and franchise quarterback on live television. The incident in question occurred on a Canadian cable television program of all places. Vanderjagt, then the kicker for the Colts, stated that he didn’t foresee the team finding success with its current head coach and face of the franchise at the helm. That didn’t sit too well with the usually timid Manning. In an on field interview at the Pro Bowl a few days later, he went on a short Richard Sherman-like rant calling Vanderjagt an idiot among other things. Well Peyton did eventually win a Super Bowl with Indy but Vanderjagt’s sporadic leg earned him a pink slip and a date with the want ads.
16 Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson
Cortland Finnegan might not have been the most physically talented guy on the field, but the former defensive back always played with heart and intensity. However, things got a little too intense while covering Texans receiver Andre Johnson a few years back. The two got into a heated – albeit brief – scuffle on the field which resulted in the two of them getting rejected from the game. Finnegan was often regarded as something of a dirty player throughout his career and the incident with Johnson only helped push that idea forward.
15 Jay Cutler and J’Marcus Webb
Jay Cutler can be a tough guy to stomach as both a fan and teammate. Cutler has often struggled with turnovers in his career and the fact that he’s had problems with his offensive line in the past doesn’t help that particular problem. In an apparent act of frustration, Cutler was seen yelling at and bumping offensive lineman J’Marcus Webb on the sideline during a game against the Packers. Now, if you’re a QB in the NFL, your offensive linemen are supposed to be your protectors. So it’s probably best that you don’t use them as emotional punching bags. In Cutler's defense, he had been sacked seven times that night. However, with an attitude like that, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine some of those big guys letting a couple of those slip past them on purpose.
14 Riley Cooper and Cary Williams
Some fans will recall Eagles receiver Riley Cooper sounding off at a country music concert a few years back. The disgruntled receiver was caught shouting out racial slurs on camera and the incident caused a great deal of animosity within the NFL community. The whole ordeal was epitomized in a fight between Cooper and fellow teammate Cary Williams during a scrimmage in practice. Though it isn’t uncommon for teammates to fight during practice, the prior incident definitely influenced Williams’ actions.
13 Bart Scott and Hines Ward
The Ravens-Steelers rivalry has given us some of the most physical football in the NFL over the last decade or so. At one point in time, Ravens linebacker Bart Scott and Steelers receiver Hines Ward were two of their respective teams’ biggest playmakers on opposite sides of the ball. While most receivers dislike getting physical, Ward was known for his thick skin and ability to match up against some pretty tough defenders. That made from some prime matchups with Scott both on and off the field, where, according to Ward, Scott threatened to kill him after the game.
12 Bill Romanowski and Everyone He Played
Linebacker are tough, physical and relentless. Bill Romanowski was no different. In fact some might say he was a little too physical and definitely a little dirty. Throughout his career, Romanowski was involved in a string of incidents including kicking Larry Centers in the head, breaking Kerry Collins' jaw and snapping Dave Meggett’s finger. Those kinds of actions are reason enough for tons of people to hate the guy, including those on the receiving end of his little rampages.
11 Percy Harvin and Golden Tate
Percy Harvin might be an explosive playmaker but he’s also quite a handful for both his coaches and teammates. During the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl run, Harvin and teammate Golden Tate got into an altercation prior to the big game. What exactly caused the two of them to duke it out just moments before the biggest game of their young careers is a mystery, but you’ve got to assume it had something to do with Harvin’s often difficult to manage personality.
10 Bart Scott and Tom Brady
Here’s one of the NFL’s most polarizing personalities against one of the league’s most vocal players. Continuing on the theme of rivalries, Bart Scott and Tom Brady once faced each other twice a year in the seemingly lopsided AFC East. While Brady isn’t one to talk, Scott was more than comfortable – as were most Jets under the Rex Ryan regime – to speak his mind. To cut a long rant short, Scott believed the Jets earned their due after eliminating their longtime foes from the playoffs. Not only was the loss itself looming over Brady’s head but so was Bart Scott’s bravado, which certainly added to the flames of this longstanding rivalry.
9 Bill Bergey and Conrad Dobler
Back in the days of the old NFL, before players started exchanging jerseys and patting each other on the back after games, the post-game gatherings on the field weren’t as… TV friendly as they are now. Back then if two players hated each other they let it show plain as day. Such is the case with Bill Bergey and Conrad Dobler. Bother were constantly pitted against one another on opposite sides of the ball, which led to some pretty memorable bouts in the trenches but only furthered their hatred for one another.
8 Martellus Bennett and the Entire NFL
Much like his brother Michael, Martellus Bennett is one of the more outspoken players in the NFL today. The former Cowboys and Giants tight end had some rough years before landing on his feet in New York and then later bringing his talents to the Windy City. So why does Bennett hold such a large grudge? Simple; because he only plays for one team. It seems he employs the “if you’re not with me, then you’re against me” mentality when it comes to his career on the field. So, a couple of weeks back he decided to express it, saying "I mean, I hate everybody, so if I play against you I don't like you at all." Which is just a small part of what makes him one of the more interesting athletes to follow-up on every now and then.
7 Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb
Ah, Terrell Owens. Before guys like Richard Sherman came along, T.O. was one of the most obnoxious loudmouths in the entire NFL. And he reveled in it. It’s not too surprising to imagine a guy like that would be such a debilitating locker-room cancer throughout his career. The most publicized example is his falling out with the Philadelphia Eagles organization, his teammates included. Though the future seemed bright in Philly, Owens’ selfishness and lust for attention eventually irked most of the Eagles organization including their starting quarterback Donovan McNabb. To this day, the two still share jabs on social media.
6 Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito
The Jonathan Martin\Richie Incognito scandal showed fans a frightening glimpse into some of the rash mentality that floats around in certain NFL locker-room. Incognito, along with several other teammates and members of the Dolphins staff, bullied and abused Martin for prolonged periods of time. The incident was so shocking it created waves for quite some time before dying down. Incognito was out of the NFL for a while before being graciously accepted back into the fold by none other than Rex Ryan (shocker) and Martin continued to struggle at the pro level and retired shortly after being cut by the Panthers this past summer.
5 Geno Smith and IK Enemkpali
Quarterbacks are prone to losing their jobs for being bad with the football, but Geno Smith might’ve lost his starting role with the Jets due to his poor financial management. Earlier this off-season, Smith was confronted by then Jets teammate IK Enemkpali in the team’s locker-room. A few heated words and bam! Smith gets one to the jaw. Well Enemkpali was cut soon after and Smith – who’s still out with a broken jaw – lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick. All of this for $600 bucks.
4 George Atkinson and Lynn Swann
The old Raiders-Steelers games of the 70s were brutal. It’s not that one particular team lit up the scoreboard or anything like that. No the games tended to be very physical, even for that decade. Of course, the Raiders of old are remembered for their tendency to stretch the rules and general disposition towards any type of league appointed authority. The bouts between Raiders defensive back George Atkinson and Steelers receiver Lynn Swann perfectly embodied the hatred felt between these two great organizations. While Swann was a finesse kind of player, Atkinson was the prototypical Raider, tough and not afraid to knock his opponent’s lights out. It made for some good football and more often than not caused some sort of controversy.
3 Steve Smith and Ken Lucas
Steve Smith has always had a chip on his shoulder due to his size. It’s led him to accomplish some great things in the NFL, but it’s also caused him some trouble. Fights between teammates are common. Especially between those on opposite sides of the ball. But the fight between Smith and Panthers corner Ken Lucas ended in the worst way possible, with Lucas getting injured. The Panthers sent both players – two of their superstar playmakers at the time – home after the incident, and while things eventually cooled down you’ve got to assume these two didn’t sit down at the same lunch table for a while.
2 Joe Montana and Steve Young
Both of these men are considered franchise greats among San Francisco 49ers fans. But much like the more recent Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers situation in Green Bay, the move from Joe Montana top Steve Young was not a smooth one. Montana was beloved by fans and teammates yet was becoming injury prone in his old age. The time for Young came sooner rather than later. That didn’t sit too well with Joe Cool. When you’ve got two competitive athletes, both are going to want to start. Only one of them can in their respective uniform and the other is forced to move on.
1 Richard Sherman and Tom Brady
Remember when Richard Sherman totally got up in Tom Brady’s face on live television and just blasted the guy? Good times. It’s not surprising to see Sherman’s name mentioned once again on this list. It’s even less of a surprise to see him mentioned alongside the man with whom he had his first highly publicized beef. That whole post-game incident really put Sherman on the map as a pop culture icon while poor Tommy-boy walked off sulking. Well seeing as Brady’s Pats bested the Seahawks in this past Super Bowl, it might be safe to say that things are pretty much even for now.